[LMB] Gene cleaning in real life
beatrice_otter at haugensgalleri.com
Fri Nov 10 01:02:59 GMT 2017
On Nov 9, 2017 1:24 PM, Matthew George <matt.msg at gmail.com> wrote:
> Excellent. I'm a strong advocate of eugenics.
> Matt G.
Given that there are, as I type this, people putting a lot of money and research time into trying to find a way to prevent people like me from ever being born, I am a strong advocate AGAINST eugenics. Are there some particular cases where a particular gene has no possible good and lots of bad? Yes. Are there people who explicitly advocate using the same technology to get rid of entire groups of people, whether or not we think are lives are particularly tragic or bad? Absolutely yes. If the technology became commonplace, would parents be pressured to adjust the genetics of their children to make them more socially acceptable? Hell yes.
I am autistic. Autism Speaks is the largest and most prominent autistic advocacy group in the United States. But they are NOTORIOUS for excluding actual autistic people from their policy-making, instead being controlled by a group of parents of autistic children who are incredibly toxic. As in, in 2013 they made a video about autism in which one of their top people said she fantasized about murdering her autistic daughter, WITH THE AUTISTIC DAUGHTER SITTING RIGHT NEXT TO HER, and they were surprised that people objected. Because, to them, autism is a HORRIBLE THING THAT STEALS CHILDREN AND DESTROYS FAMILIES and so OF COURSE any parent of an autistic child would fantasize about killing them. This is why we need research into autism prevention and cure so that no parent will ever have to go through what they do! (Meanwhile, people who actually ARE autistic were appalled because imagine the kind of hell that girl's life is, with a mother who wants her dead and thinks she should be praised for not murdering her yet.) Anyway, all the money that Autism Speaks gives to research these days goes into trying to identify the genes that cause autism so that autistic fetuses can be aborted.
For those of you who don't know much about autism, it's a developmental disorder that causes the brain to develop very differently from "normal." Which causes differences in executive function (i.e. how well our brain puts things together, regulates attention, etc.), sensory perception (we tend to be hypersensitive to some things and hyposensitive to others, but each autistic's set of what bothers us is different), social function (our body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions are different from other peoples', and we aren't terribly good naturally at interpreting the body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions of non-autistic people, causing misunderstandings in both directions), and a few other areas.
In order to "cure" someone's autism, you would have to completely take their brain apart cell by cell and rewire it into a different configuration. And you would have a completely different person when you were done. You would have killed the original person just as surely as a clone brain transplant kills the clone. And most of the world thinks this is a good thing. Most of the world wants us "cured" and cheers on the people trying to do it.
There are bits and pieces of my autism that I would tweak or get rid of if I could, sure. But I would fight to the death any attempt to "cure" all of it, because it would kill me even if my body was still walking around afterwards.
The problem with pro-eugenics arguments is that in my experience they take the simplest examples--Tay Sachs, for example--where a condition causes extreme amounts of harm and nothing that's even neutral, much less good, and where removing that condition would not affect the core of a person at all. And then they say "look at this, isn't it awesome, wouldn't this be good for these poor people suffering from this condition, think of all the OTHER stuff we could fix!" And then they advocate that same "solution" for cases (such as autism, or deafness) where there ARE positives to the condition they want to eradicate, and it WOULD affect the core of who a person is. And THEN they ignore or attack any person who actually HAS that condition when they try to point out the problems.
I'm pretty terrified, actually, because we're starting to get to a point where we can actually put our money where our mouth is ... and our society does not listen to those of us who would be personally affected by it.
By the way, this seems an apropros time to rec my favorite Star Trek fanfic. It's called "Stubborn Mouths: Humans In Translation," and it's by Hannah. http://archiveofourown.org/works/2150601 You may not remember this, but late in DS9 it was revealed that Dr. Bashir had had some neurological differences and that his parents had had him illegally genetically modified to "fix" it. Stubborn Mouths is about what would have happened if the condition was autism, and they were caught before they could go through with it, and Dr. Bashir ended up on DS9 anyway. It's one of the best and most nuanced portrayals of autism I've seen in fiction, pro or fan.
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