Michael Savage is a drongo

I could have used many harsher terms, but I was exhausted from outrage and despair after reading his latest, and couldn’t really give him my best invective.

Apparently, despite decades of study from medical and childhood health professions, Michael Savage knows better than all of them when it comes to autism. (Like so many of his fellow cultural warrior pundits, an awful lot of it boils down to WIMMIN R DOIN IT RONG (AS USUAL (COZ WIMMIN R LOOSRS)), but there’s a nasty side-dish of JUST SNAP OUT OF IT)

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.'” Savage concluded, “[I]f I behaved like a fool, my father called me a fool. And he said to me, ‘Don’t behave like a fool.’ The worst thing he said — ‘Don’t behave like a fool. Don’t be anybody’s dummy. Don’t sound like an idiot. Don’t act like a girl. Don’t cry.’ That’s what I was raised with. That’s what you should raise your children with. Stop with the sensitivity training. You’re turning your son into a girl, and you’re turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That’s why we have the politicians we have.

Basically? Fuck you and that ablist, misogynist high horse you’re riding, Savage.

My son is a High Functioning Autistic child. His father has always been part of his daily life. Having a loving father who is consistent with discipline has not made him one whit less autistic, and yet despite his other social difficulties we constantly receive compliments about his manners and his generosity with younger children in our community. His manners derive from us consistently disciplining him with regard to unacceptable behaviour, and his generosity towards younger kids derives from his own sweet nature. He’s also smart as a whip. He’s just not very good at making friends, although that’s improving now that he’s in his teens.

Interestingly, his father’s uncle was a profoundly dependent “classical autistic” – the condition does appear to have some hereditary components). That uncle never learnt to speak, or read, or even make eye contact – yet he too had a father living right there in the house in the between-the-wars UK. There wasn’t a huge amount of coddling happening to any kids during the Great Depression.

My son has challenges that neurotypical people don’t have to deal with, and sometimes he responds differently than most of his peers, but he’s not a moron, he’s not a fool, he’s not a dummy, he’s not an idiot, and he’s not a girl (as if that would make him any lesser if he was, but Apparently in Savageworld it’s crucial that he learn that “idiot” and “dummy” are words that go with “girl” (and girls are losers)). Tell me, Michael Savage – if autism spectrum disorder is such a fundamentally girly condition, then why does it affect four times as many males as females?

More from Echidne:

Notice how there is no autism epidemic but if there is it’s the fault of the single mothers? Also, boys have to be brought up to properly associate “idiot” and “dummy” with being a girl. That’s how Michael was brought up and it took!

And how does that link to our earlier discussion [about “being a real man”]? I think it points out that the worst thing a boy might experience in that alternative reality inhabited by savages and Savages is that he would turn into something like a girl. That equals being a loser and a beaten man.

Now imagine being a girl and hearing that rant. What does it say to her?

What indeed?



Categories: culture wars, ethics & philosophy, gender & feminism, Science, social justice

Tags: , , , , , ,

12 replies

  1. I don’t know what a drongo is (though it sounds like a great insult) but this morong doesn’t deserve a nanosecond of anyone’s attention.
    It’s comments like this that strenghten the argument that the press has way too much freedom.

  2. My younger son shared 1st and 2nd birthday parties with a boy who is classicly autistic (his parents found it too heartbreaking to keep going after that – they were born on the same day). That boy has only spoken a couple of words (he’s now 5) but he does make eye contact.
    Theirs is quite a patriarchal household, in my observation – I can actually imagine some of the conversation described above. Not that its really worth arguing against such a ridiculous argument.
    My cousin (a girl) is also autistic – more high functioning. She is very polite, and loves to chat, and doesn’t cry or scream about anything (despite being a girl). But 30 seconds conversation will tell you that there’s something very different about her.
    A drongo indeed.

  3. MaryTracy9 – a drongo is a classic Oz slang term for a fool of the clumsiest sort, deriving from the name of a 1920s racehorse that no-one ever won money on unless they bet on it coming last. Like a lot of classic Aussie slang the term is declining from popular use, as more and more of our kids use slang from American TV shows instead.
    I found it interesting in the discussion on Echidne’s site that apparently Savage’s own father was rigidly authoritarian and also delighted in verbally abusing his son about perceived deficits in manliness in front of other people. As Savage views himself as a “success” because he has a popular syndicated radio show, he has obviously rationalised this abusive parenting as something that made him what he is today. What a pity he can’t imagine how much emotionally richer his life would be if his father had not been such an abusive parent.

  4. Yeah…I mean this guy is being a tool on so very many fronts it’s hard to know which particular aspect to attack first…I didn’t manage anything other than to point out that he’s a vicious bastard.
    Regarding the single mother thing…it’s very odd, as I’ve been to seminars, workshops, meetings, blah blah…and one of the things that pissed me off as the single mother of an autistic child is that ALL the literature, and ALL of the discussions revolved around the scenario of two parents being around and participating (as well of course as assuming that the couple was heterosexual)…I never actually managed to raise it and tell them that they ought not to assume that we were all happily cohabiting…
    My son has Aspergers and ADHD…it’s a double whammy where you get to watch people’s eyes glaze over with ‘Pht, yeah RIGHT, pissweak excuse for your parenting’…but I don’t feel at all apologetic for my parenting, or for my son…he’s 11 and funny, opinionated, sweet and charming. He doesn’t grasp the finer social rules at work and sometimes blurts out something a little too honest, but is mortified to realise he’s been offensive. I think rather than him needing a dad like Savage, Savage would have been better off with a mother like me, or a father like my son.

  5. Oh…epa! That’s not meant to be a comment about Savage’s mum…I meant that if he had to choose between having a Dad around who abused him, or having the dreaded single mum scenario that the latter might have been preferable

  6. I can’t get over how offensive it is that someone’s suggesting autism is caused by parenting. Michael Savage isn’t just a tool, he’s a giant adjustable spanner.

  7. TigTog, I am the father of a 6-year-old with classic autism. He is also high functioning and I’d support everything you say – I’d never encountered Michael Savage before today, but I agree that he is indeed a drongo, but not even worthy of such a name.
    The Spangled Drongo found in Southern Queensland was a frequent visitor to our backyard while growing up, and it at least had the laudible quality of eating caterpillers off our vegies.

  8. The Spangled Drongo found in Southern Queensland was a frequent visitor to our backyard while growing up, and it at least had the laudible quality of eating caterpillers off our vegies.

    The useless racehorse was of course named for the bird, by an owner who was also a fan of the caterpillar-eaters and hopeful of a fast-flittering set of hooves. I love etymology.

  9. Yeah, go ahead and stomp all over my mental image of hack racehorses wandering into yards and doing insect control.

  10. I’m a meanyhead like that.

  11. Like a lot of classic Aussie slang the term is declining from popular use, as more and more of our kids use slang from American TV shows instead.
    That makes me want to get a job writing for American TV, just so I can get words like “drongo” back into circulation.
    And yes to everything you said about Savage. I have an autistic nephew whose father’s been there all along, so my head exploded, too… Although of course, my head also would have exploded even if my brother-in-law hadn’t been around for the kid’s whole life.
    Generally speaking, I just ignore people like Savage — keeps me saner — but it really gets me down sometimes that so many people think shaming children (or adults) is actually helpful. Whether it’s regarding autism, ADHD, sexual orientation, gender identity, fat, whatever, there’s always the contingent bellowing, “MORE SHAME IS THE ANSWER! MORE SHAME WILL MAKE THEM NORMAL!” That frustrates me more than just about anything, because I cannot understand how someone can live in the same world as I do and reach that conclusion.

  12. What the hell is this man on? His rant would be incredibly offensive no matter what but discounting autism as a disorder is so ridiculous I can’t believe anyone printed/aired that.
    People can create some spectacular fantasy worlds for themselves, can’t they?

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