A Response to Global Canada’s 16:9 Documentary “Taking Mercy”

There are a few things that we know to be true, things that must happen in order for us to cling to the routine and interconnectedness of this life. The things that make us human and real to each other, I must recognize some part of myself in you in order to bring you authentically into my experience. I must see the place in the universe you occupy, your value, your contribution and your unique humanness.

Unfortunately the documentary “Taking Mercy” has made many Canadians question this universal truth. So terrifying is the public opinion expressed in this piece, those of us who believe that Inclusion, Social Justice, and Diversity only strengthen, fortify and enhance our community, can (and will) use it as a rallying point in order to work harder and longer together to change peoples minds.

Parents love their children; give of themselves, their organs, fortunes, and too many sleepless nights to count in order to ensure their well being. We know this to be true. There is no qualifier to this truth; it contains no caveat as to the qualities their children must exemplify in order for this love to exist. They only need to be in the world, to be connected to us by blood or by purposeful intention. They need not even be our own children for them to solicit this love; they need only to powerfully occupy an imperative place in the universe.

The 16/9 documentary and live blog discussion Taking Mercy, served as only the latest and perhaps the most deeply cutting assault endured by citizens living with disabilities in Canada.

Suffering is what happens when the powerful and purposeful lives of citizens with disabilities are relegated to trite and hate proliferating comments likening their existence to those of animals, acts of burden, and inaccurate stereotypes.

Where were the voices of citizens living with significant disabilities, or of their families who love them and fight daily for their well being in the documentary and live blog? Would that the moderators only have included more comments from self-advocates and family members who deeply love and cherish their children who also have disabilities. They lengths that self-advocates need to go to in order access and participate in community in a meaningful way would be a story for the ages. It would certainly illustrate the depth and breadth of love and reciprocal relationships at play in the lives of Canadians with disabilities and advocates who see accommodation, and inclusion as better responses to pain, isolation and vulnerability.

Nothing bad can come from opening up a broader public discourse- an additional piece is an excellent idea and would go along way to creating a positive dialogue with the disability community.

A powerful self-advocate once told me that there has to be a safe place between both sides of dissent or neither side will ever venture into the abyss. I’m afraid that in the documentary “Mercy” the entire space was filled with, misinformation, fear, stigma and a sense that people with disabilities are somehow subhuman.

So many of the live-blog comments about pet suffering re-enforces the notion that public opinion is so neatly stacked against citizens with disabilities that we must relegates them to the same quality of life attributes of animals.

Have you any idea how dangerous this makes life for people, who have already been made vulnerable by a medical scarcity paradigm?

This piece of biased documentary reporting was a searing affront to self-advocates who require support with many aspects of daily living, and who live with chronic pain. So damning was the positioning of this piece it, that it actually sought to characterize convicted murderer Robert Latimer as some kind of vigilante hero?

It seems as though Global Canada ought to consider airing a more fulsome piece, something that might feature citizens with disabilities and their families’ position on pain, medical futility, eugenics, and the “slippery slope of mercy”.

It’s a painful reminder of the ongoing history of abuse of citizens with disabilities in this country to see any contextualization of Robert Latimer as an expert.

As a Mother of three, (none of who currently have the label of disabled) I believe firmly that the world I want my children to inherit will be richer, more vibrant and healthful if it includes citizens with all kinds of disabilities.

Furthering the misinformation is the general public’s lack of awareness regarding the advancements made in pain control, and the systemic marginalization of citizens with disabilities. The euthanasia of children with disabilities really is the most horrific and disastrous end point of this marginalization.

With hope for peace and equity and retribution,

Krista J. Flint
Chief Storyteller
Inclusive Humanity