This Is Not Who We Are
Although he was talking about the mistreatment of terror suspects by the Bush administration, those words are equally applicable to the Judge Rotenberg Center, a Massachusetts institution that routinely uses electric shock on children with developmental disabilities. There have been several administrative and legislative attempts to put an end to this heinous abuse of our society's most vulnerable children, but so far, the place is still in business.
Many bloggers and human rights groups have asked why the State of Massachusetts can't shut down the Judge Rotenberg Center. It's for the same reason, as I see it, why the people of America haven't yet shut down Guantanamo Bay—too much apathy among the voters and too little insistence on demanding accountability from our elected officials. We lack full awareness of our personal power as citizens of a democratic nation to force our government to conduct itself in a decent manner. People talk to each other about such things and say, this is terrible, or that is awful; but then we just sit back and wait for someone else to deal with it.
Ultimately, it is our responsibility as citizens and as human beings to ensure that those who represent us in government will never commit, or allow others to commit, human rights abuses. If you live in Massachusetts, contact your state legislators and ask them if, like Barack Obama and Gov. Deval Patrick, they are ready to turn the page on this shameful era in American history and to take an unequivocal stand against government-sanctioned torture under any circumstances. Ask them if they will firmly commit themselves to enacting legislation to outlaw the use of electric shock and other abusive behavior modification practices.
If the answer is anything other than yes, GET YOUR BUTT TO THE POLLS AND VOTE THEM OUT! There is no excuse for politicians authorizing the torture of children with developmental disabilities. None. Zero. Ever. And there is no excuse for voters being so apathetic as to let them stay in office when they do.
This is not who we are.