Thursday, 11 December 2008

INDIA KNIGHT AND THE DOWN'S SYNDROME or Argumentation by Abuse

“Parents of a Down’s child must make painful choices” says Minette
Marrin

“You forgot about love when it comes to Downs Syndrome” says India
Knight

“What Marrin seems unable to grasp is that these things –
time, stress, expense, anxiety, tears – are sacrifices that parents are happy to
make because they love their children. There is no mention of love in the 1,050
words of her column, nor of hope or faith or compassion or even kindness.”

Conversely, there is plenty of compassion but little wisdom in India
Knights account. Sniffing out insults where non exist and hot on revenge, India
ostentatiously avoids all reference to the gist of Minette’s argument.
Obviously, so far as she is concerned, Minette Marrin’s impartial analysis broke
all the codes of social deference. Deference to deficiency, that is. And such
things rankle. As it turns out, it really is far more fruitful to analyse India
Knight as a cultural phenomenon than as an over-astute
respondent.

“The (rather telling) point c) – who would have sex
with these people? – is bizarre. Do we need to concern ourselves with the
question of whether the sexual needs of our unborn child are likely to be met in
adulthood?”

Yes we do! Absolutely! Self-serving love and doting affection are good
for the soul - but what about the afflicted? Quite obviously, India has no
comprehension of her own responsibility as a parent. With medical advances and
social care, the chance for self-expression are incomparably higher than at any
time before, admittedly, but so are the odds against social happiness. Nor does
it make the syndrome enviable. I am impressed by the deep emotion and the cry of
anguish, but no one is condemned to die, nor is anyone talking about euthanasia
or eugenics - we only reserve to ourselves the choice of the right decision.

“Besides, what are we to do with other sexual undesirables –
should we cull the fat? The ugly? What about the old, with their spindly bones,
eating up National Health Service resources and, if Alzheimer’s strikes,
mentally retarded to boot? They just sit, all doddery – not many takers on the
rumpo front. What’s the point of them?”

Harsh words indeed - and this is where the lady is loosing the plot. I
suppose we can forgive the columnist for that most human of sins, argument by
abuse, but it seems unnecessarily harsh on the old and the ugly. What’s more,
the hints could hardly have been plainer. Isn’t a society judged by the way it
treats the old. I have no children of my own, but I did have a mother with
cancer, and a father incapacitated by a stroke, who both died cared for, by
myself, at home. And perhaps it would be best if we looked after them at home,
rather than dispatch them, “all doddery” to the social services in order to make
room for those condemned to live the greater part of their shortened, damaged
lives in considerable mental and physical incapacity.

“I would never deny any woman the right to make an informed choice about her pregnancy. I didn’t know about my daughter’s condition when I was pregnant; it is possible that, had I known, I would have had an abortion. Fear, prejudice and articles that reinforce both would have helped me along. Needless to say, I’m glad I
didn’t have a termination. But that’s not the point.”

But that, precisely, is the point, my dear India. Your kind of
reasoning shows all the signs of misrepresentation by hindsight. Whereas Minette
talks about informed perspectives and the painful complexity of pre-emptive
antenatal choices, you talk about the love of a mother, which is unqualified,
wholly acknowledged and should never be denied. Now, here’s a clueless mother. A
woman who knows everything but herself. It doesn't get any more irrational than
that.

“Abortion is a personal, subjective choice. I question the
wisdom of a columnist passing off her ugly, out-moded opinions as sound advice.”

It stands out rather conspicuously in retrospect, and I don't think I
had noticed it myself until Miss Knight drew my attention to it, but - quite
unlike the abusive India - Minette Marrin acquitted herself rationally, coolly
and concisely. As for being outmoded in her opinions, well, this may indeed be a
factor in the public perception of her reasoned perspective, informed as our
society is by a much more insidious type of cruelty.


“The father of a teenage boy with Down’s told me last
week that he fears Marrin’s view is one that may be shared by the majority of
people…He is wrong, I think…That world has gone, and with it the ugliness Marrin
gave vent to last week. My experience, and that of my correspondents, is real.
We know that life can be tough but that people are fundamentally good and
compassionate….Nobody is embarrassed. Most urban children know at least one
child with a disability…And that is human and tender and complicated and
beautiful.”

So there you have it. Compassionate stereotypes abound. The rise of the
PC welfare society has largely coincided with the spread of a social altruism
that finds the debilitation of their society cause for enthusiastic celebration.
An attitude that fêtes its own mediocrity and initiates the irreversible process
of its own demise. The premonitions are well laid out here. Indeed, there is no
better way to feel like an outcast than to be brilliant or strive for
excellence. As an idealist, you're on your own. While the planet is reeling
under the weight of 7 billion human beings, soon to be twice that number, India
wishes to increase the burden. Leaving aside her giant disregard for the
realities of global demographics, Miss Knight’s ferocious protestation of her
own maternal property rights is but contempt for everyone else's. There is no
notion that the rights of humanity outweigh the rights of the individual. Nor
does anyone question the fact that the duty of humanity is first and foremost
that we should care for the meek and aid the afflicted, and consequently no
provision should exclude their care; but how all this adds to the evolutionary
fitness of the human species is rather less apparent. And I, for one, am
extremely disturbed by the current hysteria of the times, of which this kind of
attitude seems to be a manifestation. This is sheer parody, a case of
high-functioning incapacity, the demented, idiotic perspective of the lobby
extremist who turns people with physical or learning disabilities into icons and
expect the rest of society to cede our freedom of choice to fear and phoney
sensitivities.

Dreamy

11 comments:

Crushed said...

I have to say, I'm on your side on this one.

It is a king of insidious cruelty that wishes a life into existence, knowing that life will hurt.

There is a Down's syndrome lad whose brother brings him to the pub. Nice lad, in so many ways.
But I always think, he MUST still feel, still pick up, that he's being patronised. Looked down on. That everyone else is different. Sometimes he throws real tantums, and I'm sure it must be that pent up frustration of not knowing why it is that he will never be able to interact the way others do. That others do what they want, drink beer, come and go as they please. whereas he will always do as his brother says.

He has a little model mobile phone made of plastic that he puts in front of him when he sits down. I find that quite sad in a way. I guess it helps him fit in. But deep down, he can't be happy.

Bob said...

So, if the everybody has a right to choose, and the parents who don't want to have a child with Downns' syndrom abort it, and the people who do want to have it have it, then the genes of the latter will prevail. So the cold-hearted, rationally calculating people will diminish and the loving, overly emotional people will win. Is that what you want? I guess not. So what do you want? Obligated abortion? I guess not either.

You just want to attract attention to the overly emotional liberal mentality that is celebrating the disabled and weaker ones, I guess. Okay.

Having read boths columns I must agree and notice that India's column reminds me of my ex-girlfriend, and that is not a compliment. Irrational, being led by emotions, indeed valuing emotions over rational arguments, and thinking nothing of bending the truth, because she has a higher moral. Elberry did a good post on this subject by the way.

Selena Dreamy said...

Thank you, Bob and Crushed, for the time and care you have taken over this. So much appreciated.

Am at the Library at the moment - being (temporarily) deprived of my PC - must be brief...

D.

All Shook Up said...

I'm not comfortable with your choice of Downs as a target for your particular type of incisive logic.

Even allowing for their greater numbers due to the trend for later motherhood, they are no more than a natural random occurrence as a percentage of births and therefore blameless in their need for support from society as a whole.

If it weren't for the drain on resources caused by the feckless, workshy, shag-happy Neanderthals who choose a lifestyle that contributes nothing but costs us dear - there would be more than enough money and compassion left over to care for the truly vulnerable.

The same goes for the amount of GDP taken up by providing for the vacuous consumer-celeb culture exemplified by the way the nation is gripped last night's TV extravaganzas.

I don't accept that we are hastening our demise as a species by devoting surplus resources to those genuinely in need or that by doing so we are damaging or limiting the "evolutionary
fitness of the human species"
.

I think that if you seek evidence of "An attitude that fêtes its own mediocrity and initiates the irreversible process of its own demise" you will easily find it elsewhere than among innocently afflicted children and their natural defenders - their mothers.

A Pedant Writes:
Btw, in writing "the lady is loosing the plot" you have inadvertently tripped over one of my betes noirs. I can't remember the last time I saw 'losing' spelled correctly - the internet seems to have made 'loosing' an accepted alternative in rather the same way that 'definately' has taken over from 'definitely' and 'infer' and 'imply' have become interchangeable.

zanna said...

The only people in a position to decide whether or not to abort a child are the parents. If you start imposing restrictions on what women are and are not allowed to do with their bodies, it is the end of a woman’s right to choose.

In the US, where the Supreme Court has chipped away at a woman’s right to choose to the point of absurdity, abortion can become illegal at any moment.

It is not for anyone to decide for anyone else what sort of child or life with a child a parent must choose.

All of these arguments against what Minette says are ridiculous.

mutleythedog said...

Not sure I am with you on this... I know I would love and value a Downs kid, and the future could quickly bring big changes for all kinds of genetic matters.

mutleythedog said...

Happy Xmas Selena! I hope you are showing your artistically waxed bush to rooms full of punters!

percy stilton said...

May your days be merry & bright, Selena.
Peace & Lights
Sir Percy Stilton

Selena Dreamy said...

Thank you, gentlemen for your very kind wishes. So much appreciated. And a Happy New Year to you all…

I believe I've managed to reclaim my PC. I'm eliminating the trace viral constituents now, but I don't expect any more nasty surprises

D.

Selena Dreamy said...

ASU: “Even allowing for their greater numbers due to the trend for later motherhood, they are no more than a natural random occurrence as a percentage of births and therefore blameless in their need for support from society as a whole.”

I don't blame them! The argument was strictly for a pre-emptive freedom of choice, not denial of care.


“I think that if you seek evidence of "An attitude that fêtes its own mediocrity and initiates the irreversible process of its own demise" you will easily find it elsewhere than among innocently afflicted children and their natural defenders - their mothers.”

Yes, increasingly so - everywhere!

Gradually, by degrees, free societies abandon essential freedoms to accommodate the sensitivities of dysfunctional fundamentalists and “biologically correct” philanthropists or other prickly fanatics. It's not just wrong and mistaken - it's fatefully, genetically, disastrous!

Selena Dreamy said...

“A Pedant Writes:
Btw, in writing "the lady is loosing the plot" you have inadvertently tripped over one of my betes noirs. I can't remember the last time I saw 'losing' spelled correctly - the internet seems to have made 'loosing' an accepted alternative in rather the same way that 'definately' has taken over from 'definitely' and 'infer' and 'imply' have become interchangeable.”



Excellent point, ASU - and very interesting how language itself is subject to “genetic” degeneration, and as good a semantic adjunct to the topic of"the evolutionary fitness of the human species" as any.

The plain truth is, that we no longer have a common, or national, gaol like the Queen’s English, but a degeneration of dialects and the increasing proliferation of slangs, instead. Not unlike the continent of Africa, the English language, too, with its grammatical statutes and orthographic order exhorting a march towards a universal lingua is being reclaimed by vegetation: i.e, semantic mannerisms, slangs, dialects and ghetto deviations.

As I have said elsewhere, there is a palpable multicultural bias towards a superior, universal language: played with, regenerated and creatively adapted by those who believe in progress, civilization and refinement. Perhaps the transition from the urbane, understated tones of the Queen’s English, its semantic skill, scientific prose and measured, lucid argument, to a plethora of ghetto-speaks also marks the emergence of a social anti-elite! And the end of historically progressive values! Together with an obsessive display of grievance, no doubt, against the notion of linguistic distinction by a clutch of squabbling Babels whose only area of agreement is deep mutual hatred of anything that carries merit, genetically, semantically, culturally or otherwise.

Dreamy