Poems by Meg Mertens

by Meg Mertens

Death, Despair, Murder

George, Tracy, Willowbrook, More

When will we have rights?

* * *

I was in the house

Mother told me I should die

No one objected

* * *

I tire of seeing the deaths of others

The calm talk, the debate, murder not mercy

They talk of killing our sisters and our brothers

The newspaper coverage pled understanding for his mother, a travesty

People say we don’t understand discrimination

I say, I knew what a hate crime was when I was five

We understand many things well, especially your damnation

George Hodgins never reached twenty three, why do the masses say he was a burden alive?

We should not have to live in terror of our families deciding our worth

I hope one day to read the paper and see a ‘mercy’ murder judged for what it truly is, killing

Many people are caught up in foolishness, judging people by their birth

Until that day comes I will wait, and when it does it will be gratifying

I will always be ready to discuss

About us, not without us.

* * *

Anger, hate, pain, fear

Our numbers have decreased

Our value has not

* * *

A parent hears cries of pain

What we hear is attempts at communication

We are no changeling children, what would we gain?

We did not steal those perfect babies, much to your lamentation

I see your eyes as they look past

My friend is not my handler, I am my own being

If you lived a day like mine, you would not last

I am an expert in myself, something you are not seeing

Mom, what is the matter?

Mom, why do you have that gun?

Mom, why are you crying? I didn’t mean to make you sadder.

Mom, why did you kill your son?

I’m sorry no one saw how unhappy you’ve been

Fin

* * *

George Hodgins, Dead

Does his name ring a bell? No?

I did not think so

I might not be perfect

I’m no changeling, but your child

Why did you kill me?

* * *

We at DRN decided it was best to forego posting on April 2nd in honor of Autism Acceptance Day, to avoid taking traffic away from anyone participating in that event. 

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Representations of “Mercy Killing”

by Jenna Clark

The media discusses “mercy killing” as if it’s an acceptable part of human behavior.  As a person with a disability — as a human being — I find this trend disturbing.

A few weeks ago, 22-year-old George Hodgins was killed by his mother before she turned the gun on herself.  And because George was autistic, news reports largely portrayed this horrible murder-suicide as a tragedy — for the mother. In many articles, George is not even mentioned by name.  His personhood is discarded as an unnecessary side note in a bigger picture.

The only difference our society sees between murder and “mercy killing” is the perception about whose life has worth.  But who makes that decision?  Whose definition of “worth” are we subscribing to, or is the definition given a fluidity depending on the specific circumstances?

In 1993, Robert Latimer murdered his 12-year-old daughter Tracy by exposing her to lethal levels of carbon monoxide. She was left in the cab of a truck, the engine running and the exhaust pipe funneling the fatal gas into a place from which she had no escape.  Is this act less horrific because Tracy had cerebral palsy?  Or is it worse because while others could try and escape, she couldn’t?  Would it be “mercy” if a parent murdered their diabetic child?  How about a child with dyslexia?

Are we, as a society, even trying to see life from another’s perspective?

Differences are never a justification for murder. If we want to discuss the woefully underfunded and often missing services for people with disabilities, great. But whatever gap in services may or may not be present, murder is murder.  And a supposed “mercy killing” says a lot about how society sees me.

It says that as a person with a disability, my life has less inherent value than a person with no disabilities. That George and Tracy and all the others murdered aren’t afforded the same justice as other victims of violent crime.

In the case of George Hodgins, what is being discussed is the hardship disability posed upon his mother. But what about George, the family that loves and misses him, and the friends who mourn his loss?

Without a national discussion, this problem won’t go away.  Right now, the discussion is being replaced by the majority’s uninformed assumptions about life with a disability.  But guess what?

We are people.

We are equals.

And we demand equality.