“Getting Away With Murder” – Australian Killers of Disabled People Get Sympathy from Public and Courts

From Ramp-Up:

Media reports on homicides of people with disability, particularly those with intellectual disability, are frequently sugar-coated and euphamised. This only serves to diminish the value of those who have lost their lives, writes Craig Wallace and Samantha Connor.

Suicide is anything but painless. So we should share sympathy for the loved ones of the couple convicted of killing their son in 2001, who were found dead in their western Sydney home on the weekend.

The couple killed their son Matthew, who had a disability, days before his 29th birthday, yet avoided jail after they pleaded guilty to manslaughter. They were instead sentenced to five-year good behaviour bonds.

Despite this latest tragedy, it’s impossible to ignore the way the killing of people with disability continues to be minimised, sanitised and even excused by the media, the public, the judiciary and even closer to home in parts of our disability community.

Sure enough it was disappointing, but not exactly surprising, to see the usual green shoots of moral relativism in comments about the news on the weekend.

What wasn’t expected was for such views to emerge on a social media space that specifically works to break the silence about violence and abuse of people with disability.

“Who am I to judge?”; “There’s no wrongs or rights”; a “tragedy for everyone involved” were among the comments on the story.

Hang on – a tragedy for “everyone” involved?

Actually, it’s a tragedy for the person who was murdered. Period.

No wrongs or rights? Who are we to judge?

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? The death of three people is a tragedy by any measure and judging is a fraught undertaking – let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone.

But what if we apply that even handed tone to other murders?

Read the rest here.

This article from Australia is a sad reminder that the dismissive attitude of the public and courts toward the murders of people with disabilities isn’t limited to the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, or … is there any country that treats the life and deaths of disabled people with real seriousness?  I’d like to see that things might be getting better, but there’s evidence that they might be getting worse when it comes to outright murder – and I’ll try to wrestle an article out of my thoughts on that next week.

2 thoughts on ““Getting Away With Murder” – Australian Killers of Disabled People Get Sympathy from Public and Courts

  1. I understand, Steven Drake, why you are disturbed and distressed and angered by the treatment of the law, and by Ramp up, of the murder of an adult disabled son by the parents and, then, the suicide of the parents.—-and the comments made by empathizing readers.

    It is true, as you indicate, that so many “democratic” cultures and countries and the USA treat the murder of the minority mentally and physically disabled and the homeless and the elderly and the poor as “others” whose murders are somehow less evil and less deserving of punishment than the murders of the members of the “well and able” majority —the majority “others” from whose ranks, we choose our elected representatives to debate and pass the laws under which we live.

    I, as a member of the elderly population, can relate to your anger. I have had so much anger and trouble trying to understand why The Congress would pass a law, the 1991 Patient Self Determination Act, that would enable the manipulation of hospital code status, and not protect the elderly and disabled Medicare/Medicaid patients who depend on the safety net provided by the people’s taxes from discrimination. by the hospitals in the application of code status.by means of unilateral covert/overt DNR Code Status that is NOT punished under law.

    Obviously, the goal of the Congress in 1991 was to permit patients on Medicare/Medicaid to voluntarily (with an advanced directive) change their code status and refuse life-extending and life-saving treatment within the hospital with an advanced directive when their physician informed them that they were “terminal” and that any “further” treatment would be futile. Also, it is obvious that the goal of the 1991 PSDA was the need of HHS to prevent our growing elderly population from dying in expensive ICU and CCU rooms in our Acute Care Hospitals under their Medicare and Medicaid insurance and private insurance.

    This double effect was never discussed, however, for fear of the “self-rationing” aspects leading to questions of “rationing” and the for-profit physicians/hospitals didn’t cooperate with the goals and weren’t put under the provisions of the PSDA. Original Medicare and its partners Big Insurance moved to Pay for Performance and to not reimbursing hospitals for adverse hospital events, (now there are 27) in 2006 and then, strangely, the elderly and the disabled on Medicare/Medicaid are not, under law, informed that they are victims of adverse events and that their hospital treatment will not be reimbursed and that they can be sent to eternity earlier than necessary with unilateral DNR Code Status that appears to be protected under existing practice of law.

    Was this intentional? another goal of the law? Or, is this injustice of the unreported adverse event and the unilateral DNR that is not punished just an unintentional consequence of the PSDA that prohibits code discrimination against hospital patients who in 1991 were presumed to be full code, under law, when they were admitted to Emergency Rooms and to hospitals?

    Did The Congress who passed the PSDA in 1991 believe that any code discrimination by hospitals would be discouraged because the law in 1991 in the states would treat the unilateral DNR s a form of “murder?” or “attempted murder?” —-especially if the unilateral DNR advanced fiscal expediency for the hospital and the physician and in view of EMTALA, passed in 1986 that protects patients who have an emergency condition regardless of their ability to pay?

    Is “murder or attempted murder by unilateral covert/overt(default) DNR Code Status” different because it i concentrates on the elderly and the disabled on Medicare/Medicaid and the shortening of their lives/hastening of their deaths for money is not considered “evil” and “criminal” because they are old or terribly disabled and must die for the public good and the good of Medicare and private insurance?

    How can this be justified when The Center for Public Integrity, Wendell Potter, reports on June 9th, 2014, in an article, entitled “Skyrocketing salaries for health insurance CEOs” that “Centene’s CEO Michael Neidorff saw his compensation increase 71 percent last year, from $8.5 million to $14.5 million. Even more impressive was the 140 percent rise Molina’s)Mario Malino got. His compensation jumped from $4.95 million in 2012 to 11.9 million in 2011.

    Isn’t this obscene? Doesn’t this make you angry? Yet we see no outcry from our so called “free press” and no pick of these obscene facts by the mainstream Press.

    . . .

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