Friday, January 18, 2008

I have to say it

I am pretty sure that many people will not like me for saying it, but I have to say that I am greatly disturbed by the blogosphere's handling of the Katie McCarron tragedy. A woman killed her daughter. Sadly, it happens quiet often. There are several hundred cases of filicide each year in the US. One person killing another is always a miserable business, but in the case of a parent killing a young child, it is particularly horrific and always indicative of deep mental disturbance. I don't mean to say that the legal standard for insanity (which is to say, lack of responsibility) is met, but in almost all cases the perpetrators are mentally ill.

Because, in this particular case, the motivation for the crime was the fact that the victim was autistic, much of the autism community has taken it up a cause célèbre. My perception is that the perpetrator has become a stand-in for all those who see autism as a disease to be eliminated, rather than a grouping of traits to be understood and respected. This is not a legitimate substitution. The level of vilification clouds the issues and makes it harder communicate with the supporters of associations such as Autism Speaks at a time when communication is very important. Further, by treating filicide as an extension of a common (and I believe misguided) approach to raising autistic children, the act is given a perverse legitimacy and brought within the realm of the conceivable. That is not beneficial. It adds to hysterical thinking, which we already have too much of in relation to autism.

To be frank, and more psychological (or, if you prefer, spiritual) than political, I feel that focusing excessively on such unnatural acts is unhealthy for us as individuals and as a community. There can be, for me, no celebration, no satisfaction, and indeed no justice when a child is killed. The situation is beyond repair. There can only be sadness.

I know that my views are not representative of society at large or the autistic community. It is normal that philosophies differ. That said, I encourage my fellow bloggers to move on from this tragedy without unnecessary public lingering. The blogging community is part of an important battle ground for public opinion on autism. This was recently shown by the success in changing the NYU Child Studies advertising campaign. It is ongoing in regard to the Judge Rotenberg School. There is much to talk about, let's get on with it.

Please note that, while I felt that making my opinion known was worth the risk of perhaps loosing the respect of some of my friends, I have no desire to engage in debate nor certainly to start one. I have, therefore, turned off the comments for this post.