Tag Archives: Joe Scarborough

Joe Scarborough’s Ignorance And What It Means To The American Public

I wanted to write about how Richard came home yesterday (Yay!) and how we took Emma to the Chelsea Market and how she insisted on wearing a pair of black patent leather shoes, turquoise tank top and pink terry cloth shorts with white hearts.  I wanted to post a couple of photos of her so you could see for yourself how great she looks, but when I sat down to write I knew I had to write about something else.

I don’t want to talk about Joe Scarborough any more.  Yet his unfortunate, ridiculous, careless and ignorant remarks, make it impossible not to mention him, because he has a huge following, because people imagine he knows something about Autism.  Joe Scarborough’s remarks are indicative of a larger issue – ignorance and misinformation, which leads to opinions and a general consensus about Autism that is incorrect.  One such commenter on an article about Joe Scarborough’s remarks, said he believed Joe Scarborough knew more about autism than he did because he has a son who is Autistic.  And that is exactly why this is about more than just some asshole with a radio show.  There are countless people spewing all kinds of venom on the radio and everywhere else.  Much of it is dismissed.  But when someone, whether it’s a pseudo celebrity or a talk show host with a large following says they have a child on the spectrum ears perk up.  Forget that AUTISTICS are talking about what it’s like to be autistic ALL THE TIME and their words are almost never in accordance with what that parent with an Autistic child is saying.

So just to reiterate:

Autism is NOT a “mental health” issue.  It is neurological, neither good nor bad, just DIFFERENT.

Joe Scarborough, (I know, there’s his name again) said in a statement he made yesterday, which was neither apologetic nor a retraction from his original inflammatory comments, “I look forward to continuing my work with wonderful organizations like Autism Speaks to provide badly needed support to millions of Americans who struggle with Autism every day.”

Autism Speaks does NOT provide badly needed support to Autistics.  In fact Autism Speaks is uniformly HATED by a massive number of Autistics who speak to that fact on a daily basis.  If you google “Autistics who hate Autism Speaks” you will see more than a dozen pages of links addressing why this is so.  (Really, I just googled it.)

While I’m at it, let’s dispel a couple more myths, something Autistics are doing ALL the time on their blogs.

Autistic people are not inherently violent.

Autistic people do not LACK empathy.

Autistic people are not all loners sitting in a corner banging their heads against the wall  (That would better describe me right about now)  until they can no longer take it and go on a murderous rampage.

Autistic people are not all depressed and friendless.

I’m depressed right now.  But this isn’t about me, or how I feel, or anything else that contains the word, me or I.  This is about prejudices and prejudices are always negative, reinforced by ignorance, ingested by those who believe they are being told the truth by someone who is more knowledgable than they are about something they know nothing about.  This is how it works.  This is how it has always worked throughout history, the demonization of a group of people whose voices are drowned out by the larger roar of ignorance and stupidity.

I refuse to end on this note, however.  So here.  Here are a couple of photos of Emma in the outfit she threw on to go to Chelsea Market yesterday evening.  Because Em is one more example of what Autism looks like.  Emma is inherently HAPPY.  Emma is inherently SOCIAL.  Emma is inherently KIND.  Emma is inherently EMPATHIC.  I’m trying really hard to follow her lead.

This is Autism.  This is Emma.

Loved that as I took this photo a woman wearing black patent leather pumps and turquoise dress walked toward her!

“I can’t reach!”

Related articles

Autism, Assumptions and Perpetuating Misperceptions

I was going to write something about the Aurora shootings, but I think it’s better if I give some links to things others have written.

This link is from Lydia Brown on her blog Autistic Hoya – All I Want to do is Weep.  She wrote it last Friday, July 20th before Joe Scarborough, whose son is Autistic, weighed in with his damaging, destructive words, needlessly adding fuel to the flames of ignorance and misperceptions that roar whenever the word autism is spoken.

Then, just as Lydia and others within the Autism community predicted, Joe Scarborough said,  “As soon as I hear about this shooting, I knew who it was. I knew it was a young, white male, probably from an affluent neighborhood, disconnected from society — it happens time and time again..”  He added, “Most of it has to do with mental health; you have these people that are somewhere, I believe, on the autism scale. I don’t know if that’s the case here, but it happens more often than not.”

His words, so predictable, so incredibly stupid it would have been comical had it not been so very harmful to so many.  When I read his comments I thought, people will read Lydia’s piece and assume she’s psychic, because that would be the only explanation for her ability to predict such a thing.  Right?

Kassiane Sibly wrote on her blog Radical Neurodivergence Speaking – Open Letter to the Media in the Wake of the Aurora Shootings

Paula Durbin-Westby wrote: Autism, Aurora Shooter, and Actual Crime Statistics

Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg wrote: Despicable: Joe Scarborogh’s  Words on Autims and Mass Murder

And finally here is the petition Rachel started, demanding Joe Scarborogh retract his statement.  Please sign.  This is too important.

Sign this Petition

These “theories” and it seems they are always “theories” which appear to be code for “opinion” are doing damage to people who are living their lives in a society that not only does not understand, seems unwilling to understand and even actively refuses to understand despite all the people who are trying to help them understand.

Autistics are saying – LISTEN TO US!   And we look around and say, huh, I don’t hear anything.

Autistics are saying – STOP SAYING THINGS ABOUT US WITHOUT INCLUDING US IN THE CONVERSATION!  And we look around and say to one another, Huh.  Did you hear something?  Nah.  Carry on.

Autistics are saying – NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US and we say, I don’t understand.  Why are they so angry?

Autistics are saying – YOUR MISPERCEPTIONS ABOUT US ARE HURTING US and we say, oh those autistics are not like my child, that’s not what my child would say.  My child is nonverbal.  My child can’t type.  My child doesn’t have a blog.  My child can’t say the things those Autistics can say and do.  My child is different.

How do you know? 

How do you know?

Joe.  You made a mistake.  Retract.  Apologize.  Make amends.  Have an Autistic on your show.  Listen to them.  Listen to your son.  Do the right thing, educate yourself.  You have a massive following.  You could make an incredible difference to so many lives including your son’s and your own.

I will end with this thought. I choose to presume competence, not just in Emma, but in myself and in my fellow human beings.  We ARE capable of listening to one another.  We ARE capable of shifting the perceptions of autism and Autistics, one person at a time.  I believe that, because to do otherwise is to live in a world I cannot and do not want to be a part of.