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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Scarborough and Autism: Day Three

Tommy Christopher wrote yesterday at Mediaite:
Although he failed to mention the controversy during Tuesday morning’s episode of Morning Joe, he did release a statement this afternoon. Here’s what Joe Scarborough had to say, in an email statement to Mediaite:
During a debate regarding the recent Colorado shootings, I suggested that the Aurora tragedy should make Americans focus more on mental health in this country. I also stated that my own experiences raising a son with Aspergers made me keenly aware of how important strong support systems are to those who might otherwise be isolated.
The growing Autism epidemic is a tremendous burden for children, parents and loved ones to endure. My call for increased funding and awareness for Autism and other mental health conditions was meant to support the efforts of those who work every day to improve the lives of Americans impacted. Those suggesting that I was linking all violent behavior to Autism missed my larger point and overlooked the fact that I have a wonderful, loving son with Aspergers. Perhaps I could have made my point more eloquently.
I look forward to continuing my work with wonderful organizations like Autism Speaks to provide badly needed support to millions of Americans who struggle with Autism every day.
Scarborough’s statement is unlikely to mollify those incensed by his Monday remarks, which don’t really match up well with his attempt to recast them. Here’s what Scarborough said yesterday:
“You have these people that are somewhere, I believe, probably on the autism scale, I don’t know if that’s the case here, but it happens more often than not, people that can walk around in society, that can function on college campuses, can even excel in college campuses, but are socially disconnected. I have a son who has Asperger’s who is loved by everyone in his family and who is wonderful, but it is for those that may not have a loving family and a support group and may be a bit further along on the autism spectrum, an extraordinarily frustrating, terrible challenge day in and day out. and so, I do think, again, I don’t know the specifics about this young man, but we see too many shooters in these type of tragedies bearing the same characteristics mentally.”
Calling for increased awareness for autism is all well and good, unless what you’re making people aware of is the false notion that “these people” are “somewhere on the autism scale,” “more often than not.” That’s not “ineloquence,” it’s gross irresponsibility, and the suggestion that the people who heard him correctly “missed (his) larger point” is just insulting.
 The Hollywood Reporter adds some detail:
Scarborough has a son with Aspergers, and has been involved with charities benefiting the disease. In 2005, he hosted Robert Kennedy Jr. in a segment in which they discussed the disease, and the largely debunked notion that childhood vaccines could have caused an uptick in the number of kids with autism.