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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 (41-43):
Basherte
by Bronze Member on Aug. 25, 2013 at 5:29 AM

It's civil.

contempt of court is a civil matter as well, yet it can land you in jail.

Quoting kailu1835:

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.



CafeMom Tickers
kailu1835
by on Aug. 25, 2013 at 1:48 PM
Then exactly why did you say that this person needs to have criminal charges against them. You can't even support your own statement. Not to mention there is still the minor issue of it NOT BEING HARASSMENT. In order to qualify it must be persistent. Not a single incident.

Quoting Basherte:

It's civil.

contempt of court is a civil matter as well, yet it can land you in jail.

Quoting kailu1835:

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.



jjamom
by Michele on Aug. 25, 2013 at 2:54 PM
Our Priest brought this letter up today during his homily. He read parts of it aloud (with a lot of "blanks"). I have read it over a few times and it has angered me so much, but somehow hearing Father Mike read it and talk about it in the context of today's homily was very emotional to me on another level. I had tears flowing down my cheeks, which I was quickly trying to wipe away so no one would see. There was just something about knowing that our Parish Priest was as deeply disturbed by the letter as I was that was comforting to me. His homily was about the value of all people, regardless of how little they may earn or have, whether they are valedictorian or at the bottom of their class, whether they have disabilities, etc, that they are all valued the same in the eyes of God. Very emotional Mass for me today!
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