I recently read an article in the Toronto Star about a man in Japan that entered a care facility, of which he was a former employee, and killed 19 “mentally disabled” people and injured others. The attack is being called Japan’s deadliest mass killing in decades. This man reportedly wrote a letter to Parliament months before the attack explaining exactly what he was going to do and nothing was done to protect the facility or keep him away. As promised in his letter, the man turned himself in 2 hours after the attack. This man believed he was doing the world a favour through his actions.
I bring up this attack because there are still many people around the world that believe people who experience disability do not deserve to live and/or lead miserable lives and therefore their lives are not as valuable. This is simply not true. The lives of people who experience disability are not less than the lives of others. The lives of individuals who intersect in other places such as race and disability, sexual orientation and disability etc. are also not worth less. Ableism tells us that to be anything but “normal” in physical and mental functioning is not a good thing. Yet, many people who experience different physical and mental functioning often find the good in their life because their lives are good. I have found this to be especially true for those who have grown up with whatever it is they experience. I take back calling it “different” because it really is not. i feel that different implies there should be a right way, a “normal” way, and I don’t believe that in all cases.
I can only speak for myself and say that there is nothing wrong with how I function even though it is deemed “different” and “disordered”. My life is valuable regardless of how I fit myself into the world. People need to make more room for me and others who identify with disability or other identities.
Now, this article also plays the mental health card. The typical, “early mental health prevention/treatment would have detected a possible mental illness,” blah blah blah. Maybe he does have one. Maybe he does not. We need to stop looking at mental illness as the reason people commit acts of violence. Statistics repeatedly illustrate otherwise and it will never cease to shock me that people continue to ignore this truth. Even if he is labelled as being mentally ill that is just his experience. We cannot generalize. That is ableism.
A little sidenote: I found it amusing that this man requested that because he believed he was doing a good thing murdering these people, that he be found innocent on the grounds of insanity. So, he feels murdering people who have been potentially labelled as insane (I haven’t found an article that explains what mentally disabled or disabled means) is a positive thing and yet he wants to be labelled insane to escape punishment. He would like to be seen as the people he believes are not worthy? Logic is escaping me.