[I am honored to provide a platform for Corbett’s latest guest post. – ed.]
“Her life was not worth living.”
“He was such a burden to his family.”
“The parents suffered so much.”
“There’s no crime here – they did a merciful thing.”
This is how the media often reports on the murders of disabled people. The reports are full of sympathy for the murderers and short on compassion for those murdered. Disabled people’s lives are framed as useless, tragic, suffering. Media writers ignore the joys and passions of the victims – maybe because that disrupts the sympathy narrative for the murderer.
Since 2012 on March 1st an international Day of Mourning vigil is held to honor and remember those disabled people killed by family and caregivers. Some vigils also include those murdered by authority figures, such as police and school personnel. This year there are 104 names on the list. These are just the people who got caught. Research by Dick Sobsey and others show that a great many acts of violence against disabled people are never caught. In one chilling report, he discovered that 25% of the deaths of people with cerebral palsy were murders. Even when the murders are reported, the punishment for the murderers is often light.
If my writing seems drier than usual, it’s because I am holding my breath and trying to keep my teardrops off the keyboard while I type. It’s hard to sit with these stories. Hard to know how easy it is for those that we, disabled people, rely on to kill us. Hard to read the sympathetic media reports that say our lives were not worth living. Hard to know that the murderers know that even if they are caught there will likely be few consequences. Hard to sit with these facts while we are fighting every day for society to become just a little bit more accessible. Hard to look into the faces of these murderers and know that a great many people support them.
So on Saturday I am going to attend my local vigil and honor those killed. I will surround myself with people who know that disabled people’s lives are valuable. I will not let those murdered be forgotten.
Find an in-person or online vigil here
2014 list of names and causes of death
Kassiane (direct and has profanity)
Zoe Gross (who started the vigils) blog
Reblogged this on Restless Hands and commented:
Not easy to read, but worth the effort
Thank you for this guest post.
Posted this in several LinkedIn autism/special needs groups I belong to. Thank you.
Thank you so much. Love and solidarity.
I also mourn the loss of my peers who have been devalued by our society when killed by family or care givers and others. I am insulted that my life is seen as less valuable by others! A few years ago a young man crossing the street in his electric wheelchair here in Burlington, Vt. was killed by a driver who went through the light illegally. He was taken to the area Fletcher Allen Medical Center where he received less then needed medical care and sent home to his Foster parents, he died an hour later. He was one of many of my peers with a shunt due to spina bifeda to allow excess fluid on the brain to be drained off. They knew his diagnosis but did not do an X-Ray of his head or neck and did not check for the placement of the shunt after such a traumatic accident. After his death the Fletcher Allen Hospital “Apologized” for his death but this was too little too late. His foster family, good people, could do little because he was a Vt. State Foster child. He was a good man, valued in our community, had a new loving family, new job, and was part of our Soccer team. The man who hit him was not charged, again devaluing his life, and again failing to call light to this problem. That we are not see as equal in our communities and our lives are not considered valuable. I am angered by those who see us as “Less then others” just because we are different! We must honor our dead but teach our communities to value us and charge those who kill us with the same zeal they use on the “able bodied” community and take no less!! Roll On my brothers and sisters, Roll On!
I have some (many) names to add to the list, collected from research I did in 1997. To whom can I send them?
Great readinng this