Being Leary of McCarthyism

By Phil Plait | October 23, 2008 9:00 pm

Oh, my brain! It’s all asplodey!

Dennis Leary is sometimes funny, but he can also be a serious jerk. It’s part of his schtick, but there are times… In a book he wrote, Why We Suck: A Feel-Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid, he says that some claims of autism are really just an excuse by “inattentive mothers and competitive dads who 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.”

Dennis Leary and Jenny McCarthy
In a more perfect world…

He says this quotation is being taken grossly out of context. I have not read the book, so I can’t say for sure, though I can see where this might be the case. For example, he might be saying that most cases of autism are real, but only some parents use it as an excuse. Or maybe it’s simply an excrutiatingly poorly-aimed joke. He does say that he talks about autism being a real disorder, and "that I not only support the current rational approaches to the diagnoses and treatment of real autism but have witnessed it firsthand while watching very dear old friends raise a functioning autistic child."

So it sounds like he may be trying making a what he thinks is a legitimate point, though doing so in a very crass and ill-advised manner.

But then the crazy gets, well, crazier. Enter Jenny McCarthy.

She is at the forefront of the loud but grossly wrong antivaccination movement. About Leary, she says

“Whoo! First of all, let me tell you, the autism community has received probably 10,000 emails [saying] ‘Go kill him!’ ‘Go yell at him,’” McCarthy, 36, told Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush.

“[But] it’s so hard to even get up enough juice in me or energy in me to even try to fight someone that is obviously stupid.”

Wow. Where to start? With the "autism community" threatening him with death? Or her saying someone else’s claims about autism are "stupid"?

I think Leary’s comments were pretty dumb, whether he’s right or not. Stirring up an issue with this much emotion to make a joke is not such a brilliant idea. Of course, he’s not trying to spearhead a movement that creates a huge public health hazard and is literally putting the lives of our children at risk.

Having McCarthy jump on this already exploding dumbosity… well…

The stupid, it burns


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