Holding autistic people hostage is not a way to fight for our rights.

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I noticed that I was not the only person too disgusted and horrified after the murder of Ulysses Stable to even want to speak to people who think of justifying his death in any way. It seems that a lot of us have had enough.

I know that a lot of people think there’s nothing wrong with saying stuff like, “If you don’t give parents respite hours, parents will kill their children.” Regardless of how much respite the murderers had, for that matter, but that’s another story.

All any of you are doing, when you say those things, is holding autistic children — and adults — hostage. Yes, it’s dressed up, and pretty, and fancy, and sounds like concern for parents and the safety of children. Yes, you may even believe that’s all you’re doing.

But if you take off all the sparkly ornamentation that distracts people, what you’re left with is the image of a person holding a gun to the head of each and every autistic person, and saying, “If you don’t do what we say, we’ll murder them, one by one.” And you’re degrading parents too, by the way, because you’re painting them as potential killers.

It’s no shock to me that autistics are fed up with this treatment. Many of us can see through that kind of thing quite easily and see the threat that lies behind it. Using killing as a bargaining tool only begets more killing, as Dick Sobsey and others have pointed out. And nobody should be surprised that autistic people are sick and tired of being the ones whose lives are used to bargain with.

So I will join with many others I know in saying: If you have any shred of respect for autistic people, stop using us as hostages. Find some other way to lobby for respite hours and other assistance. Stop devaluing our lives. We are people. And we notice fully what you are doing to us, when you take off all the shiny doodads that distract most people from what you’re really saying about us.

About Mel Baggs

Hufflepuff. Came from the redwoods. Crochet or otherwise create constantly and compulsively. Write poetry and paint when I can. Physically and cognitively disabled. Anything you hear in the media or gossip is likely to be oversimplified at best and wildly inaccurate at worst, the only way to get to know me is to actually know me. I'm not really part of any online faction or another, even ones that claim me as a member. The thing in the world most important to me is having love and compassion for other people, although I don't always measure up to my own standards there by a longshot. And individual specific actions and situations and contexts matter a lot more to me than broadly-spoken abstract words and ideas about a topic. My father died a couple years ago and that has changed my life a lot in ways that are still evolving, but I wear a lot of his clothes and hats every day since he died and have shown no sign of stopping soon.

10 responses »

  1. sorry to be so slow at catching this idea, but it’s finally starting to click. guess part of it was this: i just couldn’t get my mind round the idea of people using their kids that way, thought it had to be something else. guess i couldn’t imagine real live parents being more concerned with ‘normal way of life’ than with their kid’s safety. guess i almost couldn’t imagine people treating their and others’ kids the way uncaring leaders and terrorists treat peasants.

  2. For a completely opposite, and very refreshing, view of how a “disabled” child does not need to “burden” a “normal” parent, I suggest people go to

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,8123-2448700,00.html

    and read the article “I’m Not a Saint, Just a Parent.” It’s written by a father who values his son (who has Down’s syndrome) completely. In the article he says, “But no, I don’t want his essential nature changed….I’ll go further: human beings are not better off without Down’s syndrome.”

    I think you would enjoy reading it, and so would many of the people who comment here. I wish this article could be spread throughout the community of families/people living with various disabilities.

  3. Okay, I could have sworn there was one more reply to this, by n. But now I don’t see it. Ugh. (I’ve been accidentally deleting a lot of stuff lately because of the sheer amount of spam to plow through.) Sorry.

  4. Hi AB. Here is what I wrote before. From the reader’s view (?) of the blog, I can still see it as “awaiting moderation”:

    “sorry to be so slow at catching this idea, but it’s finally starting to click. guess part of it was this: i just couldn’t get my mind round the idea of people using their kids that way, thought it had to be something else. guess i couldn’t imagine real live parents being more concerned with ‘normal way of life’ than with their kid’s safety. guess i almost couldn’t imagine people treating their and others’ kids the way uncaring leaders and terrorists treat peasants.”

    I was in a strange frame of mind when I wrote that comment, but I think it’s still true.

  5. CA Girl, that was such a nice article. There is some very British-style talent for making things understated and matter-of-fact, that should be understated and matter-of-fact, because they are just life, actually. I think in the USA we may be even worse drama queens than he says people in general are.
    Wanted to cry at various points reading that, but this bit was what did it, of course: “A chance gathering in my kitchen: three people. My wife, who has some gypsy blood. Eddie. A friend who is Jewish. And the realisation that, under Hitler, all three would have been bound for the ovens. Down’s syndrome, any more than Jewishness or gipsyhood, is not something that needs to be wiped out for the good of humanity.”

  6. n.: It mysteriously showed up again, so it’s posted. I don’t actually think that they all know that’s what they’re doing. But I do think that’s what they’re doing, when they say that stuff.

  7. I was reminded of this rather good piece in the Guardian – that men who kill their (generally non-disabled) children, they often say that they were driven to it by their wife having an affair; but “Affairs happen all the time and people don’t respond by killing their children”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/crime/article/0,,1939881,00.html

  8. Thank you for linking to that story, Will. It’s sad and terrible that the boy died (one more statistic pointing to why chelation is a terrible idea), but at least the doctor is actually being charged for it.

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