Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Response to a friend's query: an update on the autistic hate mail case.


I was asked to comment on any updates about the autistic hate mail letter case by a facebook friend and blog reader, Adrienne Mabley.  Adrienne and I went to the same high school together and lost touch for a while.  I have the feeling that, because of her reaction to my blog postings about this particular situation, that she knows what it is like for people with autism.  

You can read the original post right here.

I myself have reason to believe that I am autistic; however, as I cannot afford the testing, this will have to remain supposition.  I am not saying this lightly: I have been researching on my own and everything that I come across points in that direction.  However, that is another post for another time.

To give a potted history of the hate letter situation, on or about August 18th 2013, a woman, Max's grandmother, got a hate-filled one-page letter sent to her, advising her that her grandson was basically a disgrace and should be 'euthanized.'  This has been widely condemned and gotten a lot of people very upset.

Rightly so.

Interestingly, I did not know that Max, the autistic 13 year old in question, had a mom who has MS, and Max goes to grandma's to give his mom a break.  I only learned this later.

So now, we have a dual disability hate crime, as per Katharine Quarmby in her book Scapegoat: Why we are failing disabled people.  [2011]  The letter which Max's grandmother got was posted as a photo on the Internet via facebook for me, and I transcribed it in my blog post of August 20th, 2013.  I took the liberty of correcting and commenting on the anonymous letter.

Unbelievably, this letter, as hateful as it is, does not cross the threshold of hate mail, and as of this writing, there is no development that I could find that the police have made any identification of the alleged writer.

However.

We do know that in the neighbourhood, Max's grandmother's neighbours were horrified at such a letter and the result has been that the neighbours have rallied around Max and his family.  Specifically, and I have been able to find this out through a search of the web, some local motorcycle enthusiasts found out that Max loves bikes and they decided to ride to his street to introduce themselves.

I saw a piece about this on CTV news; I also read a piece about this in the Toronto Star, so yes, this show of motorized support did happen, Adrienne.  My friend had wondered at the turnaround for this story, from negative to positive.  Yes.  Max and his family have been shown tremendous support.

There were three articles about this that I was able to find.  The first article, entitled, “Clarington bike club honours autistic teen” was published in the Toronto Sun on August 24, 2013, on p. 16.  It says, “Maxwell Begley was made an honourary member of the Clarington chapter of the Canadian Motorcycle Cruisers.”  The chair of the motorcycle club’s chapter was said in the article to be stunned at how big the event became.  In addition, “The turnout was considerable, with about 200 bikes taking part.”  This article can be found online at the Sun, where it was published on August 23, 2013 under the headline “Rally for Oshawa teen after hate filled letter goes viral” and both articles were written by Ryan Wolstat.

The Toronto Star has a paywall, but despite our subscription I found an article entitled “Autistic boy’s family astonished by support for son after hate filled letter”, published August 23, 2013 by Katie Downs.  I also know I saw a CTV news piece about this around the same time.  So to answer your question, Adrienne: yes, he did get support from neighbours and the motorcycle club and the rally really did happen.  So it’s good to have a ‘good-news’ piece, despite the negative start to this whole sorry mess.

This is the sort of turnaround story that we need to hear more often.  There is a reason to have faith in humanity, and there is a reason to think that we can, as a community, do better by each other.  I am reminded of the story earlier in the summer wherein a young boy, also with autism, had a lemonade stand and another neighbour offered five dollars to stop it.

We don't know who the neighbour is, but the boy was invited to a Baton Rouge restaurant to serve lemonade and ask for donations to the Hospital for Sick Children as his way of saying thanks to that hospital.  I can't remember how much he raised, but this boy also had a great show of community support.  You can find the link to an article about it right here.

and there’s another online article about it found right here.

So here are two recent stories in the news that started negative but turned into a reason to think that we do have a community spirit after all.  Adrienne: I hope this analysis restores your faith in humanity, if it was damaged.  We are stronger together than apart; and we always know the right thing to do.  There are my nickel's worth of words for the week.  Hope this helps!

*****


A sad commentary is the fact that, on reflection, I realized that there were people who might read the transcript of the letter and think yeah, autistic people and disabled people should be euthanized...I'd be better off...  That is not my view; nor is it a humane, or even a humanist view.  Love is stronger than hate and we do not have to accept that sort of negative silently.  We can speak up as I have done, with others, to make sure that the negative does not take centre stage, or if it does, it is fishooked off focus very quickly.  We have too many positive things going for us to allow the negative to control us.

4 comments:

  1. Well, KUDO's to Max's neighbor's! I dare say the author of the letter isn't very popular these days.

    It's true, I've read of wonderful things done randomly and anonymously...the drycleaner with a sign on his door that reads "looking for a job? We'll clean your suit for free" People paying for coffee's and even meals forward.

    There IS goodness in this world, it's just that it's either 1) very outweighed by the selfishness and greed of the majority or 2) just flat out ignored by the news industry.

    Now, don't get me started on the news. They report almost 99% BAD news. Awful things. I could write paragraphs about when one of my construction workers was murdered on the job, and I watched them carry his body out of a trailer with is toe visible. Such disrespect. But I digress. Perhaps the news industry as a WHOLE should follow up on nasty ugly stories like Max's with the few happy endings that really happen...show some kindness in each newscast instead of just murder, greed and violence.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good points. That's why I research/write about my issues and things important to me. I just challenge everyone to do a few little good things each day...hold open a door, offer to carry groceries...invite a friend for dinner...give up a seat on the bus...things like that. And we do tend to notice bad news faster than good. thanks for writing...the flanoor.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree...just today I stopped at a table where two local police officers were eating...and thanked them for what they do. Their chins about hit the table. I don't even live in their township, but the adjoining one, but still...I lived and worked there for years. Sometimes the smallest kind gesture can mean the world to the receipient...it might be the nicest thing that happens to them all day. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. And just as a general P.S. This would could use just one or two random acts of kindess per day to someone a little less fortunate than YOU are...and a lot fewer random acts of violence.

    ReplyDelete

Please feel free to comment; I might have a turnaround time to post!