Disability Community Responds to Hateful Comments by Michael Savage

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As many of you have already heard, this past week talk radio personality Michael Weiner, better known on the air as Michael Savage, made several outrageous remarks in regards to autism, including, “Now, you want me to tell you my opinion on autism, since I’m not talking about autism? A fraud, a racket…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.”

Remarks like these spread ignorance about autism and threaten to return us to a previous era where parents were blamed and labeled as “refrigerator mothers” for having autistic children. Not only have Michael Weiner and Talk Radio Networks refused to retract these outrageous comments – they have added to them by claiming, unsupported by science of any kind, that the autism spectrum is an overdiagnosed medical condition. This is part of a broader pattern of statements attacking people with disabilities and our families.

Wrong Planet has joined a coalition of disability rights organizations calling for the sponsors of Talk Radio Networks and the Savage Nation to pull their support. Read on for the joint letter regarding Savage’s remarks.

To Sponsors of The Savage Nation Radio Show, Syndicate of Talk Radio Networks, and sponsors of Talk Radio Networks programming:

We, organizations representing people with disabilities, family members, professionals and other concerned citizens, are calling upon you to withdraw support for Talk Radio Networks in response to the outrageous comments by TRN personality Michael Alan Weiner, also known as Michael Savage.

On July 16th, Weiner announced: “Now, you want me to tell you my opinion on autism, since I’m not talking about autism? A fraud, a racket…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.”

These comments represent dangerous misinformation. The refusal by Talk Radio Networks to condemn the comments or undertake any steps in response to them, as well as Michael Savage’s refusal to apologize, is absolutely unacceptable. The autism spectrum is a very real developmental disability affecting millions of Americans. It includes a series of impairments in social interaction and communication, executive functioning, sensory processing, and motor skills. Adults and children on the autism spectrum often require substantial supports, services and education across the lifespan. Comments like those on the Savage Nation do real damage to autistic people by increasing public ignorance and misinformation about autism, thereby putting at risk vital education, supports and services. Contrary to the remarks by Mr. Weiner, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that autism is over diagnosed – in fact, research suggests that there is substantial under-identification of the autism spectrum, resulting in a lack of vitally needed services and education. In addition, these remarks revive outdated and damaging misconceptions about the source of autism, recalling the “refrigerator mother” myth in which parents were blamed for having autistic children.

Talk Radio Networks’ sponsors must consider whether or not to associate with the hateful and offensive comments spoken by Michael Weiner. Because TRN has taken no action, we urge you to communicate the need for Mr. Weiner’s immediate removal by withdrawing sponsorship for TRN’s programming. There are over 50 million people with disabilities in the United States, representing approximately $200 billion in disposable income. We represent a market that cannot be ignored. By disassociating your businesses from the ignorant and hateful remarks made this past week and taking practical steps to help educate the public about the true nature of the autism spectrum and other disabilities, we can move forward towards creating a world that will recognize the rights of all people to respect, dignity, support and inclusion.

Regards,
Ari Ne’eman
President
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
http://www.autisticadvocacy.org

Andrew J. Imparato
President and CEO
American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
http://www.aapd.com

Jim Ward
ADA Watch and the National Coalition for Disability Rights
http://www.adawatch.org/

Marcie Roth
Executive Director
National Spinal Cord Injury Association
http://www.spinalcord.org/index.php

Barbara Trader, MS
Executive Director
TASH
http://www.tash.org

Marca Bristo
President
Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago
http://www.accessliving.org/

Jean Arnold
Co-founder and Chair
National Stigma Clearinghouse
http://www.stigmanet.org

Phil Schwarz
Vice-president, Asperger’s Association of New England
http://www.aane.org/
Member, Board of Directors, Autism National Committee
http://www.autcom.org/

Deirdre C. Wright
President & Co-Founder
The Asperger Syndrome Alliance for Greater Philadelphia
http://www.ascendgroup.org

Stephen Drake
Not Dead Yet
http://www.notdeadyet.org/

Alex Plank
WrongPlanet.net
http://www.wrongplanet.net/

Lawrence Carter-Long
Director of Advocacy
The Disabilities Network of NYC
http://dnnyc.net

Amber Smock
Feminist Response in Disability Activism
http://www.ourfrida.org/

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As a result of this continued attack against autistic people and the broader disability community, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network has joined with over a dozen national and regional disability rights organizations to call on the sponsors of Talk Radio Networks and the Savage Nation to pull their support. Together, we have issued a strong joint statement calling for an ad boycott. In addition, we’ve collected contact information for several of the major sponsors of Talk Radio Networks in order to empower our community to take further action. We urge you to use the information below to write, call and e-mail these sponsors and tell them why it is imperative they join companies like Aflac and Telesouth Communication that have already pulled their ads in response to these hateful remarks. There are over 50 million people with disabilities in the United States with approximately $200 billion in disposable income. It is time for us to make our voices heard.

Below you will find contact information for Talk Radio Networks’ largest sponsors and a sample letter for you to use as a reference point in your e-mails and phone calls. We will be keeping an updated list on our website here and will post updates and changes to contact information as new information becomes available. In addition, if you would like to express your support for the disability community’s joint statement on this issue, you can do so by signing our petition here. Please distribute this message to your networks and feel free to repost.

Sample Letter:

“To Whom It May Concern:

As a member of the disability community, I am outraged by the recent comments made by Talk Radio Networks’ host Michael Alan Weiner, also known as Michael Savage, stating that autism is “a fraud…a racket…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.” Not only have these comments not been retracted but Talk Radio Networks continues to stand by Michael Weiner as he continues spreading public misinformation about autism. Autism is a very real developmental disability affecting millions of Americans. Public ignorance and prejudice against people with disabilities represent one of the most significant obstacles to full access and inclusion of people with disabilities throughout society. I urge you to take immediate action and pull your financial support from Talk Radio Networks and The Savage Nation Radio Show in response to these hateful comments.”

Contact Information:
ABC, Inc.:
VP Advertising/Sales Mike Shaw
Phone: 212 456-7272
[email protected]
VP Public Relations Kevin Brockman
Phone: 818 460-7756
Fax: 212-456-1424

Acura:
Acura Public Relations
Mike Spencer, 310-783-3165
[email protected]

American Express:
Leslie Berland
212.640.5142
[email protected]
American Express
P.O. Box 981540
El Paso, TX 79998-1540

Boca Java:
Stefanie Hochstadter
[email protected]
1-888-262-2528
Boca Java
730 South Powerline Rd.
Suite D
Deerfield Beach, FL 33442

Campbells:
Campbell Soup Company
Campbell Place
Camden, NJ 08103-1701
Phone: 800-257-8443
Phone: 800-871-0988

Citrix:
851 West Cypress Creek Road
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33309, United States
Americas PR
Jason Wyse
Americas Senior PR Manager
Phone: (786) 449-3740
Email: [email protected]
Eric Armstrong
Director, Corporate Communications
Phone: (954) 267-2977
Email: [email protected]

Dish Network:
CEO Charlie Ergen: (303) 723-1010
CEO assistant: (303) 723-1005
EchoStar Satellite L.L.C.
Attn: Corporate Communications
9601 S. Meridian Blvd.
Englewood, CO 80112
[email protected]

Ebay:
Alan Marks
Senior Vice President Corporate Communications
Telephone: 1-408-376-7400
Fax: 1-408-369-4855
Email: [email protected]

General Motors:
Andrea Canabal
General Motors, Northeast Communications,
Work: +1-914-244-6059,
Cellular: +1-914-391-6898,
[email protected]
Stockholder line: 313-667-1500

Gallo Winery:
John Segale
Gallo Winery Spokesperson
Work: 916-960-5341
Cell: 916-600-1081

Prudential:
Bob DeFillippo
Phone: 973-802-4149
[email protected]

Nestlé Purina PetCare:
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 314-982-2577
Fax: 314-982-2752

Simon & Shuster:
Michael Selleck
(800) 223-2336
[email protected]

Staples, Inc:
Paul Capelli, 508-253-8530
[email protected]

Subway:
SUBWAY® Public Relations
(203) 877-4281
Les Winograd Ext. 1683
[email protected]
Kevin Kane Ext.1329
[email protected]

Volkswagen:
Keyes, Steve
Director, Press and Public Relations
Phone: 703 364 7650
Fax: 703 364 7071
Email: [email protected]

Thank you for your support and please distribute. Our combined activism has and will continue to help us create a world that respects, includes and supports people with disabilities throughout society. Remember, nothing about us, without us!

Regards,
Ari Ne’eman
President
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1101 15th Street, NW Suite 1212
Washington, DC 20005
http://www.autisticadvocacy.org
732.763.5530

3 thoughts on “Disability Community Responds to Hateful Comments by Michael Savage”

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