Thursday, August 27, 2009

Shestack's Words Stir Ire in York

One of the directors of the California stem cell agency has become embroiled in a flap about billboards in a small Pennsylvania town better known for making Harleys and animal crackers than for scientific research.

The director is Jonathan Shestack, a nationally known autism patient advocate and Hollywood film producer (Air Force One). The town is York, home to a motorcycle factory and the Stauffer Biscuit Co.

The matter involves a quotation from Shestack, who has been known to speak his mind at CIRM board meetings. In this case, Shestack's 16 words were emblazoned in yellow on a billboard on Route 30. He said,
"If 1 in 150 American children were kidnapped we'd have a national emergency. We do. Autism."
Jeff Frantz of the York Daily Record wrote,
"The Autism Self Advocacy Network and several autism bloggers from around the country objected to the billboard, saying the quote equated an autism diagnosis with a lifetime prison sentence. "
Frantz also reported,
"'You know what, I stand by it all,' Shestack said. 'It is a phrase to grab people by the throat.'

“Those objectors are often people with high-functioning autism, he said. They ignore half of those with autism like his son, who will never learn to speak and will always need help with basic tasks.

"'I think the people who object are small-minded, not generous and only see the world through their own experience,' Shestack said.”
We agree with Shestack.

But the Autism York group, which put the billboard, is not buying Shestack's view and is taking the sign down. Sphere: Related Content


  1. Kudos to Jeff Shestack!!

    He's got a great sound bite that grabs attention for his cause.

    As a fellow who tries to turn a few himself occasionally, hats off to him.

    A good sound bit is supposed to focus attention on the issue and get people thinking about it. His does exactly that.


    And the article in the newspaper and mention here won't hurt at all either.

    -- John M. Simpson
    Stem Cell Project Director
    Consumer Watchdog.

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