Saturday, September 7, 2013

Senseless murder

I do not know if you have heard, but there was an awful tragedy last week, one of our community was murdered.

George Hodgins was an Autistic man living in California, he had a passion for hiking, etc., his mother killed him and then she committed suicide. It is never OK to kill disabled people no matter what your excuse may be, we are all unique and deserve respect, we are not expendable. We are different, NOT less. This case really resonated with me because I am Autistic. I felt that I needed to draw your attention to his death and add my “voice” to the ether so that George’s death would not be forgotten and hopefully by sharing the following blog entry and my feelings, that tragedies like this will cease to occur. This is yet another reason why we need to work for Autism Acceptance in our communities that is the only way that we Autistics will be accepted as we truly are.

Below, I have chosen to highlight the blog of an Autistic self-advocate named Zoe. I am including her post about George Hodgins’ murder and the candlelight vigil that was held in his honor, there was a news segment included therein, but I was unable to copy that across to this site, in order to watch the news segment please click on the following link.

"Saturday, March 17, 2012
Remembering George Hodgins

This is what went on the news:

(News segment of the vigil, sorry, but I could not get it to paste here, you can watch it on Zoe's blog at the link listed above.)

This is what I said at the vigil:

Last Tuesday, George Hodgins was shot and killed by his mother, who then killed herself. George lived here in Sunnyvale and he was 22 years old. I didn’t know George, but I can’t stop thinking about him. Maybe it’s because we have a lot in common – we lived near each other, we were the same age, we’re both autistic, although we led very different lives. I would like to have met George, but I can only mourn him. And I can try to make sure that his story isn’t forgotten.

In the wake of this tragedy, I read a lot of articles that asked the readers to imagine how George’s mother must have felt. But I didn’t see a single article that asked the reader to empathize for George, to imagine how it feels to see your mother point a gun at you. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about how hard it must be to live with an autistic relative, but I didn’t see anyone talking about how terrible it must be to die knowing that your parent, who you love and depend on, has decided to hurt and kill you.

Because he was autistic, George is being erased from the story of his own murder.

The story of George Hodgins’ death is being discussed and presented as the story of a mother who snapped, and the story of other parents who have felt the same way. It’s being told as a story about a lack of services for families with special-needs children, as though a lack of services is a justification for murder.

When disabled people are murdered by their families, this is the story people want to hear. It’s the same story that we saw in newspapers after Katie McCarron was murdered, and after Jeremy Fraser was murdered, and after Glen Freaney was murdered, and after Zain and Faryaal Akhter were murdered. The story goes like this: it is understandable that someone would kill their disabled relative if they don’t get help to care for them.

I don’t think this is a true story.

Why is the story being told this way? Because we live in a world that doesn’t acknowledge the value of our lives as disabled people. Because so many people in our society can’t imagine a disabled person living a fulfilling life, so they don’t see the tragedy and the wasted potential when one of our lives is cut short.

As disabled people, we have to take a stand against this kind of thinking. We have to get the word out that our lives matter, that our lives are our own stories and not just the stories of our non-disabled parents and relatives and caretakers. We have to let people know that they are missing part of the story.

Because the story of George Hodgins’ murder is also the story of the disabled community losing one of our own. It’s the story of the other disabled people who were murdered by their family members, and it’s the story of the society that thinks so little of people with disabilities that these murders are all too often justified as 'understandable.' Most of all, it’s George’s story – the story of a young man who enjoyed hiking, who was always looking to learn new skills, who had his whole life in front of him.

Now George is gone, and only his memory remains, and already that memory is being distorted by people who want to tell his story and leave him out. That’s not going to happen tonight. We’re here to remember the real story."

Published March 18, 2012 on Google+


No comments:

Post a Comment