Parents call for Savage to be fired over autism rant
Editor's note: The original version of this story erroneously misattributed a statement to law professor Nate Persily. RAW STORY regrets the error.
The radio program of conservative "shock jock" Michael Savage has been canceled by one Mississippi network following his controversial claim that autism is almost always the result of "a brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out."
"They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron," Savage went on during his July 16 broadcast. "You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. ... Don't act like a girl. Don't cry."
"It was just horrible what he said," stated Steve Davenport, president of Telesouth Communications, in explaining the cancelation. "When you talk about people in politics, business people, that's one thing. But when you talk about defenseless children, that's another."
Some parents of autistic children want Savage to be fired entirely. Evelyn Ain, who organized a protest outside the studios of WOR-AM in New York on Monday, explained, "That isn't just freedom of speech, it is hateful speech." Wendy Fournier of the National Autism Association called Savage's remarks "over the line and cruel."
"It's heartbreaking," one protesting parent told CNN. "The whole lives of families change in raising a child with autism." Martin Schwartzman's 15-year-old son Robbie is moderately autistic. "It really hurt my feelings," said Robbie's twin sister Allyson.
However, law professor Nate Persily cautioned, "The Constitution protects your right to be a jerk sometimes. ... Jerky speech is protected."
Savage was previously fired by MSNBC in 2003 over anti-gay comments. At the time of writing, an online petition calling for his firing over the latest flap had already gained 1600 signatures.
However, a statement posted on Savage's website Monday offered no apology but insisted that autism is being overdiagnosed by greedy doctors, a statement with which medical experts consulted by CNN disagree.
This video is from CNN.com, broadcast July 22, 2008.