How Much Is YOUR Child ‘Worth’?

From the Archive: Originally posted 5/20/13

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others. –   Albert Schweitzer

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.  – Thomas Jefferson

In today’s world, compassion and happiness are overshadowed by fiscal concerns.  When we, as a society, begin to place monetary value on human life, it devalues us all.  Two current internationally known cases prove that we are headed down a ‘slippery slope’ of moral decay that is at best terrifying.

I am talking about a public official being re-elected after hideous remarks about children who have disabilities and the lack of outrage shown by ‘officials’ when law enforcement officers brutally killed an unarmed man for not leaving a movie theater.

In the first case, Colin Brewer, was re-elected to a local Council post despite his views on disability.  He was originally forced to resign, but since he won re-election (by four votes) he has continued to spew his venom in public interviews.   According to a recent publication, he seems to favor keeping toilets open over preserving the life of a child who is born with a disability.  His take on the “burden” of disability is not new.  The comments section on an article published in the New York Times about North Dakota’s new law regarding abortion and disability reveals just how prevalent these thoughts are.  What makes the comments even more troubling is when they come from people “who have the positions and power to make life and death decisions.”

The kinds of decisions made by three off-duty law enforcement officers on the night of January 12th in Frederick, Maryland which cost a 26-year-old man his life.  Ethan Saylor went to a movie on a Saturday evening and didn’t come home.  When Ethan refused to leave the theater mall security was asked to intervene.  The security guards were actually non-uniformed law enforcement officers who were moonlighting as retail security.  During the scuffle that ensued, Ethan was placed face down on the floor, his throat was crushed, and he could not breathe.  The coroner ruled it a homicide.

The horrific story continues, four months later, as local officials accept the internal investigation and secret grand jury hearing.  No independent investigation has been completed and politicians throughout the state have failed to use their power to see that justice is served.  Why?  One can only assume that it is because Ethan had Down syndrome and his life is viewed less ‘worthy’ of tax dollars.  After all, Ethan and ‘his kind’ aren’t registered voters for the most part.

Even more unsettling is the lack of action and outrage by the disability advocates and general public.  A small but determined group of people continue to press for an independent investigation and answers to important questions:  Why was Ethan’s throat crushed?  Why did the veteran police officers feel that Ethan was a threat?  What can be done to prevent this from ever happening again?

In both cases, those in power, those who we have elected to represent us, have made it painfully clear that some lives are worth more than others.  The time has come for us as a collective, international community to stand up and say NO MORE!

Those of us who love someone who has a disability must take action.

 “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”     Helen Keller

*To let Maryland officials know that you support an independent investigation into Ethan Saylor’s death, please take a moment to sign this petition.

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