I have been reeling since I read the news story yesterday of a UK mother who murdered her three disabled children in April. The way the story was being covered was horrifying enough, and today, I see this headline.
I've read several stories this year alone about disabled people being murdered - most are children. It's disturbing enough that little children (4, and two 3-year-olds, in this case) were murdered at all. But the way the story has been covered, and people in the journalism field's reactions have been horrifying.
There is no sympathy for these children. Their mother, though? She's labeled as tragic. Put across as some kind of martyr for ending her childrens' suffering. The word murder, when attributed to the children is often put in single quotations, as if that is not exactly what was done to these precious kids. One person even tweeted, in the aftermath, and dared talk about what "strength" and "courage" the mother had to "euthanise" her children.
Is it or is it not 2014?
I was just reading today about how it's difficult to find any record of disabled history. Why? Because disabled people were regularly killed prior to the 1900s. In World War II, an estimated 300,000 of us were the first to be singled out - to be gassed or starved (according to this article.)
The thing that gets me the most upset is that, of all these headlines (and I rarely see them on TV or mainstream media, they are something I stumble upon and keep looking until I realize just how pervasive this really is) is the fact that, like this case and this mother? Charges are dropped.
Do we value disabled life? I'm talking on a basic, human level.
I've seen news stories over the years about parents who have killed their children. Their able-bodied children. The reaction then is horror and shock. The reaction is "those poor babies" not "that poor mother or father." There's nobody who sides with the parent responsible for taking the life of their child and says because that child was hard to take care of, what they did was understandable.
But with disabled kids, and adults who cannot live on their own, it happens all the time.
I read a list today, of disabled people who have been killed in ways similar to these three precious kids. The spanned 20 years and had the names of over 100 disabled people - again mostly children - who were victims of filicide. I recognized one name, because I happened upon an article detailing what happened to him (no murder charges there either.) One name out of more than a hundred lives, all of which were taken within my lifetime.
It's staggering. It's jaw-dropping. It hurts in a way I can't explain. But not talking about it is not helping. And I've come to realize that if I want something to change, I have to be willing to go there. I have to be willing to talk about it. I can do at least that much.
These three little ones and the hundreds and thousands more deserve at least that much.
You mattered. All who are named, and all who are not. You mattered then and you matter still.