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Alex

I'm sure a lot of you have heard the news by now. The mother and godmother of Alex Spourdalakis pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. They were sentenced to four years, and with credit for time served they'll be out in a week.

He was fourteen.

I remember being that age. At fourteen years old, I was obsessing about astronomy and dodging blows from a violent stepfather. I was bringing home duffel bags full of books from the library. I sang a solo in church at Christmas. I wrote to my Congressman and got a hand-written reply. I fought depression by telling myself I needed to grow up to become a physicist, because if I didn't maybe nobody would ever figure out a grand unified theory. For me, life was just starting. There were a lot of hard things, but there were joys, too. I didn't know it then, but I had a future, a decent future full of both hardship and joy. I didn't know what that future would bring, and I was wrong about many things I thought would happen (I didn't become a physicist, for one thing). But at that age, I had a future, and it was worth it.

Alex Spourdalakis was fourteen, and he had no future because it was taken from him. Whatever he could have done, whatever he could have been--it's gone. I can't even find very much about what he was like, as a person; every article I read about him seems to cover only the autism and the way people treated him--the neglect, the restraints, the way he was constantly pummeled with every remedy that could be found. All I know is his age. Fourteen. Too young.

At fourteen, I had a hard life, but it was worth it. Alex had a hard life, too, but I bet it was just as worthwhile as mine was at that age. I bet that, just like me, he would have grown up to have a meaningful life. A future.

But he didn't. Two people who had given in to hate and declared him subhuman, who should have protected him, thought his life wasn't worth living; so they drugged and stabbed him. I hope the drugs kept him from realizing what was happening. The horror of knowing that this is the day your caregiver is finally going to do it, finally going to kill you, is something nobody should ever have to experience, but far too many do.

I know a lot of you are probably really angry, sad, and frightened right now. Maybe you're overwhelmed by emotion; maybe, like me, you're merely dogged by a persistent, quiet sense of wrongness. I wish I could say Alex will be the last, but I can't be that optimistic.

All I can say is this: Whoever you are, disabled or not, no matter how severe your disability is, you are infinitely valuable. You have the right to live. You are an equal, not an inferior. If anybody says that your life isn't worth it, or that you're not worth it, they're wrong. You're a human being, with a whole universe of possibility in your head, and you're the only one like you that there is. The world needs you. I love you, even if I've never met you. I'm here for you. Please don't be discouraged--no matter what the judges think or how many murderers get away with it, your life is valuable and nothing can change that.

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