No Disablism After Yesterday’s Violence, Please.
January 9, 2011 1 Comment
Trigger warning for discussion of violence and disablism.
What Jared Loughner did is reprehensible. No one will dispute that. We struggle to understand why people do such things. We can’t. Taking someone’s life, the lives of several people, including a child, for no apparent reason is unfathomable. What we must not do is, in our attempt to explain and understand, dismiss Loughner as mentally ill. It serves no purpose. It is an (not-so) intellectual shortcut, one that only gets us lost, and harms millions of people and children that are differently abled.
I will not speculate on Loughner’s health. I will not dismiss his actions by calling him “crazy,” a “nutjob,” or “mentally ill.”
His actions, however, have reminded us of the consequences of hatred and bigotry. No matter what that hatred is based off of, it is dangerous to hate. Hatred kills. Yesterday, it killed several people, including a nine year old child. Let’s not channel that hatred to those who are differently abled. Making that assumption, that Loughner was differently-abled, and that his disability caused him to hate and to kill, does not satisfy our need to understand. It will not address the problems in our society; it only shifts that hate from one group to another.
I mourn for the loss of Christina Green, of Gabe Zimmerman, of Dorothy Morris, of Dorwin Stoddard, of Phyllis Schneck, and of John Roll. I mourn for their families, their friends, and their loved ones. I mourn for Gabrielle Giffords, and all of the other unnamed others who were injured. I mourn also for all those who are differently-abled, who will now be looked on with suspicion because of Jared Loughner’s actions. I hope that, by reading this post, you will now not be one of those.
I do not name the titles, stations, or ages of those killed yesterday, because I feel that, now as much as ever, we must remind ourselves that we are all people–all human beings deserving of respect, empathy, and love. We are who we are, and unfortunately our differences are more often degenerated and hated, rather than celebrated and loved. John, Christina, Gabe, Dorothy, Phyllis, and Dorwin are not faceless beings. These are people, and they are people that we lost to hatred yesterday. No more.