MSNBC Host Suggests Colorado Shooter James Holmes Has Autism

Joe Scarborough MSNBC

As details continue to emerge about Colorado ‘Dark Knight’ murder suspect James Holmes, many media figures are beginning discuss his background, upbringing, mental health and overall state-of-mind. Unfortunately, this has invariably (and predictively) once again exposed the ignorance associated with autism.

Such is the case on yesterday’s "Morning Joe" program, when MSNBC host Joe Scarborough irresponsibly suggested that Holmes, and others like him, were autistic:

“Most of it has to do with mental health. You have these people that are somewhere, I believe, probably on the autism scale," he stated

Scarborough went on to say that he did not want to "generalize," despite having done just that. He also noted that his own son has Asperger’s Syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. However, having a family member on the autism spectrum does not excuse one from making ignorant and irresponsible statements.

First of all, there is absolutely no evidence that James Holmes has autism. Being a recluse and loner are not sole qualifiers for a diagnosis.

Scarborough’s comments were not surprising and I was actually wondering how long it would take before someone linked James Holmes to the disorder. As we have previously discussed in the past, any time a high-profile crime is committed and the suspect is described as "quiet" or "reserved," the autism label soon follows.

The fact is, there is no evidence to suggest that those with autism have a propensity to commit violent acts and studies have actually proven that those with autism spectrum disorders are no more likely to commit crimes than their neurotypical counterparts (Barnhill, 2007; Griffith, 10 May 2006). 

It’s extremely disheartening to see the level of ignorance that still exists, especially in this instance involving a parent of someone on the spectrum. Scarborough did not even get his terminology correct when referring to "the autism scale," a term hardly (if ever) used. Presumably, he intended to say "the autism spectrum."

Hopefully, Scarborough educates himself a bit further and retract his statements, which should include an apology to the autism community. 

We have a hard enough time fighting intolerance, misconceptions and discrimination, and the last thing needed is an influential media figure making armchair diagnoses about people they know nothing about.

Watch Scarorough’s comments below.  They come between the 8:00 and 9:00 mark.

7 Responses to MSNBC Host Suggests Colorado Shooter James Holmes Has Autism

  1. lauren says:

    I get the point of the article, but the reasoning is reactionary and illogical. The majority of violent crimes are not committed by people with mental illness. Is it ignorant to speculate that Holmes may have a mental illness? 24 year-olds are no more likely to commit a violent crime than 25 year-olds. One cannot then conclude that Holmes must not be 24 years old.

  2. Amayo Peter says:

    Could this be defense as usual? Thank God, autism has eyes, the insignia being placed on him is dirty.

  3. Robin nemeth says:

    Way to go, Joe. Thanks for rubbing salt in the wound with your promotion of Autism Speaks.

    Want to know what sort of ‘help’ Autism Speaks gives the autism community? A few years ago I was standing outside of an Autism Speaks benefit concert handing out information about vaccine injuries, when I was asked to leave by, I presume, the local chapter president Ms. Shari Goldberg. “We’re just trying to have a good time,” I was told. And I was asked if I understood what it was like to have a child with autism. At that time I had to respond with “no”, although I couldn’t and can’t to this day understand why my presence there should have spoiled her evening. I was told that if I didn’t leave I would be arrested, and when I didn’t leave the police were called. As it happens, they allowed me to remain, much to Ms. Goldberg’s chagrin I am sure.

    The woman, on an internet forum trying to raise money, then later lied about the occurrence, saying that the arrest attempt never happened. I have documented evidence however that it did. She was either there that evening speaking to me in which case she knows that it did happen. Or, if she wasn’t there, she has no business saying publicly that it didn’t happen.

    Now Joe is issuing his ‘clarification’ statement, rather than voicing an apology on his program where the offensive slurs occurred. Reminds me a lot of something Autism Speaks did a few years ago via their golden girl toady at that time, Ms. Alison Singer. Ms. Singer, quoted on the front page of the Wall Street Journal as saying that the only thing parents of children with autism have done wrong is to have bad genes, later retracted her statement when pressed for evidence that autism is primarily a genetic rather than an environmental disorder. The only problem with her retraction was that instead of correcting her mistake on the front page of the WSJ, where as many readers would have seen her retraction as saw her original ignorant and harmful statement, she retracted it on a buried back page of the Autism Speaks website where it was, I’m sure, seen by almost no one.

    Well, it is no more than one would expect from Joe. He is, after all, quite clearly the bitch of the main stream media which, between ads for prescription meds, has no interest in the truth about autism ever being heard. Which is exactly how Autism Speaks operates. So as Gomer used to say, surprise surprise! that Joe supports them. I wonder how your son feels about your comments, Joe. Oh what I wouldn’t give to hear your son speak his views about your comments. Is this how you’d excuse any and all of his errant behavior, Joe? With your crazy notion that any and all errant behavior has to be a result of being on the spectrum?

    Joe needs to resign. Imus was forced to resign merely for making off color jokes about the hairstyles of some black female sports figures. Nothing compared to the horrible ignorant slander that accuses a whole group of people of being mass murderers just waiting to happen. (Oh yeah, Imus just happened to be the ONLY television or radio talk show host speaking the truth about the link between vaccines and autism, but of course THAT wasn’t why he was let go, nooo…)

    Joe should resign. Someone could give him a job sweeping in McD’s or something. Maybe your average adult who is high on the spectrum doesn’t make small talk very well, but they are certainly as capable as Joe is of saying what they’re told to say and shutting up when they’re told to shut up. And of putting their foot in their mouth. Let someone on the spectrum have Joe’s job and collect his paycheck. Oh wait, maybe they’d be hard pressed to find someone with moral standards as low as his.

  4. venezuela says:

    It’s actually very difficult in this full of activity life to listen news on TV, thus I simply use web for that reason, and take the most recent information.

  5. beth says:

    Holmes did not kill because he is autistic HOWEVER, he suffered a severe reaction to medication because he is autistic and therefore will have a more permeable blood brain barrier, this reaction was misdiagnosed as dysphoric mania and in a panic he withdrew suddenly from the meds which will have caused withdrawal seizures,autism sufferers have a lower seizure threshold and experience extreme withdrawal symptoms as more of the drug crosses their blood brain barrier in the first place so the brain experiences a greater deficit when the drug is then withdrawn. Seizures cause a post ictal state, which includes post ictal psychosis and this can last for three months. The szures cause severe amnesia and the person becomes relaxed and sleepy after the seizure,the person can also have moments relative lucidity during this time. Now look at the witness testimony of the first arresting officer, James had massively dilated pupils, was sweating profusely and was limp and rrelaxed and had been found almost asleep ! He warned the officers about the bomb whilst he was lucid. Holmes was no criminal and suffered only anxiety before he was given psychotropic meds, and yes a person can plan whilst suffering psychosis, so his plans do NOT indicate he was campus months at all!

  6. beth says:

    *compus mentus . . .predictive texting, sorry!

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