the point

~

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.

~

For more background and to help, please click on the following ..

Sign the Petition

Dear Joe

To Lay the Barricades Aside

Update

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. http://adiaryofamom.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/update/ @diaryofamom

*

.@Starbucks if you want to know why @joeNBC @Morning_Joe words were so damaging, read this : http://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

22 thoughts on “the point

  1. Well said, and thank you, again. But if you decide this is just too much banging your head against the wall, remember, the movie is still waiting!

  2. The day this happened, I signed the petition. In the morning there were 200 signatures, by that night, there were over 2,000. We are strong. We ar unified. We will be heard. I don’t have a twitter account, but I posted on fb, and I will again. It makes me sick to think of the damage he’s done.

  3. Small correction…calling Joe S a “journalist.” He a professional TV show host, just one more talking head in a media environment overcrowded with ill-informed talking heads spouting off nonsense that has nothing to do with actual facts.

    Thank you for your efforts to get him to retract his ignorant words. I’m afraid it won’t change the media culture we live in but hopefully it will make him think twice before making such dangerous statements.

  4. THANK YOU for being “our” broken record! This message needs to be on a loop, constantly being replayed…. In Joe’s office and unfortunately many other places…. Keep on keeping on, we are all with you!

  5. You are (again) spot on. As a parent of an autistic child his words made me cringe. But they made me cringe even more because of the media status that this man has. This man and MANY like him (Fox and Freinds say hello) do not know the weight their words and their OPINION carry. Joe may donate to the autism cause….he may even be a member of a group or two. But he is now part of the problem. He is now a reason your child and mine will be judged without merit, profiled without justification and looked down upon just because they are autistic. It’s not as simple of even retracting it either (which mind you he didn’t do) because its out there. Affecting people’s perceptions. Joe…I’m sorry, but if I’m allowed MY opinion to be heard. You should be out of a job. Just my two cents.

  6. 100% agreed! the media has become entirely too irresponsible with saying the first stupid things to pop into their heads. this is a big deal. i don’t want people thinking that my amazing, brilliant, precious boy might have the potential of being a crazed murderer just because he’s quirky and won’t look you in the eye. our kids battle so much as it is. they don’t need any more pinned on them because of ignorance.

  7. Keep going, keep advocating, keep educating. This is/was so far beyond not okay. It’s dangerous speech. It undoes years of patient, painstaking work. It violates my kid, and every other autistic person. He doesn’t get to say “it’s okay, I’m a bigot with experience (of Aspergers).”

    Karin

  8. Dear Jess: Thank you for having the link for the petition on your blog. What a pity that those words were spoken to millions of individuals already confused about our kid’s needed…and now this! I pray for his family and his son.

  9. Be a broken record. It matters, and you’re being heard, and I for one don’t care how many times you have to say it, if that means the point ultimately gets across. You’re trying to keep your girl, and my girl, and all the other kids and adults, safe. I can think of no better reason to fight.

  10. 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.

    Bingo.

  11. Once again, you are spot-on. In fact, your own post reflects how the media can flavour a person’s understanding of a situation, by making references to things that are potentially outside the scope of the viewers’ own personal experience. I am referring to how you have stated the shooter used an “AR 15 assault rifle”, just as has been stated in the media. The AR 15 (unmodified), however, is not classified as an assault rifle. It is, specifically, a semi-automatic rifle, and its only relationship to an assault rifle (which, to be categorised as such, must be fully automatic, amongst other criteria) is the fact that it was modeled after the body design of the M 16 (a fully automatic rifle). To quote the wikipedia article which lists assault rifles, “Semi-automatic rifles are not in any way assault rifles as they are not selective fire (however in media firearms reporting the term ‘assault rifle’ usually refers to visual appearance rather than internal functionality.)” Even within the realm of “visual appearance”, the ignorance of the common viewer is played upon, as a person who is acquainted with these types of firearms can easily distinguish the differences. The distinction between a semi-automatic firearm and an automatic firearm is very important, as federal law (as well as state/local law) and licensing abilities reflect the vital difference in the nature of functionality between them. To further elaborate, police have confirmed that the rifle used was not even an AR 15, it was an unmodified Smith & Wesson M&P 15.

    My point being, that firearms and weaponry may not be an area in which you, personally, have much experience, and the media has been able to affect the information you are then contributing to others. Autistic individuals, adults especially, are damned by the media, much in the same way that firearms have been. The media is preying upon public ignorance, and we (autistic children and adults, and our loved ones) will pay dearly for it. As comments above have reflected your own statements, a “journalist” who begins an observation about a supposed correlation between spree/mass killing and autism with a statement that he is the parent of a child on the spectrum, most viewers can assume that he is speaking with a sense of authority on the matter. When he begins a statement, even if it is subjective opinion, in that way, he is FULLY responsible to all of us for what follows.

  12. I said it on your earlier post on this topic and I’ll say it again here… Thank you for helping our community to mobilize and right this wrong. You keep on turning that broken record, lady – and I, for one, will keep Rt’ing it!

  13. We all need to be broken records to counteract
    the reprehensible statements that come from “journalists” with a national platform. Thanks for keeping the attention on this. People need to know that a 10 second soundbite can have widespread consequences.

  14. You should be invited on his show to present the outrage he deserves. He is known for his hubris and baseless pronouncements. He often speaks far before he thinks.
    You are much better informed than he thinks he is.
    Love you,
    Dad

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