Here comes another one out of the rusty and dusty pile of old blog ideas that I’ve been keeping around for way too long, but part of this is kind of timeless.
Back in 2014, when everyone was throwing buckets of icy water on their heads to raise money for ALS research for the Ice Bucket Challenge, a few of those challenges went horribly wrong. We wrote about the guy who got water thrown on his head from a firefighter plane, and I read about some firefighters who got zapped when the ladder they were using to hoist the ice bucket over the college students got a little too close to power. But there was one twisted story that happened at that time that really bothered me.
Some asshole teenagers in Ohio thought they had a good idea for a prank. They decided to trick some kid into participating in the ice bucket challenge, but that’s not what they had in mind. Instead, they dumped a bucket full of urine, cigarette buts and who knows what else on him. The best defense they could come up with was they didn’t know he had autism. Oh really? Let’s take this argument apart piece by piece. So, you would try and trick any old kid into that? You weren’t picking on him at all? And somehow, it would be ok to dump that stuff on someone if they didn’t have autism? What if they didn’t have autism, but had some other disability, would it be ok then? If he didn’t have any disability, what would the defense be? You thought he would find it fun too? Whether or not he had autism, throwing a bucket full of disgusting bodily fluids is assault, and pretty horrible. The kids were sentenced to community service, and one of the kids even said he wanted to work with kids with autism so he could learn more about it. Riiiiight. You really expect the judge to buy that? You don’t think he would take that opportunity to come in contact with more kids he could bully when he was off the clock and not under supervision? I hope he didn’t actually get to do that as part of his community service. Those kids who did that should be as far from vulnerable people as possible.
I will never know, but I am so curious what the lawyers would have come up with as these kids’ defense if the victim was just some kid they liked to bully, and whether it would have been accepted. It seems as soon as you have a disability, all common decency goes straight out the window and anything is acceptable under the umbrella of “I didn’t know!” Really! You would reach between anyone’s legs to pet their dog? You would herd people physically like sheep? You would talk to the people in line around the person you’re talking to and not them just for fun? You would not take the person’s word for anything they say at all? You would ask them how they can possibly be employed? People with disabilities shouldn’t be such an alien concept where all things are acceptable and the excuse they can give is “I didn’t know.”