Barry Roux: Pistorius Had A ‘Slow Burn’ Reaction To Living His Life With A Disability
Readers, I have said from very early on that I would not cover the Oscar Pistorius trial until the verdict is revealed. However, today, this has really upset me. Today, in court, during the closing arguments of Oscar Pistorius’ trial, Barry Roux:
said the athlete’s disability meant he could not be expected to respond like an able-bodied person to the fear associated with an intrusion.
He said Pistorius had developed an “exaggerated fight response” over time, because fleeing was not an option.
Pistorius, a double-amputee, spent his whole life “knowing he couldn’t run away,” Mr Roux said.
He referenced a number of experts who testified that Pistorius had what he called a “slow burn reaction” to having lived his life with the disability, which had left him vulnerable and anxious.
He said that culminated in the moment he was startled by a noise and reacted, using the analogy of an abused woman who shoots her husband after years of violence.
I am very upset at the comparison to an abused woman. An abused woman has experienced torture, at the hands of another human being. The pain of that can build up and result in violence. Disability is never, ever easy- but it seems more than a little strange to suggest that after over 20 years, a person who has found fame and fortune because he is disabled could have ‘reacted’ to his lifelong disability by committing such awful actions because he is disabled.
That argument might have made some sense had he become disabled later in life. However, having always lived with his disability, and having been encouraged, by all reports, to accept it and get on with things, the argument just doesn’t make sense. Pistorius hasn’t had an easy life, but his disability has directly brought him so many positives- surely the very opposite of torture?
The defense of ‘slow burn’ reaction upsets me deeply for another reason. In that defense there is a suggestion, however subtle, that his disability can be used as an excuse for his terrible, terrible action.
Readers, disability is never an excuse to commit any crime. But to suggest that Pistorius carried out actions which led to the death of another human being because he is disabled?
As a disabled person, readers, I find that suggestion deeply offensive to the most important part of my identity. I wouldn’t be at all surprised, readers, if other disabled people shared my view.