An Oshawa Ontario family were shocked when they received a letter from a neighbour telling them that their 13-year-old autistic son was:
a “nuisance” and a “wild animal” and then suggested that the family move or “euthanize” the child.
“I was shaking when I was reading it,” Brenda Millson, Max’s grandmother, told CityNews. “It’s awful words.
You don’t know why somebody would ever do such a thing.”
The stranger wanted to tell Maxwell Begley’s family that no woman would ever love him, no employer would ever hire him, and that he should move into the woods, or be euthanized.
The writer calls Maxwell a “hindrance to everyone,” says he will always be like that and suggests that whatever “non-retarded body parts he possesses” be donated to science.
“Do the right thing and move or euthanize him!!! Either way, we are ALL better off!!!”
The Toronto Star article also reported:
Julie Smith, who lives across from Millson, canvassed the neighbourhood with a friend on Sunday to tell people about the letter. She also wanted to observe people’s body language.
“Everyone seemed rather appalled by it; one lady burst into tears. …
When Smith heard that a television crew was coming Sunday evening, she posted the news on Facebook and asked people to come out to support the family. More than 120 people came, some from as far away as Oshawa. They cheered when Maxwell and his father left the house. Maxwell did “his little happy dance,” Begley says, laughing.
The Durham Police are investigating the incident.
As a father of a teenage son who is autistic, I have experienced the negative attitudes that many people within society have towards people with disabilities.The concept that a person with autism or another disability is “better off dead” is sadly not uncommon.
Legalizing euthanasia threatens the lives of people with disabilities. Negative attitudes affect the person with a disability, causing that person to believe that they are unwanted.
Legalizing euthanasia or assisted suicide sends vulnerable people the message that some lives are not worth living.On August 20 the Durham Police stated that this letter did not represent a hate crime.