Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jon Stewart vs. Autism

The other day I watched one of my favorite shows, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Actress Naomi Watts was on the show and they discussed "A Night of Too Many Stars", an event to raise money and awareness for autism education, hosted by Jon Stewart. Watts said that at first all she knew about the benefit was that its goal was "to raise money for autism", to which Stewart responded that it's really "money against autism, not money for autism. That would be a cause where you would say that seems cruel".

In a way, he's right. Education and social services for people with autism are supposed to mitigate the effects of autism so autistics will be able to function as normally and as independently as possible. Having said that, Jon Stewart's statement seems insensitive to autistic people who may understand the phrase "against autism" as meaning "against autistics". I'm sure that was not his intent. He probably sees autism in much the same way as people see cancer - which is how I used to see it as well. When you're fighting cancer, of course you're not fighting cancer patients. But the two aren't quite the same. For one thing, autism is not a disease, but more importantly, many autistics see it as a part of their personality, without which they would be completely different people.

I wouldn't really expect Jon Stewart to know this. When he was asked to host the first event for autism education he probably did research about autism itself and not about what actual people with autism think about themselves. If I didn't have an autistic nephew, I'd probably do the same as Stewart.

Anyway, after the jump you can watch the interview:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Naomi Watts
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

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