Yeah, I know I’ve been using this clip and the “Blazing Saddles” “You, know, morons” clip too often lately, but it is because people proclaiming objectively stupid positions that are being taken seriously is becoming an epidemic, and one that has the potential to do more damage than any virus.
Today’s example: a study published in the journal The Lancet reveals that an experimental drug called vosoritide increases growth in children with the most common form of dwarfism, achondroplasia. Taken early enough and long enough, such children can grow at nearly the same rate as children without the malady. Achondroplasia leads to eventual back pain and breathing difficulty in addition to guaranteeing that its sufferers will look up to jockeys and call Mickey Rooney imitators “Stretch” for their entire lives. Yet the existence of a treatment has sparked opposition among some parts of the “Little Person” community, which insists that being only four feet tall is “a unique trait to be celebrated, not a problem in need of a cure.”
Of course being abnormally short in a world designed for taller human beings is a problem. In fact, the body itself is “designed” to be taller. “We’ve got 12- and 13-year-old girls who now for the first time can do their own feminine hygiene and don’t need to be helped by someone because their arms are longer,” one doctor administering the treatment told the New York Times. Good example, doc. Yet there are parents like Megan Schimmel, who says she attributes “much of her strength, compassion and empathy” to living with the condition. Since she wouldn’t want to change herself (Excess self-esteem alert!), she sees no need to help her 2-year-old achondroplasiac daughter Lily grow tall enough not to be able to play a Munchkin when they remake “The Wizard of Oz.”
Good thinking there, Megan.Here is where I am tempted to use the “Blazing Saddles” clip.
Dr. Simone Watkins and her husband learned that their child had achondroplasia. She and her husband said over the infant: “We love you. You’re perfect. We are so happy you’re here. You’re going to have a great life.” That’s all wonderful, but I presume they would have said the same if he was missing his limbs, was a cyclops, had a tail or scales like a lizard. Now she says of Lachlan, who is two,, “I want him to have the best life possible with less complications and not to be bullied and to fit into society. But also, I don’t want to give him the message that he needs to change.”
The woman is a doctor, and she actually says this. Why did you toilet train him, then, if you didn’t want to send him the message that he needs to change? Would you feel that way if he had a cleft palate, a club foot, or a growth the size of a melon on his head?
The issue immediately evokes a similarly bats “debate” by deaf people over cochlear implants, with some being offended at the suggestion that not being able to hear is a disability to be “fixed.” You know, hearing, not hearing, what’s the difference? Some deaf parents have refused to correct their children’s deafness, even accusing advocates of the treatment as promoting a kind of “genocide” by “wiping out the deaf race.” This is supposedly just a differing point of view that society is supposed to respect. It is not, however a respectable opinion, and neither is the view that because “It’s OK to be short,” it’s also desirable.
The pro- achondroplasia/ anti-vosoritide position isn’t ethical and it isn’t rational. It is a purely emotional reaction that will harm the children whose lives are affected by it. Some alleged ethics debates are not ethics debates at all, but instead are objectively easy calls where the opposition has neither logic nor ethics on its side. As Captain Hook said when he played Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” “On the others hand…there is no other hand!” (He was not afflicted with “hook pride,” fortunately.) The decision to condemn one’s child to being a four foot tall adult when he or she could grow to be five feet is indefensible. By the time a child with achondroplasia is old enough to have a say in the matter, it is too late; crucial inches are gone forever. Such children will be the victims of their parents’ narcissim
There is no ethical defense of that.