Recently, the mainstream media has once again depicted murders of disabled people in a completely irresponsible way. Both George Hodgins, an autistic man, and Daniel Corby an autistic boy, were killed within the past month. Rather than only suggest how unfair the decision of those who ended their lives was similarly to the way other murders are reported; the focus was instead on how these people’s burdensome disability must have contributed to their killer's choice.
It is wrongly assumed too often that our culture is sophisticated enough to demonize the disability without doing the same to the person with the disability similar to the way some describe hating the sin but loving the sinner. Despite each individual’s spirit, we as a culture cannot safely assume that the way we depict particular disabilities will not encourage abuse and even murder. For we who are targeted in this way, the correlation between the two is obvious.
Despite the popular impression of how our justice system operates, people with disability and inconvenient cultural diversity aren't treated very differently than criminals. In fact, there continues to be many opportunities to the people with the power and inclination to do so, to criminalize the ways the people of these categories are different.
Convenience is the most valued commodity for many people, and therefore, it is often also the most exploited. Unless the category of people you are defined as fitting is seen to help create more power (or at least the illusion of more power) for the most powerful people; those people are probably working to create laws that will encourage the belief that you are a burden on society.
The categories encourage a place, and a duty for every individual based mainly on how they are seen to add value or the lack of it to the collective. The leaders of industry have the power and opportunity to set these laws which determine your place and therefore, your supposed value. Having a disability means that your ability is completely inconvenient for them. It means that you are seen as needing care and therefore, the care giver (and similarly, the rest of society) will be seen as deserving sympathy for having to tolerate you.
One example of how cultural exclusion was made legal in early America is the way that physician Samuel A. Cartwright defined the desire of a slave to be free as the psychiatric disorder called drapetomania. Black slaves were defined by law as only partially human, and it was claimed that their skin color indicated less sensitivity to pain. This, of course, made their physical punishment appear less cruel so it could then be applied more severely.
The harmful ways the reputation of the medical establishment lent credibility to the descriptions of slaves in order to protect the financial interest of plantation owners is similar to how people with disabilities are cruelly defined by the main-stream media in order to only promote the value of care givers rather than those described as their burdens.
Today slavery in America is mainly only described in terms of our history. However, although the ways that utilitarian attitudes are encouraged may appear more subtle now to most, we still have some extreme ways of discriminating and punishing inconvenient people that our mainstream media refuses to accept responsibility for. Our industry leaders demand that the media continue spreading propaganda, which shows people whom the leaders find inconvenient to have no value at all.
Despite the promises of finding causes and cures for autism, there is little proof. The fear of having to deal with the burden of the autistic person encourages people to treat autistics in the worst possible ways. The spread of lies about our lack of empathy, contributing to financial burdens, and divorce of our parents is what has truly reached epidemic proportion.
The people who can’t understand and appreciate people’s value beyond the strict utilitarian view that industrialists encourage through the mainstream media shouldn’t be involved in promoting societal values. I hope that everyone who does appreciate people's value and can avoid these unfair judgements will work to end the harmful lies being told.
Ability isn't more important than happiness. Besides, emotional stability is an essential foundation to learning. Therefore, nothing is more important than how disability is viewed. If someone's value isn't understood; it's the result of an oversight. To view it otherwise ensures that we as a culture soon won't have enough compassion (which is our greatest resource) for our species to continue.
Disclaimer :I give my permission for this post to be reprinted in order to raise awareness of this issue.