First, if you haven’t read what Joe Scarsborough said earlier this week, you can read more here.
Also, some good responses, including a not-great-but-not-terrible one from Autism Speaks (and a really fabulous one from Ari Ne’eman) can be found here.
My thoughts are this – in the end, it doesn’t matter whether or not James Holmes is autistic. Maybe Joe Scarsborough is right. I don’t know. It’s certainly possible. It’s equally possible that he has a mental illness or is perfectly neurotypical. The issue for me is that none of that matters. He took the time to plan and commit a horrific crime. Please, let’s not demonize autistic or mentally ill people and make our lives more difficult because of speculation, of preconceived notions of what it is to be autistic or mentally ill. There are many people who are both or either who manage to live their lives, who have a support system, and who aren’t dangerous to a single person. Does there need to be a lot more support for autistic people and those who are mentally ill? Oh, absolutely! I won’t doubt you there for a second. I realize (based on Scarsnorough’s non apology) that is what he meant to say, and in that case, he’s right. There isn’t a lot of support out there for us, and there should be.
None of that is what people are going to take away from this, however. They are going to hear autism=violence, which makes it all the more difficult for autistic people. It’s going to be more difficult for our voices to be heard, more difficult for us to obtain gainful employment and accommodations. The consequences of his careless words are far reaching.
I wish he hadn’t opened his mouth.