Robert Robinson was a 16-year-old boy. A few weeks ago, his mother murdered him and then committed suicide.
The above is one headline from an article about Robert’s murder. Here are some others:
"Distraught woman killed autistic son then took her own life"
“Prince Rupert family’s ordeal ends in tragedy”
"Tragic deaths in Prince Rupert avoidable"
Does anyone else see a problem here?
In each and every one of these headlines, the mother is the victim. Her autistic son is an explanation, a reason she is sympathetic, an element in her tragic death. She killed him, and yet this is her tragedy. Some of the headlines don’t even bother mentioning his death!
When a neurotypical able-bodied child is murdered by their parents, the world is shocked and horrified. The memorials are for the child, not their killer. You’d certainly be hard-pressed to find a whole chorus of internet comments like the ones above.
It’s terrible what happened to this mother who was just trying to help her son cope…
Robert would have never been able to live a real life and would require permanent care his entire life. His existence created an unimaginable emotional and financial burden for those who had to care for him, and this tragically became the end result.
For someone like him, what is the purpose of living?
Obviously nobody has a right to take someone else’s life but I only really feel badly for the mother. TBH, I think everyone would’ve been better off if he died earlier, including him.
This is what ableism looks like. This is what ableism looks like when it’s mobilized to defend murderers. This is, in the end, the price of ‘Autism Awareness’ campaigns which perpetuate the myth it prevents us from living a real life or from having value as human beings.
This post is for Robert Robinson, Vincent Phan, and Damien Veraghen, all autistic children murdered by their caretakers in the past four months. Let’s grieve for them, children who another person decided had no value and no right to life. Children whose experiences were brutally cut short by their parents who made the choice to murder them. Children whose lives and deaths were diminished by a media who couldn’t bring themselves to describe these crimes in any language stronger than ‘tragedy’.
I’m scared. I’m angry. And I know - I just know - it will happen again.