DATE: July 23, 2008
-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE-
Sheryl Bass or Wendy Greenwald
Incensed Disability Groups Call for Ad Withdrawals on The Savage Nation Radio Show
The disability community is livid. In an unprecedented collective advocacy effort, the disability community has come together to call on show sponsors to withdraw their support in response to Michael Savage’s inflammatory, discriminatory, and dangerous comments about autism that he made on his July 16 radio show, “The Savage Nation,” syndicated by Talk Radio Networks. Savage said an autistic child is just a “brat who hasn't been told to cut the act out” and that “99 percent of the cases of autism are a result of lax parenting.” He said parents of autistic children need to say to the child, “Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.” Because Savage absolutely refuses to apologize, and because Talk Radio Networks refuses to act, a coalition of over a dozen disability groups led by the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network with the American Association of People with Disabilities, the National Coalition for Disability Rights and others are calling on the show’s sponsors to withdraw their support.
Ari Neeman, President of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, says Savage’s comments “do real damage to autistic people by increasing public ignorance and misinformation about autism, thereby putting at risk vital education, support and services.”
Neeman added, “There are more than 50 million people with disabilities in the United States, representing approximately $200 billion in disposable income. We represent a market that cannot be ignored. Various show sponsors such as Campbell’s, Staples, Subway, and Purina One are part of the fabric of American family life, and these companies need to stand by American families, including families with special children.”
“We feel this is beyond a free speech issue,” explains Zosia Zaks, a nationally known writer, speaker, and autism advocate. “Other radio hosts have been penalized for racist and sexist comments. These comments are no different in their tone or intent,” she stated in a recent e-mail interview.
The letter to “The Savage Nation” show sponsors will be delivered to them tomorrow morning, Thursday, July 24. To schedule an interview with Neeman about this important discrimination controversy, please contact me at the e-mail address or phone number above.