Savage claimed on his program The Savage Nation that autism is a “fraud, a racket.” He also stated that the ongoing asthma epidemic is “a money racket” staged by “the minority community” to get “extra welfare.” Here’s how the racket works, according to the hatemonger Savage: “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.”
Although children’s advocates are calling for his head and demanding that Savage apologize and retract his statements — and calling for a boycott of stations that air his show — Savage is offering in lieu of an apology an absurd explanation that his remarks were merely intended to stimulate a dialogue.
“My comments about autism were meant to boldly awaken parents and children to the medical community’s attempt to label too many children or adults as ‘autistic,’” he claimed.
Equally absurd is the statement that WOR Radio posted on its Web site:
Unfortunately, it is impossible for WOR Radio to know the subject matter in advance of airing. WOR is in the business of serving the community in which we broadcast. That is our stated goal, and we will continue to do so. We regret any consternation that his remarks may have caused to our listeners.”
Can someone please explain how calling autistic children “morons” is serving the community? Maybe I’m missing something!
Or maybe Evelyn Ain, whose 8-year-old son has been diagnosed with autism and who organized a demonstration this week outside WOR, stated the situation more accurately: “That isn’t just freedom of speech, it is hateful speech when you say 99 percent of children with autism are brats.” (Savage responded to the protest by noting that “some in New York… suspect it was a staged protest by the Stalinist Savage-haters.”)
Other parents and activists responded by calling on Talk Radio Network to fire Savage. As Jim Ward, founder and president of ADA Watch and the National Coalition for Disability Rights, said:
“As America prepares to celebrate the 18th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on July 26, people with disabilities, parents, family members, friends and advocates across the nation are outraged over Savage’s latest attack on people with disabilities. His despicable assault on children with autism — calling them ‘frauds’ and ‘brats’ — is rightly being condemned as hateful and bigoted. But it is just the latest of Savage’s numerous and painful attempts to demean and disenfranchise people with disabilities.”
And the insurance company Aflac responded as well, by withdrawing all advertising from Savage’s show. Company spokeswoman Laura Kane said, “We understand that radio hosts pick on any number of targets however we found Michael Savage’s recent comments to be both inappropriate and insensitive.”
Yet Savage shows no shame. Instead, in Orwellian fashion, he is portraying himself as a victim, defending his remarks on the Larry King Show, guest-hosted by fellow shock jock Glenn Beck, by noting, “What a shame it is that I — as a man who has spent his entire life defending the defenseless, mainly children — should have to defend myself from charges leveled at me …by ripping things out of context and making me look like the monster.”
He also responded on his own show, asking, “Do you want to live in a world where one statement that offends somebody could cost you your career?