After the two What Is Wrong With People links I posted in this past weekend’s Sun-Beams, I was hoping for a break in the trend, but it appears that bad things really do happen in threes (or at least they get reported that way), so now we have this story out of Canada. I’ll state upfront that this post gonna ramble … you’ve been duly warned.
Here are the basic facts: a grandmother who regularly cares for her 13-year-old grandson with autism (autistic grandson? I’ve been told “with autism” is insulting…) received an anonymous typewritten letter that stated, among other things, that they should either move or euthanize him. Click on the image of the letter above to enlarge and read it in its entirety.
Pretty horrible, right?
I feel obligated to point out that the sender has not been positively identified – the letter was signed “One p!ssed off mother!!!!!” and made many references to the neighborhood so the presumption is that the author is a mother in the neighborhood (I know that seems obvious but if you’ve read some of the news story comboxes you know why I feel the need to clarify). So there are a couple of likely possibilities:
- The author of the letter is a mother in the neighborhood, as is claimed in the letter. If that’s the case, I weep for her children. It’s tough being a parent sometimes, and it’s tough being a neighbor sometimes. I haven’t set foot on the property of our local Taco Bell in over three and a half years because I engaged in some jackassery over a missing packet of guacamole once when I was pregnant (though in my defense, Taco Bell has notoriously bad service – amiright?) But to suggest that a child should be euthanized – Beyond the Pale.
- The author of the letter is a lying troll, impersonating a neighborhood mother. It’s possible, but I don’t think it’s likely. The author could use some lessons in spelling, grammar and punctuation, but her written voice rings true to me. She sounds like someone who lives in the neighborhood, and she has personal knowledge of the boy – it’s unlikely the author is a teenager with a warped and dangerous sense of humor. And if it is? No less horrid than a ranting mom – maybe worse.
In the unlikely event that the author happens upon this blog…
…or the more likely event that someone with a similar worldview to hers does, here are a few things I’d like her to know:
- Your comfort is not the child’s parents’ responsibility. Most parents do their best to prevent their children from annoying other adults or children. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail, and sometimes we can’t do a damn thing about it. Regardless, the “whaling” (I assume you mean “wailing” since it’s highly unusual for whales and houses to coexist) can’t be that much of a problem if you are unwilling to come to the door and have a face-to-face conversation about it. If you hate living near anyone who is “different” that much, then it’s your responsibility to find a new crib. Might I suggest a boat in the ocean with whales for neighbors?
- Your children might not be so afraid of Max Begley if you taught them what autism is – and what it’s not. You might learn a few things if you took the time to educate yourself on both the challenges and blessings of raising a child on the spectrum. At the very least, you’d have the opportunity to model empathy.
- You should be careful what you advocate, because you just might get it. At any moment, you could be stricken with debilitating disease or permanent disability that renders you unable to work. If that day comes, I hope your family members and children have greater compassion for you than you have for this young man and his family.
And a few more thoughts, in no particular order.
- If I were to describe the letter with one word: selfish.
- The local police have ruled that the incident doesn’t rise to the level of a hate crime, which has upset some people. I’m good with that – if the sender of the letter is eventually identified, I’m confident that the ostracism she’ll receive will be punishment enough.
- How many people are sitting around kitchen tables and coffeehouses marveling over how horrible it is that the letter was sent, while thinking in their heads (or saying out loud) how glad they are that they don’t live near that boy? The sender’s claim that “nobody” wants them living there but “don’t have the guts to tell her” suggests that, at the very least, the other neighbors have listened to the sender complain and not objected.
- This letter may have been an isolated incident, but believe me, it’s not an isolated attitude. Do a Google search of the story and peruse the various comboxes for a little while.
- This letter writer needs our prayers, because she’s clearly a miserable person.