OK, So before all of this Joe Scarborough insanity, I had planned to post about something entirely different. Something light-hearted. Something sort of funny even. Now that I’ve dedicated forty-eight hours to Joe (there’s been FAR more behind the scenes than you’ve seen here on the blog) I know that I desperately need to at least attempt to switch gears – at least momentarily. But it’s not working.
I wish I could wash my hands of it and move on. But the fight is far, far from over. Joe’s careless words and then his disastrous attempt to ‘clarify’ them have done nothing if not show us just how much work there is left to do.
When one of our own is clueless enough to make this kind of baseless, reckless and dangerous assumption, I cringe to think of just how far we have to go with the general public.
Some have argued that Joe made a mistake and that I, among others, am being too harsh. I adamantly disagree. Joe didn’t just make a mistake. What he did was to jump to a disastrous and bigoted conclusion on national television with absolutely no evidence to back it up.
What if Joe had said, “I knew it was a young, *black* male.” or ‘I knew it was a young *gay* male”? He’d be out on his ass. And truly, how different would either of those assumptions have been from the one that he made?
Are gay people more violent than straight people? Of course not. Well, wait, not intrinsically perhaps, but what if they don’t have the support of ‘a loving family?’ Hmm, they might get depressed. Even perhaps feel disconnected from society. Would that then make them murderous? For heaven’s sake no. No more than autism, or even a lack of support for an autistic person, would make – or even contribute to making – a man order 6,000 rounds of ammunition and show up at a movie theater in full body armor carrying an AR-15 assault rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun and a Glock .40-caliber handgun.
His statement was outrageous. But because it was directed at a group of people who are still so desperately misunderstood by society, the outrage seems to be ours alone.
So why? Why am I outraged? Why am I still working with the heads of advocacy organizations desperately trying to create a broad-based, highly visible response to this? Why am I giving this man attention? Why am I keeping this story alive?
Because he said what he said from a huge, national platform. Because with all due respect to his viewers, most of them likely don’t know any better than to believe him. Because many of them probably don’t know that there’s no such thing as an ‘Autism Scale’.
Because there’s an (increasingly erroneous) assumption that journalists do actual research before blurting out baseless conjecture. Because when someone, particularly a journalist, starts a sentence with, “As a father of a child with Asperger’s …” it’s reasonable to conclude that he must know what he’s talking about. Because people outside of our world don’t have the context to realize that he obviously does not.
Mr Scarborough made a gross generalization that hurts my child. And yours. And all of us. My girl fights an uphill battle every day just to live in this world that isn’t designed for her. She does it with grace and poise and humor and unadulterated, unbridled love and by God, how dare he saddle her with society’s fear that she might just come unglued and kill us all?
How dare he?
This story was not just on the news, it now IS the news. It’s out there. This idea that autism and social isolation equals violence is out there. And someone has to explain, from a platform as big as Morning Joe’s that it’s simply not true.
Joe’s statement yesterday was laughable. Instead of using the opportunity to look critically (rather than defensively) at his words, he decided to dig in his heels and tell us that we missed the point. Fine, perhaps we did. Maybe he *meant* to say something entirely different from what he did. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. But that doesn’t mean that he didn’t say it. You don’t get to say WHITE and then say, well, you missed my point because I meant to say BLACK. We have the videotape, Joe. It’s all there. And it’s you who are missing the point.
As much as I’d like a retraction from Joe, it’s not what’s important anymore. He is not important anymore. What *is* important is undoing the damage that he’s done. The point now is educating the public in order to protect my daughter and her autistic brethren from further discrimination. The point is setting the record straight in order to keep them safe.
I know I sound like a broken record. But just like my kid never gets to stop working to get by in this world, I never get to stop working to make that possible.
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Suggested Tweets (I’ll retweet any that I see):
.@joeNBC @Morning_Joe has issued a statement re his reckless remarks– it’s WAY off the mark. https://adiaryofamom.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/update/ @diaryofamom
.@Starbucks if you want to know why @joeNBC @Morning_Joe words were so damaging, read this : https://adiaryofamom.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/update/ #autism @diaryofamom
.@Starbucks @joeNBC @Morning_Joe #Autism is not dangerous, but words can be – http://wp.me/pNO8N-2Zk @diaryofamom