One of the running arguments down in the comments (in her blog, in other blogs, on reddit, on the astral plane, etc.) is about whether it makes a difference whether someone is painfully socially awkward, has Asperger's or an autism spectrum disorder, or is just a boundary-free creepy fucker, whether these things are comorbid a lot, and what to do about it.
I think it's really damn easy to tell the difference between them, myself. I suspect it's because I do tact about like a Panzer tank does ballet. The people who seem to have issues making the distinction also seem to be the people advocating that everyone else learn to read body language in order to get along. It's certainly a handy skill to have -- you would not believe what is in some of these subtitles -- and I do encourage everyone to learn it to the best of their ability just because it makes life a lot simpler.
But you know what else makes life simpler? SAYING STUFF.
Time for an example.
I am holding a party. Many people are there. Some of them know each other, and some do not. I, sensing that I am about to run out of canapés and that this would be a disaster, turn to a nearby partygoer and say, "Could you hold this fleebwanger? Please don't gronkulate it. I'll be back in ten minutes."
If I hand it to an average, reasonably socially-competent human, there's a decent chance that my fleebwanger will be ungronkulated when I get back, but it's not 100%. Because if he looks around, he'll notice that other people are holding things that might be fleebwangers? And they look gronkulated? So maybe gronkulation is a thing now? If someone asks about the ungronkulated fleebwanger he's holding, he's capable of shrugging and saying, "I dunno, it belongs to this one weird chick who asked me to hold it for her," but the more people who ask him, the more likely he is to decide that either I'm insane or he misheard me, and gronkulate the fleebwanger so it looks like everyone else's, because clearly that's how they're supposed to look. The more pressure he felt to gronkulate, also, the more likely he is to complain at me for leaving him alone in the room with a fleebwanger that isn't even his, standing there all ungronkulated in front of God and everyone, in violation of what is apparently the local norm.
If I hand it to someone socially-awkward, my chances of getting the fleebwanger back properly ungronkulated are higher, unless another person actually takes it away from him and gronkulates it themselves in an effort to be helpful. The socially-awkward person will feel the same or more pressure to gronkulate the thing as the normal guy, both obliquely from observing the plethora of gronkulated fleebwangers and overtly from people asking him about it, but socially-awkward people have so little faith in their ability to read situations that they'll generally go with what the latest and most insistent not-obviously-evil voice tells them is the right thing to do. If I ask them not to gronkulate my fleebwanger, their insistence that outside judgement is better than their own will generally override anything that isn't other equally-trustworthy outside judgement, applied while I'm gone. I'll also probably get a shower of apologies for the gronkulated fleebwanger -- when I come back, my request once again takes chronological precedence, and they're all too willing to believe that they're horribly wrong and it's all their fault.
If I hand it to an aspie, my fleebwanger will remain properly ungronkulated. He may spend most of the ten minutes I'm away sitting on the floor viciously defending my fleebwanger from helpful advisors who are encouraging him to gronkulate it, biting hands if necessary, and stubbornly refusing to either let go or argue past 'it's not mine, she asked me not to gronkulate it', but I will be handed back my fleebwanger as soon as I return, and it will be ungronkulated goddamnit. If I am friends with an aspie who's sufficiently high-functioning to go to parties of his own free will, then all I have to do is give him a specific request, and as long as the stupidity of what I want is less than or equal to the stupidity of what other people are telling him to do, it happens. Asperger's doesn't remove your sense of self-preservation or anything, generally speaking, nor does it remove anxiety about social situations. But, on the whole, autistic people are no more or less inclined to try to please their friends than anyone else -- it's just easier for them to grasp what exactly it is you want if you give them an explicit outline, including the parts other people just kind of assume.
(Quite frankly, I like hanging out with aspies -- I have a high tolerance for non-standard-but-not-intrusive behaviors like obsessing or stimming or having to ask odd questions to work out what's going on, and I'm good at breaking down a lot of the things neurotypical humans do in a way that people who like lists and logic can process. Plus when I tell them 'I'm going to ask you to do something; if you don't want to do it, you need to say "no", and even if you refuse I will not be angry,' I can get them to frigging believe me.)
If I hand it to a creeper, my fleebwanger may or may not come back gronkulated, but it'll definitely come back with baggage. I cannot predict the state of gronkulation, because all of the creeper's traditional rationalizations work in either direction -- everyone else is gronkulating, you let other people gronkulate it, you shouldn't give me your fleebwanger if you didn't like what I wanted to do with it, etc. Creepers are creepers precisely because they have a history of boundary violations -- in this case, it's deciding that he knows best about my fleebwanger, regardless of which path he decides to take -- and a mindset incapable of recognizing that the reason other people never hand them fleebwangers anymore is that they feel entitled to override the owner's request at random. Maybe he hasn't gronkulated my fleebwanger against my wishes yet, but I'm not going to fucking hand it to him if I can help it, because he doesn't understand that the fleebwanger is still mine even if I ask other people to hang onto it for me from time to time.
The easiest way to tell them apart if you don't leave explicit instructions and come back to find your fleebwanger unexpectedly in a state of gronkulation is to say, "For future reference, please don't gronkulate my fleebwangers." Normal people respond, "Huh. Okay." If you seem angry, or they're especially worried about upsetting people, you might get an apology. These are the kinds of apologies it's safe to respond to with, "no, that's okay," because in the unspoken dialect of the socially-competent, this is correctly expanded to, "I accept your expressed chagrin at having inadvertently offended me this time, and it will be fine if you just remember next time that my fleebwangers should remain ungronkulated."
Socially-awkward people and aspies have more or less the same reaction, which is to apologize and mean it, and usually feel bad or inadequate for not having guessed about the gronkulation. This may be unnecessary -- it's entirely possible that a socially-competent person couldn't have guessed from the available data that I didn't want the fleebwanger gronkulated, either -- but since the how and why of reading human subtitles eludes them, they have no way to judge how much they should have guessed from what they got, and based on past experience they assume they fucked up. You can respond to these apologies with, "No, that's okay," and nobody will die, but you really kind of shouldn't, because what that just said to someone who hasn't got the closed captions turned on is, "It is not okay to gronkulate my fleebwangers without asking, but no really it's totally okay." This kind of thing is what makes socially-awkward introverts hate being in a large group of mostly-unknown people. Gronkulating physically cannot be okay and not okay at the same time. At least one half of that sentiment is a damn dirty lie, and they don't know with any certainty which is which, so good luck ever getting them to the point where they feel safe assuming the stuff that comes out of your mouth reflects what you're actually thinking.
Creeps will whine. Instead of a minor conflict that involved you not wanting your fleebwanger gronkulated, them apologizing, and you sending the all-clear signal, your ACCUSATION of gronkulation WOUNDS him deeply, because all you had to do was COMMUNICATE that you were opposed to it, and you have NO RIGHT to assume he knew that and get mad even though he gronkulated it FOR YOU, because society had MISLED him into thinking that people WANT their fleebwangers gronkulated without asking as a ROMANTIC GESTURE... basically, instead of a fifteen-second exchange of words, it becomes The Creepy Fucker Show, all creepy-fucker, all the time! The creep sees this as you rejecting his entire personal philosophy and shutting down his idea that doing things for other people, even if other people don't ask for them and don't want them, is how you get other people to do nice things (i.e., give you attention, affection, sex, money, etc.) for you. The other people around give you dirty looks and remind you that it's only a fleebwanger, you didn't need to start drama over it. And you kind of stand there going, ...the FUCK?, having no idea whither originated the fight -- because it really is only a fleebwanger, you just want him to remember not to gronkulate it next time, and really you only snapped at him because this is like the twentieth time he's done it or something juuuuuust far enough away from it that he can argue that the last time you asked him not to do a thing doesn't apply -- or if this is just how people have fun on the planet Mongo and nobody told you.
The Captain's advice for telling people to knock it the fuck off when warranted, incidentally, is not victim-blaming. The point of it is not to see if you can hit upon the super-secret Easter egg combination of button presses that