Friday, February 28, 2014

Day Of Mourning

Saturday, March 1st, the disability community will gather across the nation to remember disabled victims of filicide–disabled people murdered by their family members or caregivers.
Autistic Self Advocacy Network - February 24, 2014

Some facts from the Autistic Self Advocacy Network:
"In the past five years, over forty people with disabilities have been murdered by their parents."
"In the year since our last vigil, our community has lost at least ten more victims."
"In January of 2014, two more disabled people were lost in murder-suicides at the hands of their parents: Damien Veraghen, age nine, and Vincent Phan, age twenty four."
The deaths are bad enough. The reason disability activists are angry about them and having vigils is how the deaths are often portrayed in the media and treated by the judicial system.

Too often, news stories portray the killings with more sadness than outrage. It's sad, you see, that the murdered person had such awful, trying disabilities that their caregiver just couldn't take it anymore. The there's my personal favorite situation ... where the killer is a very old man or woman and the disabled "child" they kill is a 50 year old adult who has been "cared for" by just their parents their entire lives. It's sad because the poor old man or woman just didn't know how their baby would be taken care of when they die. Far better to kill them now than to have them cared for by *gasp* strangers!

Then, juries and judges seem to go out of their way to lessen the consequences for the killers. The law can't condone murder, no sir! But, wink, wink, shake of the head, we understand. NO ONE can know how hard it is for caregivers, so who are we to judge? He was a saint to dedicate his life to this person to begin with. It's sad that in the end he cracked, but what's to be gained by punishing the poor old guy?

The thing is, a lot of these sentiments make sense, once you view the person murdered as something less than fully human ... a dead weight “vegetable", a bundle of unsolvable logistical problems, or a screaming, irrational hurricane that simply won't act normally, ever! Except that they are all fully human, with self awareness and points of view. Where is the outrage for their loss of life, the end of their existence and potential?

Still and all, I don't care, frankly, about seeing these killers literally punished for what they have done. I care about the message it sends when they are let off the hook in the public consciousness.

Organizations involved in the nationwide vigils include:

The Autistic Self Advocacy Network, ADAPT, Not Dead Yet, the National Council on Independent Living, and the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund.

Check the article linked above for a list of places holding vigils on Saturday, March 1. You can also participate in a “virtual” vigil via a Facebook Page.