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May 25, 2006 | Read comments | Post a comment

Are murders by fire and suffocation "national news material"?

Today many autism blogs have declared a day of memorial for Katie McCarron, killed by her mother -- suffocated, according to reports -- for the "crime" of being autistic.

And police have charged an Oregon couple of killing their 19 year old autistic son, Christopher DeGroot, locking him in the apartment last Friday, then setting fire to it.

It almost boggles the mind.

Yes, the killings do. But what I'm talking about is reaction. Public reaction.

(Almost always when I talk about things, I talk about public reaction, as I was doing on my last entry, about the racehorse Barbados's recovery.)

Ask yourself how much news there'd be if two such crimes, racially-motivated, had happened in quick succession?

Ask yourself what kinds of news headlines you'd be seeing on CNN and elsewhere had there been two killings by parents of gay children within weeks of each other?

And then ask yourself about the news you've gotten about these two killings.

There's not much. Local stories, all of them. No national news at all that I was able to find.

Perhaps it's too soon yet to hear reaction -- although had the killings been racially or gay related, you can bet your booties there'd be reaction already. Reaction within hours, in today's fast-moving media world.

When reaction to the autism killings does come in the national media -- if it does come -- it will be surprising if much of it does not take the form of looking into the problems the parents faced in having to deal with an autistic child.

Let me be clear here: This blog entry is not about whether parents of autistic offspring do or do not have adequate "supports." I am not discussing whether or not those charged with murder faced "stress." A case can no doubt be made that anyone who murders is in some way "stressed," right? But the focus generally isn't on supporting the murderer, is it?

I find it curious, to put it mildly, that national news media have not picked up on these stories. Perhaps they can't find any group to condemn the murders of autistic people. Could that be the case? Or are they not trying very hard?

I'm sad to say that I was suprised to see Peoria Journal-Star columnist Phil Luciano's article 'This was not about autism' -- sad that I found it unusual. The headline is a quote from Katie McCarron's grandfather.

It's unusual to find a piece like this, a piece that doesn't say it's "understandable" that the parent "broke"; "snapped"; "couldn't take it any more." For that is the usual way cases like this play out in the media. It is a tribute to Luciano that he did this column. (Update: Actually, as Steve Drake points out in his comment below, what I didn't know when I wrote this sentence was that Luciano himself wrote earlier columns doing the very thing I'm condemning. See my next post about that.)

It is a sign of how far yet we have to go that Luciano, so far, seems to have the field all to himself.

Posted by mjohnson on May 25, 2006 03:33 PM


These realities of out and out Killing/Murder make my stomach ill with sadness and rage. What evil lurks within too many people I fear to ask. The statistics would probably cause all peoples with any imperfection to tremble with fear.

I'd go so far as to say that any person considered "inconvenient" according to others or society as a whole, would and rightly should fear as well.

Just read many different news stories in many different papers, in many different countries and the truth of this evil pervading and even growing should cause any decent human being anger, sadness and action. Perhaps then they will speak out voice by voice until National News Medias begin to realize it is not something that can be hidden forever.

Like yourself, it will be interesting to see if this is picked up by any National News agencies.

Thankfully at least one Columnist, Phil Luciano, had the truth, put to print. For a change, there is a title not swayed by what we usually see.

Yes, we have a long way to go and next time, for sadly enough there will be a next time, perhaps more than one Columnist will join in his intregrity and honor.

The Pen is mightier than the sword. Time to see that reality put to honorable use such as has been done by Phil Luciano.

He and the Grandfather have insight that needs exposing. This is a start in the right direction.

God bless the Grandfather and Phil Luciano.


Posted by: Denise on May 26, 2006 02:21 AM

Don't be too quick to bestow thanks and congratulations on Phil Luciano. Prior to publishing the piece that consisted mainly of the grandfather's statements, Luciano was the *main* voice leading the sympathy party for the mother. No doubt that is exactly why the grandfather called Luciano.

And he didn't apologize for *any* of it - just put the grandfather's statements out without comment our endorsement.

Read his earlier columns before bestowing kudos.

Posted by: Stephen Drake on May 26, 2006 08:42 AM

I know exactly why it isn't getting national attention.

Autism Speaks, who put out that godawful video, is owned by NBC.

No way is NBC going to TOUCH this, because they essentially CAUSED it. So just sweep it under the rug like the Wrights and Allison Tepper Singer (woman in the green sweater who wants to kill her daughter) want...it's just a regular run of the mill local story, right?

But man, a beauty queen 5 year old gets killed and the media is all over it for a decade. Something is wrong here.


Posted by: Kassiane on June 1, 2006 12:00 AM

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