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

Say What!? 53

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 it's criminal?

Letter to family of autistic child


Images via Frederic Bisson/Flickr; Begley family

crime, autism

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nonmember avatar Gayle Ackerson

This letter is disgusting and very hurtful to those of us with special needs children. I have a son who is autistic and this letter is very sad. Seriously I feel sorry for the author and I am glad she was not my mother. Wonder what she would have done if she had given birth to a child with health issues.

Illustrative Renditions

They should just release the name of the sicko that wrote the letter, they will get crusified by the general public. However, I feel sorry for her kids. She thinks they were scared by an austic child. The hounding press is WAY SCARRIER

Vicki Mathews

Wow. What an ignorant bitch. For one, autistic children aren't retarded. That's why it's called autism spectrum disorder, because no single person diagnosed with this is the same as another. I guess the author of this letter forgot that the child possesses the same rights as every other human being living on the planet. So, the child is loud in public. It's probably their only form of communication and all they know how to do. Mom is probably doing the best she can with this child and wants him/her to experience a good life! Yeah I agree, I think the author of the letter should be exposed and posted all over the internet. Someone needs to educate her. I have an autistic child of my own, and I don't expect her to have "special rights" just because she has special needs. I treat her as I would any other child. My boyfriend is autistic as well. Guess what.....I had NO clue until he told me a few wks. into the relationship. He has a job, a car, and doesn't yell and is perfectly capable of taking care of himself. I could leave a comment and rant and rave about this lady's ignorance and sound angry, but I'm not. I just pray for her and hope she one day will learn the truth about autism.

Susan Hoffmeister Dordoni

This probably doesn't apply, since it's bound by Canadian law, but couldn't it fall under some sort of law prohibiting sending harassing content/hate speech through the (Canadian) postal service? I admit that I know next to nothing about Canadian laws. I'm just throwing the idea out there...

Sandy Tolar Resine

Wow! how can someone be that hurtful and not understanding of an autistic child or anyone with special needs, that's considered harassment and charges should be brought on them for it!!!! We have enough on our plate without people adding to it!!!

Teresa Borbon

people are just ignorant. If they had a child they loved so much with a disability they would not even think that way. Hats off to any families whom have to deal with a child with a disability. Its hard work and takes a lot of patients. Keep doing what you do taking care of your loved ones with love and pride. God Bless all. Btw. I have 2 nephews whom are autistic. love them both. The first time one of them actually grabbed by had at 5 years old melted my heart. God bless him .

Natalie Heaton

This vile person is sick. I have son who as autism and I find it disgusting how some people react to those with special needs. Just the other day I was on the bus with my son and his siblings and he wanted to sit at the back while I stood with the bugggy at the front. He was so happy when I allowed him to sit with his younger sister but because he showed an interest in a young women who was talking on her mobile he was called scary and crazy. I couldn't sit there append take so I pulled her up and told what was the matter with my but I could believe how arrogant some people are.

SRTmo... SRTmom6127

I can't imagine being on the receiving end of a letter like that, how cruel people can be. I hope that the authorities find and punish whomever sent that letter. I do have three children, all of which are "normal" for whatever that word means, but I am offended as a human being that there is another human being that can be so awful. I agree with Sandy that at minimum harassment charges should be filed, but I do believe it is a hate crime!

gmrdance gmrdance

Absolutely criminal. The author admits to "HATE"ing; writes "angryI HATE people like you". The is a targeted hate crime of bullying, intimidation, and harassment, could and will most likely lead to physical action next. The only way to stop this and use it as an example is to be found and charged. I am sure it can be done with the technology today. That letter is a direct threat of TERROR to that poor family. Absolutely criminal and must shared as an example of direct violation of a code of ethics.

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