Life, Autism, Disability, and More

Tag Archives: human dignity

Hate

Image by Pennywise via morgueFile

But let me get back to that question in a moment.

First, I want to say that, as any parent of a non-neurotypical child, especially one with a speech/communication issue, I have certain nightmare situations.  The biggest one is that my son will be abused or hurt by someone and will not be able to tell me that it’s happened – or happening.  The thought of continued and/or repeated abuse or neglect is a huge concern, and it’s one that I can’t put aside easily.  Simon’s communication is limited, and while he sometimes comes up with some awesome ways to tell us what he wants, telling us about things that he does or things that happen…well, that’s almost impossible.  Just trying to find out if he had gym class or art one day leads to a multitude of questions with no way of telling what the true answer is.  (Except that we always know because his teacher sends home a daily checklist.)

So with that said, let’s get into the second point: a recent occurrence in Maryland.  Two teenage girls, ages 15 and 17, repeated assaulted a 16 year old autistic boy with a knife, made him perform sex acts (including with animals) and taped them on their cell phones (thank god they were stupid enough to do that), and forced him to walk on a frozen pond, making him drag himself out when he fell in.  Only one girl is being charged as an adult (the 17 year old), and both are facing charges of second-degree assault, child pornography, and false imprisonment.

Now back to my question.

Why is this not a hate crime?

According to CAIR in Maryland, a hate crime is “an act that appears to be completely or partly motivated by race, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation or disability.  To be considered a hate incident, the act is not required to be a crime under any federal, state, or local statue…”

Well, it sure sounds like what they did was a crime, and it also sounds like it was motivated by his disability.  Would they have done this to a neurotypical boy?  Doubtful.  And CAIR says that in order to be a hate crime, it only need “the victim [to perceive] it as a hate crime.”  Furthermore, their actions seems to also fall into the federal law definition in that the victim was selected “because of race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender or disability.”

But in this case, it does not appear that they are being charged with a hate crime.

Why not?

Their actions are going to “harm…or intimidate a particular group” – those of us who fall under that broad spectrum of disability.  The girls’ actions clearly harmed the boy in question, but they further intimidate those of us who are trying to allow our children to live a “normal” life; they make us question our decisions.  Are we safe allowing our children to go to the bathroom by themselves in public?  To attend public school?  To go for a walk?  All of these things are taken for granted as being “safe” (or at least as safe as they ever can be), but when actions like these come to light, we suddenly need to question that safety.  We need to wonder if we are allowed to live our lives or if we will be kept locked up, locked away from the public.

Sadly, I don’t expect to see this be charged as a hate crime, but I wish it would be, and if it was local, I would get involved to see what it would take to see that happen.  Maybe someone in Maryland will read this and question the prosecutor in the case, the police, anyone who may have a say or be able to help change the situation.  Because when this happens, it affects all of us, and we all need to be aware and be the change.

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Sympathy Wreaths by AcrylicArtist at morgueFile.com

Sympathy Wreaths by AcrylicArtist at morgueFile.com

Once upon a time (about a week ago now), a “pissed off mother” wrote a letter that went Internet-crazy.

Obviously, this letter was just a wee bit upsetting to all of those who have children with autism or other developmental disabilities.  It took me a while to form a response, but now that I’ve calmed down, I wanted to respond.  It *needs* a response.

First, I can’t blame this mother for sending it anonymously.  If I had written something with punctuation that was that bad, I wouldn’t want anyone to know I had written it either.  (Joking.  Humor helps, right?)

But to get to the serious part, I feel sorry for the mother who wrote this letter.  Genuinely sorry.  Sorry for her and the life she leads.  The life she’s going to lead.

She needs to think about the lesson she’s teaching her children.  She needs to remember that her children will be the ones picking her nursing home. And that’s not a joke.  I’m not being facetious.  The letter she wrote shows a distinct lack of caring for those who aren’t “normal” or behave oddly.  According to one Alzheimer’s website, the risk of someone developing a form of dementia is one in 14.  If she is that one in 14, her children will fear her and revile her, just the way she has taught them to.  She shouldn’t be surprised if she finds herself in an inexpensive nursing home with no visitors and no one coming to her grave after she dies alone.

We reap what we sow.  She has made it clear that those who are imperfect are not worthy of love or even simple human dignity.  She will have that experience herself one day, and perhaps by then it will be far too late for her to change her mind or teach her children differently.

That’s why I feel sorry for her and the life she leads.  I also feel sorry for her children.  Perhaps none of them will ever learn to appreciate the simple things in life or even life itself.  She won’t read this.  And she wouldn’t care or understand even if she did.  And for that, there is no cure.  She will suffer forever.

My son may scare her, but he has empathy.  He would feel bad about scaring her.  She, on the other hand, scares me.  She doesn’t feel bad about scaring people.  And she doesn’t know why that’s wrong.

Autism can be coped with.  What’s wrong with her, however, can’t be.  She may be able to pretend she’s normal sometimes, but her letter makes it clear that she does not possess human emotions.  And for that, I feel sorry for her.  I have to hope that other parents of autistic children can find it in their hearts to feel sorry for her, too.  Because while her letter might shock us and hurt us, we have the strength to move past it.  And she never will.