There’s an excellent journalist (yes, they do exist) called Katherine Quarmby who has been covering stories of disability hate crime since 2007. She wrote the report Getting Away with Murder about the massive injustices involved in the deaths of several disabled people. Now she has expanded this into a book.

Scapegoat: Why We Are Failing Disabled People looks at disabled hate crime in depth. As well as the horrific details of the well known crimes, it studies the roots of society’s hatred towards disabled people. From Greek and Roman times, through the Middle Ages, Georgian and Victorian freak shows, pre-war eugenics and the holocaust, disabled people have been seen as less than human. This legacy still informs public attitudes today and the current portrayal of disabled people as expensive scroungers further dehumanises.

While a small minority are responsible for the attacks, there is a significant group of the populace that facilitate their crimes. They are the people who stand by, accept the bullying of disabled people, and tolerate disablist abuse in the media. Disabled people are expected to tolerate abuse that no other minority has to.

We are told not to be so sensitive and how ‘words never hurt anyone’. It the most literal sense, perhaps not but they do contribute to a society where abuse is acceptable.

I can’t recommend the book highly enough. A real eye-opener.

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