Here’s a standard account of autism, from Wikipedia:
Autism is a brain development disorder that first gives signs during infancy or childhood and generally follows a steady course without remission or relapse. Impairments result from maturation-related changes in various systems of the brain. Autism is one of the five pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), which are characterized by widespread abnormalities of social interactions and communication, and severely restricted interests and highly repetitive behavior.
The manifestations of autism cover a wide spectrum, ranging from individuals with severe impairments—who may be silent, mentally disabled, and locked into hand flapping and rocking—to less impaired individuals who may have active but distinctly odd social approaches, narrowly focused interests, and verbose, pedantic communication.
Here’s the cause of autism by a popular right-wing radio talk show host, Michael Savage (reported by Media Matters):
On the July 16 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage claimed that autism is “[a] fraud, a racket.” Savage went on to say, “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.’ ” Savage concluded, “[I]f 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.”
If you want to hear it for yourself, click on this link:
How popular is Michael Savage? According to Media Matters
Talk Radio Network, which syndicates The Savage Nation, claims that Savage is heard on more than 350 radio stations. The Savage Nation reaches at least 8.25 million listeners each week, according to Talkers Magazine, making it one of the most listened-to talk radio shows in the nation, behind only The Rush Limbaugh Show and The Sean Hannity Show.
You might be wondering how it was that Michael Savage was ever put onto the national airwaves. Good question, because his opinions are often incredibly ill-informed. Nonetheless, Savage’s show actually replaced Phil Donahue’s show in 2003. And see here. MSNBC killed Phil Donahue’s show when Donahue had the audacity to question why the U.S. was about to invade Iraq. Now we have Michael Savage to tell us how the world really works. What is the world view of Michael Savage? Here’s a report by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting):
Savage routinely refers to non-white countries as “turd world nations” and charges that the U.S. “is being taken over by the freaks, the cripples, the perverts and the mental defectives” (San Francisco Bay Guardian, 9/20/00). In a recent broadcast he justified ethnic slurs as a national security tool: “We need racist stereotypes right now of our enemy in order to encourage our warriors to kill the enemy,” he explained (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/6/03).
Although the above quote was from 2003, Savage has continued spewing his venom and he has been allowed to do this through mainstream corporate sponsorships. It’s almost unbelievable.
But now, you actually can do something about this hate-monger by taking away his advertisers.
Epilogue: I wanted to recognize that there is sometimes a grain of truth to many talk show rants. Hence, I wouldn’t deny that some parents might hide behind medical/psychological diagnoses to deflect blame from their poor parenting skills. I bet that this happens regularly. Maybe it even happens in some of the cases of the “extremely mild” cases of autism. Even to the extent that this is true, however, Savage is nonetheless way out of bounds arguing that the diagnosis of autism is a fraud in 99% of the cases. His reckless accusation hurls needless blame at thousands of excellent parents; it is incredibly hurtful and insensitive. Such a charge belies deep and credible mounds of medical literature. To make this horrid accusation demonstrates that Savage hasn’t researched his topic responsibly and that he certainly hasn’t spent any meaningful time with children diagnosed with autism.
This example involving Savage is yet another example of how many media outlets feed on manufactured conflict to sell ads. I’ve written about this recently, calling this tactic “conflict pornography.”
I intend to listen to one of Savages shows someday soon to see exactly which companies are still sponsoring his vile attacks. I will publish that updated list in a comment to this post.