24 November 2007

Sympathy For Murderers

It has happened a number of times, too many times. A parent who kills their disabled child and then receives not only unbearably light sentence, but receives compassion for the situation of the murderer in such a way that the portrait is painted of a sad but justifiable action.

Why does this happen then? It is easy to point to ableism at work, much as racism when someone who is part of a racial minority is killed. This only looks to the surface, though. It looks to the cause of the misplaced compassion as being the original devaluation of disabled people.

Most people acknowledge murder as wrong, and absolutely reprehensible in most circumstances. It becomes incomprehensible to conceive of a parent murdering their own child or children. So incomprehensible that there must be some reason. Some look for mental illness - in turn casting the misconceptions to people themselves with disability. Some look for traumatic background of the murderer.

Probably you'll scoff at the latter. "What kind of excuse is that?!" -- This is just the thing that I would respond to either of these diversions of blame. Neither of them excuse the action, or make it "more understandable" as in lending some justifiable predisposition towards.

So here I present my conjecture: In being unable to conceive of a parent killing their own kid, they feel that there must be some reason that the parent acted this way, some justification that would propel someone into something impossible to conceive.

And disability makes the perfect scapegoat.

Rather than being fueled by the inherent ableist prejudices of the society (which doubtless exist), this looking to disability as a justifying circumstance is fueled by the desire to not believe people are capable of such evil as would ordinarily connote murder of (especially one's own) children. Of course, the unfortunate by-product of this line of thinking is an illogical jump to the thinking that puts the life of a disabled person as less valuable than that of a "normal" person. And so contributes to prejudices about people such as mercy killings, fault of the insufficient services, the torment inherent to the disability itself, and other such nonsense.

This is far less in-depth than I had intended, and probably much less clearly stated than I had intended.

No comments: