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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

We Already “Put Down” the Disabled!



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Social Darwinism/eugenics is making a comeback. In the UK, a local politician said that disabled children should be “put down” due to the expense of their care, and created a furor! From the This is Cornwall story:

A CORNWAL councillor has apologised but refused to resign after telling a disability charity that all disabled children “should be put down”. Collin Brewer, independent councillor Wadebridge East, made the comments to Disability Cornwall at County Hall when the group had an information stand at an event to allow councillors to meet equalities organisations and understand some of the issues they face. At the event, which took place in October 2011, Mr Brewer approached the stand and was told how the group helps parents of children with special educational needs. He responded by saying: “Disabled children cost the council too much money and should be put down.”

Now, one might be tempted to believe that Councillor Brewer is just an aberration. He’s not. Across the Western world there is much advocacy for permission to “put down” the disabled. 

Take Peter Singer of Princeton, who wrote in Rethinking Life and Death that parents who don’t want a Down child should be able to put the baby down:

Both for the sake of “our children,” then, and our own sake, we may not want a child to start on life’s uncertain voyage if the prospects are clouded. When this can be known at a very early stage of the voyage we may still have a chance to make a fresh start. This means detaching ourselves from the infant who has been born, cutting ourselves free before the ties that have already begun to bind us to our child have become irresistible. Instead of going forward and putting all our efforts into making the best of the situation, we can still say no, and start again from the beginning.

Not only did Singer not resign, but he is at the top of the world’s academic elite because of these views, not in spite of believing that it is perfectly fine to “put down” (some) disabled.

It’s already being done from coast to coast. We dehydrate profound cognitively disabled people to death in all fifty states in the USA–a death that comes slowly over about a two week period, often resulting in tissue cracking and even bleeding.  We dress it up in nice clothes by claiming we are merely withdrawing unwanted medical treatment. But when the “treatment” is basic sustenance, not only are we intentionally causing death, but symbolically, we are saying that the dehydrated person’s life is so unworthy of being lived, we won’t even give them proper food or water. Or to put it another way, we “put down the disabled.”

In Belgium, people with disabilities such as caused by MS are looked to as splendid sources of organs if they ask for euthanasia, giving society a utilitarian stake in, quite literally, “putting down the disabled.”

I could go on and on: Jack Kevorkian has been lionized for committing about 130 assisted suicides (and at least 1 euthanasia). About 70% of his deaths did not involve terminally ill people, but disabled and despairing people. Yet, despite his having “put down the disabled,” he not only became popular, but had a hagiographic biopic made with Al Pacino starring as Kevorkian.

Of course it won awards!  Films that depict a compasssionannnate friend, loved one, or doctor who “puts down the disabled,” usually do. Think Million Dollar Baby.

So, people are outraged that a local politician would advocate putting down the disabled!  I think they should be. But no one should be surprised.  It’s already being done.



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