The Media Demonization of Stephanie Wolf
The case of Stephanie and Samantha Wolf is genuinely tragic.
Stephanie Wolf was a 66 year old fulltime carer for her 29 year old daughter who was paralysed from the neck down.
This past weekend both mother and daughter were discovered dead at their home in Wheathampstead Hertfordshire. It appears that both had died up to six weeks ago. Its presumed that Stephanie Wolf had died in her sleep and that Samantha had starved to death.
If all this is not tragic enough the media are now spinning that Stephanie Wolf is to blame as she had refused help from social services in caring for her daughter.
I have heard several reports via BBC News on this tragedy, all of which have pretty much spun it as “Well this is what happens when you do not accept state help!”
I also heard a debate on BBC radio this morning where the radio host (who is a BBC journalist) seemed to be pushing that maybe its time that people were forced to accept help to avert incidents such as this from happening. In the same debate as I heard a BBC journalist say that people should be forced to accept state help there was a local councillor (who happened to be a Lib Dem) who had visited the Wolf’s home, strangely enough when he was campaigning for re-election. But at least some credit is due for this politician as he pooh-poohed the idea of forcing people into accepting help from government.
From all there’s been in the media it sounds as if no one other then the government cared about Stephanie and Samantha Wolf.
The deaths of Stephanie and Samantha Wolf were discovered due to somebody delivering pizza leaflets who smelt something off and saw that there were flies round the letter box. For many that probably does seem a statement of an uncaring society. I guess many people would be asking why a social worker wasn’t visiting rather then the pizza boy. Personally the fact that many people might ask why a social worker wasn’t visiting is evidence to me of an attitude which has arisen due to the size of the welfare state we have in this country.
I accept that for many the welfare state provides them with food on the table and roof over their head. I would not not denounce anybody for getting as much help as they can get from the government; in fact I would advise anybody with any severe problem to get as much assistance as they can if it will help them cope better with whatever problem is inhibiting them living their life. I might accept the welfare state might do some good in preventing some of the most vulnerable from dying, but at the same time I can not ignore that it is encouraging an attitude which encourages tragedies such as Stephanie and Samantha Wolf to happen.
As a disabled person myself, I have observed that the welfare state has in fact alienated disabled people rather then help to integrate them. I know the logic of giving many severely disabled people assistance will help them live as normal life as possible, but in fact its possibly building a barrier preventing disabled people from living a normal life. I have witnessed a growing attitude towards disabled folk that people in the community surrounding them need not care because there is a social worker or doctor to do that.
I do not know if Stephanie Wolf was prickly towards the local community helping her out, but its more then likely that the local community took no notice because people in the local community who might of known about Stephanie and her daughter Samantha probably thought well its social services job to help.
The point I am attempting to make is that I believe the current size of the welfare state here in Britain is actually putting people off from helping and caring about disabled people in particular. I am only moderately disabled and even in my experience I have often found people unwilling to help me out with the one or two tasks I am unable to do. The usual response I get when asking for help is why do not I have a social worker or a home help? It seems to me that too often the welfare state and the expectation its caused is encouraging people generally not to care about disabled folk or not care about them in a natural way as they would care for somebody they know who is not disabled.
I fear if the welfare state was dismantled tomorrow many disabled people would perish due to the absence of support the welfare state provides. One explanation as to the root problem is that anytime an advocate for the disabled appears in the media its always what the government should be doing not what the community should be doing. I’d never say that any disabled person should refuse help from government but if those advocating for a better life for the disabled are always going to argue government is the solution then government will always be the solution.
Stephanie Wolf is being demonized by the media for thinking government was not the solution for the plight of her and her daughter. This media spin is just perpetuating that the only solution for the severely disabled is the government and the welfare state.