Another attempted murder, a call for restraint and responsibility


Another mother has apparently tried to kill her disabled child, near to where Katie McCarron was murdered. Stephen Drake of Not Dead Yet has written a press release called Disability Advocates Call For Restraint and Responsibility in Murder Coverage, urging people reporting on these things not to constantly harp on the idea that parents don’t have enough support, that disabled people are just inherently hard to raise without wanting to kill us, and that the sort of parents who end up killing us are really just wonderful parents who love us.

In response to the Autism Society of Illinois’s claim that saying all this garbage is looking at the bigger picture and the context, the press release says (emphasis in the quote is mine):

No, we cannot ignore the broader context if we have a new attempted murder on our hands. Services and supports have been what they’ve been for quite awhile in Tazewell County and other parts of Illinois. Services didn’t suddenly get worse between the alleged murder of Katie McCarron and this newest incident.

We’d suggest that what has changed is a barrage of irresponsible media coverage and equally irresponsible advocacy. Researcher Dick Sobsey has documented an increase in the murders of children by their parents in Canada in relation to well-publicized and sympathetic coverage of the murders of children with disabilities. Articles about the alleged murder of a person with a disability should not contain more about the disability than about the victim as a person. More space should be devoted to grieving family members than sympathetic friends of the accused killer.

The Autism Society of Illinois and the ANSWERS group should rethink their strategy as well. Mike McCarron, Katie McCarron’s grandfather, has written that he feels abandoned and betrayed by “advocates.” To him and his family, the parade of “horror stories” about autism are offensive and painful. These groups need to ask just for whom they are supposed to be advocating. Is it the grieving McCarron family? They don’t feel supported. Is it children like Katie? Then why do they blame the victim? Or is it Karen McCarron, the alleged killer?

I agree completely with this. I have never ignored context, but I simply don’t think that the context of murders like this is a murderer-serving combination of the worst myths about raising a disabled child and the worst myths about so-called mental illness. I’ve read some of that research of Dick Sobsey’s, but when I bring it up, people are unduly incredulous. But really. When you make things like this sound even remotely okay, understandable, or excusable, what you get, is more people doing it. If you don’t want more people to do things like this, you take your campaigns for better services and whatever else you’re looking for, and you go off and do them somewhere else, in a way where they cannot even be mistaken for standing on the backs of murdered disabled people.

By the way, it’s been confirmed in court records that the little girl in question was given an overdose of pills, to “make her go to sleep and never wake up”. In that article, you can begin to see the “What loving parents, can’t imagine why they’d do it, but it’s really really hard to have one of Those People as a child” angle starting already. Please don’t do anything to perpetuate the hate speech.

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods, which tell me who I am and where I belong in the world. I relate to objects as if they are alive, but as things with identities and properties all of their own, not as something human-like. Culturally I'm from a California Okie background. Crochet or otherwise create constantly, write poetry and paint when I can. Proud member of the developmental disability self-advocacy movement. I care a lot more about being a human being than I care about what categories I fit into.

9 responses »

  1. Researcher Dick Sobsey has documented an increase in the murders of children by their parents in Canada in relation to well-publicized and sympathetic coverage of the murders of children with disabilities.

    It would not be far fetched to assume there is an increase in murders of disabled children by their parents in relation to well-publicized and sympathetic coverage of planned murder-suicides.

  2. Researcher Dick Sobsey has documented an increase in the murders of children by their parents in Canada in relation to well-publicized and sympathetic coverage of the murders of children with disabilities.

    I’ve always felt that irresponsible media coverage of school shootings (Columbine, etc.) is related to the increase of school shootings. I can’t find any studies that have found it, however: they seem to want to study links with violent video games or television or song lyrics.

    When Chris Kennedy and the Autism Society of Illinois tout concentrating on “lack of support” as looking at these murders in context, I have to laugh. What they’re actually doing is focusing on one aspect of the case (i.e. the victim was disabled), and ignoring other aspects that are more important (e.g. a person was killed; their parent(s)/caregivers confessed). Disgusting.

    Thanks for this post.

  3. I would not be surprised, about the school shootings. I went to a school where a school shooting had happened, but it wasn’t well-known the way Columbine was well-known. And I know someone who almost did a school shooting in the sixties or seventies but stopped themselves.

    And copycat crimes are a well-known phenomenon.

    And yes… viewing that stuff as the “context” for these crimes is ridiculous.

  4. Pingback: Janna’s Thoughts… » Blog Archive » Complaints and Responsibility.

  5. OK, so how do we get that study to the dumbasses in Peoria who are writing all this baloney? Waa waaa. It’s harder being different than it is being the parent of someone different.

    It’s an epidemic of murders. A tsunami, train wreck, and a national emergency. But you don’t see all the organizations that say that about PEOPLE using those words. No, they’re too busy being sensitive to the killers.

    It’s days like today that it’s a VERY good thing I don’t live in Peoria.

  6. It’s possible the controversy is about to go public. When I issued the press release, I emailed it to journalists, editors and columnists at the Chicago Tribune, the Peoria Journal-Star and the Springfield Journal-Register.

    I received a call today from the lead reporter on this case from the Peoria newspaper. Not very friendly and on the defensive. Not liking the criticism, but this new and ugly reality makes it impossible to ignore.

    I stuck pretty close to the script of the release, and didn’t use (as much as I was tempted) phrases like “support group from hell.”

    I don’t expect this to be a “win” for our perspective – it will be (gag) “balanced.” But the fact that the ANSWERS folks and the Autism Society are being criticized will now become public (I hope).


  7. ANSWERS needs to get a taste of their own medicine. They’re really disgusting. The way they talk about their kids, the way they treat their kids…the Peoria Play Project families are a lot less gross, and have happier kids.

    I can give the address and phone number to anyone interested in giving them a dose of reality…they meet on the 1st (I think 1st) Tuesday of the month at 7 PM.

    And someone made the mistake of asking me what my “beef” is with AutismWeeps. They got a whole buffalo.

  8. Not another! And in my area, as well. It makes me truly sick to read these stories, and I have zero empathy for the mothers involved. The mothers are attempting the “oh poor me, I have(had) a disabled child” defense, but THIS mom ain’t buying it.
    The Autism Speaks video? My regret is that I can’t get back the fifteen minutes it took to watch it. Don’t get me started…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s