LOS ANGELES — Autism activist Jenny McCarthy has a few words for Denis Leary’s recent categorization that those diagnosed with autism are, “… stupid. Or lazy. Or both” in his new book, “Why We Suck: A Feel-Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid.”
“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 told Billy Bush for Access Hollywood and “The Billy Bush Show” in an interview Thursday. “[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.”
On Wednesday, Leary came under fire after the New York Post published an excerpt from the actor/comedian’s new book, in which he reportedly claimed autism “diagnoses… help explain away the deficiencies of [parents’] junior morons.”
Since his book made headlines yesterday, Leary issued a statement to Us Weekly claiming his comments were taken out of context.
“I thought I made my feelings about autism very clear: 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,” his statement read.
“The bulk of the chapter deals with grown men who are either self-diagnosing themselves with low-level offshoots of the disease or wishing they could as a way to explain their failed careers and troublesome progeny,” Leary’s statement continued.
But McCarthy told Bush she was unswayed by Leary’s defense.
“This community has been through so much and to compare and use the world ‘dumb-a** lazy’ with autism, it’s just not fair. Mind you, I have not read his chapter that he has said, he has been misunderstood. So I can’t comment too much ‘cause otherwise I’d be just as bad as Barbara Walters who was commenting without reading my book,” McCarthy said.
Seek education on autism
In line with her similar response to radio shock jock Michael Savage, who attacked autism this past July, McCarthy suggests Leary gets some autism education before speaking or writing again on the topic.
“These poor moms are just going through so much hell and I don’t think Denis is quite educated in the area just like that other DJ,” she said. “I wish these people would come sit down and talk to some families before they make comments because we are already suffering so badly… We don’t need anymore [comments like that]. We’re already in so much pain.”
McCarthy said she plans to avoid talking about Leary and his comments in the future, but if he doesn’t follow her advice and seek out families for autism education, the actress said she believes they’ll find him.
“My fight isn’t with Denis Leary, my fight is with the government — a bigger fish to fry. So I’m still gonna work on the vaccines and I’m still working on pediatricians and Denis Leary can go hopefully be more educated by every mother that stops him from this day forward to give him a piece of their mind,” she said.
And at least one mother has already issued a public statement condemning Leary’s words — autism activist and actress, Holly Robinson Peete.
“Like myself and my husband [Rodney Peete], Denis Leary is a fellow supporter of the Michael J. Fox Foundation which our HollyRod Foundation has supported for years (I lost my dad to Parkinson’s disease). So I’m pretty sure he is not desensitized to the seriousness of neurological disorders - especially when it affects kids. I can only deduce that in an attempt to sell his book he tried a tactic of ‘shock and rant’ in hopes of being funny with the misguided excerpt from the ‘Autism Schmautism’ (so clever!) chapter of his new book,” Robinson Peete said in a statement. “If he was trying to be funny, he failed miserably… I would counsel him that autism is a very bad punch line.”
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