Please, no more Londons, Issys, Alexs, Gerhards

Trigger warning: child abuse, child murder, disabled abuse, Nazi genocide, euthanasia, ablest language

Another autistic child killed by a parent. A lot of people I follow on the interwebs will say this is about lack of services or a parent pushed too far.

I think it’s about the same things that led white men to lynch men of colour, led men to batter their wives to death, led George Zimmerman to shoot Trayvon Martin and on and on, ad infinitum. Someone thought their lives mattered more than someone else’s.

I wrote that on Facebook the other night.

I really don’t want to write about any more parents killing or trying to kill their autistic children or any special needs children. But it seems too much to ask of society to stop.

There is a post on my site about Alex Spourdalakis. I didn’t write one about Issy Stapleton. (It’s not for lack of trying–none of my attempts to write about Issy felt right enough to hit the publish button.) I really don’t want to write one about London McCabe, but some a parent seemed to think that throwing a kid over a bridge was an alternative to raising the child they have to adulthood. For all the Londons, Issys and Alexs, there are many, many more whose names I have never heard and who don’t warrant much mention in the media. How many are there whom we don’t know?

London McCabe with Goldfish, sitting on the sofa, socks off, wearing a hat and holding his iPad. Make the hat a spiderman baseball cap and change the sofa colour to black and this could be a pic of my son.

London McCabe with Goldfish, sitting on the sofa, socks off, wearing a hat and holding his iPad. Make the hat a spiderman baseball cap and change the sofa colour to black and this could be a pic of my son.

As horrifying to me as these and many other parents who want their kids dead, are the parents who say that lack of services drove a parent too far or that a parent had to endure too much abuse from their child.

Let’s stop for a moment and consider some other murders that come with great, ready-made excuses:

  • So-called honour killings-“she dishonoured the family because she did x” or “he looked at my wife the wrong way”
  • “He hit me first”
  • “He wouldn’t give me the money”
  • “She asked for it”
  • “He kept coming at me, so I had to shoot”
  • “He had to shoot all the feminists”
  • “He was playing his music too loudly”
  • “It was him or me”

Humans come up with a lot of reasons for trying to explain murder and try not to be judged harshly.

The lack of services defense is just one more.

Much is being made of the fact that London McCabe’s mother had a blog and wrote some stuff about her son being autistic. Some folks are saying she needed more services, more support, etc.

A lot of people rushed to the defense of Issy Stapleton’s mother after she tried to slowly kill Issy with carbon monoxide.

Many of those defending her, pointed to her blog, that they were friends, that they saw what a horrible life Issy had created for her. And, oh yeah, lack of services.

The lack of services argument always strikes me as a hostage taking or a terrorist threat. That road always leads to demanding something in exchange for not killing someone. Great argument.

As for someone you think of as a friend because she blogged and talked about how hard life was, I have a very different view of friendship.

If you are a friend and you try to kill your child, I really didn’t know you at all. I have an example in my life of someone who was a friend. The first time he told me he was investigated for something horrible, I didn’t want to believe it was true. The second time, I realized I didn’t know him at all.

It means that much of what I thought about that person’s values were wrong. That is a tough thing for people to admit. I get it.

That is why murderers, rapists, drunk drivers, child abusers–people we can acknowledge have done horrible things–get character witnesses or letters of support when they are being tried or sentenced. How many supporters have chosen to believe that the person they know is not capable of such awful acts instead of acknowledging that they didn’t really know that person at all? How much of being wrong about that person are they incapable of admitting?

When Issy’s mother admitted her guilt to first degree child abuse in Michigan and as Dr. Phil, that great legal mind, pronounced that he didn’t think she should be in jail, I became aware of the new T4 memorial in Berlin.

The Grey Bus, part of the T4 Memorial remembering child victims of the Nazi euthanasia program

The Grey Bus, part of the T4 Memorial remembering child victims of the Nazi euthanasia program

Canadians will reflexively think of tax time when T4 is mentioned, however, the term has a much more awful connection.

T4, or Aktion T4, Tiergartenstrasse 4, refers to the Nazi’s euthanasia program for physically, developmentally or intellectually disabled people. The regime called it Gnadentod, but T4 is what it is more popularly called. Autistics were put to death. Heck, even people with hearing-impairments were put to death. The program was initiated because a single family asked the government if they could kill their infant. The boy’s name was Gerhard Kretschmar. This single family was an element of Nazi propaganda, but it served its purpose: parents who want to kill their own disabled children are often seen as burdened by that child and are viewed sympathetically. Rather than do the dirty work themselves, the state will lend a hand. While Gerhard’s family willingly sought Hitler’s, the Nazi’s ripped children away from families and murdered disabled adults.

T4 Memorial with spectators t42

The Nazi regime was happy to be of service.

Something strange happened to the T4 program, though. In 1941, officially,  it was halted because of opposition from parents and the Roman Catholic church. Over 70,000 humans had been killed by that time, but another 200,000 plus would be murdered.

Why do I connect the mass killings of the Nazi’s with the individual murders or attempted murders by parents?

It all comes down to one simple truth for me: Someone thought their lives mattered more than someone else’s.

 

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