News organizations in the modern world shouldn't have to be told that stereotypes hurt. When sensational articles stigmatize vulnerable minorities and people with disabilities, there are real consequences in real life. That is why journalistic codes of ethics uniformly condemn such material.
Reprehensibly, the Daily Beast ignored this basic rule of ethics when it published an article by Eustacia Cutler entitled "Autism and Child Pornography: A Toxic Combination." The article asserts, without supplying any statistical evidence whatsoever, that "many" Autistic men are attracted to child pornography and that this is "a disturbing trend we cannot ignore,” concluding that Autistic men often "are stuck emotionally at a prepubescent age. They look like grown men, but inside they’re only 10 years old. They don’t want adults to show them how sex is done; they want 10-year-olds to show them."
In fact, there is no link between Autistic men and pedophilia. Furthermore, people with disabilities, including Autistics, are far more often victims of crime, including sexual abuse, than perpetrators. This articles added insult to injury, placing Autistic people at even greater risk of being shunned by neighbors, taunted by bullies, and rejected by potential employers. By publishing this groundless, hateful smear, the Daily Beast has singled out an already vulnerable population for increased stigma. The Daily Beast MUST issue a retraction and apologize for the harm done to the Autistic community.
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