Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Japan, Hate and 12 Days

Purposely planned.

Specifically targeted.

Openly avowed.

The hate killing of disabled people in Japan is a chilling story. Let's go over a few facts, all of which are reported in the Guardian in clear detail.

1) the man turned himself in stating that 'it's better that disabled people disappear.'

2) he wrote a letter to a politician wherein he outlined the need to kill disabled people, the Guardian reported that:  "In the letter, Uematsu argued that the government should permit euthanasia for disabled people, said he would be willing to carry out such killings himself, and detailed how he would do it."

3) a direct quote from the letter:  “I envision a world where a person with multiple disabilities can be euthanized, with an agreement from the guardians, when it is difficult for the person to carry out household and social activities.”

4) he planned to kill 470 disabled people, though he also said he'd turn himself in after killing 260 disabled individuals.

5) all this was known when he was hospitalized, involuntarily.

6) a man with clearly stated goals of mass murdering people with disabilities, a man who had planned it out, who made it abundantly evident that he had a desire to eradicate disabilities from society, spent 12 days in hospital before being released. (12 days! Less than 2 weeks. I guess mass murder of people with disabilities, clearly stated and planned, isn't that much of a mental health concern. 12 days!)

The discussion of and public endorsement of the concept of mercy killing of people with disabilities had taken root in this man with alarming ferocity. No doubt he will be spoken of as someone who has mental health issues, and maybe he does, but when you read what he says, what he says isn't far from what most people have come to believe. His statement to the police upon turning himself in that 'it's better that disabled people disappear' isn't a deranged rant by someone out of control, it's a calm statement of fact that echos the sentiment of many in society. People with disabilities know this sentiment, we hear it, we experience it and we have come to fear what it will do. Our lives are devalued, are needs seen as special and therefore burdensome, our rights are declared to be gifts rather than guarantees.

But there's more.

A specific, targeted attack aimed at eradicating a group - a mass murder of a group of people because of who they are, and no where does anyone speak of hate. No mention of this as a hate crime against people with disabilities. No. Where. I have not read every paper of course, but in my searches on the Internet the only time that 'hate crime' has been used to describe this event it's by a disabled writer on a disability blog or on a Facebook post.

Why isn't it a hate crime?

I think the answer goes deeper than 'they don't get it.' I think it's because, maybe a little, people see the logic of what he's done.

And that scares the hell out of me. 


CapriUni said...

But -- for all the reasons you lay out -- I have serious doubts that he is "Crazy."

I think, if anything, he had performed (what people think are) symptoms of mental illness, deliberately, leading up to the attack, knowing that: a) they wouldn't hold him very long, once they discovered that he was not actually mentally ill, and b) that he could also use his "history with the mental health system" to get a lighter sentence after the fact.

Mental Illness is a disability. And, as you know, people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. Increasing the stigma against one group of disabled people in defense of another group of disabled people is hurtful...

And if we swallow this story as it is being spun in the media, we will be failing to face up to the bigotry that saturates our whole society, and failing to change it.

What could be done to prevent this attack, other than keeping this guy locked up? I'm not sure. Maybe the staff at the facility could have been given extra security, considering the nature of the threats against the inmates, so that he could have been caught before he broke through that window and gotten inside.

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

That's horrible. We're already the most vulnerable because we can't move quickly out of harm's way. The Nazis did the same.

May we instead remind people of our common humanity - it could be you, or your child, or your partner, or your parent. Or any of your friends.

Sometimes thoughts like that can't be eradicated until they're out in the open - people won't admit to feeling them, claim they aren't prejudiced.

Unknown said...

when i saw the story on the news, my heart sank....and my stomach turned.....i thought first of you..then of the victims and their families, then of the survivors....and of the first responders who will never forget the scene.....

one man's hatred spilling out onto so many individuals....and the darker truth that this was not just one man's hatred.....

Liz Miller said...


Rickismom said...