When Freedom of Speech is a One Way Street
Dr. Frank Engley: Farewell to a Truth-Teller

A Savage Ignorance

RecycleBy Harry Hofherr

I am not a fan of talk radio although I've been known to listen for a few minutes every six months or so, just to make sure I'm not missing anything.

A friend and I once discussed the fascination with Rush Limbaugh and he claimed Rush was an entertainer. I said he was a preacher and his flock is every bit the same as any other religion. I did point out however, that most respectable religions avoid preaching a doctrine of hate and derision. Our discussion ended when I suggested my friend read Eric Hoffer's classic book, The True Believer.

I've never listened to Mike Savage but I've heard about his rants over the years. I spotted one of his books in the bargain bin a few years ago and read the dust cover. After reading the faux anger directed at everyone and everything, I thought it needed to be in the recycle bin. I figured this guy was out to make a buck and his whole shtick consisted of being pissed off. It seems like a waste.

I'd have gone blissfully along not paying attention to Dr. Pissed Off until a couple of weeks ago when he attacked children with autism and their families. I couldn't imagine why. Did some individual with autism threaten him? Even in the immediate aftermath of his stupid remarks I tried not to pay attention. These shock jocks are out to rile up their listeners. They feed peoples perceived grievances and prejudices. That's what they do, like them or not.

When I read a list of his advertisers I made sure I printed it and I won't be purchasing their products, or spending my money in their stores. I'd also tell my family and friends. I figured that was as far as I'd go. I wasn't going to give this jerk any more of my time or efforts.

Don't get me wrong. What the clown said is disgusting. It shows a clearly disturbed mind. Only an incredibly weak person would find it acceptable to attack children with autism and their families. One thing stood out when I heard his rants, he doesn't know a thing about autism. This guy's totally clueless. He is not some macho savage warrior tough guy; he's a wimp with a shtick. 

What finally made me pay closer attention was something that was posted on the Environment of Harm group. Somebody wrote that by picking on autism, he was in fact encouraging his listeners to do the same. The writer was afraid that his listeners would verbally attack autistic children and their families, or worse. That got my attention.

I could just imagine some ignorant pissed off simple minded jerk yelling at us when we had our son out and he made one of his "Eeeeeee" sounds, or started running away. What's a parent to do in that situation? I don't know, but I won't stop taking my son out in the world for fear of the little savages.

I do suspect that somewhere in the future it will probably happen thanks to people like Dr. Pissed Off. But I'm grateful it hasn't happened yet, because we do take our son out and he's been known to make loud sounds, run away, throw things down, and perform in other unusual ways. We've seen some "looks" but not many. Most people are either gracious, or oblivious.

I think that for the most part people seem to understand when they see a young boy or girl out in public making strange noises, flapping their hands or arms, and maybe walking with an unnatural gait. Our kids are not unusual, anymore. They have become mainstream. They are everywhere because there are so many of them and because we take them out and show the world our beautiful vaccine damaged children.

Maybe it's because my autism radar is always on, but I do recognize it more and more. Believe me, it's everywhere.

When I hear people say there's no autism epidemic I wonder if these people ever travel. I travel a lot in my job and I see autism everywhere. I've seen it in airports, in hotels, and I've seen it in The Mall of America. I saw a little boy in the airport in San Juan last week, flapping his hands. I didn't see this many kids twenty or thirty years ago. They are hard to miss.

I've never seen anyone attack a parent for not controlling their kids, on the contrary, I've seen strangers offer help to strained parents. Mostly I've seen smiles aimed at kids trying to cope with a strange confusing world.

So, when I hear an idiot like Savage, or whatever his name is, tell his loyal listener all about autism and how it's phony, I first get angry, and then I smile. His audience is small minded. In my experiences there's a great big world out here and it's filled with some really big minded people. Most of them know someone with autism. They know it's not bad parenting. They also ask why there's so much more of it than there used to be. They see it and they get it.

There a lot more big people out here than there are ignorant little savages.



Hi Harry,

Just getting to this now as I have had family in for a long weekend.

Thanks for writing about this. It has really upset me as I have a 15-year-old who cannot speak. She has all sorts of noises, behaviors, and body postures because of the horrible effects of thimerosal. Her life and our family's life will never have a feeling of normalcy. Each day for me is a day of helping her feel better and not be afraid of the sights, sounds, smells, feelings, and PEOPLE of the world. She is fragile and meek against the Michael Savages of the world, and there are more than just the loud, ignorant, most likely unstable, one on the radio. He just happens to have the live microphone. He has power over the masses of "little savages" who are also ignorant and most likely, unstable. Over the years, I have had nightmares of Megan on a train to Auschwitz and with the unleashing of Savage's comments, the hate and contempt towards the disabled will now haunt my days.


What's in a name?
In this case everything.
Savage's remarks were totally "savage" and uncivilized, shock jock or not.

My deeper concern here, beyond money grubbing talk show hosts, is the downgrading of parents and children struggling with Autism.
Pervasive hatred like this leaches into the public(via media)and poisons minds.
This is why ASD children are expelled from restaurants and voted out of Kindergarten.
Why schools opt for lock down rooms and shock collars.
This is why ignorance prevails.
Early diagnosis/intervention, school assistance and recovery potential are what are lost when ignorant myths, like these, continue.

While I am all for free speech, I am totally against "hate" speech and think Michael Savage should be fired. Apparently this is not his first offense.

Bob Moffitt

The reason Savage's comments are so troubling is his audience, which from all accounts, numbers in the millions. I suspect more than a couple of them will interpret Savage's comments as license to take it upon themselves to "correct" parents and children, who may inadvertantly annoy them in a pubic place.

Recently, the parents of an autistic boy who lives in the Seattle area were shocked when a neighbor allegedly threatened to burn down their house if they didn't lock their son up. At last report, the neighbor was in jail on $25,000 bail, charged with malicious harassment.

When questioned why he made the threat, the neighbor said "I pay $1,000 a month rent and shouldn't have to see that idiot spinning around and staring at my house".

It is positively frightening to know there are people like this guy out there.

L Land

I'm glad the world has made some progress over the years. My son is 17 and I have dealt with negative comments. He was bouncing in his seat "too much" for the lady behind him on the plane and she reached around and slapped his arm. I know know that she must have been Savage's mother.

Tim Kasemodel


Great post.

I agree. I have never really had to deal with anyone being upset about my son's behavior - Hell, I live in Minnesota - talk about commonplace behavior....

I am not as easy to suppose however, that public opinion will not be easily swayed in the future (say 5 years when the fit hit the shan) by those who say we can't afford not to institutionalize these kids when they become adults and aging parents can not take care of them anymore.

Democrat, Republican, Independent, even Green Party candidates will be dealing with economic issues for decades thanks to the current administration. I am on a ploicy committee for ARC Minnesota and ARC Greater Twin Cities and we all agree we will have to work hard to keep the meager dollars for the disabled we have - our fight will be to keep them from taking MORE away (167 million cut from HHS budget last year). In the face of 2500 kids becoming adults with autism in the next 5 years, 6000 in the next 10 years, we will be hard pressed to do so.

Think fighting to wake people up to the epidemic has been fun so far? When it becomes obvious to the national pocketbook, the Savages of the US will demand cheaper alternatives for the taxpayer - which I see as box-em-up and drug-em, just exactly what the idiot said he was condeming in the first place.

As I have been told many times at the Capitol, the squeeky wheel gets the grease - So lets keep our voices loud and we will succeed.

Fielding J. Hurst

Great post. I am afraid that a large % of the public learned all they know about autism from Rain Man. Even a large % of those can probably recognize Mr. Savage's rant as ignorant, but for those that believe him, Mr. Savage could ease the problem by admitting he was wrong and apologizing like the "real man" he likes to talk about. I am not holding my breath. It seems that he whole thing is to be shocking no matter the consequences. A real conservative would own up to this whole thing and apologize.



Wow Harry, awesome piece! "A wimp with a shtick.." I love that!


What a thoughtful and truthful post. Great read for the AM. I was at the airport a few weeks ago and noticed a child strapped into his carseat, sitting backward attached to his mother's luggage roller. LOL, he was happy and content and she was able to make it to her terminal. I overheard some people with negative comments, which I quickly corrected with a comment on what a safe and neat way to travel in a busy airport with a child that might quickly try to leave your side.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)