LLAP Leonard Nimoy

This is a subject that I have shared with people close to me, mostly as idle discussion, shared geekery, or drunken rambling. This morning's news about the passing of Leonard Nimoy has brought it to the fore for me so I thought I would try to put it in writing somewhere where it can be seen without having to worry about my bar tab.

Anecdotally there seems to be a certain fondness for Mr. Spock amongst segments of the Neurodiversity/Autism/Aspergers community. A wonderful example is this piece by Pensive Aspie (a 'pen-name' but, so what, it is the best way to find this person's writing) titled "Thank you Leonard Nimoy." In it the author describes growing up as an undiagnosed Aspie and the relationship they had with both the fictional Mr. Spock and the real Leonard Nimoy. With a few changes, it is pretty close to my life. I grew up with LtCdr Data and LtCdr Spock (TNG was airing weekly and TOS was given eagerly anticipated annual marathons on a local broadcast affiliate).

It would be nearly twenty years before I was ever formally diagnosed as an Aspie but I still identified with these observers of the 'human condition'. My heros were not the bold captains/explorers/ladies-men, they were the outsiders, logical, knowledgeable, and skilled; trying to find a middle ground where they could be accepted by the rest of the crew and the rest of society. They were often the butt of jokes which they did not understand or derided for their 'overly-cerebral' approach to the problems they faced, but every episode it usually fell to them (at least in part) to make sense of what was happening and how to put things right. When they had to hide themselves from an alien civilization donning a wooly hat could cover their ears or claiming to be from a far-off continent could explain their complexion but they were always betrayed by their mannerisms and intonation. No matter how they tried to be similar to everyone else on their ship they were always the outsider. To me these were people (fictional people but people nonetheless) who shared much of my existence.

Even as an adult, after I was diagnosed I still felt this kinship with those alien outsiders. In some ways, especially so. Once labeled as an Aspie, or placed on the Autism spectrum, I was given an explanation for why I didn't fit in but that just meant that I now had to contend with the people who view Autistic people as some cruel aberration that needs to be locked away, studied and prodded, and eventually eradicated. Leonard Nimoy never made me feel that way and often seeing him play Spock, or even reading or hearing his kind words could make me feel just a little better. Knowing that there was someone in the world that thought 'we are all people' was a good enough reason to show kindness and compassion, could get me through at least a little more of the day.

Now, today, we face a world where there is one less voice saying, 'we are all people'. And the world is poorer for that.

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