Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Deadly Double Standards

I previously wrote about Dylan Walborn's death. He is a little boy with a disability whose parents starved him to death with the permission of medical ethicists. The Denver Post chronicled entire 23-day ordeal; a reporter and photographer came by frequently to keep a record of the event and snap a few pictures.

Then the reporter wrote a long expose documenting every horrible day Dylan was denied food. The paper created two multimedia presentations and published pictures. The article really seemed to justify the parents' actions. The paper continues justify their decision to cover the story the way they did.

Yet on September 1, 2007, the Denver Post wrote an editorial about another death by starvation of another child, Chandler Grafner by his guardians. Only now they are outraged by it:

The gut-wrenching starvation death of 7-year-old Chandler Grafner needs to serve as a
wakeup call to all schools, teachers and social service agencies in Colorado.

The public agencies created to protect our most vulnerable citizens failed him; in three
different counties.

In the end, a little boy slowly wasted away of hunger and neglect. He died on May 6 after
being imprisoned in a tiny closet by his guardians.

So, what's the difference? Why is one child's death sanctioned by angels and the other a criminal act? Did the newspaper come out and say they were wrong about covering Dylan's death they way they did? No.

The difference is disability. It's a tragedy when a child without disabilities is denied food and dies at the hand of a parent/guardian; but, it's a sorrowful, yet understandable when a child with a disability parents deny him food and he dies as a result.

Unfortunately, the Denver Post shares its duplicity with the general public.

Here's what ShanBanan wrote after Dylan Walborn's story was in the paper.

God bless your family. This must have been a very hard decision to make. Dylan is at peace
running around with God and other children in heaven. I pray that you continue to have
peace with your decision and that you know how much God loves you all.

Here's what "Stephanie P" wrote online after reading the editorial about Chandler's death:

...How many more horrific, heartbreaking stories like this have to happen before we
commit the resources needed to reduce case worker loads and improve training and
practices? We must never forget this beautiful little boy and MUST act now to prevent this
from happening again...It should be NEVER AGAIN!

Both children were of equal value. Unfortunately, both deaths demonstrate another sickening example how callous and dismissive our society is about equality and even the most basic civil liberties for people with disabilities. Until we figure out how to stop this double standard, we will never be free.


Valerie Brew-Parrish said...

The outrage is overwhelming when a nondisabled child is starved to death and rightfully so. But where is the outrage and condemnation when a defenseless and innocent child like Dylan Walborn who has a disability is starved to death by his family and medical professionsls? What I find even more alarming is the fact that these crimes (and they are crimes) against people with disabilities, for the most part go unnoticed. Had a friend not sent me the information from Colorado about Dylan, I would never have known that another child with a disability had their life snuffed out for the convenience of others. We activists must be more diligent in making these issues known to the public and to others with disabilities. Our very lives may depend on it!

misscripchick said...

it's sad how much this fits in with the katie stuff right now... as a society where are we going?