Normally, I keep my personal life off this blog, but as the mother of a 17-year-old autistic child, I was about as disgusted as I ever have been to hear these remarks coming from a nationally syndicated, popular radio talk show host, the aptly named Michael Savage:
Now, the illness du jour is autism. You know what autism is? 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.”
Autism — everybody has an illness. If I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool. And he said to me, “Don’t behave like a fool.” The worst thing he said — “Don’t behave like a fool. Don’t be anybody’s dummy. Don’t sound like an idiot. Don’t act like a girl. Don’t cry.” That’s what I was raised with. That’s what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training. You’re turning your son into a girl, and you’re turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That’s why we have the politicians we have.
Well, at least he didn’t say that autistic children were possessed by demons. Perhaps that’s the next broadcast.
My 17-year-old son (who does have a father around, one of the best fathers I know) is almost totally nonverbal. His autism, as far as testing can determine, is mixed in with mental retardation, which I suppose Savage also probably regards as a racket. Barring a medical miracle, he will never be able to hold a job without assistance or to live independently, will never be able to drive a car, will never be able to raise his own children. Does Savage truly think that any parent in his right mind would want such a future for his child just for the sake of a few hundred dollars per month in Supplemental Security Income?
To pull this back slightly toward historical fiction, there has been an interesting discussion on a site I frequent as to whether people in our time should feel superior to our forebears because of our advanced medical knowledge. Judging from Savage’s ignorant remarks about a debilitating mental illness, and the wide audience he commands–millions of Americans, which probably translates into a handsome salary for Savage–I would say we shouldn’t feel superior at all. Not by a long shot.