Responses to Joe Scarborough's Speculation that the Colorado Shooter Is Autistic
Yesterday, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough suggested that James Holmes, the suspect in the the Aurora, Colorado shooting, is "on the autism scale."
Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg has created a petition asking him to retract his comments.
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network makes this statement:
Mr. Scarborough’s remarks suggesting that James Holmes, the shooter behind the Aurora movie theater killings, was an Autistic American are as perplexing as they are without evidence. No information on Mr. Holmes has suggested that he displays the diagnostic characteristics of autism and no evidence exists tying autism with violent behavior or threats to public safety. As a parent, Mr. Scarborough should know better than to perpetrate these types of unfortunate stereotypes. Autistic Americans are an integral part of our society and live, work and attend school alongside our non-Autistic peers. There exists no evidence linking autism with violent behavior. By spreading ill-founded and unsupported claims linking autism with violence, Mr. Scarborough does our community real harm. We urge him to reconsider and for him and MSNBC to retract his remarks.
The International Coalition for Autism and All Abilities says:
The recent comments made by Joe Scarborough were a sad yet strong illustration of the prevailing ignorance and bigotry in our culture regarding disabilities, specifically autism. The ICAA has reached out to Mr. Scarborough through our ICAA Radio program, offering a unique opportunity to issue an apology, retraction or other statement to our community. Mr. Scarborough seems to be an otherwise thoughtful individual, who has been awarded authority and opportunity to voice his opinions to millions on a global scale. We hope that Mr. Scarborough will become better educated about autism, and gain some perspective. The marginalization of autistic people, and people with other disabilities, is equally outrageous to the marginalization of people with racial or other differences. Mr. Scarborough and others in the media would do well to join us in our efforts to make the world a better place, rather than continue as a part of the problem.
Paula C. Durbin-Westby writes:
In 2007, the Autism Society reported that 22 people in a 5-year period used Asperger syndrome as a defense in a violent crime case, or about 4.5 per year. For comparison, the FBI Uniform Crime Report statistics for 2006, shows 1,417,745 violent crimes committed. 4.5 of almost 1.5 million. Clearly, autism is not the prime suspect in violent crimes of any type.
Rick Ellis says:
To be fair, Scarborough has a son with Aspergers, so it's not as if he doesn't have some real life experience with the subject. But I have a son with Aspergers as well, and it would never have occurred to me to make this sweeping generalization.
Which I suppose is one of the many reasons I don't have my own cable news show.
Caroline Miller says:
It's certainly no balm to the people suffering from this tragedy, but if we can resist tarring a whole group—whether it's quiet white boys from affluent neighborhoods who play video games or people with autism who are "farther along on the spectrum" than Joe Scarborough's son—we can minimize the damage to a lot of other people.
Mike Elk writes:
As both a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, as well a journalist, MSNBC must issue an immediate retraction of Joe Scarborough’s unfounded statements accusing the shooter of having autism and linking autism to violence. There is absolutely no evidence that the Colorado shooter has autism, nor is there a single scientific study that links autism to violent outbursts such as the despicable acts of terrorism that occurred last Friday in Aurora, Colorado. As someone who was bullied, beaten, and often a loner as child, I never once though about taking out violent rage against those who bullied me. Instead, I poured my sense of hurt into reporting on workers who were similarly being bullied by big corporations.
Tommy Christopher says:
In case you were wondering what Scarborough based his assertions on, I believe it was a study that was recently published in The Journal Of Joe Scarborough’s Ass. There is absolutely no scientific data which links autism to mass murder, and what little research there is on autism and crime is flawed and inconsistent. The inherent absurdity and irresponsibility of Scarborough’s statements are aggravated by the fact that he is the father of an adult child with an autism disorder, which might lead viewers to believe that he knows what the hell he’s talking about. This is the main reason I hesitate to disclose that I am the father of two children with autism spectrum disorders, because I don’t want to derive unearned authority, moral or otherwise, from that fact.
I reveal it now because it’s relevant to my initial reaction to Scarborough’s comments, which was one of hurt and revulsion. Autistic kids have enough to deal with in life without Joe Scarborough running around telling people they’re potential mass murderers, unless they’ve got an awesome dad like Joe Scarborough, or conflating autism, which is a neurodevelopmental disorder, with mental illnesses like schizophrenia.
Kassiane writes an open letter to the media:
It is journalistic irresponsibility to do this, and it affects real people. We are the ones who have to live with the stigma you perpetuate. I am at risk of being killed because you tell the population that I am dangerous-despite that I am one of the 97% of developmentally disabled people who has been the victim of non mentally ill, non disabled violent perpetrators. You make the world more dangerous for me every time you do this. You make it more dangerous for my entire community.