Article first published as Autism's No Joke on Technorati.
Monday night, July 2nd, 2012, prominent rapper 50 Cent received a tweet from one of his 8 million + followers threatening his life if he didn't release a new album. It was a stupid tweet, and one that would have prompted an FBI investigation. But instead of taking an official method of dealing with this one follower, 50 Cent replied with the following:
"yeah just saw your picture fool you look autistic."
"I dont want no special ed kids on my time line follow some body else"
Instead of taking the high road, he shot back by using a very vulnerable portion of the population as a weapon, much as the"R" word was used during the 80's and 90's. The comments were unbelievable, and prompted quite the outcry against the rapper. The best that I have seen was from < href="http://missjia.com/2012/07/05/holly-robinsonpeete-amused-50-cents-autism-jokes/">Holly Robinson Peete, where she called on 50 Cent to remove the offending comments, at the very least.
I'm not a follower of rap music by any means. I have a very eclectic collection of music, but rap is one thing I never really got into. I don't own, or have I ever wanted to own any music by 50 Cent, and now I'm less inclined to make any such purchases in future.
Why do I feel so strongly? Because while growing up my brother, who was never diagnosed with autism (they didn't do that sort of thing in the 70's and 80's) was often the outcast. He was even used as a punishment on the bus while going to Junior High (If you were a problem child, you had to sit next to my brother). It was frustrating, and I often got into disagreements with the bus driver (and did a lot of walking home) over this very thing.
People with autism are just like everyone else. They have feelings, they care about what others think of them. They want to have friends, socialize, and be "normal". They don't need prominent celebrities alienating them in a public forum, even if it's in response to inappropriate behavior.
Some have called on 50 Cent to apologize. Others have called for a boycott. Personally, a boycott for me wouldn't mean anything, as I never have and probably never will want to purchase his music anyway. But I do think something very powerful needs to be said here. Autism isn't a joke. I don't want it to be turned into another attack by kids. I don't want to see what happened to my brother happen to anyone. Ever.
50 Cent, I'm sure you don't care about what the autism community is saying about you. I'm sure you think you are safe in your record deals, fame, and fortune. Sure, you didn't make a racial slur, or attack anyone because of their sexual preference. But you did attack my two sons. And that's just not cool. Perhaps you should have thought before you wrote anything.
Apparently, a lot of people have been video-taping themselves smashing 50 Cent CDs, which has caught the attention of CDSweep, a national fundraiser for Autism by using donated CDs and DVDs. They provide funds for the Autism Science Foundation (ASF), a 501(c)(3) public charity that provides funding directly to scientists and organizations conducting critical autism research. They would prefer that those who are outraged with 50 Cent's conduct instead donate their CDs to benefit autism and autism research. I can't think of anything more poetic then that.