I'm sure Sami will have something to say about this - maybe even a post of her own. But for now, though I'm amazed that I'm wasting my precious time on idiocy, here goes:
Michael Savage - a blowhard if ever there were one - has offered some astute insight into autism:
I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is. What do you mean they scream and they're silent? They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.'
Media Matters notes that Mr. Savage went on to say:
If I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool.
If that's true, Mr. Savage, your father is on the line right now, screaming YOU FOOL!
I know, calling someone a fool and a blowhard hardly counts as an intelligent rebuttal to their point, but I'm looking as hard as I can for Mr. Savage's point, and I don't see one. All I see is someone who cashes some very generous paychecks for spewing ill-informed, bigoted hatred.
I'm all for the freedom of speech. Mr. Savage has a right to say whatever he wants to say, and so long as his speech does not slander or defame, or steer others to commit violent crimes, there should be no legal consequences for it. That's the price we pay for living in a country that tolerates public criticism. A small price to pay for our freedom to call out our government when it leads us where we don't want to go.
But that doesn't mean there shouldn't be economic consequences.
Mr. Savage should have been out of a job long ago for his many transgressions against intelligence and decency. If his employers lack the moral courage to shut off his microphone, forcing him to do something worthwhile with his life, then economic pressure should be brought to bare against them, too.
Freedom of speech does not equal freedom to collect obscene paychecks for spewing ignorant hatred.
Update: 7-18-08, 10:08 am
As soon as I posted my initial response to Michael Savage's comments, I knew it was incomplete. I should have noted in my original post the connection between Mr. Savage's lack of understanding of (or interest in understanding) autism and his lack of compassion for persons impacted by autism, and his misogynistic patriarchy.
Mr. Savage argues (if one can call his rant an argument) that autism is caused by the absence of a father, as well as by raising boys like they are girls.
Even more troubling is how his words (and the beliefs to which they presumably point) function. Simply put, here, Mr. Savage creates a socially ostracizable Other, a group that can serve as a scapegoat, whose problems are a function not of some disease, not of some accident of birth or exposure to an environmental agent, but rather of that dreaded moral weakness.
As such, I'm not so sure my earlier analysis holds. It is, after all, not a very large leap at all to go from creating this morally weak Other to exterminating it. While Mr. Savage has not directly called for violence against autistic persons and their families, his words themselves may represent a very real act of violence. They may also, if they are left unchecked, help create the necessary social conditions for physical violence.
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