Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Next Fight, or Last Day

By now, I expect most readers have seen Kristina Chew's post about a new prenatal test for autism or have read about it somewhere else. Joseph commented on Kristina's site that the "next fight" in the struggle for the human rights of autistic people has begun. Other bloggers such as elmindreda have described these times as the Last Day, the final battle for survival, Tarmon Gai'don, Armageddon. We knew that it was coming. Most of us didn't expect it to happen this soon.

This is how genocide begins: not with concentration camps and widely publicized massacres, but slowly, quietly, incrementally, targeting just a few victims here and there. Inexorably, brick by brick, a wall of separation is constructed between those deemed normal and those deemed undesirable, until the propaganda about the latter group's inferiority and subhuman status has become so firmly ingrained in the public consciousness that they can be killed in large numbers without concern or remorse.

I wrote about cowardice in my last post, about the consequences that can flow from just one person's reluctance to get involved. This doesn't apply exclusively to wealthy folks like Bill Gates; anyone's actions can have long-lasting repercussions, for good or evil. Zilari touched on this subject when she wrote about the responsibility of bloggers not to mislead readers. To put it simply, words are power. We touch others' lives every day with our words. There is a moral burden that goes along with this power.

Sometimes I wonder if I have done enough, if I am being too passive in the face of evil, not speaking up as much as I could, letting myself get lazy. Sometimes I wonder if I am trying to do too much, losing my sense of perspective, getting obsessed, burning myself out. How can anyone ever know what the right balance is?

20 years ago, I was a coward. When I learned that babies with Down syndrome were being thrown away like garbage, I said "oh, that's awful," and I did nothing. At that time I was young, had no money or influence, didn't think there was much I could do about it, and didn't think it was my war anyway because there wasn't anyone with Down's in my family. All of those reasons for doing nothing seemed sensible enough, as such reasons go, and obviously it's neither practical nor possible to go on a crusade every time one sees evil in the world. But now I wonder, if I had taken the time to speak out then, before abortion of babies with disabilities had become a routine and socially accepted practice, could my small efforts have made a difference in turning our world away from the path it's on now?

Of course, there is no way of knowing such things, and I'll never be able to answer that question. All I know is that the battle has now been joined on the Last Day.



  • Thanks for this---I have been wanting to post more on this topic (terrifying as it is). The Baylor Med School test is not specificying for "prenatal" autism testing but one can't help but think that that is next.........

    By Blogger Kristina Chew, at 2:34 PM  

  • Right now I don't think they have the technology to take a random person and say that the person is autistic or non-autistic. But I'm sure they want to get there. And parents will be sending in a lot of samples, which will help them improve their technology. They are already selling a prenatal test, which I suspect does not include the autism markers. But there's nothing to stop them from expanding the prenatal test once their identification of autism is more accurate. I think it's important for parents to abstain from using the services of this lab until they can guarantee that prenatal testing is off the table.

    By Blogger Joseph, at 3:05 PM  

  • Let me link my post on Eugenics here.

    By Blogger Joseph, at 12:18 PM  

  • Great Ghu! You are so correct, I thought we had some more time before such tests were being touted.

    By Anonymous Aspie Dad, at 3:55 AM  

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