Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Vocabulary Problem: Eugenics and Down Syndrome

Apparently there is a newspaper columnist in the world, whose platform is to advocate vehemently and persistently for people with disabilities in general—and Down syndrome specifically—to die.

Well, apparently this person does not like the word eugenics to be associated with her point of view. She thinks the term eugenics has too many negative connotations. She believes, apparently, that ridding society of a class of people—if you have a “really good reason"—should have a happier sounding title.

And this person KNOWS they have a “really good reason" because they have observed dysfunctional families which include this class of people and it was…. bad….

There were struggles. And hardship.

Clearly this means that…..

ALL families who include this class of person are dysfunctional…. and bad….

So, she can’t help but conclude that…..

This class of people should be eliminated.

It isn’t exactly scientific, or even logical.

Life without disability is also fraught with difficulties and struggles—in fact, there is dignity and valor that cannot be achieved without struggling.

Apparently this authority has never observed that.

Supports for people with disabilities (like access to education, healthcare, employment, and life in the community) greatly reduces hardships for people with disabilities. (I have written about improvements in life with Down syndrome here.)

Support for dysfunctional families often improves that family's functioning.

But our friend has never observed these things either--which means they don't exist, naturally. Also.

Honestly, the first time I heard this person spew their drivel I thought it was a satire.

But no. She is serious.

Or, I should say, Serious (with a capital S.)

I will NOT link to this person, or even name them, because if they get even one blog-visit because of me I will not be able to live with myself. (But I read about her on this website!)

But I do hate to ignore a person in need.

And situations where one group of people deem themselves superior and decide that the folks they deem as “less” should be eliminated is hardly a new event. There must be lots of vocabulary available.

Eugenics according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is defined as “a science that deals with the improvement (as by control of human mating) of hereditary qualities of a race or breed.”

Oh my, that is an UGLY phrase…. With so much BAGGAGE...

Fortunately, bigotry is an OLD problem. I am sure we can come up with something else.

Let’s see, when a ‘superior’ group eliminates others based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or some other difference are there other words used to describe the situation?

Try these: holocaust, pogrom, ethnic cleansing, persecution, genocide, extermination, hate crimes, abuse…. What did Idi Amin call it? What do they call it in Rwanda?

Help yourself to any of those words!

You're welcome.

Photo from here.


rickismom said...

I had been thinking (due to this lady's post) of looking up eugenics" myself.

Barbara said...

Eugenics is tied, related, in some ways, fomented by aethism and strict Darwinism. See "Expelled" the documentary by Ben Stein.