Sunday, July 20, 2008

Michael Savage On Autism and Disability

On his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage claimed that autism is "[a] fraud, a racket. ... 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.' "

 

I came across this story at Sami's Happy Place.

Michael Savage made several erroneous leaps. His first assertion is that minorities "suffered" from a higher rate of asthma to increase welfare benefits.  Of course it is a scam and not a legitimate illness.  The fact that minority neighbourhoods are often highly polluted areas has no connection at all.  We should forget that across North America the neighbourhoods with the closest proximity to industrial factories, and garbage dumps, are poor and largely filled with visible minorities and the invisible underclass.  Yeah, whatever link there might be is largely accidental.  Don't listen to the scientists and doctors, breathing polluted air and drinking water that hasn't been properly treated actually increases the quality of life.

Our less than bright sage then moves on to link autism with a lack of a father figure.  Autism is a very serious illness.  As I said in an earlier post on this issue I am not very versed in what causes Autism, or how it effects the daily life of one who has been diagnosed with this illness.  I do know enough to understand that though it manifests behaviourally, it is not an issue of someone acting out for the sake of acting out. It is not an issue of discipline, and the parents of autistic children are very much invested in taking care of their children.  Both of my children were born without any illnesses or diseases, and I find the task completely overwhelming some days. I cannot imagine what the parent of an autistic child must go through, between trying to care for their child, and dealing with the social ignorance that abounds about this illness.  So on behalf of all autistic children and their families I would like to offer you a heartfelt, FUCK YOU.

Now honestly that should be more than enough idiocy for one person on any given day, but some people simply cannot resist the urge to prove that they are oxygen thieves.  "Don't act like a girl, don't cry...Stop with the sensitivity training you're turning your son into a girl. You're turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men." Okay gender essentialist young boys could do a lot worse than learning to show their emotions and empathize with others.  Female is not a pejorative, and case you are forgetting a lowly woman brought you into this world.  I could go on a rant and list the accomplishments of women, but when dealing with  a sexist patriarchal automaton, I must acknowledge that it might just all be beyond his capability to understand.  I will say this though, the more he speaks, the more I believe that he is a good advocate for contraception education.  Look ladies, this is what skipping a pill just might lead to. (insert broken rubber joke)

Men like Michael Savage are nothing more than noise pollution. They fill the air with their ridiculous diatribes, based in ignorance and unacknowledged privilege.  He is beyond offensive and yet as we all know, he will continue to be given a platform to spew this offensive swill.  How many times do these on air personalities get to offend the sensibilities of decent people?  They get a small slap on the wrist, and are allowed to keep going because they make money for their broadcasters. Whether it is Dog the Bounty Hunter, Imus or Michael Savage the message needs to sent that this kind of hate is simply not acceptable.  To continually give them a platform to pontificate from makes these companies just as complicit as the personalities in question. This kind of garbage is not funny and to allow people to be dehumanized for the sake of profit is disgusting.


30 comments:

Howard Bannister said...

On Autism, I highly recommend http://hyperlexicon.blogspot.com/ It's written by a friend of mine, who's son has hyperlexia. It's a personal, heartfelt blog, and really, really well-written. I have to think that it would be a really good resource for parents who are similarly situated.

Janet Shan said...

What is scary is that people actually listen to Savage, much like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh's huge following. If he had a son or a daughter who was autistic, he wouldn't be trivializing the condition. Moron!

lynn said...

Savage is just so idiotic that I think it is more a testament to the public ignorance that he is so popular. I mean, I do believe in free speech. But he just makes things up as he goes along,and makes his points by distorting the arguments and by throwing in generalizations. For somebody who talks up his education, he sure doesn't display thorough reasoning skills. Take his "proof" that global warming is a lie: he cites examples of high temperatures from pre-car decades. Just like that- in his mind that's all there is to it.

Now it might be true that there are a few cases where parents have seen opportuniites in the gray areas of autism for things like medical insurance- but these are not the norm just as it is not the norm for people on welfare to drive cadillacs. These accusations are old, tiresome, based on unusual scenarios, and are used to decry whole systems. That is what the politics of hate is all about.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

I found your blog because I have a Google Alert set up for autism and a link to this post found its way to my inbox this morning. And I'm glad it did, because I've been poking around your blog and loving it.

And as the mom of an autistic son, I just wanted to leave a big thank you for that "fuck you" to Michael Savage.

dmarks said...

I haven't been as outraged by something like this since Bill Maher's rant that disabled children were sub-human, like dogs.

Hitler used this sort of logic as justification for making disabled people the first victims of the Holocaust.

Sandalstraps said...

Here's what I had to say about this.

Sami said...

I wish things like this would get heard just as much as Michael Savage does!
As I was reading the comments I just wanted to note that in my experience with families and insurance they are usually not able to get their insurance to help pay for any of the therapies they do with their children.

shannonj said...

Well, his ignorance got my attention, and here is my letter to him:

Dear Mr. Savage,

My name is Shannon Johnson and I am the proud parent of a 13 year old son with autism.
If you met my son, you would probably think that he was very funny, as he would not hesitate to smile and call you weird, which is his best attempt at a compliment. He would find you intriguing because you have facial hair and he would want to touch it with his sticky fingers that usually smell like his last meal. He seems taller than he actually is because he walks on his toes. It makes it hard for him to wear shoes, but he will tolerate flip-flops in the summer and slip on shoes in the winter, as long as he can take them off as soon as he gets in the car or enters the house. Although he eats like a horse and I literally have to keep a lock on my refrigerator door, he is skinny and underweight, probably in part because of his severe digestive issues. Without a special diet of gluten-free and dairy-free foods, and a multitude of supplements, enzymes and medications, he wouldn’t even digest a fraction of the food that passes his lips. For the majority of his life, he has experienced more restrictions, seen more physicians, been poked more with needles and been tested more by psychologists than most adults can ever imagine. Through it all, he has been braver and more courageous than anyone I have ever met.

Naturally, it disappoints me to hear someone of your intelligence and of your influence describe children with autism as “brats”. I can only assume that you are referring to the fact that some children with autism are known to have behavioral meltdowns or tantrums.
Honestly, my son is one of those kids. If you saw him in public having a meltdown, you would probably deduct that he was screaming because he couldn’t have a new toy or another ice cream cone; that he was using his lungs to manipulate his parents into giving into his selfish requests. However, you would be completely wrong. Instead, he might
simply be reacting to the fact that the sights and smells, the sounds and colors in the mall, or at the grocery store, have overwhelmed his already over-stimulated sensory system and he needs to retreat to the safety of the car right away. In this heightened moment, his anxiety would be revved up and he would lose his ability to verbally communicate his needs. He would then rely on his tears to inform me or his father that his system had had all that it could take, no matter what goodie we might offer, no matter what reward lay in our cart….And then, once he was safe away from the sensory assault, he might ask, as he has in the past, “What can we do next time so that it’s not so loud in the store?”……Certainly, we have even sat in the rain to eat a meal outside when the restaurant lights were too bright or the music inside too loud for our very sensitive boy.

If you stood outside my son’s door sometime, Mr. Savage, as I invite you to do if you are ever in my neighborhood, you might hear my son ask God in heaven to “please make me get better soon.” Not really the words of a “brat”, Mr. Savage…Only a very affected child who doesn’t feel good most of the time, and would do just about anything to just be like everyone else.

Sincerely-
Shannon Johnson
Co-founder, www.foggyrock.com

cooper said...

I read this earlier on Free State Politics, and couldn't help but want to smack that man. I passed on the post and media matters thing to two people i know who have children with autism, once my cousin and one a blogger.

i can't for the life of me understand how such stupidity in possible.

The man really needs to lose his job.

DiosaNegra1967 said...

more chest-thumping idiotic ramblings from yet another bastian of uber-masculinity....i'm not surprised anymore....

...as the more responsible members of society call for the re-examination of privilege and all their associated "-isms" there will be an (attempted) backlash instigated by those who have a vested interest in keeping things as they are....

Renee said...

...as the more responsible members of society call for the re-examination of privilege and all their associated "-isms" there will be an (attempted) backlash instigated by those who have a vested interest in keeping things as they are....
One can only hope but daily I become more and more disillusioned.

sarahaysuck said...

I didn't think this would make me as upset as it did. I work one-on-one with children with autism at an SRA and I am studying special education and planning to become an occupational therapist. This summer I have worked one-on-one with more than 10 children with autism and I have gotten to know themselves and their families intimately. This is NEVER the case. In fact, some of the families I have seen actually OVERDISCIPLINE their kids and do say the stuff that the jerk suggests a father should say, because they want to believe it is an act. But it does nothing, because autism is not something that can be fixed with extreme discipline and a father figure. ( Infact, all the kids I work with have a father in their lives! ) It is a neurological disorder.

But yes, this made me very upset. I thought I would be able to shrug it off as another idiot, but I can't. What a jerk.

sarahaysuck said...

ugh that was so not as articulate and smart as I wanted it to sound- but the point still remains, IM MAD.

Renee said...

You did just fine sarahaysuck and welcome to womanist musings where all bodies matter.

Remardeminos said...

Ya know, on the subject of turning boys into girls. He isn't insulting women, he is bringing up a point that our society has something against men. Women have always been a nurturing force in the home while men are the authoritarian figure. The person who disciplines children, teaching sometimes when you do wrong, their are consquintcies. When there is a need, women can and will step up to the role left vacate by the lack of a man in the home. Its happen before and it'll happen again.

Problem that Savage brings up is we're telling boys thats its wrong to be men. Its wrong to have a harden image nessacary to get through life. Whenever I tried to do things on an emotional level, I do not have as good results as I would as I do on a more stoic, harder edge level. I work security, formerly a military cop. So I have lots of chances to experiment with this.

So Micheal isn't insulting women, merely pointing out an erronous path that our society is following. Cause if we have no men to deal with the serious rigors of life, whose going to do it? Soft and emotional sometimes just dose not cut it.

Renee said...

@remardeminos Problem that Savage brings up is we're telling boys thats its wrong to be men. Its wrong to have a harden image nessacary to get through life. Whenever I tried to do things on an emotional level, I do not have as good results as I would as I do on a more stoic, harder edge level. I work security, formerly a military cop. So I have lots of chances to experiment with this.

To actually believe what you wrote one would have to embrace a gender binary. The idea that there are characteristics that can be assigned based solely on the basis of sex is completely wrong. Socially we construct gender and then perform it throughout our lives. It begins at birth with the assigning of names to the display of pink and blue to signify gender. If it were a fact that certain characteristics where definitely male or female we would not be able to see cultural changes throughout the globe, i.e what is considered masculine in America may be deemed feminine in say Greece. Why this is insulting to women is because things that are deemed feminine are always culturally devalued.
As a mother raising children in a non conforming gender performance household I can tell you that indeed it can be done if you are committed to it.

big ed edwards said...

First of all Michael Savage is a Talk show Host who "pushes the line" thats his job,I am disgusted that people who complain what someone says on the air,thinks a Host should be fired..Its the new disgusting thought process in America.If you dont like what you hear on the radio ...TURN TO ONE OF THE 40 TO 50 OTHERS YOU CAN GET..but no,just like the religious fanatic nutballs,those folks dont want anyone to be able to "SAY" things theydont agree with,I am waiting for America to "GET BACK TO THE GOOD OLD DAYS" when if you didnt like what someone said"TOO BAD,THATS TUFF CRAP"grow some balls!!-- while autism is different from aad and/or what ever made upalphabet letters you want to use for BAD BEHAVIOR,it is the basic point that "PARENTING IN AMERICA HAS GONE TO HELL" in the last 10/15 years..I was a coach for over 20 years and when I would find out I had a little mommys boy brat on my hands,I would make it clear to him.." THAT MAY WORK WITH MOMMY AND DADDY ,BUT HERE EDDIE DONT PLAY THAT CRAP".."WE DO IT MY WAY HERE,NOW IF YOUR PARENTS ARE STUPID ENOUGH TO PUT UP WITH YOUR CRAP,GOOD FOR YOU,PLAY THAT GAME WITH THEM NOT ME" and 99% said "OK COACH" and were fine the majority of the time...The others weren't there much longer....American parents are raising an alarming number of useless misfits,but I dont have to accept it and I dont...MY suggestion when dealing woth these parents,WHO CARES if they dont like you,be agressive with these loser parents,they are ball-less just like their kids and will leave to avoid confrontation,LET THEM BECOME SOMEONE ELSE'S PROBLEM.....ed

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