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.