PSY345H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Murder, Robert Latimer, Sweatshop

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Published on 18 Apr 2013
Lecture 13: Controversial Issues (Marks)
Deborah Marks
Perspective: disability studies programs
o interdisciplinary (include psychology, sociology, law, anthropology, philosophy)
Psychoanalytic psychological perspective (Freudian) challenges popular culture
Moral Superiority of our Times: “case in point: FREAK SHOWS”
Moral Superiority greater today than in the past
Confident that we do things better than ever before
o “Toronto is one of the best places to live in the world” rated by that by magazines
o Real estate prices soaring b.c. high influx
Why is it the best place?
o Safe people get along w. one another, low racism (one of lowest), sexism, disabledism
o Legislations that guarantee rights ADA, charter, CDA, etc.
Enables us to think we’re the best we can be – not the case
o ppl w. disabilities although live in tolerant society, a lot more can be done
High unemployment rates >90% for dev’t delays
Excluded from society after 21 yrs old (out of school system)
o Marks: we do not have citizenship rights/personhood > every individual is a full member of
society and has equal access to what society has to offer
Case in point: don’t allow freak shows
Freak shows don’t fit norms – unusual > visible & provocative (grotesque usually)
o significant physical deformity (face, dwarfs, giants)
o Used to exist in circuses ppl paid to see them
Have eliminated freak shows inappropriate, inhumane, unfair to take advantage of someone’s “misery”
+ pay to see that > ethically wrong & b/c more morally superior now don’t allow it
Mark’s Comment: we are not more morally superior
At least they were employed
o even if were selling an aspect of themselves that has some commercial market value
o as adults: expected to work & contribute to society >> instead we replaced their employment w.
disability pension lives for free, decreases self esteem, shuns them from society & being like
everyone else + integrated
Have to think about the morality of restricting ppl of doing something that will make them feel good
about themselves because they will be employed like everyone else
Question: have freakshows been discontinued? NO but ppl that participate not w. disabilities
Other freak shows that aren’t disabled seen on TV shows
o hoarders, little ppl big world > no “freakish” physical properties (hunched backs)
o Women that go through breast augmentations to dance for men isn’t that freak show?
Still pay for freak shows & freak shows make a lot of money, but ppl w. disabilities are not allowed to
participate in this … so is what we’re doing today better than the past?
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Lecture 13: Controversial Issues (Marks)
Value of Life: “case in point: Mercy Killing
Human Rights value of life
Human rights legislations don’t protect all minorities in the same way as they protect majorities
Some lives are more worthy than others
o President of US is sick = gets best health care anywhere in the world; Poor Africa living in sub-
Saharan African, if dies no one will know/care
o In Canada we may be better, but if a wealthy family is sick they will pay for private health care in
US instead of being put on a waitlist to get to Canada & if they have doctors in the family find a
way to get better treatment
Robert Latimer: mercy killing
father who murdered his daughter (Tracy)
o Tracy: oxygen deprivation during birth = cerebral palsy
o Murdered when she was 11 or 12 with carbon monoxide (attached to tube from truck)
His justification: she suffered
o couldn’t date, went to school but was on seizure medication, the pain medication was limited,
had many surgeries & was due for more surgeries
Legal system: Supreme Court of Canada 2x debating mercy killing
o Convicted w. Murder 2 (although premeditated)
o Served LITTLE time (would have been 1 year if he expressed remorse, but he didn’t)
o Was due to serve more, but gradually decreased to 10 years on parole
o Low security prison running his farm still & got 2 university degrees
UNJUST system: murdering disabled v. non-disabled
o Premeditated murder of non-disabled person: at least 25 yrs w. no parole
o It was mercy killing understand circumstances CND survey: ¾ agreed w. decision
KEY PROBLEM: he made that decision himself & courts gave him the right to do it
o no legislation: “in such cases have to refer decision to a panel (drs., biochemisits, religious
figures, community members) that debates the case & decides whether such a killing is
warranted & if it is, it is done humanely in a hospital around family”
o THEREFORE: reduced sentence = the right to decide the value of his daughter’s life
o But who is he to decide that? Evidence Tracy was happy (smiled, liked by peers, school)
Mark’s Comment:
Disability (& human rights) groups: no one can determine the value of another person’s life
BUT the legal system is not subscribing to this mercy killing is “understood” if remorse showed
Utilitarian argument: “quality of ppl’s lives is low if they won’t have utility (contributing to society)”,
therefore disabled ppl must have lower qualities of life reflected in human rights
o Social Class & Financial Resources, Mercy Killing
Argument that justifies lives of disabled are less worthy:
1. People can’t image how they would cope if they had severe impairment
2. Impairment is culturally constituted as tragic (tragedy for child & family)
3. Therefore: desire to continue living/raise such a child undergoing tragic circumstances is seen as
incomprehensible {therefore tragedy = moral right to take a life}
= easy to understand Robert felt Tracy’s life wasn’t valuable b/c if we were Tracy we wouldn’t want to
live like that > BUT! we aren’t her – making assumptions that disabled have tragic lives
Can’t make judgements based on assumptions; Pt3. MORAL RIGHT to take someone’s life
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Lecture 13: Controversial Issues (Marks)
Medicine: presents itself as value free but it is not
Medical professions: up on hierarchy of professions (responsible & prestigious to be a dr.)
o See medicine as extension of science use scientific principles to better lives
o “Medical Model”: sick w. pathogen treated w. medication to rid of pathogen
MARKS: when it comes to medicine, it is not value free values imposed on disabilities
Scientific Eradication of Disability (eugenics, amniocentesis)
Technology available, but not possible go Eradicate
o Always have acquired disabilities
aging process (neurological disorders huntington’s, alzheimer’s)
Cancers = disabilities, brain injuries b/c of strokes, aneurysms, brain tumours
Unpreventable accidents
o The fact that technology is available producing a society that looks down on disability
MARKS: snc is promoting the notion that their lives are not worth living > if medicine is prestine & trying
to get rid of disability, the message is NOT VALUE free puts value of a disabled life
Objectifying gaze
Patients: passive, undergo emotional damage, less motivated
o Mind & body are closely related prognosis (healing) is lower
Examples: Drs. treat patients like they are damaged & need repair (little “how are u”)
Plays God
NOT value free decide who will live {whose life is of value}
Beginning of Life: Premature Children
o more premature = more disability risk (AUTISM, PDD, ADD) + health problems + complications
(visual & hearing impairments)
o use technology to replace & go against nature if no technology, the child may die BUT we use
technology to enable child to survive BUT later: child has a lot of disabilities to live with and
will be thrown out of the system & put on disability pensions @ 21
End of Life: Who gets Treatment? What type of treatment?
o Treating cancer @30 diff. than treating it @40
statistically wont life longer, so why extend resources on you?”
Private health care is worse >> decisions made by ppl who run hospitals
o Preserving life? Stroke @ 75-80 yrs/Comas
Kept alive by being connected to a machine/breathing tube
IS THIS RIGHT? What would the person want? The Right of individual to not be seen like that?
o EG. Rodriguez wanted to end life (disability & illness) & asked drs. to do it >> legal reasons can
use technologies for certain reasons, not for others >> not value free
Eugenics (Sterilization)/Amniocentesis
Sterilization won’t prevent disabilities (even if genetic)
o EG. hearing impairments: 200 diff. types of impairments 1/6 ppl have the gene for deafness &
only 1 combo = hearing impaired (10% of deaf kids = deaf parents)
o So what will you do? Kill every 6th person how about other genes? No one will be left
Eugenics has been misinformed used to sterilize ‘undesirable” not only “know for sure”
o Even if you sterilize, you can’t eradicate! >> the same problem w. amniocentesis tell parents if
child has congenital disability & aborting is up to parents
DRS.: “we provide technology, it’s parents decisions & their values
o BUT once provide technology how it will be used who knows (eg. deciding on sex)
Big ethical concern w. all of this especially that at the end of the day medicine is not value free
Medicine as a GATEKEEPER of Public Funds/Values
Gatekeeper of public funds & values “eg medical notes exemptions for academics”
Entrusted medical professionals to make decisions in society
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