Remembering Tracy: Tony Diamanti Speaks Out

[3 November 1997]

by Tony Diamanti

We remember a beautiful little girl's life that was cut short, way too short. Although her death was caused at the hands of her father, I believer her death was also contributed to by an ignorant, and sometimes apathetic society.

Tracy Latimer's death was in the most part, viewed as a mercy killing, rather than a tragic loss of a young girl's life. Tracy was severely disabled and non-speaking, much as I am considered to be by society's standards.

To diminish any human being's self-worth physical or mental disabilities, is a crime in itself. Tracy had the right to develop her own potential, and her own goals. She was given a life. A life that was rightfully hers, and no one had any right to take that life from her.

Her life was taken from her in a barbaric manner. Suffocated by gas fumes. My God! We put our pets to sleep in a more humane way!...And the general public saw this as putting her out of her misery???

In today's society, it seems that growing numbers of people with severe forms of physical disabilities are practically being encouraged to end their lives, as in the case of Tracy Latimer. It seems that anything less than being young and beautiful with that perfect body, means having a dull, unfulfilled life. As for people with severe disabilities, God, put them out of their misery quick. That kind of attitude makes me SICK!

All people with disabilities and others need to raise our voices against this growing trend of apathy towards people with disabilities of any kind. We need to exercise our rights, not only our rights as people with disabilities, but our human rights as well.

We are unique, we are courageous, we can love others for their true selves, and yes, we can even make love with real passion. We do have a specific purpose in this life. We are the example of the human spirit, and how it can soar through physical limitations and boundaries.

We have inner human strength, and spirit that transcends a physical image. Put more simply, we are beautiful people!

Let's remember Tracy. Let's remember her face, her smile, and her spirit.

I will never forget the feeling of sadness as I read of her death, and the picture of a 12 year old girl who was basically murdered.

Tracy, you will always be remembered by us as a beautiful young girl, a great loss to all of us.

Biographical Note on Tony Diamanti

by William McQueen

Since the death of Tracy Latimer, I have been following a Committee which was formed here in Toronto to celebrate her life, and to struggle for full human rights for all people with disabilities.

In the course of following the work of this Committee I have made the acquaintance of Tony Diamanti, a young man who does not speak. He also uses a wheelchair. Tony is a very thoughtful and passionate person who is supporting a vigil to remember the life of Tracy Latimer at Toronto City Hall. Tony can talk to persons by way of a voice synthesizer and the telephone.

Why Do We Care About Tracy Latimer?

by Grant Mitchell, a presenter at the Manitoba Vigil for Tracy Latimer

Others will speak to issues from the perspective of persons with disabilities—Tracy Latimer's perspective; I speak from the perspective of a non-disabled father of a teenager with a disability—Robert Latimer's perspective.

As a parent of a disabled teenager, I need to know that my daughter, already made vulnerable by nature, will not be made even more vulnerable by our laws. The Chartersays we all have equal protection of the law, how else to measure that "equal protection" than by the criminal liability of those who commit the crimes—the offense they are found guilty of and the sentence they receive. That is what deters.

The disability of the victim cannot be a factor in sentencing or conviction. Isn't it just as arguable that if the victim is unable to protect herself that this is an aggravating factor, not a mitigating factor?

It is scary enough to think that we can be snuffed out by some random killer; we all face that risk every day. It is scarier still to think that the person in whom you repose the most trust—your own parents or care-givers—actually pose the greatest risk. Imagine living with that every day.

As a care-giver myself, I say apply no different standard to me, or to Robert Latimer, than the standard applied to any other parent who abuses or indeed kills his child—nothing especially harsh, nothing especially lenient. We seek equality, not revenge.

Does my perception that my daughter is in pain give me a license to kill her? If she were an able-bodied child who had injured her hip in a hockey game, would I have that right? Obviously not.

Is it for parents to assess the quality of life of our children? Do we really know? Research has demonstrated that people who live with disabilities value their lives as highly as the rest of us. It is able bodied care-givers and other observers who devalue those lives. It is most likely that people who suffer from depression or other mental illnesses, rather than the physically or mentally disabled, who would devalue their own lives.

It is not open season on them either! Let's dedicate our energies to improving lives rather than ending those deemed not worthy.

Finally, I thank the media for taking a fresh look at the issues in this case, giving the disabled community a chance to express the other side of Latimer's case and thereby helping the rest of our community to appreciate the real issues that underlie the trial of Robert Latimer.

This is really Canada's commitment to equal rights for disabled citizens that is on trial. We await the verdict with great anticipation.

Biographical Note—Grant Mitchell was legal counsel for the People in Equal Participation intervention in Robert Latimer's first appeal.