Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cultural Catalysts Clash on Social Media Debating the Disposition of Down's Syndrome Children

Richard Dawkins, the acclaimed atheist ethologist from Oxford University stirred up a cyclone of controversy on social media with a Twitter posting on the morality of aborting a Down's Syndrome child in-utero.  When someone commented that she would not know what she would do if she were pregnant with a child having an extra chromosome, Dawkins doubled down on his "progressive position".  Dawkins answering like "Dear Abby (the atheist edition)" wrote: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”  So abortion was not only an option for "The God Delusion" author, Dawkins demands that it is immoral for women to deliver a child afflicted with Down's Syndrome.

Reading Dawkins declarations closely, it is quite revealing of his weltanschauung.  As an atheist, Dawkins does not draw  from any moral compass. So it is not surprising that he liberally latches unto "an individual woman's right to choose. Later referring to a fetus as "it", Dawkins detaches personhood from an unborn child. Dawkins pontificating that the only moral choice is to kill a defective child ought to please both Social Darwinists (survival of the fittest) and the ironically named humanists (the banner which binds British atheists activists).

Two things should trouble the intelligentsia from Dawkins Down's Syndrome declarations. Firstly, Dawkins prefaced the right of women for early abortions, not abortion on demand until childbirth. So it seems at some point personhood is bestowed on an unborn fetus.  Or is abortion just less mentally messy when the victim does not look like an unborn child.  The other aspect which can be inferred from "Abort it and try again" aspires for a utopian perfection in offspring.  Such a callous attitude can easily devolve into getting rid of undesirable elements in society, be it physically deformed, mentally challenged or part of an undesirable group.

Sadly, Dawkins Social Darwinism for Down's Syndrome children seems prevalent in the United Kingdom.  Currently, 92% of pregnant women diagnosed with Down's Syndrome children aborted their unborn children. Moreover, half of all such cases go unreported. There are concerns that if the National Health System (NHS) expands the super accurate Ariosa Harmony testing, this figure will become nearly total, especially if NHS threatens to withhold special care for Down's Syndrome children.

It did not take long for former Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) to respond to Dawkin's dialectic. Palin famously campaigned for Vice President in 2008 with her young son Trig, who has Down's Syndrome. Palin took her seven years of experience being a mother of a Down's Syndrome Child when she reached out to Richard Dawkins via Facebook. 

. Palin's folksy riposte to Dawkins displays a positive sense of humanity that the learned professor lacks.  In addition, Ms. Palin's Facebook posting alludes to her Down's Syndrome child as having a unique kind of absolute beauty.  This echos Governor Palin's peroration when speaking before a Right to Life Conference.

Many will dismiss the message as it came from Sarah Palin, who our "intellectual betters" from academia and the media deemed as dumb "Caribou Barbie". Yet Palin's testimony rings true and advocates valuing the individual  whereas Dawkin's tweets sound abstract and collectivist.

Even though Dawkins may have coined the concept of memes, however Sarah Palin has perfected the social media tactic. Palin dubbed Obamacare IPABs as Death Panels to deftly defending Down's Syndrome children.

So as these cultural catalysts clash on social media, perhaps it can bring us to understand how we approach ourselves and society.  Our we driven by the selfish gene as Dawkins theorized in genetics or can we inculcate altruism? Palin preaches that mothers should be open to Downs Syndrome children, but is that openness a moral imperative?

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