Recently, the brilliant Neurodivergent K published a blog post about hate, and about how autism “awareness” that abounds this time of year is just a cloak for bigotry. It’s a solid piece of writing that pulls no punches, and make no mistake, I agree with them – there is a solid chunk of the allistic populace that hates us. Yes, yes, #notallNTs, but enough. They may not hate all autistic people, but they hate us – the mouthy ones, the “high functioning,” the ones who preach acceptance and break it to parents that we will not call them allies or give them good-parent cookies solely because they bought some blue light bulbs and give money to a charity that actively calls for our neurotype’s eradication.
NB. I apologize for the delay in this post’s publication. Real life interjected for me in the form of family illnesses.
In my last post on this matter, I had one question remaining in the list of issues that had to be addressed in the imprisonment of Sharisa Joy Kochmeister (because, frankly, it is imprisonment): What causes of action might one bring against county and/or state officials, if any?
This question deserved its own post, because it is a long and complex question. The very short answer, I believe, is that there are indeed actions that lie against Jefferson County and/or her officials if brought by Jan Kochmeister, but not if brought by Sharisa Kochmeister. There may not be any actions that lie against the State of Colorado. All this will be explained, but fair warning, it’s long and complex in itself. I’m sorry to be so wordy, but there are so many factors that have to be taken into account when one gets into nitty-gritty law like this, that leaving anything out seemed slipshod.
A couple of clarifications I feel I have to make here:
- This post is not intended to be legal advice, nor is it intended to create any kind of attorney-client relationship with any reader. If you are in need of legal representation, please contact a competent attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.
- Just because I’m explaining what the law seems to be here doesn’t mean I agree with it. I am trying to explain how it would likely look to a judge, not how it looks in my eyes. So please don’t waste your time and mine commenting on how mean I am. (Yes, I’ve received such comments. Reading comprehension fail much?)
Okay. To the relevant bits.
NB. This is the version of events I have been given as of this writing. If things later prove to have occurred in a materially different way, I will edit this post.
Sharisa Joy Kochmeister is a 36-year old nonverbal autistic activist who uses keyboards to communicate. She is also epileptic and has cerebral palsy (I am unaware of her language preferences; if she prefers different terminology, please let me know and I will fix it). She is a college graduate and has served on several boards, including that of the Colorado Developmental Disabilities Council. She led an active life (until recently), with many friends and a caring guardian in her father. She is a person, with needs and wants and opinions.
In March, she was hospitalized. At one point, she became ill, and her father helped to clear her airway. She, for whatever reason, kicked him, and he pushed her. I have never met Sharisa or her father, but I do know that in moments of extreme stress (such as being in hospital and either being sick or experiencing a loved one being sick) it is very easy to react emotionally, instead of with cold logic. I have never seen any allegations or proof that anything untoward was occurring in their relationship – but more importantly, no one I know who is closer to the family has, either.
Someone at the hospital called the police. Then Jefferson County Human Services.
NB. I wasn’t going to post this on my blog – I was going to maybe try and post it somewhere in an internet magazine, or even see if I could get paid for putting this up. It’s a bit off topic from my usual autism-centric fare. But after today, I said ‘fuck it’. I want this up somewhere where people can read it, especially since I know so many on the spectrum of neurodiversity – not just autism – that deal with chronic pain. And if I’m honest, I need to let all the sorrow in my heart flow out somewhere. So bear with me.
If Newton’s Third Law is true, it means that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. That means somewhere on this planet, or on a flip-flopped Earth somewhere in the multiverse, there is a hospital where the watchword of the staff is dignity. Crazy, isn’t it?
I was going to try and be really highfalutin’ with this post. I was going to ask my roommate the English major about Lacanian theory and semiotics, and explain that. Then I’d make some allusion to the fact that we all perceive words differently, and it can sometimes mess up discourse on a fundamental level. Then I would tie it back to the fact that the word ‘disability’ is routinely interpreted as something hugely dire by the non-disabled, and explain that ‘disability’ is in fact a social construct. Then, to close, I’d make some quasi-profound point about how we could all do a bit better at understanding that we all have different perceptions.
But today is the Disability Day of Mourning, and I’m not going to do that.
NB. Any anti-choice, hateful comments will be deleted, so don’t bother trying.
Since I have been unable to find work as an attorney due to a variety of reasons, most of them monetary, I have been working as a blogger for a company that provides content to law firms. It’s good work, for a good boss. The law is what I love (well, next to macaroni and cheese), and what I’ve devoted my life to, and since I consider myself a writer by inclination, it suits me fine. I generally have no complaints.