Thursday, May 7, 2009

Just Claim They Were Autistic

photo credit-hrtmnstrfr
creative commons license

In a story on the wire yesterday, a man in Salem, Oregon was arrested and jailed after shocking his four children with a shock collar meant to train dogs. According to the story

"Todd Marcum, 41, said he did it "because he thought it was funny," Salem Police Lt. Dave Okada said. ...

Marcum was taken into custody on four charges of first-degree criminal mistreatment. He is in the Marion County jail."

Now if Marcum had had a lick of sense, he would have just told the police that he thought his children were autistic, and needed some training. Because he had been on the internet, and he knew that the Judge Rotenberg Center uses shocks to control autistic kids. And it's perfectly legal. Other states even send their autistic kids to Massachusetts to the JRC so they can be shocked, too.

Marcum could have stated that his children were swearing, nagging, or flapping their hands, and thus qualified to receive shocks.

Now the only problem is that the dog collar that Marcum used was probably a lot less powerful than the one that is routinely used at the JRC. The dog collar is a small, self contained unit, while the JRC devices need a backpack to haul around. The dog collar will stimulate for up to a half second, while the "GED" devices used by the JRC will shock you for up to 2 seconds.

I found out while poking around that dog collars are subject to legal regulations, which state (amongst other things) that they can be applied for no more than 12 hours in any 24 hour period, and they can't put out more than 15 milliamps root mean square. The JRC uses devices that put out an average (not maximum) of 15 milliamps RMS, and a maximum of 45 milliamps RMS (fully three times as powerful as the maximum allowed for a dog collar).

So Marcum, if you or your lawyer are reading this, just claim you were using a tried and tested method of disciplining your kids, who you suspect are autistic (don't forget the autistic part-people might not approve of your behavior otherwise).

Perhaps the Massachusetts and New York legislatures would be interested in the torture by electric shocks that is occurring if there were dogs that were being shocked. Because they haven't been interested when it was only autistic individuals involved.


Socrates said...


Kent Adams said...

Excellent post Joe and a great juxtaposition to the JRC. I'm glad someone on the Hub is concerned about the JRC. Lord knows without you or Mike, no one would write about t atrocities there.

Sheila said...

Please let me know if you mind my placing a link (on my Exposés page) to your post here to inform others to read this horrible news.

Now I understand why schools for autistic individuals in New York and Massachusetts are permitted to torture their students.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

WOW! I already went ahead and posted a link on mine. Great post! Sad subject!!

Club 166 said...

Links always welcome (I mean, it's the web, right?)

The first thing I thought about when I saw this story yesterday is the huge double standard that applies when disabled people are involved.

I mean, it's not like they're normal, so it's OK, right? Just warehouse them somewhere, control them however you want, just so we don't have to deal with them in "regular" society.


kathleen said...

I am horrified..What else can I say? Thank you for posting this. This is something people need to be aware of.

Gonzo said...

Really great post!

Btw, Kent:
Just because you're holding a grudge against the Hub, shouldn't excuse you for lying.
The JRC is a frequent subject of Hub posts:
See here, and here for recent entries.
Your continued assertions, that the Hub is solely obsessed with anti-vaxxers is plain wrong.

jonathan said...

are aversives legal in Oregon? If not that would not be a legitimate argument. Aversives are apparently legal in Mass where the Rottenberg Center is located.

In California where I live they are illegal and have been since the early 90s. so he would not be able to say that if he were living in California. I don't know what the law is in Oregon

Ange said...

Yep, just lock 'em, sock 'em, or shock 'em. That'll fix everything. *sigh*

mumkeepingsane said...

I find the JRC incomprehensible. It's inhumane. I'd love to actually talk to a parent who thinks they're actually helping their child by putting them there. If someone tried to shock my child (now, or when he is an adult) I know my reaction would be an illegal one.

Thanks for writing this. It needs to be said over and over again.

abfh said...

And again, and again, and again... how long is it going to take before the Massachusetts legislature figures out that human rights apply to autistic kids?

Thanks from me, too.

Kent Adams said...


I don't know who you are and I don't much care who you are. I do care though about the kids at the JRC and have for years. Joe and Mike have been a consistent voice against the JRC and I salute them for that.

Lyn said...

I live in MA and I can't understand for the LIFE of me why that place is even allowed to exist.

John Best said...

If we can round up some Hub bloggers to be cured at JRC, I'll apply for a job there.

Club 166 said...


You're in my house, sitting on my couch. You know the rules.

Play nice, or you don't get to see your posts in print.

Everyone else, please be so kind as to not take the bait.

Now someone please pass me those left over Girl Scout cookies.


Club 166 said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by.

I think that the JRC does a good job of pretty much staying out of the public eye. They know that "no news is good news" for them.

Thanks Gonzo for the link to Bev's blog. Since I've been back in school, I've missed several great posts, and that was one of them.

The amount of responses here in such a short period shows that people do think about the abuse at the JRC. I think that because it's in the news so little that people don't feel that they can comment on it.

There are many battles to be fought. Many things that are more immediate and personal for all of us. But we cannot forget those that have been contained and tortured there, especially since it's in the name of "therapy".

What will people think of us 100 years from now when they look back at this situation? We must stand up to injustice, especially when people are being hurt day in and day out. There is no excuse for silence.


Joeymom said...

Its amazing what people will allow for children, but heaven forbid anyone do to a dog. In reality, it shouldn't be done at all.

Sharon McDaid said...

Hi Joe, good to hear from you again.

It's horrible that that man abused his children by shocking them and I'm glad he is in jail and facing charges.

You are right to link this to the continued disgusting abuses of the JRC. How the hell is that still allowed to continue?

storkdok said...


Well said! Very eloquent, as usual.

How are the studies going?

Anonymous said...

Exactly my thoughts. I'm a filmmaker working on a piece about the center. Looking to interview former employees and parents of the center. Joe would also like to hear from you. Email or call my cell 8626860573

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