Your Views for December 21
I found the article on Adam Lanza (“Conn. gunman’s motive still a mystery,” Nov. 26) very disturbing. The Associated Press is helping to perpetuate a myth — a very cruel myth — about people with autism disorders, such as Asperger’s disorder.
The article stated that Lanza “was diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder and lacked empathy for others.” The actual State Attorney Report referenced makes it clear that his Asperger’s disorder and lack of empathy were two separate things. In the article, however, they are lumped together as one phenomena — Lanza “had Asperger’s Disorder and lacked empathy for others.”
Why is that choice of words such a big deal? Well, probably the biggest myth about people with autism disorders — one that circulates at this very moment — is that they lack empathy and even emotions. They are said to be undisturbed by others’ pain, observing suffering with detachment and disinterest. However, studies have found that they do have empathy, possibly more than most people, but struggle to express it.
Autism is a communication disorder. Insinuating that people with communication disorders don’t have empathy is like saying that someone without vocal chords hates people because he doesn’t shout “I love you.”
Some of my best friends have Asperger’s, so this article felt like a punch in the gut. They are the most devoted, sincere people I know, and would give their lives for me in a heartbeat.
Can you imagine how it felt to hear it insinuated that they are emotionless robots, incapable of loving me?
The article points out that it’s unknown whether the shooter’s autism contributed to his behavior. But in wake of the statement that he “had Asperger’s and lacked empathy,” this disclaimer is a complete mockery.
Honestly, what are people going to think? Is this going to help them understand Lanza’s motivations, or is it going to stir up unnecessary fear about autism? People don’t need to be misinformed about autism disorders — they are already confused as it is.
Anything but ‘reality’
Regarding the recent episodes of “American Jungle,” never once in many pig hunts have I ever come upon other pig hunters where we began to argue about who’s hunting ground belongs to whom, like what is portrayed on “American Jungle.”
On a few occasions, we’d come upon other hunters, exchanging friendly greetings and small chit-chat like others do along beaches and sea cliffs while fishing, then go on our way.
I wish “American Jungle” were more of an educational program, how to train dogs, stalk and track pigs, hunting equipment choices, etc., like we see on a popular local fishing show, not a bunch of guys wanting to beef it out over territorial rights.
If I want to see drama, I’ll watch professional wrestling.
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