Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Roundup - Two Week Bonus Edition!

I missed last Sunday's roundup as I was frantically finishing my proofs. Soon (February), you will be able to buy my book! Please buy my book (or at least recommend it to your university libraries). You can't buy it yet, though.

Child Murder

I had two published essays last week and associated blog posts. The big one was from CNN on the murder of children with disabilities. In the piece, I talked about the need for victim-centered narratives, rather than focusing on the (very real) challenges of the parents.

 In my post, I summarized the piece and pointed to the end, with the dangerous messaging of Autism Speaks and less reputable (anti-vax) organizations. Autism Speaks really needs to be dethroned as the big Autism group or transformed into a less ableist organization. We can do this by constantly challenging their messaging and calling them out.

My CNN piece has been criticized for linking Jillian McCabe, who was apparently hearing voices and suffering from a broad mental health crisis, to other killers. The criticism is that it demonizes people with mental health issues. I accept this criticism as valid, and yet continue to feel strongly that the first story has to be about the victim and to push back against the media narrative of disability as a burden that justifies violence.

But a second story, to be sure, is that people in mental health crises need a better system in which to get their help they need. Still, reading account after account of these murders makes me wonder how many child murders involving disability or not involve some form of mental health crisis. My general assessment is ... nearly all of them. I'm not an expert and would accept correction, but none of these parents seem mentally sound at the moment of murder. It's only in the cases involving disability, though, that the media and the courts/juries generally invoke the disability as explanatory.

Here's a new case from England in which there's no murder trial for a mother who smothered her three children. We can, of course, tell more than one story at a time, but I am continue to continue my work to promote victim-centered narratives as our first step in any such tragedy as this. And there will be more.

Academia and Disability

I wrote a piece for the Chronicle on college programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In my blog post, I asked every academic to send this article to their administrators and say - we could do this too. I hope at least some wrote in.

The NEH

I got my FOIA documents back from the NEH. I argue that their process for cutting the overseas summer seminars was not a process at all. I was, however, pleased to see that the Medieval Academy formally protested. We need our elite academic organizations to this kind of work, as the NEH clearly won't listen to plebeians like me.

Other Academic Stories

The most read blog post of the last few weeks contained my (somewhat rambling) thoughts on the problem with trying to streamline humanities dissertations to 6 years or less. I argue for the importance of enabling wandering. A friend points out that wandering is a very privileged kind of activity, and I agree. We ALSO need to enable speed and efficiency for those who need and want that. There's a both/and solution here.

I wrote two blogs on medieval myths and imagery that permeate modern discourse. One on the blood libel, another on a "pork-eating crusader" patch for sale with an ISIS hunting kit. I think the kit is aimed at the American right wing. I suspect a lot of those right-wingers believe themselves to be supporters of Israel. I wonder if they know anything about the Jewish origins of anti-pork dietary laws.

Assisted Suicide

As I write about the discourse surrounding child murder, I've been thinking a lot assisted suicide. I offered a little data here on why people kill themselves (fear of loss of autonomy leads). And then a few more thoughts in "Killing Nancy," a 12-year-old girl euthanized by her parents.

Thanks for reading. Next week I'll be writing articles about male feminism, abortion and Down syndrome, and the precarious ABLE act.

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