Thursday, July 24, 2008

Taking a stand

I have a few more things to say about this and then I will move on to other topics for now. Well, unless I actually get a response to my letter to Glenn Beck, in which case I'll share but I'm not holding my breath :).

On why I choose not to ignore this:

I couldn't care less what Michael Savage thinks, and if it were just him I'd be more than happy to ignore him and not give him any of the attention he so obviously craves. However, the reason I think it is so important to stand up and do something about Savage's remarks is because millions of people DO care what he thinks. He presents himself as a some sort of medical expert, even though he is not an MD, and there are people who take him seriously. His audience includes many people who may come into contact with our sons, and with autism families everywhere. Imagine the following people taking his opinions to heart, and then taking those prejudices into an encounter with your family or your child:
- parents of children who will be classmates / friends
- teachers or school administrators
- employers / hiring managers
- college professors
- joe citizen on the street or in a store

How those people perceive autism, and how they perceive people who have autism, has the potential to be influenced by some ridiculous shock jock who's out for ratings. So many people already have the kind of misperceptions he spouted off on his show, and for those he just reinforced and justified their animosity towards those with autism. Some may not know anything about autism, and after listening to him, now have their opinions influenced by dangerous misinformation. In my opinion, it's vitally important to respond and to try to educate those who will listen rather than to ignore it.

On the topic of free speech:

Savage and many of his supporters claim that those who are calling for him to be fired are attempting to stifle his free speech. Absolutely not! His right of free speech allows him to say whatever he wants. However, free speech does not require that he be given a national pulpit from which to say it. Free speech does not protect him from having to take responsibility for his words and face the natural consequences (eg. being protested, losing sponsors, being fired). He has no constitutional guarantee of airtime and sponsors.

Those of us who find his comments offensive have an EQUAL right of free speech to voice our outrage over his comments. We have every right to contact his employer and his sponsors to express our concerns, and they have every right to act on those concerns if they so choose.

Companies spend millions of dollars on advertising, and they have every right to choose where those dollars should be spent, and who they decide to support with their advertising budget. It's called a free market :).

"I have always been among those who believe that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking." -- Woodrow Wilson

Edited to add - just found these related posts:
Savage remarks shouldn't be ignored: Take a stand for autistic children
Disability Community Responds to Hateful Comments by Michael Savage


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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.


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