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Posts Tagged ‘John Elder Robison’

If you are a headline writer, you are an asshole.

There, I said it.  You may not like it, but it’s true.

Why? Because if you are a headline writer, a craft that goes back to the early days of the printed news, you have contributed to the continual dumbing down of the United States of America.

The recent article by the Washington Post claiming “Study: ‘Significant’ statistical link between mass murder and autism” was a classic example of what newspapers and networks have been more and more guilty of in recent years.  Hitting people with out of context snippets to create interest to drive traffic in the form of clicks or viewers to bring in dollars is what these assholes do.

The problem is that a large chunk of people won’t click through and will simply read the headline – absorbing it as critical information without actually understanding the greater context of the  bigger picture.  Those that DO click through will read the article or watch the video through the lens of the headline – so despite the content saying something completely different, or at least preaching caution, the reader/viewer will not truly understand what they are reading.

We have become a headline nation – why is it that the Right and the Left are so far apart on everything?  They actually are not, but the headline writers have purposely created an environment that feed the angers and insecurities of a struggling nation.

Are we really so far apart on health care? or education? or security? taxes? care for the less fortunate? religious freedom? gay marriage? abortion?  I would argue that the vast majority are much, much closer than people realize.  The problem is that we can’t get past the headlines.  Headline writers throw people into one of two camps – for or against – when the truth is much more subtle.  We have reached a point where we compress everything we believe into 140 measly characters and then shout it out in ALL CAPS.

Nothing, I mean NOTHING that is worth debating should be compressed down to 140 characters (or even 1.400 characters for that matter).  The problem is that we have become lazy readers who would much rather have our country run by  someone we think would be a good drinking buddy instead of someone who is obviously way smarter than we are.

I consider myself to be pretty bright.  I did pretty well in high school and went to a decent college.  I like to think that I’ve got some brains – but there is no way on God’s green Earth that you could convince me that I am intelligent enough to run a country, no less the most powerful nation in the world.  Meanwhile, our leaders have been pushed by these headline writers to dumb themselves down.

In my opinion, these headline writers, particularly the one who wrote the headline for the Washington Post article, are guilty of negligence and any harm perpetrated by a parent on an autistic individual will have to be partially blamed on that particular headline writer.  Why?  Because somewhere out there is a parent who is feeling lost because society still hasn’t fully accepted autistic people.  Wherever this parent is, he or she will read the headline, and in some twisted, sick, evil way will come to the conclusion that he or she will be saving society by hurting their child.  This headline writer should also be found guilty of causing loss of employment of any autistic who doesn’t get a job he or she is qualified for because somewhere in the back of an employers mind will be, “I can’t hire a potential mass murderer”.

John Elder Robinson debunked the “study” showing that the number of people who were known to have autism in the study was about the same percentage as overall society, but I betting that most people who read the original article didn’t pick up on that.

The bottom line is this – I implore you to ignore the headlines when you aren’t willing to read the full article…

…and always remember, headline writers are assholes.

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