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Scarborough remarks unite much, but not all, of autism communities for a brief moment

Posted Jul 26 2012 2:09am

Joe Scarborough is in the news. Yes, he works in the news, but he’s in the news for comments he made about the Aurora shooter:

“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.”

This has brought together various and disparate parts of the autism communities asking for a retraction. From the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) to the . AoA even linked to a petition set up by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg.

Such unity of voice should be telling Mr. Scarborough something.

I don’t think he got the message, though. In a follow-up to that statement, Mr. Scarborough wrote:

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

That nod to Autism Speaks brought on some criticism which demonstrates how this story shows the divisions within the autism communities even in this story. (a site I was previously unaware of) has at least three articles on the Scarborough story:

Followed by these two with a partial focus on Autism Speaks:


I thought I’d never heard of Joe Scarborough before. I forgot that he is or was a supporter of the thimerosal-causation idea and had interviewed Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Kennedy’s “deadly immunity” articles (these ran in and Rolling Stone. If you are unaware of Deadly Immunity, the piece had five corrections after being published and Salon has since retracted the article .

A comment from Joe Scarborough in that interview:

Maybe it’s five years from now. Maybe it’s 10 years from now. We are going to find out Thimerosal causes, in my opinion, autism.

It’s been more than five years since then and the support for the idea has only gotten worse.

I am actually somewhat surprised that Mr. Scarborough received such criticism from those promoting the notion of mercury causation.

For a brief moment, a call for respect for autistics trumped support for an old ally of the mercury causation movement.

by Matt Carey

note: I made a few corrections, including changing the title, to this piece shortly after publishing it.

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