NewsBusters normally steers clear of right-wing extremists like Michael Savage (even though its operator, Brent Bozell, would fit right in on Savage's show for his calling Obama a "skinny ghetto crackhead"). Which is why it's odd to see Noel Sheppard running to Savage's defense in an April 14 post.
Sheppard notes that an episode of ABC's "What Would You Do?" deals with "how people respond in a public setting when an autistic child acts up," apparently inspired by Savage's statement that in "99 percent" of autism diagonses, "it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out." Sheppard compained that it wasn't noted that Savage's words "were spoken almost four years ago," then defended Savage's attack by noting that some callers to his radio show -- "including a school psychologist - [were] agreeing with him that autism like so many childhood behavior disorders is overdiagnosed oftentimes for financial reasons." Sheppard then complained: "Did What Would You Do? even casually address the possibility that autism is currently being overdiagnosed in America? Not at all. Instead the show depicted Savage as a kook for thinking so."
Sheppard didn't note the rest of what Savage said in his anti-autism rant, in which he went far beyond concerns about overdiagnosis and well into insulting those with autism as coddled brats who need someone to tell them to "act like a man":
SAVAGE: Now, you want me to tell you my opinion on autism, since I'm not talking about autism? A fraud, a racket. For a long while, we were hearing that every minority child had asthma. Why did they sudden -- why was there an asthma epidemic amongst minority children? Because I'll tell you why: The children got extra welfare if they were disabled, and they got extra help in school. It was a money racket. Everyone went in and was told [fake cough], "When the nurse looks at you, you go [fake cough], 'I don't know, the dust got me.' " See, everyone had asthma from the minority community. That was number one.
Now, the illness du jour is autism. You know what autism is? I'll tell you what autism is. In 99 percent of the cases, it's a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out. That's what autism is.
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, idiot."
Autism -- everybody has an illness. If I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool. And he said to me, "Don't behave like a fool." The worst thing he said -- "Don't behave like a fool. Don't be anybody's dummy. Don't sound like an idiot. Don't act like a girl. Don't cry." That's what I was raised with. That's what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training. You're turning your son into a girl, and you're turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That's why we have the politicians we have.
Further, Savage has called autism a "phony disease" -- which undermines Sheppard's argument that he was concerned only about overdiagnosis. Savage later recast his attack to claim he was taken out of context.
Sheppard needs to ask himself if he really thinks Michael Savage is a credible spokesman for autism overdiagnosis.