Does someone really doubt autism and asthma exists?

Michael Savage, a popular conservative radio talk show host, went off on kids and parents who claim (in his words) to suffer from autism and asthma last week. He referred to them as frauds, suggesting they were either just kids acting like “morons” who didn’t get enough tough love from their parents, or kids colluding with their parents to get more welfare from the government.

Where do I start?

Well first, I’m going to take you in a direction you might not expect. I’m going to apologize for being a little harsh myself lately. You may not have been around physically, but you may have caught a whiff of my mood online. Telling folks they are “talking out of their ass” if they don’t agree with me on offshore drilling is just one mild example. I won’t go into all the details now, but I will say I’m not a big believer in the “happiness is a choice” thing. It is to a certain extent, but not to the degree I think some authors of “get happy” books would tell you. I don’t think my comments have quite risen to the level of conservative talk radio, but if something like this feels like a mirror – even an imperfect one – it doesn’t feel good.

Second, I hesitate to mention this at all because I’m not sure what good it will do. I say that like any of my posts have served some high purpose. Venting is a purpose, but in this case I’m almost hesitant to vent. Here’s why. I figure you fall into one of two camps: you agree with some of my political views and you wouldn’t listen to Michael Savage anyway, or you don’t and you either do or might. If you do, I can’t imagine you would find anything here persuasive. If you don’t but might, I hate to think my mentioning his name might put him on your radar.

Maybe I’m not quite as pessimistic as I sound. Maybe you’re a listener or prospective listener of Mr Savage, and while you won’t be persuaded here, this might cast some of his future comments in a different light.

If all else fails, it’s still a chance to vent.

In case you didn’t already guess, I’m the kind of person that would subscribe to email alerts from Media Matters. Yes, I’m a liberal – progressive – pinko – whatever else you want to call me next week; but you already knew that. I like to think of their emails as discretionary messages. When you get right down to it, most messages you receive are discretionary. But there are some I’m more likely to read than others, depending on my mail volume and the number of discretionary seconds left in my day (or my willingness on a particular evening to trade sleep time for net time). I’ll bet you know how that goes. Anyway, Media Matters is good for my regular dose of liberal outrage. Oh boy did it deliver this time.

From Media Matters (a transcript of the Savage show):

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…

[W]hy was there an asthma epidemic amongst minority children? Because I’ll tell you why: The children got extra welfare if they were disabled, and they got extra help in school. It was a money racket. Everyone went in and was told [fake cough], ‘When the nurse looks at you, you go [fake cough], “I don’t know, the dust got me.” ‘ See, everyone had asthma from the minority community.

I started on this post last week when I first received the email, and I still haven’t calmed down. I can still feel the tremors of rage in my fingers. Yes, I’m that angry, and it’s not just because I have a stake in these issues… although it’s probably a big part of it. I find his comments reflect a stunning lack of understanding or sensitivity to the potentially devastating impacts of childhood disease/disorder. Faking a cough to get welfare? WTF! Has Mr Savage ever been to a doctor? They have these things now called a ‘stethoscope.’ It’s for listening to things like the heart and lungs, and it’s pretty fucking easy to tell wether or not someone’s windpipe sounds like a woodwind… not to mention pretty fucking hard to fake. There are also these things doctors can do now called ‘tests.’ There are several they can do to determine a patient’s lung capacity, measure the rate the patient can move air in and out of the lungs, and the likelihood he or she has asthma.

And the bit on autism? Granted, it’s harder to diagnose than asthma, but is Mr Savage’s comments anything more than classic, conservative “blame the victim?” While he’s at it, there’s a whole bunch of psychological/behavioral disorders he can discount: depression, PTSD, etc. Hey, and while we’re at it, why don’t we just toss out science as well. What about these so called “experts?” Sure, they spend their whole careers observing children, but what do they know?

From his comments, it’s easy to see what Mr Savage knows: very little. He either doesn’t know what impact his comments can have or he doesn’t care. Autism and it’s related disorders can have a devastating effect on a family. Sometimes the only thing that holds it together is the small bit of help and understanding that can be eked out of an already intolerant society. Mr Savage’s tirade serves to steal a bit of that support/understanding, and it hurts… maybe more than if he went out and assaulted someone.

If you don’t take anything else from this post, please… PLEASE don’t raise your kids like Mr Savage was raised.

Michael Savage is broadcast locally on WWBA-AM Tampa, Genesis Communications Inc. They can be reached at: (813) 281-1040.

By the way, if any of you out there are getting rich off the disease, illness, or disorder money racket, please let me know. We’re obviously doing something wrong.


  1. You realize you’re giving me the green light here? The gloves were already pretty loose. They just might come off. Plus, the folks at my office stop by occasionally. I might lose my reputation for having an even keel. On the other hand, a reputation for being a little unpredictable or hard to peg might be interesting ;-)

Give the gift of words.