An opinion piece by columnist Eric Zorn in the Chicago Tribune offers sympathy for the two women, saying that “the tragic circumstances here suggest desperation, sorrow, confusion and helplessness in the hearts of these women.” Dozens upon dozens of comments, while not excusing the act, agree with the advice to “feel pity rather than rage…to seek to understand even as we condemn.”
I don’t. I don’t feel pity. Just the rage. I don’t understand this as desperation, because when you’re desperate, you take the help that is offered.
Both the National Council on Disability (NCD) and the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) have called for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Alex’s murder as a hate crime under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.
“To do otherwise sends the message that the short life of Alex Spourdalakis was worth less than the lives of other children and reinforces the notion that killing one’s child if they are disabled, while regrettable, is understandable,” said NCD Chairperson Jeff Rosen in astatement. “This way of thinking should not go unchallenged, and the fervor with which we investigate and prosecute the perpetrators of crimes against people with disabilities should not be diminished.”
ASAN, an advocacy group run for and by autistic people, stated:“In truth, Alex’s murder is about a reprehensible and repulsive ideology all too common within our society that preaches that it is better to be dead than disabled. As long as our society treats the lives of disabled people as worth less than those of the general population, more disabled children and adults will be subject to acts of violence and murder. As a result, we call for the prosecution of Alex’s killers to the fullest extent of the law.”In contrast, Autism Speaks offered the following statement:“On Sunday, 14-year-old Alex Spourdalakis was found stabbed to death in his suburban Chicago home. Alex was severely affected with autism and his mother and his caregiver have been charged in his death.“We are deeply saddened by the incident involving Alex Spourdalakis. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved in this extremely unfortunate situation. In light of this tragic event, we encourage individuals with autism and their families who are experiencing a crisis situation to visit beta.samhsa.gov/find-help, or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).”
With all due respect to Autism Speaks, the premeditated, gruesome, and cold-blooded murder of a 14-year-old is more than an “extremely unfortunate situation.”