Tuesday 29 December 2015

Richard Dawkins is plain wrong about Downs Syndrome

I noticed this article in the Guardian - http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jun/09/is-richard-dawkins-destroying-his-reputation - In it there is the following quote from Mr Dawkins.

As far as I am concerned, this marks Mr Dawkins out as a Nazi. His comment attributes on value to the life of people with Downs syndrome, which as someone who has a muched loved cousin my age with Downs syndrome, I recognise as a truly horrible way of thinking. In the 1930's the Nazi's believed in Eugenics, selection of what they believed to be the strongest members of the human race, to create a master race. The first victims of the Nazis were the disabled, who were heartlessly culled.

I speak as someone who has a much loved cousing my age with Downs syndrome. Would the world be a bettter place if Theresa had been aborted as a foetus? To me the concept is horrible. This blog has featured many guest blogs by John Sullivan, a fearless campaigner for disabled rights, who has a daughter called Susan with Downs syndrome. Should Susan have been aborted? Then where do we stop?

Abortion in the UK is deemed a matter of choice for the pregnant woman. When making such a choice, whether for social, economic or health reasons, the repercussions can be life changing. It is up to the person who has to make the decision to live with the consequences, whatever they may be. It is right and proper for a proespective parent of a Downs child to be presented with all the facts. If they chose to have a child, they need to be aware of the lifelong responsibility that they are taking on and need to be sure they can cope. I do however think it is a fundamental feature of our society that when we have someone who has a disability, we as a soceity, we have the humanity to support them and give them a chance to flourish. Through my association with my cousin and volunteering as a helper with various charities, I've got to know dozens of people with Downs syndrome. As with many conditions, there is a spectrum within the condition and those at the high end can read, write and hold down jobs. One person I've got to know and become a good friend with is Downs syndrome actress Jo Eastwood, who has appeared in blockbuster films such as Hellboy and TV series such as Eastenders. The first time my then 14 year old daughter met her, she assumed she was a volunteer. I cannot envisage how a world without Jo and her friends would be a better place. I respect the choice of anyone who, in their heart cannot cope with the commitment of a Downs child and opts for an abortion, but to brand caring parents who take a different path as "immoral" people, is to me the sign of a man lacking in humanity and compassion.

The article talks about Dawkins great admiration for Charles Darwen. Darwen is credited with describing the process of evolution of species and presumably, as a Zoologist, Dawkins sees the weak and disabled as somehow less fit for purpose, therefore less entitled to a right to live. I do wonder where he draws the line and when. Just exactlty when does it not become immoral to abort a foetus. I have a learning difficulty in the form of dyslexia. Would that have been sufficient? What about Stevie Wonder, who is blind? what about Stephen Hawking who suffers from muscular dystrophy? What about Angelina Jolie who has a defective gene which makes her prone to cancer. The article quotes a tweet from Dawkins on the subject of religion.

How dare you force your dopey unsubstantiated superstitions on innocent children too young to resist? How DARE you?\
 What worries me most is that as a promenant spokesperson for Atheism, Dawkins has extended his remit to include some pretty unpleasant and uninclusive views. I worry that those who are convinced by his arguments on religion and theology may be tempted to buy wholesale into his whole package of views. I am all for vigorous discussions regarding ideas of morality, ethics and religious views. We should not be afraid of speaking out when we year someone saying something we think is plain wrong. I for one would not hold back from criticising someone letting a child die for want of a blood transfusion for religious reasons. To me that is a dangerous practice. I see what Dawkins is saying in an equally harsh light.  Lets take a scenario where a mother finds out that she has a Downs syndrome child and has a partner who uses the views of Dawkins to persuade her to have an abortions.Just suppose that woman does not feel comfortable with the choice but the spousal pressure persuades her. Just imagine if in later life, she encounters a Downs role model such as Jo Eastwood? Imagine how she would feel about her own decision and about her partner? If Dawkins had drawn attention to the difficulties a parent may face, that is one thing. To question the morality of such a choice is to me a totally different matter. The article mentions that Dawkins is alienating some of his friends with such strident statements. As far as I am concerned, Dawkins statement on Downs syndrome has little to do with his arguments regarding Atheism. I would hope that people can see that Dawkins arguments on religion are a different matter to his views on Downs. What is interesting is that Dawkins chooses morality as a standpoint for attacking Downs parents. Surely the only time you can question the morality of such a decision is when someone makes such a decision without regard to conscience. It strikes me that Dawkins contribution is likely to make people feel bad about themselves and difficult life decisions. To me that is immorality in its worst inclination.

1 comment:

John Sullivan said...

Scum thinking low life like Dawkins no nothing of children or adults with Downs a Syndrome, and I take offence to this excuse for a human being referring to my wife and myself as immoral.

My wife and I have 52 years experience at the coal face of dealing with our a Downs Syndrome daughter and many of her peers, making us far more competent to comment on the tremendous contribution people with Downs Syndrome contribute to society. Which I hasten to add is the total,opposite of the hate being generated by this low life Dawkins.

He speaks of morality, I wonder if he has the moral backbone to meet with myself my wife and our sons, and tell us to our faces how immoral we are, and condemn us for not having put our daughter down like an injured dog or cat.

Nazism still lurches within our society, the treatment of the disabled by Cameron and his ministers, along with Barnet councillors many of them who are of the Jewish faith and should know better, proves that beyond any reasonable doubt, yet another example of the abused becoming the abusers.

Dawkin should be ignored, and I am disgusted that The a Guardian has afforded his vile comments, any level,of credibility, making me think perhaps there are a few Nazis at left leaning Guardian as well as at every member of the British right wing press.