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Comments on Good Kings Bad Kings

Smawad's picture

While, "Good Kings, Bad Kings" was a great read, it was very hard to wrap my head around some of the incidents that happened, so I am writing this post to express how appalled I was while reading certain parts of the novel. My thoughts are not fully thought out, so I wrote these as a "rant" about certain aspects of the novel that shocked me. 

The amount of negligence witnessed throughout the novel is heartbreaking. It's very hard to wrap my head around some of the incidents mentioned in the novel, and although it's a fictional novel, the fact that this level of negligence exists in reality today, is even harder to grasp. The fact that these children are forced into an institution, instead of in the safety of their comfortable and familiar homes, and then treated in such a negligible, inhumane way is intolerable. The following are a few incidents that stood out the most to me:

"The rooms aren't too cheerful." (218)
"I keep screaming for someone to come get me. I try to push myself out of the shower chair." (241)
"It don't matter how loud you yell for a houseparent most of the time either. Even if all you want is water." (220)

The other thing that stood out to me is the use of physical punishment to "teach" or "raise" disabled children, even outside the institution. For example, I was shocked to read about how Yessenia's tia Nene put her hand on the hot stove top when she stole money from her to "teach her a lesson." Despite that, she highly admires and misses her tia. Similarly, Mia's mom pressed her eye with a spoon, and she was sexually abused by her dad. This was all very hard to grasp, and the saddest part is the fact that this does happen in our societies today. It isn't just a fictional novel.

Lastly, I noticed the fact that institutions, such as ILLC in Good Kings Bad Kings, believe they are doing disabled people and their families a favor just by merely existing. They don't believe they should be held accountable for how much safety and care they offer these children, because "they really believe our society would (not) be able to function if places like ILLC were suddenly no longer available" (261). It is simply not true. Disabled people lack safety, freedom, and comfort in these institutions. Therefore, they are not doing disabled people a "favor" by existing, if anything these institutions are similar to incarcerations.