Recently journalist Amy Wallace wrote an op-ed piece for “The New York Times” about how she was deeply offended by those who have publicly disagreed with her articles on autism. Wallace basically labels likens all criticism and (yes, it can be very tasteless) cartoon-like renderings to a sex crime.
Before autism took over my life I worked with survivors of rape and incest. They inspired me every day. I have known many survivors of sexual assaults and sexual discrimination. I have worked with many survivors of sexual assaults and sexual discrimination. Amy Wallace, you are not a victim of a sexual assault or sexual discrimination via the Internet.
To waste one’s time feeling sorry for oneself because of what strangers and trolls say about you on the Internet is sad. Yet then again, maybe I am envious? I am talking to all you autism parents out there; imagine if tasteless cartoons were your biggest problem in life? How nice that would be, right?
Ms. Wallace very much perceives herself as a victim of autism as well as her pal Dr. Paul Offit. Indeed, some people say mean things about Dr. Offit online. I know, it must be hell on earth! However, Ms. Wallace describes Dr. Offit’s lovely Tudor house, notes there are 2 very nice cars in the garage. Dr. Offit has a caring, successful professional wife and two bright, healthy children. Oh and he has made over $10 million on his vaccine patents. Wow, what a victim … it is a wonder how he goes on living!
Amy Wallace is apoplectic that critics render her as Paul Offit’s stooge (to quote Wallace: Offit is, “so quick-witted and funny!”) in obviously Photoshopped pictures. Yes the pictures are crude, but really Ms. Wallace, time to grow up. No one said the First Amendment is always pretty but it is essential to a free press. You should know this as a professional journalist. Time to stop feeling sorry for yourself and put on those big girl pants!
Jenny McCarthy (who is not an anti-vaccine activist) receives tons of hate mail and is portrayed in grotesque ways on the Internet. Do eyou ver hear Ms. McCarthy complain about it? Never. I think she has better things to do than scour the Internet looking to be personally offended. I would bet McCarthy is actually busy being a single working mother and caring for her young son with severe seizure disorder. Too bad Ms. Wallace cannot find a better use of her time.
In the past I have written about how my family received bomb threats when NBC (my father worked for NBC at the time) aired controversial shows. Additionally, we had really, really angry people picketing in our driveway for months. So what, it was awkward but that is life, you deal with it. Ms. Wallace, this is a life lesson, if you put yourself out there people will disagree with you. If you receive a real and credible threat call the police. What you do not do (as the police will tell you) is whine and complain to the media that you are being persecuted, that only emboldens your opposition to continue their behavior.
Wallace is disliked by those in the autism community for her poor quality reporting, period. Wallace’s autism related work is sloppy and one-sided. Ms. Wallace asserts there is no autism epidemic, our children would have been labeled “mentally retarded or just plain slow,” in the past. Charming characterization, right? Wallace argues that GI disease is not common among ASD children and that problems with constipation are merely behavioral. That would be such a neat trick, teaching oneself not to have a bowel movement for weeks at a time! There is so much upside to that!
There are not enough hours in the day to detail why autism families hold Ms. Wallace’s work in such low regard. Yet according to Ms. Wallace all criticism of her autism writing is thoroughly unjustified and solely a result of her womanhood. This is a delusional form of self-pity and an insult to all the women who struggle every day under the yoke of real sexual discrimination.
I am not professional writer but I thought one of the most important rules of professional journalism is don’t make it all about you?
The title of Ms. Wallace’s Op-Ed was “Hot or Not?” If that is not embarrassing I don’t know what is. Newsflash Ms. Wallace -- no one cares what you look like. Really, nobody cares….at all. Additionally, do us all a favor and try to remember that neither you nor Paul Offit are victims.
Let me introduce some of the real victims of the autism epidemic.
Avonte Oquendo was from my hometown of New York City. The entire city had been looking for Avonte for 3 months. He was 14, severely affected and nonverbal. Avonte walked out of his school when no one was watching. Parts of his body were found in the East River last week. Another autistic child, Mikaela Lynch age 9 from San Francisco wandered away from home. Mikaela’s body and was later found in a nearby creek. Alyvia Navarro, just 3 years old, wandered away from her grandmother’s home in Wareham Mass. Hours later her body was tragically discovered in a lake.
Try looking outside yourself Ms. Wallace and remember who is really paying a price for autism, it isn’t you.
Katie Wright is Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.