[LMB] Gene cleaning in real life, Fifth Season

Raymond Collins rcrcoll6 at gmail.com
Tue Nov 14 09:41:25 GMT 2017

I agree with Beatrice.  We need a rational discussion on what is a highly
charged subject. This is not a simple subject of just eradicating genes. In
some cases it may encompass equating one with Downs syndrome to one with
Taysacks disease or Cerebral Palsey.
    Our culture is now at a crossroad. What was once science fiction is now
reality. Its time step back and (dare I say it?) GROK the significance of
gene engineering.

On Nov 14, 2017 12:47 AM, "Beatrice_Otter" <
beatrice_otter at haugensgalleri.com> wrote:

> On Sun, 12 Nov 2017 10:50:47 -0500, Rachel <anglerfish at gmail.com> wrote:
> >I don't know that I am convinced about the slippery slope argument.

On Nov 13, 2017 12:55 PM, Marc Wilson <marc.wilson at gmx.co.uk> wrote:
> I'm suspicious of "slippery slope" statements in general; they're often
> full of specious non-sequiturs.  For instance, an opponent of equal
> marriage in the UK said he was opposed because it would allow a father
> to marry his son to avoid inheritance tax.  There are so many things
> wrong with that argument...  and others said it would lead to polygamy,
> or people marrying animals or pieces of furniture....

Beatrice Otter wrote:
There are two things that are commonly referred to as the slippery slope
argument.  One is a logical fallacy, the other is not.

The logical fallacy is one you give an example of.  Someone is thinking of
changing something but there is no practical experience of what that change
will look like.  So the people who are against it are free to throw in all
sorts of vaguely similar issues taken to a straw-man extreme, and get
hysterical about how obviously once you change one thing there's nothing
stopping all these other absurd examples!  I've never seen the example you
give, though I have seen people say "it would allow people to marry their
pets!" as the absurd example.

However, there are other types of slippery slope arguments.  The type one
makes when we have EXPERIENCE with a particular topic, and can see quite
clearly what flaws and issues it tends to lead to.  This is a horse of a
different color.  Or, sometimes, where we can see the conversations that
are already happening and point out the logical extension of a new
technology to the conversation as it exists.  Then, we can point out a
slippery slope, but not one based on wild fantasies and strawmen, but
rather on a careful analysis of history and current trends.

Eugenics belongs to the second category.  The ability to edit genes is not
yet here, but we've had prenatal testing for certain genetic defects for a
couple of decades, now, and the eugenics movement was not just around but a
dominant ethical theory for a good eight decades before that.  It led to
great ethical abuses that were, at the time, lauded as good and right and
heroic.  It led to mass incarceration in institutions of people who were
disabled or simply different.  It led to people being sterilized against
their will.  It led to a general disregard for the rights of people with
disabilities.  It supercharged the idea (still strong today) that medical
professionals and caregivers know more about disability than disabled
people do, and that therefore disabled people can be excluded from
conversations about disability, because the authorities know best.  And
people with conditions like Tay Sachs and Huntingtons were not the primary
people included in these earlier eugenics movements.  Instead, it was
autistics and people with Down's syndrome and Deaf people and people with
mental illness and people with physical disabilities.  Given that people
like me are the ones who were imprisoned, sterilized, and denied human
rights by previous eugenics movements, it is not a fallacy or unreasonable
to point out that a) such abuses have happened in the past and b) if we
want to prevent the future equivalents of such abuses, we have to have a
nuanced conversation that includes the voices of disabled people.

Also, it's not a slippery slope argument to look at the people who are
*right now as we speak* searching for a prenatal test that would allow them
to identify and abort fetuses with my condition and say that we need to
have a SERIOUS discussion about the ethics of this and similar research.

I'm not against eliminating things like Tay Sachs and Huntingtons and stuff
like that.  I'm not against getting rid of heart murmurs and stuff like
that.  Heck, if I were going to have a child,  and it were possible to
ensure they didn't inherit my shitty sinuses, my bad hip, my poor eyesight,
and my problems with gas, I'd do it in a heartbeat.  But we absolutely need
to have better (or any!) conversations about where the line is, and people
with disabilities absolutely need to be major voices in that conversation,
and not just shoved off to the side.  And unfortunately, there are few
conversations about this, and in most of them that I know of, we ARE
getting shoved to the side.

Beatrice Otter
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