Monday, September 23, 2013

Issy Stapleton: Not Gone, Thankfully, But Forgotten By Too Many

Many of you have expressed interest in sending cards to Issy or the family. Thank you so much for the effort. Your interest in meeting the needs of my children is overwhelming and inspiring.
PO Box 145 Elberta, MI 49628
                                        From Matt Stapleton, Team Issy's Facebook Page 

It will be three weeks tomorrow since Issy was in the van with her mother, her would-be murderer. I know that's harsh, but that's what Kelli was that day. It seems that the news coverage and far too many people are forgetting that fact.

The latest news story is about Kelli's friends flooding her with letters of support and money for her defense fund.

It's not about Issy. Issy appears almost irrelevant:

Issy Stapleton, who spent four days in a coma-like state, made an incredible recovery, her father, Matt Stapleton, said earlier this month.
She is believed to have suffered brain damage.
The Traverse City Record-Eagle earlier featured the family dealing with the girl's acute autism and violent episodes.
 The story's focus, though, is squarely on Kelli. As is the focus of the latest post on Kelli's blog: the concern from Kelli's supporters isn't about Issy; it's about Kelli.

I am still, three weeks later, reeling. You know that feeling of sick despair that takes hold in your chest and gut and twists? I'm there. And I'm so far on the periphery of this family's horrible situation. I can't even imagine how it's tearing up Issy's family. How scared, devastated, confused Issy must be feeling, the emotions her siblings are grappling with, her dad is dealing with.

This is a nightmare I am sure they all, including Kelli, wish they could wake up from. It's not, though, and how we talk about autistic people is vitally important here. We have a responsibility to Issy, to our children, to our friends on the spectrum, and to ourselves to get this right: to remember who the victim here was. It was not Kelli. She was the perpetrator.
--Kim Wombles

   I can not imagine what it must be like to stand in Issy's shoes right now.  To be at the center of this horrific crime-and yet, not be the focus.  I can't imagine how her siblings are feeling, or her dad.  I can only think that they ALL must be torn in so many different directions.  Yet, all we hear about is Kelli.

  It has only been three short weeks and already Issy has been mostly forgotten. If she was even ever really considered in the first place. Lost in the shuffle of loud voices-debating, arguing..taking sides..forgetting  I fear, that a human being, a young girl-almost lost her life..The arguments (it seems) became more important than Issy herself.

  The rest of the world (not in the autism community) is watching, listening to what is being said. I know that I have found myself gobsmacked at so much of the commentary. Appalled at how much is misunderstood. We have it seems, a long way to go if we want acceptance and inclusion.  That is why it is so very important that we as a community take a stand.  To stop arguing and to put the focus right where it belongs.  On Issy.  She is the victim of this crime.  We can not ever forget that.
                                                                                                                 ~Kathleen Leopold

Thursday, September 19, 2013

F*ck Censorship

Normally, I would let any critical emails pass right by. Honestly, we don't get many, and most of the time, we're more than willing to consider if we've overstepped.

When the attempted murder of Issy Stapleton happened a little over two weeks ago, we considered whether coverage of it here was appropriate. Instead, we covered it on our own blogs. We do not think of the directory as our soap box, so we try to reserve it for reviews or other people's posts. We'd be willing to post people's pieces on the directory, and if you're interested, please email us with the link. Because the directory belongs to all of us, and all views are welcome, as long as your piece isn't promoting hate speech, we'll most likely post it.

Today, Kathleen and I got an email that pissed me off. Big time. I've not been very snarky in a long time, but I had to. I am still raw.

I am also a believer of letting things stand rather than whitewashing them away or deleting them. It's hard to maintain accountability when you delete things willy-nilly.

Because this email is not terribly personal, and is instead, someone telling us what is right and wrong (see my latest post), I am printing it and my response as I sent it out. That way, anyone who wonders why Kelli Stapleton's request for help back in February remains on this site can potentially run across our answer to that question: We don't remove posts unless the writer of the post requests that we do.

Hello. I came across this post by Kelli Stapleton of The Status Woe on your blog:

I don't know if you are aware of this, but she has been arrested and charged with the attempted murder of her 14 year old autistic daughter:

Of course since it is your website, you may post whatever you want. But, REDACTED, I was taken aback that her post(s) remain on your site. Isn't the purpose of your site to provide resources to families with ASD? This isn't exactly a good role model for us. I'm certain that MOST of us are not plotting our child's murder.

I would hope that you would consider removing her post(s). Thanks.


My immediate reaction to your email was not pleasant. After all, who really likes sanctimonious emails trying to tell you what your site should and should not have on it? But then I thought perhaps you really didn't have a clue as to what our reaction was to the Kelli story, given that it is such a large community.

So, here are Kathleen's and my reactions to a story that shook us to the core given my friendship with Kelli and our work to try to help Issy get the treatment she needed.



We're not removing that post. It's going to stay right where it is. She wasn't actively plotting the murder of her daughter in February when she was frantically trying to get help.

And by not whitewashing the past, we'll be those good role models who own their history rather than trying to cover up and pretend something didn't happen or wasn't said.

But not to worry, should any future searchers happen to come across our directory of over a thousand bloggers, many of whom have also written blogs condemning the actions of Kelli this September as well as blogs of support back in February, we'll copy and paste this response to your email so future searchers will know asking us to remove something we posted on behalf of one of the bloggers linked to on our site is a waste of time.

After all, sanctimonious, self-righteous emails do eat up a fair portion of one's day, and I would hate to see anyone else waste precious time that could have been spent wringing her kerchief.



*And if you think your email struck a nerve, read Raw. It did.

Certainly this could be seen as impolitic of me. I don't care. 

Removing that post won't change a damn thing nor alter whether we're good role models or not. If there's one thing for certain, it's that we have a huge diversity of opinions reflected in our bloggers. They run the gamut of reactions and I respect them and their right to have their voices heard and read.

So, impolitic or not, my honest gut reaction to someone telling me what to do regarding this is Bite Me. Big Time. And it's okay if you don't like that reaction. 



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