Trigger warning: Extensive discussion of murder of disabled people.
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.
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.