Her answer, accurate if not sympathetic, was, "It's because you're teasable. Everytime they say something mean, you scream and yell. The more you respond to these kids, the more fun it is for them to tease you. If you don't respond, they'll get bored."
At this point in history, our autism community has proved to the world of second-rate showmen that we are the ultimate target for bullying - and a terrific source of publicity. Say the word autism in connection with an insult - or even suggest that autism might, perhaps, be overdiagnosed - and you can count on days and days of top-of-the-fold promotion.
Before Michael Savage had something to say about autism, I'd never heard his name (and neither had many of my readers). Today, though, he's a household word even in liberal households - simply because he invoked the anger of the autism community.
Denis Leary, a moderately well-known TV actor, wrote a book entitled "Why We Suck: A Feel-Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid" Despite the obvious silliness of the name, and the unimportance of the book, the autism community has raised both Leary and his achievement to a pedestal. Today, Leary is front page news, and Jenny McCarthy is quoted as saying - In US Magazine - "Whoo! First of all, let me tell you, the autism community has received probably 10,000 e-mails (saying) 'Go kill him! Go yell at him!'"
Go KILL him? Assuming that Jenny is telling even half the truth, there are tens of thousands of autism-related families out there thinking about Leary, writing about Leary, and caring about Leary to the point where they're actually writing letters to ask for his demise. Wow. And in his response to all this excitement, Leary explains - in the Huffington Post - that people are citing his book out of context, and should really read the entire chapter (after first, of course, going out and buying a copy!).
And check this out: here's Denis Leary pictured between Jenny McCarthy and Amanda Peet, in a major article on ABC News' Entertainment website!
In fact, looking at today's Google headlines, Leary is mentioned, pictured, and/or cited, in The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, ABC News, The Chicago Sun Times and Access Hollywood - to mention just a few of the prominent publications. The group Autism United has organized a rally protesting Leary - and they expect hundreds, if not thousands to attend.
Savage and Leary may have said some incredibly dumb and even hurtful things about autism. But as a community, we have responded by providing them with exactly what they wanted most: publicity. And, as more and more celebrities get into the fray, the autism community will become increasingly the target of silly, ignorant jabs.
If a book about being fat and ignorant can get this kind of publicity just because it says mean things about people living with autism, just thing what the next starlet will dream up to get us excited.
As they say in the biz, there's no such thing as bad publicity. And we are certainly providing plenty of it.