(Insert Jeopardy music here...doo do doo do doo do doo.....)
Ok. Did you read it? Did you watch the video? Alrighty - let's get started!
There are so many things wrong with what he said that I don't think I can actually form words to express how this makes me feel. I don't know how to react either. A heavy sigh, a vicious shake of the head, a desire to punch him square in the face....yeah. All of those things. And to use words to fight his words. To stand up for our kids, which as evidenced by a parent of a child on the spectrum, isn't always the number one priority. Did Joe think that by adding that his child has Asperger's it would make his statement more valid? I think it had the opposite effect, don't you. It makes you, Joe, look like an idiot.
Let me ask you this, if this had happened in a rural area, would you automatically think, "Oh, those kids who hunt, they must be NRA nuts with a screw loose." Tom Selleck and Ted Nugent would place their laser sights on your ass.
What about an affluent area? Would you automatically think, "This is what happens when kids play violent video games," or "This is what happens when rich parents spoil their kids." What would the backlash be? Tipper Gore would be happy, but the software designers and their loyal gamers would run you down like Sonic runs down those rings at warp speed (ok, this was a horrible analogy, but I don't play video games, so I'm reaching here!).
If this had happened in an urban area, would you think "Those African-American males - their mama's didn't love them enough?" Oh, boy - for that last generalization we would be treated to Al Sharpton on every news program.
So, why would this asshat, Joe Scarborough, A MAN WHO HAS A CHILD ON THE SPECTRUM, make a generalization like this (this is where I am putting my head in my hands and crying). Maybe he truly believes this. Maybe we should go back in time to the 50s and 60s and put all of our special needs children in institutions. Or, if Joe had his way, maybe just those autistic kids whose parents don't love them enough. He obviously loves his son so much that he uses his diagnosis to justify what he said. What else do you use your child's diagnosis to justify, Joe?
And this is what is wrong with the world. Everyone has to have a label. Everyone else is an expert on everyone else. We walk through life judging and making assumptions and generalizations. We know what is best for everyone, everywhere. This is bullshit. This has to stop.
My kid is not like your kid. Your kid is not like mine. I would never assume anything about your child, your marriage, your choices, your job. Don't do that to me or my child.
Say you're sorry, Joe.
Autistic Journalist Demands Joe Scarborough Retract Comments Linking Autism To Aurora Shooting
On his MSNBC program this morning, Morning Joehost Joe Scarborough made the stunning declaration that people like Aurora mass shooter James Holmes are “somewhere, I believe, on the autism scale,” and that while he didn’t know if this was true of Holmes specifically, “it happens more often than not.”
In an email to Mediaite, labor journalist Mike Elk, who recently “came out” as autistic himself, denounced Scarborough’s comments, and demanded a retraction from the network.
In case you missed it, here’s what Scarborough said this morning:
“You have these people that are somewhere, I believe, probably on the autism scale, I don’t know if that’s the case here, but it happens more often than not, people that can walk around in society, that can function on college campuses, can even excel in college campuses, but are socially disconnected. I have a son who has Asperger’s who is loved by everyone in his family and who is wonderful, but it is for those that may not have a loving family and a support group and may be a bit further along on the autism spectrum, an extraordinarily frustrating, terrible challenge day in and day out. and so, I do think, again, I don’t know the specifics about this young man, but we see too many shooters in these type of tragedies bearing the same characteristics mentally.”
In response to an email inquiry, Mike Elk, a staff writer for In These Times who recently wrote a beautiful essay in which he “came out” publicly as a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, denounced Scarborough’s remarks, and demanded a retraction:
As both a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, as well a journalist, MSNBC must issue an immediate retraction of Joe Scarborough’s unfounded statements accusing the shooter of having autism and linking autism to violence. There is absolutely no evidence that the Colorado shooter has autism, nor is there a single scientific study that links autism to violent outbursts such as the despicable acts of terrorism that occurred last Friday in Aurora, Colorado. As someone who was bullied, beaten, and often a loner as child, I never once though about taking out violent rage against those who bullied me. Instead, I poured my sense of hurt into reporting on workers who were similarly being bullied by big corporations.Scarborough, whose own son has Asperger’s, should know better than to spread false stereotypes about people on the Autism spectrum as being prone to violence. Instead, Scarborough has contributed to the further isolation of people on the autism scale. Hopefully, Mr. Scarborough will retract his remarks, as well as host a broader discussion on Autism to spell away the many stereotypes of Autism often spoken by non-Autistic people such as himself.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has also issued a statement calling for a retraction:
“Mr. Scarborough’s remarks suggesting that James Holmes, the shooter behind the Aurora movie theater killings, was an Autistic American are as perplexing as they are without evidence. No information on Mr. Holmes has suggested that he displays the diagnostic characteristics of autism and no evidence exists tying autism with violent behavior or threats to public safety. As a parent, Mr. Scarborough should know better than to perpetrate these types of unfortunate stereotypes. Autistic Americans are an integral part of our society and live, work and attend school alongside our non-Autistic peers. There exists no evidence linking autism with violent behavior. By spreading ill-founded and unsupported claims linking autism with violence, Mr. Scarborough does our community real harm. We urge him to reconsider and for him and MSNBC to retract his remarks.”
In case you were wondering what Scarborough based his assertions on, I believe it was a study that was recently published in The Journal Of Joe Scarborough’s Ass. There is absolutely no scientific data which links autism to mass murder, and what little research there is on autism and crime is flawed and inconsistent. The inherent absurdity and irresponsibility of Scarborough’s statements are aggravated by the fact that he is the father of an adult child with an autism disorder, which might lead viewers to believe that he knows what the hell he’s talking about. This is the main reason I hesitate to disclose that I am the father of two children with autism spectrum disorders, because I don’t want to derive unearned authority, moral or otherwise, from that fact.
I reveal it now because it’s relevant to my initial reaction to Scarborough’s comments, which was one of hurt and revulsion. Autistic kids have enough to deal with in life without Joe Scarborough running around telling people they’re potential mass murderers, unless they’ve got an awesome dad like Joe Scarborough, or conflating autism, which is a neurodevelopmental disorder, with mental illnesses like schizophrenia.
But that emotional impulse to lash out at Joe Scarborough makes Mike Elk’s response all the more admirable. Yes, he is unamused, but his main concern is that people be given the correct information. Rather than simply vent outrage at Joe Scarborough, Elk makes a reasonable request, that instead of issuing some sort of apology, and going through the shame paces, Joe Scarborough ought to set the record straight at the same volume at which he distorted it.