October 15, 2008
Does that title offend you? It does me. I wrote about comedian/actor Denis Leary today at work, here. Leary’s written a new book, which I’m guessing will be a big seller (you don’t want to know what I’m really thinking right now), called Why We Suck: A Feel-Good Guide To Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid. I suppose he needed a snappy title because really, does anyone pay any attention to him anymore? Was he ever funny? Perhaps attacking children and their parents was his way of saying, ‘hey look at me! I’m still here!’ (Still not funny though).
It takes a lot to offend me – really, it does. I can dish out politically incorrect humor with the best of them, sarcasm and black comedy can be oodles of fun and although I’m a crybaby at times, in certain areas of my life, I can take crap dished out to me. However, when some jackass has-been ‘comedian’ is trying to stay relevant to the times by bringing up the subject of autism in his book and calling parents of children with autism “inattentive,” and “competitive,” and in a nutshell, says there’s really no such thing as autism, it just means our children are stupid and/or lazy, I take offense. Here is what he wrote:
“There is a huge boom in autism right now because inattentive mothers and competitive dads want an explanation for why their dumb-ass kids can’t compete academically, so they throw money into the happy laps of shrinks…. to get back diagnoses that help explain away the deficiencies of their junior morons. I don’t give a [bleep] what these crackerjack whack jobs tell you – yer kid is NOT autistic. He’s just stupid. Or lazy. Or both.”
I’ll assume he was attempting to be comedic (sort of missed the mark on that one). I’ll assume the premise of his book is to bring focus on the way we live today, the way we parent our children, the way we overeat, don’t exercise, talk too much, we don’t work hard enough, we overindulge in every aspect of living – just a general decline in how, we, as a society, walk through the world right now. I get it. He’s trying to be witty and humorous and probably throwing a dash of sarcasm in the book too – but honestly, implying – hell, saying – that inattentive parents are to blame for a child with autism is ridiculous. Or to say that a child who has been diagnosed with autism, doesn’t really have that, he’s just stupid. Or lazy. Or hey, both, is just wrong.
Would I be as offended by his comments if my own son wasn’t a special needs child? Maybe not, I don’t know. The fact is, my son is a child with many challenges – many. And he does display characteristics that fall into the autism spectrum, although his formal diagnosises do not include autism, those things are still present. And no way in hell, is some washed up douche bag, who knows nothing about raising a child with special needs, going to tell me (and many others) that my son’s afflictions are because I was/am an inattentive mother. Oh hell to the no. Of course there are crappy parents out there, that’s a fact of life. And perhaps those crappy parents have contributed to the fact that their child doesn’t flourish in whatever situation they may be in. But to say that I somehow, made my child the way he is, is ridiculous. My son was born the way he is – his brain is wired differently, his sensory and tactile issues are because he receives things differently than you or I, and sure, if I was a shitty parent, maybe he wouldn’t have made the progress he’s made.
I have gone to every specialist known to man, had tests done, therapy, read books, researched, attended seminars, worked with his schools – done whatever it takes to find answers, to get help for my child, to do whatever I can to make his life as fulfilling as it can possibly be. And for Denis Leary to be so flip about such a serious subject is not acceptable. Would he feel the same way if one of his children were autistic? Probably not – he’d blame their mother for giving him stupid and lazy children. He’s narrow-minded and ill-informed and so not funny.
When my son is struggling with his anxieties (and I have to talk him down for the 23rd time that day), at 12 still can’t tie his shoelaces (although I’ve been trying to teach him since he was 3), is made fun of because some of his behavior is perceived as odd (and still I walk proud with him in public even though we are both called names like freak, and weirdo), struggles to eat normally (I so want him to eat a slice of pizza or chow down on a burger, but that has yet to happen since we’ve not moved past baby food but we keep trying!), beats himself up verbally because he’s frustrated with not being able to handle a simple task (I hug him fiercely and help him articulate his thoughts so he can get that simple task done and be proud of his accomplishment) and looks at me with all the innocence of a preschooler (as I help him with his grade 3 spelling words even though he’s in grade 7, but he draws me the cutest pictures for my fridge), I’ll think of your words, and remind myself that it’s all because I’m an inattentive parent. If only I were a better mother to my son, then he wouldn’t be so stupid and lazy. Thank you for being so perceptive Denis Leary.
But hey Denis, good luck with your book. It’s great when chain-smoking, aging, past their prime, not funny, assholes try to get one more laugh out there.