Joe Scarborough is a good guy who’s made a bad mistake.
On Morning Joe yesterday, he speculated that the Colorado shooter is on the autism spectrum. Politico reports:
“As soon as I hear about this shooting, I knew who it was. I knew it was a young, white male, probably from an affluent neighborhood, disconnected from society — it happens time and time again. Most of it has to do with mental health; you have these people that are somewhere, I believe, on the autism scale,” said Scarborough, whose son has Asperger’s syndrome. “I don’t know if that’s the case here, but it happens more often than not. People that can walk around in society, they can function on college campuses — they can even excel on college campuses — but are socially disconnected.”
Though not quite as bad as Brian Ross’s effort to link the shooter to the Tea Party, this comment is still irresponsible. There is no evidence that the suspect has autism. True, Scarborough is an autism dad. So am I. But neither one of us has the slightest qualification to diagnose anybody, much less someone we’ve never met and know little about.
Contrary to what Scarborough seemed to suggest, people with autism do not tend to be violent. Indeed, people with developmental disabilities such as autism are much more likely than others to be the victims of violent crime.
His comment just contributes to a media myth. (Examples are here and here.) People with autism have enough problems without facing the suspicion that they are potential mass murderers.