Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

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 (31-40):
DDDaysh
by Bronze Member on Aug. 23, 2013 at 10:20 AM

 That is interesting.  I'm not very familiar with exactly how things work with the whole "Brittish Empire" thing...  Is Canada bound by the laws of the UK? 

Quoting MamaLauri:

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.

 

DDDaysh
by Bronze Member on Aug. 23, 2013 at 10:22 AM
1 mom liked this

 I agree with you that it was extremely cruel to send the letter.  There is no moral justification for it that I can find. 

Quoting jjamom:

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.

 

AliKatAK47
by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 10:23 AM
No one just wakes up one day and says "Hey I think I'm going to tell the people down the street to euthanize their kid today". Its a buildup.

Day one: The kid's constant wailing keeps you from taking a well deserved nap.

Day two: The child scares your child

Day 3: The child's wailing causes dogs to bark, causing more of an annoyance.

You see where this is going. Then by the end of the month you're tired, your kids are scared to play outside (especially if its a next door neighbor situation) and you are just pissed off. The kid is still outside wailing only this time its a change of pitch or something that sends you over the edge. Yes this was a hatefully worded letter but to me it is more in a pissed off tone than a hateful one.


Quoting jjamom:

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.

jjamom
by Michele on Aug. 23, 2013 at 10:40 AM
OR... this person is one of those people who simply HATES people with special needs and views them as less than human and therefore a nuisance and a burden to society, as a person who needs to go off and live in the woods (amongst other animals) or better yet, kill them and use them for parts. These were after all, her suggestions. These people do exist. When I read the letter I feel this person's hate, not merely frustration. If I were this parent, I would fear for my child and my family's safety, especially since this person is such a coward to not be brave enough to reveal herself.

What would you suggest this Mother do? Not allow her child to see the light of day in his own neighborhood, shut him in and deny him the right to be outside and in society?


Quoting AliKatAK47:

No one just wakes up one day and says "Hey I think I'm going to tell the people down the street to euthanize their kid today". Its a buildup.



Day one: The kid's constant wailing keeps you from taking a well deserved nap.



Day two: The child scares your child



Day 3: The child's wailing causes dogs to bark, causing more of an annoyance.



You see where this is going. Then by the end of the month you're tired, your kids are scared to play outside (especially if its a next door neighbor situation) and you are just pissed off. The kid is still outside wailing only this time its a change of pitch or something that sends you over the edge. Yes this was a hatefully worded letter but to me it is more in a pissed off tone than a hateful one.





Quoting jjamom:

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.


lasombrs
by Member on Aug. 23, 2013 at 10:44 AM
I wish we had the wording of the Canadian law for hate crimes. I am to lazy to google. I am surprised it does not count as such. The letter was not posted publicly (free speech in that case imo) and they stumbled across it. It was sent to their home with the intent to harm. So sad
AliKatAK47
by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 10:54 AM
I didn't suggest that. But merely leaving him outside to scream and wail and annoy the neighbors with no supervision probably isn't a good idea either.

I live near a special needs boy (he lives in the house behind me) and he can be a pest. He is always left outside with his brothers and sisters and always sticking his hand through my gate and they always send him into my yard to retrieve things. While over here he always steals something of my kids'. Every day I tell him not to this and I have talked to the parents who give the usual brush off. I've informed them that next time he enters my yard and takes something I will treat him like any other trespasser. If he enters and I send the dog like I would towards any other theif then I would be labled as a bad person and it would be all over the news that I siced a dog on a special needs kid. It would be labled a hate crime. There are always 2 sides to the story and I can see both sides but I am thinking this is not the 1st complaint this family has gotten.


Quoting jjamom:

OR... this person is one of those people who simply HATES people with special needs and views them as less than human and therefore a nuisance and a burden to society, as a person who needs to go off and live in the woods (amongst other animals) or better yet, kill them and use them for parts. These were after all, her suggestions. These people do exist. When I read the letter I feel this person's hate, not merely frustration. If I were this parent, I would fear for my child and my family's safety, especially since this person is such a coward to not be brave enough to reveal herself.



What would you suggest this Mother do? Not allow her child to see the light of day in his own neighborhood, shut him in and deny him the right to be outside and in society?




Quoting AliKatAK47:

No one just wakes up one day and says "Hey I think I'm going to tell the people down the street to euthanize their kid today". Its a buildup.





Day one: The kid's constant wailing keeps you from taking a well deserved nap.





Day two: The child scares your child





Day 3: The child's wailing causes dogs to bark, causing more of an annoyance.





You see where this is going. Then by the end of the month you're tired, your kids are scared to play outside (especially if its a next door neighbor situation) and you are just pissed off. The kid is still outside wailing only this time its a change of pitch or something that sends you over the edge. Yes this was a hatefully worded letter but to me it is more in a pissed off tone than a hateful one.








Quoting jjamom:

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.


kailu1835
by on Aug. 23, 2013 at 1:15 PM
ROFL

Nice try mama, but that's a law in the UK, not in Canada. The UK doesn't have freedom of speech, Canada does, though to a lesser extent than us. Their hate speech laws only applies to things that is likely to expose certain protected groups to hatred. This letter doesn't qualify as it wasn't a public letter. It would never have been made public if not for the parents who decided to make it so.

EDITED because I forgot this happened in Canada, not here.


Quoting MamaLauri:

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.

Basherte
by Bronze Member on Aug. 24, 2013 at 1:44 PM

It's harrassment

Quoting kailu1835:

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.


CafeMom Tickers
grammabird
by New Member on Aug. 24, 2013 at 2:04 PM

I bet when that Mom finds out who it is, and takes matters in her own hands ,that will be a hate crime!


kailu1835
by on Aug. 24, 2013 at 5:47 PM
One letter doesn't constitute harassment, and even if it did, harassment is not a criminal offense.

Quoting Basherte:

It's harrassment

Quoting kailu1835:

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.


Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)