Vancouver Sun Prints Bigoted Article on Adult Autism
The author gave as an example of an autistic person an "office clerk who beat up a woman on his way to the bus stop one morning for the simple reason she was in his way." She further stated that "their social skills are disastrous" and suggested that autistic adults often receive a diagnosis after "they're reprimanded at work for making an inappropriate comment, or charged with harassing or stalking."
Karen Rodman, founder of FAAAS, was quoted as an authoritative source for such pronouncements as "There's no rhyme or reason (to an autistic person's behavior)." Here's a little background on FAAAS: The acronym originally stood for Families of Adults Afflicted by Asperger's Syndrome, but the second "a" was later changed to "affected" as a bid to improve the group's public image when FAAAS was booted out of the International Asperger's Year event because of its reputation as a hate group. Its membership is composed largely of spiteful ex-wives involved in bitter custody disputes with autistic men, and it has a long history of inventing imaginary psychological syndromes and throwing around nasty and groundless stereotypes.
Several autistic self-advocates wrote to Patricia Graham, the Sun's editor-in-chief, to express our concerns about the article. She replied that she did not believe there was anything wrong with it but that she would consider a correction if specific inaccuracies were pointed out.
So we provided some data. We cited the US statistic that only 4.5 people per year assert autism as a defense in a violent crime case, out of almost 1.5 million violent crimes per year (source: Autism Society of America). We pointed out that research studies have proven that autistics are no more likely than non-autistics to commit violent acts or violent crimes (Murrie, Warren, Kristiansson, & Dietz, 2002; Barry-Walsh & Mullen, 2004).
Unfortunately, we got no reply to that, and no retraction or correction was printed. I suspect that when Ms. Graham told us that she would consider a correction, what she really meant was "I'll consider it if I get some complaints from normal people, but I don't give a rat's patootie about anything you freaks have to say." Or something along those lines.
We need united action to make it crystal clear to Ms. Graham that prejudiced articles of this sort are totally unacceptable. Letters and calls from parents, professionals, and other allies are needed, as well as letters from autistic self-advocates. Also, if you have the time, please write blog and/or forum posts about the article and copy Ms. Graham's contact information, listed below:
Patricia Graham, Editor in Chief, Vancouver Sun
Address: #1 - 200 Granville Street, Vancouver BC V6C 3N3, Canada
In the wake of the Michael Savage controversy, there's a reasonable likelihood that Ms. Graham may be amenable to issuing a correction/retraction and a public apology if we can put enough pressure on her. Bigoted statements about autistic people can have real consequences in the form of lost advertisers, as Mr. Savage has discovered.