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Raising Special Needs Kids Raising Special Needs Kids

Letter Telling Family to Euthanize Autistic Child Ruled Out as a Hate Crime

Letter Telling Family to Euthanize Autistic Child Ruled Out as a Hate Crime

by Jeanne Sager

policeIn a letter that proves that there is pink paper in the depths of hell, a family of a teenager with autism was recently told to euthanize the 13-year-old or move out of their neighborhood. The typed letter that came from an anonymous neighbor of Maxwell Begley's family has gone viral, angering just about anyone who reads it. That includes the cops, who are trying to figure out what to do about the "pissed off mother" who sent the note.

For starters, if and when they find her, they won't be charging her with a hate crime.

It's too bad.

The letter is certainly full of hateful comments about the 13-year-old, from urging the Begleys to donate whatever “non-retarded body parts he possesses" to science to referring to noises the child makes when outside as "noise polluting whaling (sic)." But Durham Regional Police in the Begleys' hometown of Newcastle, Ontario, have reviewed the letter and determined the language doesn't qualify as a hate crime under Canadian statutes.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that the cops have taken the letter in as evidence, and they are trying to do something about it.

Criminal charges could come of this. Thank goodness.

Because a letter like that can't just make us mad. While that's all well and good in terms of increasing awareness of the discrimination and cruelty kids on the autism spectrum (and their families) encounter, Internet outrage isn't worth a whole lot. Throw in $1.50 and you might get a decent cup of coffee.

A letter like this crosses so many lines that it has to get the writer in real trouble, right? Otherwise, what's to keep them from doing it again?

Criminalizing behavior like this is the only sure way to prevent it from being repeated.

Frankly, it's hard to figure out the exact line between freedom of speech and harassing speech, and I'll admit I'm no expert on Canadian laws.

It's OK to hate on your neighbors from the privacy of your own home -- according to one survey, as many as 60 percent of people have admitted they don't get along with the folks next door. But you certainly don't take it beyond personal griping, and especially not in the form of a hate-filled screed about an innocent child.

It would seem to be criminal to have actually sent this letter to the family. This wasn't a letter someone wrote on their own computer, printed, then balled up and threw away. It wasn't even a rather inappropriate blog post.

This was a letter specifically sent to the Begley family. It was meant to hit them at home, on their own turf, where they should be able to feel safe, where Maxwell should be able to feel loved.

At the very least, the letter writer should be forced to do a little community service ... perhaps at a place that serves kids with special needs?

Check out the letter -- do you think criminal charges should be filed?

Would you consider this a hate crime?

Letter to family of autistic child


by on Aug. 21, 2013 at 10:42 AM
Replies (21-30):
Basherte
by Bronze Member on Aug. 22, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Criminal charges should be filed. This should be considered a hate crime.

What other reason would a person have for telling someone that they should kill their own child?

This is ridiculous!

It's wrong to not consider this a hate crime.

CafeMom Tickers
DDDaysh
by Bronze Member on Aug. 22, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Sorry guys, but I disagree.  

It certainly is a hate filled letter, but it's not a hate crime.  

And it probably isn't even a crime at all.  

It's horrific, no doubt about that!  But, how exactly is it even criminal.  People are allowed to be ignorant pieces of poop...  it's not illegal.  

There was no physical assault.  There isn't even a direct threat.  It's only one letter and hasn't been repeated, so it's not even clear that it is harassment.  

At worst, it MIGHT be considered verbal assault, but even that is stretching it because the person it was directed to isn't the person being insulted.  

The person who wrote it is pretty terrible, but there's really no such thing as criminal ignorance.  

DDDaysh
by Bronze Member on Aug. 22, 2013 at 3:38 PM

You could probably get a restraining order, but that's a civil matter, not a criminal one (unless the order is violated).  

It's going to be hard, if not impossible, to make a harassment charge stick on the basis of one letter.  For harassment there generally has to be a pattern of behavior.  

Quoting jjamom:

Harassment, maybe. Not to mention that I would be getting a restraining order against this woman to insure she doesn't hurt my child! She sounds incredibly angry and by suggesting they euthanize this child, calling him an animal, I would not put it past someone like that to do dire harm to him. I would think that letter would be reason enough for a judge to grant a restraining order.


Quoting momtimesx4:
Quoting mandee1503:Of course Canada's laws differ from ours, but if I received this letter I would be going door to door with my child demanding the women fess up. I hope when they find her she is charged with something. Like what?


DDDaysh
by Bronze Member on Aug. 22, 2013 at 3:45 PM

It's not a hate crime because of the definition of "hate crime".  

"Hate crime" doesn't mean that we have somehow criminalized hate.  We haven't.  You're allowed to hate other people to your hearts content, for any ridiculous reason you want, and it's not illegal.  You're even allowed to express that hate in a variety of disgusting, but non-illegal ways.  

"Hate crime" means that a crime was committed and that hatred of a specific group of people was the primary motive behind the crime.  But that "crime" has to be something that is a crime anyway, it's only the motivation behind the crime that classifies it as a "hate crime".  

For example, belonging to the KKK and marching up and down the street crying "We hate Fags and Niggers and want them to all burn in hell" would not be a hate crime.  It would be disgusting, hate filled behavior and morally reprehensible.  However, because it is not criminal, it is not a "hate crime".

Going out on a KKK outing and finding a random gay man or black man on the street, and beating him with baseball bats WOULD be a hate crime because "assault" is a crime and their motivation would have been simply because they hate a particular type of person.  

Quoting Mipsy:

That's ridiculous! How is that not a hate crime?!


momtimesx4
by Member on Aug. 22, 2013 at 8:46 PM

To file charges, there would have to be an actual law broken, not just hurt feelings.  File a restraining order, would need to find the person that actually wrote the letter, prove it was them and find a case law to back up the filing.


kailu1835
by on Aug. 22, 2013 at 8:48 PM
1 mom liked this
There shouldn't be any criminal charges. There were no threats. This is free speech, however nasty the speech is.
kailu1835
by on Aug. 22, 2013 at 8:50 PM
Please enlighten us to which law was broken by sending this letter?

Quoting Basherte:

Criminal charges should be filed. This should be considered a hate crime.

What other reason would a person have for telling someone that they should kill their own child?

This is ridiculous!

It's wrong to not consider this a hate crime.

MamaLauri
by Member on Aug. 22, 2013 at 11:20 PM
1 mom liked this

Under section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1998 it is an offence to send an indecent, offensive or threatening letter, electronic communication or other article to another person. It is punishable with up to six months imprisonment and/or a fine.

It should be reported to the police, in case there is future action against that family or others.

AliKatAK47
by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 9:17 AM
Its not a hate crime. Its harassment, yes, but unless the person actually does something to the child then it is not considered a hate crime.

Surely someone must have asked them to keep their son's voice down before. This still doesn't sound like someone who is just being hateful for no discernible reason. This sounds like someone who was at the end of their rope, and it snapped.
jjamom
by Michele on Aug. 23, 2013 at 10:09 AM
We have two kids in our neighborhood who make uncontrollable noises, one quite loud. One has autism, the other has Tourette's Syndrome. I don't think these parents (or the children) have any control over it. I would never even think to write such a vile letter because of that. There are many options this person has, if it is so annoying to her, that would not be so cruel. I'm sorry, but there is NO justification for sending someone such a cruel, disgusting and heartless letter, IMO. She speaks of this child as an animal, saying he should be euthanized because he will never be more than a nuisance to anyone. That is absolutely infuriating to me as the Mother of a wonderful little boy who happens to have special needs. My very goal as his biggest advocate is to ensure that people see his value and know that he is no less of a person because he has special needs. This type of person is my biggest worry for my son in this world.


Quoting AliKatAK47:

Its not a hate crime. Its harassment, yes, but unless the person actually does something to the child then it is not considered a hate crime.



Surely someone must have asked them to keep their son's voice down before. This still doesn't sound like someone who is just being hateful for no discernible reason. This sounds like someone who was at the end of their rope, and it snapped.

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