An Open Letter to Martin O’Malley: #JusticeForEthan

Dear Governor O’Malley,

Please order an independent investigation into Ethan Saylor’s homicide.  Saylor was an American, brother, son, friend, and above all, a human being.  His family deserves answers.  His community deserves to know that a person with a disability has the same right to life as any other human being.

Your office made a statement that you wish to “focus on forward-looking strategies” to prevent any more deaths such as Saylor’s.  Without truth and accountability, there is no path forward. Read the rest of this entry »

Independence, Money, and Human Worth

The first question of the Liebster Award is: Why did you start to blog?

Here’s why I started to blog…

All this excitement over little ol' me?  Pshaw.

All this excitement over little ol’ me? Pshaw.

My very first reason I started this blog is that I didn’t want to keep talking about LP’s Down syndrome over and over.  It was exhausting to rehash the details of it all, to explain what Ds was, even.

More and more, however, the reason I blog is that I think our society needs a priority reordering.  Having a child labeled with disability has forced me to reconsider the very meaning of human value.  I say forced, because I honestly admit that it was by force.  I don’t think that if LP did not have Ds, I would have come to this understanding on my own.  Who knows, maybe I would have.  Other people have come to this realization earlier and easier than I have.  LP sure did give me a kick in the ass though. Read the rest of this entry »

Why I can’t let it go: #JusticeForEthan

I might keep writing about him for quite some time. If this bugs you, well, you might have to get over it. (I mean this in the kindest way, of course.) I’ve always voted. I try to make calls, send emails, sign petitions for just causes, but I’ve never been very vocal about it. Truth be told, I am uncomfortable with being so vocal, it has never been my thing. However, I’ve realized that Saylor’s story is part of a greater tragedy that divides and devalues our fellow human beings.

LGBT, straight, black, white, Ds, autism, wheelchair, man, woman, young and old, it really shouldn’t matter; you shouldn’t die over a movie ticket. I realize that not everyone sees disability rights as on par with other civil rights battles being fought today. Maybe that is why I feel the need to keep writing about this. Most people I know quickly agree that there is no basis for treating an individual differently based on religion, gender, race, or sexual orientation. But somehow, talk about disability, and it all gets murky. I’m not saying those other fights so aren’t very important, they are. At least there is a fight. Big. Fights. I can’t say quite as much for what has happened to Robert Ethan Saylor.

I’d love it if you read this blog post. She is a friend of mine, and has a beautiful little girl with Ds. She explains it all more succinctly than I ever have. She also outlines some actions to take.

Maybe until now you’ve felt like Saylor was only important to me because I have a kid with Down syndrome. Or maybe you just thanked your lucky stars that you don’t have a kid who will ever look like him, and won’t get mistreated the way he did. Maybe you don’t think he was mistreated, in which case I beg to differ. I also beg to differ that just because your kid doesn’t have Down syndrome, that you will not be affected by Saylor’s death.

His death is important. It speaks to our culture’s inability to see those with disability as deserving of basic equal treatment. And when you live in a world that cannot acknowledge a person’s basic human value, you live in a dangerous place. I have discovered I live in a society in which it is legal to pay someone with a disability less than minimum wage, simply because they are disabled. It is legal to forcibly sterilize those with disabilities in 15 states. Women with disabilities are sexually abused at much higher rates than their typical counterparts. Men with disabilities are beaten. Married adults are told they cannot live together.

The thing is, I didn’t know about this, until I was forced into a club that I never asked to join. I’m ok with being in this club now. In fact, I’m grateful, and I wouldn’t even change it. I love the club. But that means I have finally come to understand that this club is a club that 1 in 3 Americans will join at some point in their lives. One day, you may be Robert Ethan Saylor. Your child may be Robert Ethan Saylor.