Ableism in London, Ontario - Municipal Election Candidate Jeremy McCall's Sign Defaced with Hate Speech

Young man stands behind old man in a wheelchair. "Stop Ableism" text. Keyword: Jeremy McCall

*Trigger warning for disturbing imagery, ableism and ableist slurs, vandalism, death of disabled people*

This is such a sad, infuriating story.

Jeremy McCall's Sign Defaced with Ableist Slurs

Municipal elections are happening in October in Ontario, the province in which I live. Candidates have their signs up everywhere, including front lawns (with owner permission.) How unfortunate that in the city of London, last Saturday night, some individual(s) felt the need to deface candidate Jeremy McCall's sign with ableist slurs, including:

  •  "broken"
  • "Jimmy McTard"
  • "autismaloid"
I've never heard the second two terms, and couldn't find any reference to them beyond this news story except for a definition in the Urban Dictionary indicating that "autismo" is a derogatory term for an autistic person; there was no definition for "autismaloid" or "Jimmy McTard" 

As I write this, no one knows exactly why the sign was defaced in this manner. According to the Global News article, Jeremy McCall's community work has brought him in frequent contact with the disabled community, and he expressed concern for families with autistic children living in the area around the defaced sign. He tweeted on Sep 18, "Autism isn't a slur, it's a superpower," and encouraged people to, as he did, respond to the situation by donating to Autism Ontario.

Why It's Important to Address This - For Jeremy McCall, and for Everyone

It's easy to dismiss this incident as individuals acting out of extreme ignorance, but we need to remember why I put trigger warnings on this post. These slurs are hate speech, and ableism is just as toxic and potentially dangerous as racism, sexism, or any other -ism you want to name.  I don't have autism, but the suggestion that, as a disabled person, I'm "broken" cuts right to my core. My brain might function a little bit differently than most people's, but there's nothing broken about me, and I'd wouldn't dream of suggesting to an autistic person (or any other sort of neurodiverse person) that they're "broken." 

In 2022 to date (Sep 21), 22 disabled people around the world have been murdered by their families or caregivers, as reported by the Disability Day of Mourning website. This website doesn't report suspicious deaths in hospitals, group homes, or institutions.

There's still a perception out there that disabled people are implicitly "less" than non-disabled people - less capable, less worthy, less deserving of a wide variety of things. People who believed these things slapped that label on Jeremy McCall's campaign sign, hoping that seeing it there would make people question his suitability for office and hopefully not vote for him. That's insidious enough, but it's frightening to contemplate the cumulative effect of people making statements like these, where a slash drawn across somebody's throat on his campaign sign graphic could indicate a belief that disability makes someone less deserving of basic decency, or perhaps even the right to exist.  That's why we need to treat vandalism like this as hate speech and make sure that the people responsible are charged.  

Mr. McCall, I'm sorry that this happened to your sign, and I hope they find the people responsible. 

Readers, if you have any information about who may have done this, please  contact London police at 519-661-5670 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).