Sunday, January 13, 2008

For Dave, and for Brent...

Dave over at Chewing The Fat, has been writing about Brent Martin, a young man with a disability who was repeatedly beaten and tortured for the sport of it by three young men who bet each other they couldn't knock him out on the first punch.

When the first punch didn't work, they went on to beat him and hit him 18 times, until he was left dying in a pool of his own blood. Reports say that during the beating, he didn't fight back, that he told his attackers over and over again that they were his friends, that he would buy them a beer.

One of his attackers is quoted as saying, "I'm not going down for a muppet."

Dave wants the world to know Brent's name. He wants us to tell everyone we know that its not o.k.

Its not o.k. that Brent suffered at the hands of these men simply because he was vulnerable and had a disability.

Its not o.k. that we are not in an uproar about this kind of treatment.

Its not o.k. that their sentences to jail could be affected because Brent could somehow be deemed lesser of a person, less worthy than a "normal" person.

Brent mattered. He mattered to those who loved him, including his twin sister. He mattered to those he spoke to on a daily basis and whom he generously gave to.

He mattered.

He mattered to Dave.

He mattered to me.

How dare these kids think that they are better than him, that they could do something so cruel and heartless, and then laugh about it afterward?

Those of us with ties to the world of people with disabilities understand that this goes much further than three kids beating up another kid. It goes so deeply in our own souls that it is hard for us to read the stories about Brent. We understand that this is about a prejudice that few speak of or even know exist, something so deeply embedded in people that they do not even realize their own reactions to people with disabilities, both born and unborn.

Thanks to Dave, Brent will be honoured all over the world this week.

As he should be.

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