[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.