On Monday and Tuesday, people will use Twitter to let @DrPhil and his audience know that Issy Stapleton is the victim, not the person who tried to murder her. On Facebook the event for this initiative is Tell Doctor Phil and the Media that Issy Stapleton is the VICTIM. The event organizers write: "When the media reports on cases of violence and abuse against Disabled individuals, we MUST hold them accountable to telling these stories with respect to the actual victims of these crimes. Our lives matter! When a Disabled person is the victim of a violent crime, we must not allow the media to talk about "lack of services", or the "burden" of what it is like to care for us. This is the rhetoric of fear, of hate, and victim blaming. That is unacceptable." Please use the hashtag #JusticeForIssy in your tweets and posts.
The blurb for Tuesday's Dr. Phil show reads "Dr. Phil continues his exclusive jailhouse interview with Kelli Stapleton, a mother accused of trying to kill herself and her severely autistic 14-year-old daughter, Issy. Kelli recently pleaded guilty to a felony charge of first-degree child abuse. Does she regret her actions that day? And, hear from Kelli’s best friends. Were there any warning signs that Kelli was reaching her breaking point? Then, another mom, Lisa, says she knows Kelli’s pain all too well. She says her autistic son is extremely violent, and she says she contemplated a similar tragic scenario for herself and her son. Plus, find out how you can help Issy secure a healthy and productive future."
I can tell you how to "help secure a healthy and productive future" for Issy and all disabled people who rely on parents or other caregivers, Dr. Phil:
Don't give any positive attention to would-be murderers. Don't call autism a "jail" just because K. Stapleton does. Be respectful in your descriptions of autism and other disabilities. We Autistics are watching. Don't hurt us with your comments. We won't be safe if we are talked about in a way that makes people think we are barely worthy of life. There's NO "future" for some of us if parents and other caregivers get the idea that we really don't deserve to exist. Interview people other than the attacker's friends. Interview Autistic people. Confront/question members of the audience attending the show who might "take the side" of K. Stapleton. Make sure to condemn murder and call for the maximum penalty so that copycat murders do not occur in the wake of your show. Direct your audience to the Tool Kit of Resources from the Autistic Community or similar resources.
I can only hope that Dr. Phil or some of those who are interviewed will come out strongly against K. Stapleton and in defense of Issy and all disabled people's right to our own lives.
Note: I only used Stapleton's first name in order to make this post accessible in search engines. I would prefer to not use her first name: many people have pointed out that she gets called by her first name, almost as if everyone is on an intimate basis with her (especially people who pressure those of us who condemn the murder attempt to walk in her shoes) while Issy's name is often not even used. Let us remember who the real victim is here: Issy Stapleton. I am sorry that this mother made this choice, but no excuses for murder/attempted murder of another human being are acceptable. (Shortended link for the post is http://bit.ly/1quEJxI).
The "understanding" that is being called for is often a thinly disguised plea to "go easy on her." The disabled community cannot afford to do that, when one compares the dialogue around the murders of people with disabilities to other murders. Calls for understanding the murderer are part and parcel of any discussion about the murder of a disabled person. This focus on the "humanity of the murderer" rarely happens in other murder settings. Because of this pervasive societal attitude, tipped toward dismissing our lives in a very concrete way, disabled people are in harm's way, all of the time. Many of us are at the mercy of family or other caregivers. A strong stance against violence against us must be maintained in order to counter the tendency to see our lives as not worth living.
For anyone who is concerned that they or someone they know might murder a disabled family member, please look at the Tool Kit of Resources from the Autistic Community which has information and links that can be helpful. Remember, murder is NOT really your "only option."
Short link for this post is http://bit.ly/1q13Gut
|Image says #disabilityisnotacrime #JusticeForIssy #OurLivesMatter This image is from the Facebook event linked above.|
Petition for maximum sentence:
Changing Conversations: When Parents Murder Disabled Children
I will come back and do more links later. Very tired with reading and writing about this. Please post your appropriate, non-supportive of murder links in the comments section.