By now I’m sure we have all see the dreaded letter from ‘One pissed off mother!’ that was written to an Ontario family regarding their 13-year old autistic son, Maxwell. If you haven’t seen it, here it is:
This letter serves as a bit of an eye opener for me on many levels but by far the thing that I think about most is how upsetting it is to think about the degree of hate that this ‘mother’ has in her life. As a ‘mother’, she is raising children of her own. I try not to be judgmental as I don’t like it when people judge me… or my son. Perhaps this ‘mother’ needs help… and if this is the case, I hope that she gets the help that she needs. But in the meantime, this is a ‘mother’ that is possibly raising her children to think in the same manner as she does. I have a really hard time wrapping my head around that fact. The children of today are our future. Children need to be taught love and acceptance… not hatred, discrimination and judgement.
As a parent of a child with autism, I am an active advocate not only online, but in my community as well. I have shared before my frustration with the fact that society still hasn’t learned ‘acceptance’ for those that see the world differently… my frustration with the fact that in society I need to continually fight for the things that my son is entitled to (such as an education)… my frustration with the fact that in so many areas, I don’t see the important changes happening. With 1 in 50 children in U.S. schools being diagnosed on the autism spectrum… the time for understanding and acceptance is NOW!
My son is an intelligent, witty young man who loves Pokemon, Lego, reading and video games. His dream is to become a video game designer when he grows up and if that turned out to be Lego video games than he would truly be in all his glory. He is an animal lover to the extreme and many of you that follow Mom-ology know that he has a golden retriever, Ollie, that is his service dog. The two are almost inseparable. Our family also has another golden retriever named Jorga that he has lovingly nicknamed, ‘The Paper Shredding Everything Eating Goat Princess Spazmanian Devil’. He rides horses and the times that he is able to do this is the highlight of his week – ending each session with a kiss for ALL the horses! He loves to talk and share ‘his world’ with those that he loves. And though this is a small circle, it is very special to him… and to me. He enjoys playing soccer, wants to play baseball and if he could live on trampoline he probably would. This is only a small part of who my son is. Yes, my son also has autism but it sure doesn’t define who he is. I am proud of everything that he does and I am proud of everything that he has accomplished.
When I read this letter, I think like just about any parent, special needs or not, my heart broke. But there is another factor that has upset me… almost more so that the letter itself. You see, if a letter like this had been written to an individual in reference to race, sexual orientation or probably even gender, it could very likely have been considered a hate crime. I heard one lawyer state on the news that a jail sentence of two years could be possible for such a crime… if this letter had been directed at a particular ‘group’… one that was protected under the Criminal Code of Canada. The sad part here, and what makes me angry, is that those with disabilities are not considered a ‘group’ (so to speak) under the Criminal Code of Canada. So, in essence this letter, that was filled with so much hate in every sense of the word, doesn’t constitute a ‘hate crime’ because it was directed at someone that has a disability?!?! (For the record, I really dislike using that term… I have never thought of my son as having a disability… I prefer the term, like so many others, ‘differently-abled’ but in relation to this topic, the term is disability.) This is just wrong!
So, when the Crown decided that this letter doesn’t constitute a hate crime, what does this tell society? Isn’t it pretty much saying that this letter is OK – for lack of a better way to put it? If no one is to do anything to stop this from happening NOW, from a legal standpoint, I expect this has opened up the door for this to happen again. To cowardly write a letter and deliver it to an unsuspecting family in the same manner as ‘One pissed off mother!’ did? This decision perhaps has some very serious repercussions!?!
Should those with ‘disabilities’ be included in the Criminal Code’s definition of what constitutes a hate crime? Ummm… yes, I think that is a must!! Again, with the number of children alone that are on the autism spectrum, and even the number of those children that are bullied every day… I look at this and see a HUGE loophole that isn’t there to protect those that need it. What do you think?
In the meantime, I extend my support to Max and his family. This letter is not OK… and I for one will be doing what I can to help ensure that things like this can’t happen again… at least not without consequence!!