Creep of the Month

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.

15 thoughts on “Creep of the Month”

  1. Wow. On all sorts of levels…wow. I wonder if his mother ever told him to not spout “wisdom” on a topic he knows nothing about.

  2. What a horrible man. Obviously he knows nothing about autism.

    This must have been so hard for you to read.

  3. Clearly this cretin paid no attention to his father’s advice not to be a fool.

    Is their some kind of Olympic mesal for showing your bigotry on as many levels as you can?

    As a person with a severe disability – severe visual impairment – I have run into this sort of bitterness from people who don’t have a clue. ONe of these days I am going to voice what I always think.. “I hope someday you or someone you love has to cope with such malice and stupidity.” I could tell you stories.. but you have enough of your own.

    Nan Hawthorne

  4. What a horrible, despicable, ugly man! He obviously has no idea what he is talking about and is most likely saying it for ratings!

  5. There is nothing as dangerous as another person’s ignorance – and their self-assurance that they are right.

    I also noticed that he implied that girls were somehow inferior beings as well.

    This man is a waste of air. The only consolation is that he has made himself look an utter fool in public as I would imagine that the majority of people think like we do!

  6. Susan Higginbotham

    Thanks, all!

    One of the most unsettling things about this jerk is that he evidently has scientific training. Guess there was more money in spewing feces on the air than in his field of study.

  7. My brother is much the same as your son, though perhaps more verbal. The sweetest fellow in the world, but will never be able to hold down a job or live alone. He’s 25 now, and the horror of his state is that he is aware enough to know what he is not capable of. It’s been awful to watch his natural happiness drain out of him.

    His autism is mixed with cerebral palsey and sensory integration disorder. I suppose Savage will have choice words for those as well.

    The worst part is that his comments don’t even get me angry. Watching this country for the last seven years, it seems par for the course. I’ve watched as the state of Michigan dismantled its superior special education system in favor of the cheaper, and trendier, “mainstreaming.” Why do political trends trump science? It’s just deeply depressing.

  8. Susan:

    I have a cousin who married a woman with an autistic son. I’ve seen the son up close, and I know the young man(he’s 26 or so now) is autistic. He has a job of sorts, and he lives in a place that is geared to autistic adults, and he’s doing as well as he is able. The woman died last year, of some particularly aggressive cancer, but the man she first married, dumped her on acoount of her autistic son(he later remarried and boasted that he now had a “perfect” family). Meanwhile my sweet cousin, a mathematics teacher at a fancy private school near Washington DC, stood by her and did his best for both the autistic son and the daughter they had together. All I can say is, when a family has an autistic child, it is devastating, and no one would just “wish” this on their child. One of the people who commented on this disgustng trash from the mouth of a disgustingly trashy man(I’ve seen one of his shows — just one), said he had “scientific training”. I don’t know what kind of “scientific training” Savage had, but it apparently didn’t stick. And he clearly knows absolutely nothing about the subject of autism. If he did, he wouldn’t be spouting such pernicious nonsense.
    Anne G

  9. Aside from the wicked cruelty of his remarks, the sad thing is that millions of people think that he’s both sane and reasonable.

    What else can I say? I’m sorry for all parents of autistic children who have to hear these remarks coming from an influential person.

  10. The kindest thing that can be said about this guy is that he is ignorant.

    Pig ignorant – except that’s maybe unfair to pigs.

  11. Catherine Delors

    Autism covers such a broad spectrum of related conditions, and we are only beginning to understand what is at work. Certainly not a subject for one-liners by someone who totally lacks information, empathy and just plain common sense.

    But regardless of the scientific or pseudo-scientific explanation “du jour” (vaccinations, more recently TV, you name it) it seems a great topic to scapegoat parents instead of helping them. Remember Bettelheim?

  12. If he made such remarks about Afro-Americans, he would be fired. He probably couldn’t have got away with calling people with cancer for hypochondrics, either. But it seems that mental diseases are still fair game.

    Let’s hope for some bad karma his way.

  13. Susan, just FYI(though you may have heard already, I came across this post noting that Savage was finally jerked off the air in Mississippi for his ignorant remarks re autism. You can read it all here:

    He’s made many other ignorant, and apparently racist remarks like this before. I’m glad to hear that Mississippi, at least, has a few standards!
    Anne G

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