Michael Savage, Autism and Civil Discourse

I didn’t hear the program, but if this report is true, Michael Savage spoke in a cruel, thoughtless way concerning children with autism. He should offer an apology and a retraction.

On his radio show last week, Savage said: “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, you idiot.’

More of the story here.

Parents of autistic children around the country are outraged, and correctly so. One company has pulled their advertising  endorsement of the show, and there are calls for the syndicator to fire him.

In the past, I’ve listened to Michael Savage, and I agree with many of his views, although his style is abrasive and sometimes crude. While he is an intelligent learned man, I can only take so much of him, and when he begins loud rants and calling people jerks and worse, I switch off the radio. Amazingly, he ranks as the third most popular talk show host, just after Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Those who follow my writings know I have studied, strong opinions and frequently state them. I do, however, try to do so in a courteous, thoughtful way, and I endeavor to create a forum in which those with contrary opinions feel welcome to debate. I suspect I am more likely to have my thoughts fairly examined if I couch them in polite tones.

A subject worthy of its own column is that of speech in America, but for now let me make the simple observation that we are lacking in civil discourse. Too often our discussions launch into name calling, vulgarity and crude remarks. It’s easy to pitch out derogatory remarks and epithets; much harder to construct a cogent argument while being attentive to facts and contemplating all tangents and possible issues of the discussion. 

It would please me to hear that Michael Savage has issued an apology for his crude and insensitive remarks. Let us all use this incident to consider our daily speech, and endeavor to avoid flippant remarks and indiscreet statements.

Are you aware that the Bible speaks to courtesy? 

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:” 1 Peter 3:8

23 thoughts on “Michael Savage, Autism and Civil Discourse

  1. Jenny McCarthy responds to Savage’s remarks:

    Jenny, alongside the many others who have had their lives impacted by autism, was appalled by the statement. What would she like to happen? “I think a great way for an apology is to be sat down and educated about it,” Jenny said. “I’d love to just quietly [sit down with him and] educate him on the facts. It was clear he doesn’t know anything about autism”

    Read more on Causecast.org:
    http://www.causecast.org/news_items/4463

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  2. Pingback: Recent URLs tagged Epithets - Urlrecorder

  3. Shawn

    Shirley
    Thank you for your kind words and know this, no child is perfect, no adult is perfect, but we as parents love our children and because of that love, to us they are. Many people offer their sorrow to us for the “tragedy” of having children with Autism…but in many ways it is a blessing. My wife and I are better people for having children with special needs. We respect others far greater with no room for prejudice and are very well know in this community as having open doors for anyone who has a child with special needs. Personally, I am a better manager because I try to better understand behaviors of those that work in my employ and instead of chiding, we work through issues and have made this a company that is fun to work for and one where the employees trust each other like family. It has made me a better husband, father, son, brother and artist in my daily life. Almost 50% of marriages with families who have a child like ours end in divorce. People can’t handle a child who isn’t “perfect”. It’s a very sad statement because the simple act of learning about Autism or any disorder for that matter can change hearts and lives and prevent many of the breakups by strengthening the love the parents have by bringing them even closer together to work with their child. When the school system wouldn’t provide a parapro assistant for a P.E. teacher (who has a son with Cerebral Palsy) and a class my son attended, I volunteered one hour a day to help him at the school. His kindness towards my son, who was struggling, was simply a reflection of the kindness he had been given because one person chose to help instead of hurt the school system. When I was was told that the kids enjoyed having another “Dad” around, who wasn’t afraid to get out on the floor to enjoy the games with them, for me it was the reward that made it all worthwhile. Oh, and for all the armchair psychologists out there, I did get hugs and high fives from all of the kids because they new they were safe with me. When a child with special needs reaches out to hug you, don’t shy away. Don’t be afraid to talk to them, or to sit down with them on their level and show them you respect them. It works wonders for their self esteem. Yes, they have a sense of pride and deserve our respect.

    After receiving several form letter responses and a few personal responses …some supportive, some scornful (believe it or not) that I chose this path to make my opinion known, I responded in this manner:

    “Nice tap dance , and nice form letter. Tells me you looked at one word “autism” and immediately sent “the response”.

    Statistics point out that 99 percent of all humans on the planet display many of the symptoms of Autism in different stages of development. Sometimes those behaviors switch off, sometimes they don’t. For MR Savage (I refuse to call him Dr.) to call attention to the needs for more accurate research and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder, calling the afflicted names, bashing the parents and blaming an overused medical system with crude and callous remarks is not the way to do it. I do believe in Free Speech, but when your free speech HARMS another then you have crossed a line. To try and put a “good intentions” spin on his reprehensible remarks is sheer lunacy. My wife and I daily work to aid our children and help them to develop as people. It is trying, nerve racking, exhausting and stressful…but when either child makes even the smallest of strides, it is faith rewarded. Call attention to the problems in a constructive way, not a destructive way. I abhor the use of the term “mental retardation”. Many of these children and adults with Autism have far greater comprehension skills than many so called “normal” people. It’s the bias against and the lack of understanding (i.e. ignorance) about Autism the causes many problems with medical, educational and government systems to continue. Many who do not have an understanding and are not knowledgeable about Autism might take Mr. Savage’s ravings as gospel truth. Those who do become part of the problem and not the solution.

    You have lost me as a listener forever, and I will send letters to as many sponsors of your network and talk shows as I can to try and stop this lunatic from doing any more harm. Oh forgive me, lunatic is not the proper terminology, “misguided, outspoken individual with delusions of authority and grandeur” might be more politically correct. To use his talk show to bash the many families (which I assure you is more than 1% of those diagnosed with Autism) just to score ratings is both sad and disgusting. I hope that you never have a child with Autism…because honestly, I don’t believe you could handle it….and if you did, my pity would be for them, not for you.

    Sincerely
    Shawn

    Like

  4. renaissanceguy

    Bill Post, in a facsist system, the advertsiers and the radio stations would be state-owned and nobody would be allowed to boycott them, because they would be a government-run monopoly.

    Michael Savage is free to say what he wants, but the listeners and advertisers are free to react any way they want.

    Like

  5. If you don’t personally know and spend time with an autistic child, can you talk about it?
    “Brats”, “little retards” – strong words, they might come back to him and smack!
    It seems like the remedy for everything is pills and more pills. How about love and more love?
    Sis Buxton, your answer to Shawn’s comment is real love, godly love.

    Like

  6. Shawn–

    I was getting our luggage ready for a trip tomorrow, when my husband said, “Have you read Shawn’s comments on your blog?”

    After reading your words in which you reveal your heart, your hurt, your frustration and your anger directed toward Michael Savage, I sit here needing to go to bed because of an early flight in the morning, but with your story jerking sleep soundly from my eyes.

    I am so sorry. I’m sorry for your precious children who are stricken with this terrible syndrome, I’m sorry for the burdens you and your wife carry, and I’m dreadfully sorry that Michael Savage inflicted this dreadful hurt on you and thousands more. I am so sorry, and–maybe I cry too easily–but I’m sitting here crying over a hurting family and over a hurting world.

    Thank you for being such a decent person, thank you for the courage you have shown here, thank you for making the world a better place for all of us.

    For it is people like you, brave, loving, and kind who, I must believe, sets the tone for our planet.

    In whatever way your children can receive affection, please extend a little extra bit from me tonight.

    Thank you for gracing my blog.

    Shirley Buxton

    Like

  7. Shawn

    I’ve sent this letter and several worded similarly to networks and host affiliated with TRN and Michael Savage

    “In regards to Savage’s show on Autism

    To all of TRN and especially Michael Savage.

    His comments were A) unfounded medically…B)heartless and insipid and
    C) cruel beyond belief. I have an 18 yr old daughter with autism who
    has the communication skills of a 3 yr old and a son (20) with
    Aspergher’s syndrome (a mild high functioning yet also debilitating form of Austim Spectrum
    Disorder) . My wife and I have fought school systems for their
    educational needs. We have endured countless therapy sessions. We spend
    all of our free and off time with our children to try and make their
    lives “normal” as much as possible. We watch people point and whisper
    when my daughter acts up or isn’t quiet in a public place or when she
    cries because she can’t tell us what is bothering her. We have had to
    explain that they are NOT retarded…although this diagnosis does come
    to mind when considering your company’s decision to continue supporting
    Mr. Savage’s opinionated ravings. Your company supports a man who takes
    one of the hardest burdens to bear by parents and ridicules it and
    trashes it for all of your listeners to “raise awareness”. He wasn’t
    trying to raise awareness, he was trying to shock people to try and
    boost ratings. You don’t raise awareness by tearing down the parents and
    those who have Autism and then claim it wasa “hyperbole” to dramatically
    stir opinion. That’s garbage. Peddle that manure to other people,
    because we just aren’t buying it. (See the PS at the bottom…some
    people are buying it, and children and adults with autism will be the
    ones who suffer for your “comments taken out of context”).

    You people are inhuman monsters if you continue to support Mr. Savage
    and his lunatic ideas…oh, I’m sorry, did calling your ideas “lunatic”
    insult you Mr. Savage? God I hope so. Come stay with my family Mr.
    Savage. Bring that “expert”, “scientist”opinion down here to see my
    children. My children are not “brats” or “morons”. They are human beings
    who have a difference in their learning and communication skills. They
    are not “perfect” by your myopic standards, but they are by ours and to
    us, the love they give us makes them perfect to my wife and I. Oh, for
    the record. my son communicates very well, doesn’t lie, isn’t
    disrespectful to people, doesn’t steal, doesn’t use his physical size to
    intimidate or bully people , treats others with kindness and gives of
    himself to help his sister by helping us care for her and nurture her
    heart and mind. Does that fit in your definition of a “brat”, “idiot” or
    “moron” Mr. Savage? (His social delay and physical mannerisms, OC
    behaviors are well defined under the Autism Spectrum diagnosis).
    Oh and guess what, I never had to yell at him or even spank him. We
    taught him from day one the meaning of respect and love. Financially,
    emotionally, physically and mentally, Autism hurts the entire family.
    Yet it also strengthens many families by the bond it creates when all
    involved work together to help that child, or in our case, the 2 ADULTS
    with Autism.

    My wife and I are both fans of and financial contributors to public
    radio. No more. You have ruined what was the last bastion of free speech
    where things did make a difference. Conservative talk shows do help many
    people understand the problems with Liberalism but now with you Mr.
    Savage, it seems you now only seek to do harm by hate and fear
    mongering. I am a staunch REPUBLICAN( I am voting for McCain, not
    because of party, but because of his principles, many of his ideals and
    his clean campaign). I have listened to your shows a few times, and talk
    radio for 16 years and I still enjoy Rush Limbaugh…but now that I know
    you Mr. Savage are syndicated and on WOR’s and their affiliate stations
    program schedule, and any network which carries TRN’s shows, we will no
    longer listen to it or any station that carries any program you , Mr
    Savage, are part of, or any program TRN is a part of. I will not support
    it. I will tell everyone that I see and know about the reprehensible
    comments you made, your absurd “justification” and I will weed out any
    company that supports you from my life. I will NOT be their customer any
    longer. You know nothing about Autism, Mr. Savage. Your words are not
    the even real issue here, your ignorance is. I pity you for not having
    the courage to truly learn about Autism Spectrum Disorder. It has only
    come to the forefront in the last 30 or so years and we are a long way
    from understanding it. We don’t need people like you tearing down the
    strides that are being made. Perhaps ADD and ADHD are diagnosed too
    much. I will grant that. So is depression, anxiety and anything else
    most Americans pop a pill for ( I’m sure that all of you have your
    share of medical conditions, including stress, ulcers, cardiac
    issues…etc that you are probably taking some medication for…how many
    tablets of Prozac do you guys pop?). Guess what…they don’t make an
    anti-autism pill. In the search for answers, many wrong conclusions will
    be drawn, misdiagnosis will occur (it does happen…in any
    field…especially psychology and psychiatry) but at least the
    researchers, doctors and many others are trying. Calling children brats,
    morons or idiots is not the answer, even for children who DON’T have
    Autism. We should reserve those names for those who choose to further
    their own ends (ie, ratings) by speaking out of ignorance and hate and
    from “opinion without fact”, Mr Savage. You claim to know what it’s like
    because of your brother. I don’t know who I feel more pity for…you,
    for your heartless, ignorant and deplorable rantings or for the brother
    you lost, for having to die with the knowledge that you were part of his
    family. Oh…i’m sorry, that was a “hyperbole” (your words Mr. Savage… I too believe in Free
    Speech…but not when it causes harm to others) I’m just trying to raise
    awareness on how perhaps your parents should have slapped you around and
    told you to stop being a “brat”, an “idiot” or “moron” so you wouldn’t
    grow up to be the opinionated boor you have become.

    Sincerely
    Shawn
    (last name & phone numbers withheld for this posting)
    Art Director

    (Please…feel free to call me, I’ll be only too happy to speak to you
    personally.)

    PS….many websites now have bloggers who have sided with you Mr.
    Savage, they are calling the children with Autism “brats” or “little
    retards” who have it easy in school. Happy with your “awareness” you
    have created? It’s been hard enough for us to fight the system to get
    the tools and funding needed to help children like my daughter…we
    don’t need your insane and misguided remarks widening the gulf again.
    Oh and in case you respond, please bring on your informed colleagues you
    quote from, I have an aunt with a Ph.D (oooo…same 3 letters you have)
    who operates a school for children with Autism and Special Needs
    including Cerebral Palsy (going after them next are we?). I’m sure if you spent
    a few days with her and watch not only the children, but saw the
    monumental hurdles she has to overcome with the Federal government to
    help families and the school, you might actually learn something about
    Autism. Although I doubt that. You have to have an open mind to learn.”

    Like

  8. QuakerDave

    “I am about FREE SPEECH. If you don’t like Savage, don’t listen but don’t give me the facist ‘boycott the advertisers’ bit.”

    There’s nothing “fascist” about boycotting advertisers. It’s an American thing: read your history. It’s about voting with your feet and with your wallet. I have every right to boycott companies who help to promote this kind of offensive swill. If you don’t like THAT, then keep on buying from them.

    This nonsense about Savage being an “entertainer” and therefore getting a free pass to say what he wants is just that: nonsense. Words have meaning. Words have power. And in this case, words hurt innocent kids and their families, whose lives are tough enough without this sort of garbage going out over the airwaves as “truth.” The FACT is that most of Mr. Savage’s listeners ARE NOT going to find out the truth about autism. They will take his words at face value, and may even repeat them. That makes it worse.

    And if advertisers don’t like their products being advertised during a particular show, they have that right as well. I thought conservatives believed in the free market!

    Like

  9. Time for an ACTUAL talk show host to weigh in.
    As a conservative local talk host, I have sort of an inside track to this topic.
    We carry Savage nation and we have very loyal listeners.
    I don’t like him myself, but there are ones who do.
    I am about FREE SPEECH. If you don’t like Savage, don’t listen but don’t give me the facist “boycott the advertisers” bit.
    I don’t like at all what he said, but he is an ENTERTAINER and that is what he does.
    Again, turn the dial.
    If someone actually changes their thinking and behavior because some guy on the radio said that, then they were not very smart to begin with and I wouldn’t be worried about their view.
    As for Glenn Beck vs. Savage in ratings, Beck is #3 unless you believe Savage’s OWN ratings service.
    We carry both of them, as well as Rush, Sean and O’Reilly.
    Just this morning we as a station received an email from a major advertising agency COMMANDING us not to play their advertisers durning “controversial” programming including Rush Limbaugh.
    Folks, this is just the beginning.
    Go to my blog to see who the advertisers are.

    Like

  10. renaissanceguy

    What I had written was that Savage wasn’t really talking about kids who actually have autism but kids who are diagnosed with it but don’t realy have it.

    Like

  11. We need to take the Savage whiner off the air through pure free market forces. He’s crying about Stalinist protesters, but what those of us who are trying to get him off the air are doing is getting his sponsors to recognize the fact that they will lose consumers and cripple their image by continuing to support Michael Savage’s hateful and reckless speech.

    He is only making it more difficult for parents with children who have autism, even as he says he’s defending those who have legitimate autism. When autism shows its face in our children in public, thanks to Michael Savage, people over whom he has influence, people will label our children brats, morons, putzes, and idiots who haven’t been told to cut the act out.

    Join the effort: http://gregstake.blogspot.com

    Like

  12. renaissanceguy

    I’m not really defending Michael Savage. I’m just saying that some of the reactions may be a bit overboard.

    (RGuy–I inadvertently erased some of your comment. Please repost. Sorry. 🙂 )

    RGuy, I absolutely believe Americans are extremely lax as far as disciplining children is concerned, and certainly as far as ADD is concerned, I have no doubt that much of that is a reflection of poor discipline. But autism? As I mentioned to John, I’ve just never heard of the lack of discipline being associated with autism.

    Like

  13. John

    While I agree that Mr. Savage DOES use too many crude, strong words to get his point across, I have to agree that a father’s influence and the removal of the TV from the home would eliminate most of the autistic behavior this country is seeing. Also, please keep in mind that this is not just a fight over whether he is wrong or right, there is a fight to remove his free speech (which I highly value). America: please don’t silence this voice. If you don’t like his show, then just don’t listen to him. That is how capitalism works.

    I agree, John that America is drastically in need of resurgence of strong families, especially as regards father’s assuming their places in the home. There is no question but what that would help us all tremendously. I agree too about television; Jerry and I reared all four of our children, never having a television set in our homes.

    But would these steps eradicate most cases of autism? Until this incident with Michael Savage arose, I had never heard such thinking presented. Is there literature that speaks to that?

    I believe the freedom of speech in our country gives Michael Savage the right to speak in this despicable and raw way. A corresponding freedom gives us the right to protest him and to refuse to support his program.

    Thanks for your comments.

    Like

  14. Jolene, thank you for your comments and the link to your site. I hope lots of people go over and read that very interesting post. I recall reading it before and being very moved about it.

    My daughter at one time had a fairly close relationship with a family who had an autistic child, and I’ve been in Rebecca’s home as she cared for the child so the parents could have a little respite. It was extremely challenging to have her for just a few hours. At times she would scream and Rebecca would have to physically restrain her and set the child on Rebecca’s lap. It was very sad and challenging.

    Michael Savage was way out of line in making those remarks.

    Like

  15. Civil discourse is always in order. And Jolene is right: unless one “deals with them personally on a daily basis they should never be quick to be so judgmental.” Same goes for anything we know nothing about really. Life is hard enough without putting others down.

    Like

  16. Sis. Buxton, That was a cruel statement for Mr. Savage to make. The man has no idea what he is talking about. Until one has a child that has a form of autism and has to deal with them personaly on a daily basis they should never be quick to be so judgemental. I learned this first hand for my adopted grandson, as I have stated before, has a form of autism.

    I have dealt with people and their rash attitudes on how they feel about him being JUST A BRAT! For at times he does have his moments and he does have to go to counceling to help him understand his emotions. I posted about this here; http://jolenejmendoza.blogspot.com/2008/05/send-him-back.html

    People like Mr. Savage can really get under my skin with their better than thou and Mr know it all attitudes. But I must remember but for the Grace of God there go I and pray for them.

    Like

  17. I have not listened to Mr. Savage with the exception of times like this when he creates his own news. I did hear, by rebroadcast, his remarks. Do I agree with his verbal bombastic? For the most part NO!! He did say some things about missing fathers and problems with sons. I can grasp his point in this area and I might even agree with him. However, to class them all under the one umbrella?

    NO !!!

    Mr. Savage is a part of the, Shock jock,” crowd. I have very little time to spend trying to glean something from them and their formats.

    Mervi

    ps;
    Am I being judgmental? Yes.

    Like

  18. Hi, Mike.

    I don’t know when he passed Beck. I took my information from Fox News.

    Savage, with more than 8 million listeners a week, is talk radio’s third most popular personality behind Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, according to Talkers magazine. He’s made a living off bold, outrageous statements: His brief MSNBC show was canceled after he told a caller he should “get AIDS and die, you pig

    Like

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