Years ago, a colleague of mine told me that I was the least judgmental person she’d ever met. I laughed. Hard. I told her that she really needed to get out more. She said, “No, really. You are.” I secretly took pride in her words.
I have spent a lifetime trying not to judge others. Trying to be open to their perspectives and belief systems no matter how far afield they might be from mine.
But there is a time to judge.
A place that demands that we judge.
This is it.
Last week, I held my breath as I watched the video of Baltimore ravens running back Ray Rice punching his fiancee in the face, then dragging her limp body out of an Atlantic City elevator, kicking her legs into place when they didn’t comply.
I judged him.
I did not vilify him. He did that himself. He is on video punching his fiancée (now wife) then dragging her body out of an elevator. He made himself the villain in his story.
Last week, Minnesota Vikings running back and 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges after allegedly beating his four-year old with a stripped tree branch, resulting in numerous injuries including cuts and bruises to the child’s back, buttocks, ankles, legs and scrotum, along with defensive wounds to the child’s hands.
I judged him.
I did not vilify him. He did that himself. He texted his son’s mother that she would likely be “mad at me about his leg. I got kinda good wit the tail end of the switch.” He made himself the villain in his story.
Last year, Issy Stapleton’s mother tried to kill her.
I judged her.
I did not vilify her. She did that herself. Kelli Stapleton told a judge that when she drove her daughter out to the middle of nowhere in her van and lit two charcoal grills, she did so in an attempt to kill her daughter. She made herself the villain in her story.
Last year, Jude Mirra, then eight years old, died a horrific death at the hands of his own mother.
I judged her.
I did not vilify her. She did that herself. Gigi Jordan took her son to a hotel room where she forced him to ingest a lethal combination of pills. She made herself the villain in her story.
Not judging one another is admirable when we’re talking about race, color, creed, who we love, who we marry, how we choose to identify ourselves. Not judging when men are punching women, parents are beating toddlers, and mothers are killing their autistic children is not admirable. It’s cowardly and it’s dangerous.
I’m judging because if I don’t, I tacitly approve the conditional devaluation of human life. And I’m not willing to do that. I’m not willing to stand by in silence. I am not willing to allow anyone to believe that no matter how difficult my life with my autistic daughter were ever, ever to become, that it would be okay for me to kill her because caring for her is hard. I am also not willing to allow them to believe that it would somehow be understandable if I were to kill her because her life is hard and death would be a better alternative.
Gigi Jordan is said to be pursuing an “altruistic filicide,” defense. While that pithy turn of phrase might make the top ten list of pop psychiatric delusions, it is just that, a delusion. In reality, there is nothing, under any circumstances, altruistic about the murder of a child. Ever.
In a preview of an upcoming interview, Kelli Stapleton says that, “the jail of Benzie County has been a much kinder warden than the jail of autism has been.”
Matt Carey at Left Brain Right Brain wrote brilliantly over the weekend,
One can just bet that many comments will take the form, “no one should kill her child…..but…..”
There is no “but” in this. No one should commit murder. No parent should kill her child. Full stop. Period. “But” does not apply.
Variants of this are “don’t judge her” and “until you walk in her shoes”.
“Judge” means to form an opinion.
For those who write that: the mother tried to kill her daughter. I will form an opinion about this–this is wrong. I don’t have to “walk in her shoes” to say that. Why won’t you form an opinion? Why does her daughter’s disability have anything to do with forming this opinion?
Parenting is difficult. (rewarding as hell, but yeah, difficult.)
Parenting an autistic or otherwise disabled child can be extremely difficult. (Rewarding as hell, but yeah, sometimes extremely difficult.)
Teaching children with disabilities is challenging too. Caring for them in residential schools can also be difficult. If hard becomes justification for murder, we have not only desperately lost our way but given license to anyone who can’t handle it anymore – teachers, caregivers, personal care assistants – to kill our children. Because they’re autistic. And caring for autistic people can be challenging.
That’s where the “but” takes us.
There can be no but.
I am not willing to hold my tongue in the name of ‘understanding’ or civility. I don’t understand and there is nothing civil about murder.
I am judging.