Nov 042012

A bit of contemporary and 20th century history today.  First, a measured analysis from the Guardian back in May of this year on the subject of the British government’s attitude to supporting the disabled.  In particular, these paragraphs (the bold is mine):

Why has the DLA bill grown so dramatically? Neil Coyle, director of policy and campaigns with Disability Rights UK, says the biggest area of growth is down to the ageing population – people who have been granted DLA earlier in life can continue to claim when they pass pension age. Since this is a relatively new benefit, launched in 1992, the number of older people claiming it has ballooned, he says. There has also been a growth in younger claimants. “We have more disabled children surviving, which is a positive thing,” he adds.

“What is disturbing is the suggestion that this is down to fraud and abuse. The DWP’s own estimates put fraud at 0.5%. There isn’t a 30% of abuse of DLA,” he said.

“There has been a rise in verbal abuse of disabled people, which is inflamed by comments like these which suggest that people are on the fiddle, when actually they have a higher cost of living. The language used, and the assumption that there is a large level of fraud and abuse will inflame hostility towards disabled people.”

This morning, then, via a recent Facebook friend, I stumble across this page which leads us on to the following Australian newspaper report (both articles are well worth your time):

PARENTS and carers of the disabled are regularly doctor shopping and going abroad to have their children sterilised illegally, according to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Finally, also via Facebook, and this time last night, my attention was drawn to this awful website.  It describes how in 1939 the Nazis started practising a regular review system for disabled children – later extended to older children and adults – and along the lines of “three strikes and you’re out”: three doctors had to agree that your life wasn’t worth living for the ultimate sanction to be imposed (again, the bold is mine – and please do read the rest of this terrifying article):

A decision on whether to allow the child to live was then made by three medical experts solely on the basis of the questionnaire, without any examination and without reading any medical records.

Each expert placed a + mark in red pencil or – mark in blue pencil under the term “treatment” on a special form. A red plus mark meant a decision to kill the child. A blue minus sign meant a decision against killing. Three plus symbols resulted in a euthanasia warrant being issued and the transfer of the child to a ‘Children’s Specialty Department’ for death by injection or gradual starvation.

The decision had to be unanimous. In cases where the decision was not unanimous the child was kept under observation and another attempt would be made to get a unanimous decision.

And I do ask myself if as Western societies we are currently doing all we can in order not to starve the disabled – whether literally or emotionally – into that terrible submission described historically above.

Yes.  Please think carefully on this one.  I know that comparing latterday political practice with the awful times of Nazi Germany is a dangerous and sometimes highly counter-productive thing to do, but there are – for me, as a diagnosed epileptic and supposed paranoid schizophrenic – too many parallels which we can now draw between then and today.  Too many similarities in process and procedure; too many similarities in discourse and debate.

Meanwhile, the current situation in Australia, which may quite easily be replicated here, is just one unhappy step down a slippery slope of inhumane attitudes which may quite easily become a 21st century legacy to future generations.

A race of human beings which learns to perceive the disabled as weak; the poor as in the way; the ill as irrelevant; and the allegedly beautiful as the only beings with any right to live any more …