I’ve done some more digging and one of the first cases of this type appearing in a movie was in the Empire Falls TV mini-series, adapted from the 2002 novel by Richard Russo. At the end of the movie, a bullied school kid brings a gun to class and shoots a teacher and several students. The character is described thus:
awkward, introverted …. known to be from a deprived family, with ragged, dirty clothing and known to live with his grandmother after his parents seemed to have abandoned him. He’s constantly being bullied … to a point of relentless and ridicule at his expense. His history as a survivor of child abuse and neglect has created a dangerous violent streak in him, that eventually escalates into him bringing a gun to school and shooting a teacher and several students.
In an interview, the author Russo said that his book’s climax was inspired by the real-life shooting in Paducah, Kentucky, in 1997, when 14-year-old Michael Carneal “opened fire on a group of praying students, killing three and injuring five more.” link here
In Empire Falls, the teenage shooter is played by Lou Taylor Pucci, pictured below.
If there are any doubts about his fitting the stereotype, just this year, Pucci played the autistic title character in The Story of Luke.
And further confirmation comes from Alex Plank, from CNN website, Dec 22, ‘Leave autism out of mass shootings“:
As the Newtown news unfolded, I noticed a huge traffic spike to our online community. When I checked the servers, I realized that people were finding the website by Googling search terms such as “autistic killers,” “asperger’s and criminal behavior” and “aspergers shooter.” That gave me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I only hoped that the searches indicated that people wanted to find out the truth: that autism is not connected with violent acts.
This morning, I also came on this tidbit:
A similar cognitive bias found in individuals is the Backfire effect‘. Here, individuals challenged with evidence contradictory to their beliefs tend to reject the evidence and instead become an even firmer supporter of the initial belief. The phrase was first coined by Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler in a paper entitled “When Corrections Fail: The persistence of political misperceptions”.
From an article by Nyhan:
[T]he Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life and the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press released a new survey showing that 16 percent of Americans think President Obama is a Muslim and additional 36 percent don’t know his religion. Plotting the history of Pew surveys on this question, which date back to March 2008, shows that the misperception is disturbingly stable:
Second, MIT political scientist Adam Berinsky, who is now conducting research on misperceptions, commissioned a YouGov poll earlier this month tracking support for the false claim that President Obama was not born in the United States. Initial polls, including those conducted by Berinsky, suggested misperceptions declined substantially after the release of Obama’s long-form birth certificate in April 2011, but he found that most of the decline had dissipated by January 2012. In his latest poll, Berinsky finds that birther beliefs are now higher than before the document’s release.
And lastly, this recent news article, also from the Huffington:
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A bizarre, rambling suicide note left behind by a man who police say killed his father in front of a handful of students in a Wyoming community college classroom extols eugenics and blames his father for the genes he said caused him to have Asperger’s syndrome.
Christopher Krumm wrote he was unable to keep a job or have a love life, and always subsisted as a “bottom feeder.”
Police say the 25-year-old Krumm shot his father with an arrow [just like Kevin in We Need to Talk About Kevin] at Casper College last month. They say he then stabbed his father and himself. Authorities say earlier that morning Krumm fatally stabbed his father’s girlfriend.
The note confirms a motive suggested by people close to Krumm in the immediate aftermath of the slayings.
Asperger’s isn’t typically associated with violence.
Casper police released the note Wednesday after The Associated Press filed a records request.
Note the second-to-last line: “Asperger’s isn’t typically associated with violence.”
Since the association is becoming more and more common, this sort of disclaimer is becoming more and more obviously hollow: the means to protect the writer or publication from backlash or lawsuit. Hence it is even more likely only to reinforce the idea being disclaimed in people’s minds. It’s like Richard Nixon saying “I’m not a crook.”
“If you have to say it…”