03 April 2012

Stop killing us.

Trigger warning: Extensive discussion of murder of disabled people.

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Stop Killing Us


I don't know why we need to repeat this so often, but it seems we repeat this in vain.

This past Saturday, four year old Daniel Corby from San Diego, who was Autistic, was drowned by his mother. (She was thankfully arrested.)

That was March 31. March 30 and March 31 were days of mourning. Self-advocates and allies organized vigils in eighteen cities across the United States in memory of disabled people, many of them Autistic, who were murdered by family members or caregivers. Their names were read.

But this keeps happening. Over and over and over again.

Are our lives really worth that little?

Has the media really painted such a stark picture of how tragic it is to be Autistic?

Does our society really have this ingrained attitude that it's okay to kill us?

The answers are apparently yes.

These should be prosecuted as hate crimes, because the victims are always murdered because of a protected status -- disability. In fact, being disabled is the sole or primary motivating factor in their murders. Were they not disabled, they would not have been killed. Period.

And the media continues to glorify and justify and sympathize with their murderers. Were any other person murdered by a family member, the public outcry would be enormous. In the Caylee Anthony and JonBenét Ramsey cases, the media vilified the murderers -- in Caylee's case, her mother was convicted in the court of public opinion after her legal acquittal, and in JonBenét's case, the family was later partially exonerated. Whenever the victim is not disabled, the media and the public heap the blame on those known or believed to be responsible.

Yet in the cases of disabled victims, the media does not speak up for the victim. Even when the killers have confessed or when it is obvious who the murderers were, the media pours sympathy onto the murderers. Articles about these cases emphasize how stressed the murderers were with the burden of having a disabled family member. They emphasize how difficult the victim was to live with and how the victim's deficits and challenging behaviors drove the murderer to the edge.

In short, society blames the victim and exonerates the perpetrator.

This is the same thing as blaming a woman for her rape because she wore a short skirt or had a low neckline on her shirt. It is the same thing as blaming a Sikh man for his assault because he wore a turban. It is the same thing. There is no difference.

And each and every time society excuses the murder of a disabled person, our lives become worth a little less. And it becomes easier for the next murderer to kill one of us, knowing full well that the likelihood of receiving an extremely lenient sentence, possibly with little jail time if any, is very high. And it continues.

It continues.

And one by one, we die.

"Stop killing us," we say. But our voices are so insignificant and powerless that it is no trouble at all to ignore them. You don't even need to acknowledge that our voices exist. All you need to do is shower heaps of sympathy for people who commit murder, and you can walk away with your conscience clear while we suffer in silence and wait for our turn at the chopping block.

Stop killing us is the last, desperate plea of people who have been backed into a corner from which we cannot escape. We have been reduced to adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine compounds that can be easily and quickly composted. Our humanity has been stripped to its most basic nucleic acids, so that we cannot even claim to be fellow human beings anymore. And we are to be grateful for being allowed to exist, for being allowed to be a burden to our societies and communities, so long as we remain still and silent like the well-behaved, compliant Others we have been made to be.


11 comments:

  1. This is freaking insane. I cannot understand for the life of me why these people are killing their children. How in the world could someone do that? When in the world will this stop and when will the media stop trying to get the general public to stop feeling sorry for these murderers? This sends such a horrible and dismal view of Spectrum folks to the public and that's the last thing we need. What the heck is going to make this stop? Why would people want to hurt other people because they're different? I don't understand this. :(

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  2. Lydia, one correction: Caylee's mother was not convicted, except in the court of public opinion. There was a good deal of outrage over that -- far more than will ever attend this murder.

    Excellent post.

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    1. I can't think straight today. Correction made.

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    2. If the murder of little children upsets you so that you can't think straight, it only speaks well of you.

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  3. The dead remain screaming ever louder for each word written lends extra power to the testimony to this injustice. Autistic Joya's everywhere are reading. Injustice can only continue to grow if the just have lost their voice. Keep writing Lydia Brown, people who are listening and reading need this. We can be strong together, you are not alone in the corner.
    Rosie c.

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  4. Excellent point that you make and you make it very well. It does seem to be more difficult for some parents/carers and maybe they snap. Whatever....does NOT excuse their crime. You make a good point with your comparison with rape cases.

    xx Jazzy

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  5. I have 3 sons. Raising a child is hard work. Have there been times that I've been frustrated? Absolutely! I have never harmed my children, I don't even believe in spanking children. 1 of my children is on the spectrum, I've gotten comments from passers by, and the looks. It's hard to be a stay at home parent, however, it's never justifiable to harm your child, no matter what. 4 year olds, no matter if they are autistic or of the neurological norm are difficult, it's part of life.

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  6. Hi Lydia, I'm an Autistic Columbia student who was only recently diagnosed. I just wanted to tell you that I think that the work you are doing on this site is brilliant, and I deeply admire your rigorous analysis of the issues surrounding autism. I discovered your site today, and it was a pleasure to read. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Have you reached out to Brian Kinghorn? He is a PhD candidate at Columbia and also Autistic. His blog is Autistikido -- http://www.autistikido.blogspot.com .

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  7. I am High Functioning Autistic. A little less than a year ago, my grandfather attempted to strangle me, all the while screaming at the top of his lungs not to raise my voice at him. In reality, I had been almost whispering, and even if I had been yelling, that is no reason to try to kill me. I reported this to the DCF, but they closed the case, simply because there was no physical proof. The reason? My grandmother got out of bed and my grandfather stopped because of that. But, guess what? When my grandfather told my grandmother what had happened, she agreed with him, without ever hearing my side of the story. I was hospitalized later for trying to kill myself, and when I mentioned the incident to a therapist, my grandfather LAUGHED and said "yeah, right."
    The saddest part of all of this is, I'm one of the lucky ones. I didn't actually die, but others have. Someone needs to speak out against the abuse autistic and other "disabled" children suffer.

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