July 24, 2008

Are we just too sensitive?

Let me start by saying I don't know who Michael Savage is. He's apparently a radio talk show host somewhere, but I've never heard of him. Anyway, this guy stirred up controversy by claiming on his show earlier this month:
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.

Since then, he's been fired, and parents of autistic children all over the place have been decrying his insensitivity. In response, Savage says he made the statement as a way to shine light on the problem of numerous children being inappropriately and wrongfully diagnosed as autistic.

What I find interesting about this situation and other similar situations where people say stupid things in a public forum (think Don Imus, Jessie Jackson), is how frothing-at-the-mouth crazy people get in response. Is this guy a douche? Probably. Were his comments insensitive? Yeah. Do I care? Not really. Now don't get me wrong. I absolutely think people should voice their opinions and displeasure when something like this happens. But do I really think it's appropriate to see people get fired because they've said something ignorant or unpopular? I'm not so sure. When stuff like this happens, I get nervous because I see it as a chisel that chips away a little bit more at our First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Somewhere in this country, I think we've managed to convince ourselves that if someone says something we don't agree with, then they must be punished and silenced. That's a troubling trend, as far as I'm concerned.

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