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Don’t Market Your Product Like this, Denis Leary

Leary's career - soon to be up in flames?

Leary's career soon to be up in flames?

C’mon Denis!  Is your confidence in your abilities and “talents” so low that you have to pick on children with autism?

For those not in the know, Denis Leary has a new book due next month, “Why We Suck.”  In the meantime, his pre-press release includes some snippets where one chapter in his book called Autism Schmautism says, “There is a huge boom in autism right now because inattentive mothers and competitive dads want an explanation for why their dumb-ass kids can’t compete academically, so they throw money into the happy laps of shrinks . . . to get back diagnoses that help explain away the deficiencies of their junior morons. I don’t give a [bleep] what these crackerjack whack jobs tell you – yer kid is NOT autistic. He’s just stupid. Or lazy. Or both.”

Leary is also cited in Vanity Fair where he hopes that people like Jenny McCarthy, famed autism mother, will organize people to picket his book tour because that will only help his book sales.  Say it with me – “PUBLICITY STUNT.”

Seriously, this blogger doesn’t get on his soap box too often, but it’s high time when you decide to target children and parents who have a challenge each day bringing up their child with so many unanswered questions regarding autism.  It is so disgusting when celebrities think that they can use their status to make judgements on things they either don’t understand or are too ignorant to research first.  To date Leary’s only apology has been in the form of a misunderstanding towards what his book is really about and that you have to read it to understand.  Uh, OK – drop $20 to affirm your publishing house’s press release that you’re an insensitive and arrogant bully?

Take action with me – write an email to his publisher Viking-Penguin.  Ask them if this is responsible writing and wait for the answer…

Wait a minute!  Do you smell something?  Is that from the set of Denis Leary’s show, “Rescue Me?”  Is that a burning building from the set I smell?  Oh wait, I know what it is.  That’s called the beginning of the end of a career…

OK, I’m off my soap box, but in all honesty – is all this bad PR worth selling a few books at the expense of children with autism AND their parents?  Strategically, and sadly, this conversation will undoubtedly cause people to buy the book.  For those who are looking to spend $20 a different way, choose a local charity or autism foundation.

(Full disclosure:  when I’m not blogging, I work with Children’s Care Hospital and School where 60% of our children have autism or behavioral challenges and where positive changes are made despite the ignorance of those unfamiliar with what autism is really about.)

Help Children Right Where You Live


April is Autism Awareness Month.  Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, autism is a growing diagnosis.  And it’s not just growing in the US, but in many countries.  The main cause is still unknown and a cure is even farther away.  With more than one in 150 births in the US resulting in a diagnosis of autism, it is time to take action.  If children are diagnosed at an early age (3 or under), they stand a good chance of receiving the therapy they need to go to public schools with children their own age.  This is not true in all cases – in this instance and those diagnosed later in life, the costs can be exorbitant.

In the majority of the United States, autism is not a medical diagnosis, but an educational diagnosis.  The school districts must pay for the treatment in many cases – and their resources are quickly depleted from other needs.  These children need our help, our protection, and a chance to realize their potential.  They need legislation for the states to help and for insurance companies to cover the therapies these children need.

If you’re a blogger, please consider passing this message on.  If you’re a reader OR a blogger, consider helping out.  Pass the message on, volunteer at a children’s facility or even look at donating.  Many facilities love gifts of all kinds – whether monetary or not.  You’ll be doing a good thing for children and for the hearts of parents who have children with autism.  If you’re local to Sioux Falls, I’d love for you to be a part of my organization’s event on April 18.  For everyone else, just Google for various events that will be done throughout April. And participate.

Adam Loses Money for CBS

Adam Loses Money for Big BrotherWell, to follow the story forward on Adam, a cast member on this season’s Big Brother, a few of the ripples he caused have hit the shoreline of CBS.  As a reminder, here is the beginning.  Once Lowe’s (with a media budget of $400 million) was made aware of the comments he made against those with autism, Lowe’s dropped any advertising to be done during the Big Brother timeslots.  To find out more, visit Adweek’s info.      

Losers, Idiots and Adams


The latest cast member of CBS’ Big Brother includes a Public Relations “Specialist” who claims he works for an organization to help children with special needs.  For being in PR, he was already prone to making me suspicious about his profession when he called a 46-year old woman, “Ma” on numerous occasions.  He couldn’t understand why she should take offense…  Clue #1

The following episode the same “PR Specialist” told cast members that he helped special needs children including a project helping them get hair cuts.  Then in the very next sentence he referred to these children as retards.  Clue #2

I work for a small hospital and school that serves children with special needs – ranging from medically complex needs to those with cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, those with autism and more.  Many of these families have already endured some major hardships, along with their children, due to their developmental disabilities.  It can be a very emotional place to work, but I love what I do as do my colleagues.  These children and their cognitive functions vary a great deal and they each serve a special purpose in their own way.  It gives me great joy to work for a non-profit organization that yearns to help these children and their parents.  

To watch a television show where someone who claims to be in a related industry to mine but calls special needs children names like “retards” deserves his own punishment.  Already many blogs relating to Autism such as AutismVox have already voiced their concern – and rightly so.  In the Marketing/Creativity/PR world, we must always remember our ethical responsibilities.  Namely, if you don’t believe in your product, then don’t sell it to others.  If you don’t enjoy your job, go find another profession.  If you think it is fair and justifiable to call innocent, special needs children with the label retards, then it’s time you consider moving on.  And consider it’s time to grow up.

I don’t rant too often and this is one of very few for me on this blog.  But this comment riled me up enough to voice my support for those offended by this guy’s comments.  Many sites, including the comment section on Big Brother’s site, are already calling for this guy’s ousting and hope that his company will fire him as well.  All I know is that this “PR Specialist” is currently his own worst enemy unknowing of the responses towards his remark.  He’s unknowing of how he has related to the public.  And perhaps when he leaves the house, he will be unknowing of what employment is.

At the end of the day, this is just one more example of how we must all be very careful with what we say.  We only get one chance in this world – so let’s make it a better place, OK?