Tuesday, April 8, 2008

It's Time My Children Went Deaf

I've decided my children need to be deaf. Tomorrow I'm going to ruin their hearing forever.

No, I'm not kidding. I'm not sure how I'm going to do it, though. Ice pick to the ear drum? No, too bloody. How about playing Iron Maiden at volume level ten on my stereo system, shoving their tender little ears up to the speakers. No, that won't work. They won't stay still long enough. I know! I'll take them swimming and give them a serious case of swimmer's ear, then pack their ears with ear wax harvested from my own auricular orifices via ear candles. Yeah, that's the ticket. That way it will seem "natural", and I will only be accused of neglecting to take them to the doctor as their ear drums swell and burst.

Are you horrified yet? Has our bombed-out, economically-depressed, Paris Hilton-ized culture not yet ruined your sense of ethics and numbed you beyond gross fear and loathing? No? Is it just because I'm talking about maiming my children?

Ah, but wait! If they were deaf, my little 2 and 3 year old babies would be part of a fantastic subculture of deaf people, able to learn the mysterious ways of sign language, and partake in a rich milieu of disability-turned-sense-of-self with their other deaf friends. Why, they would have an "identity".

You wouldn't think this could happen in the modern world, right? Not if the sensible government of England has its way.

A couple in the United Kingdom wants to have the right to purposely choose an embryo, through in vitro fertilization, which is deaf like them:


That's right. This couple wants to purposely choose an embryo that, like them, will have a genetic profile that indicates it will be deaf. Says the husband (who has the unlikely yet gustatory name of Tomato Lichy): "The core issue is that the government is saying deaf people are not equal to hearing people," he told the BBC via an interpreter. They are "profoundly grateful" to have a deaf child already. Now they want another one.

It's eugenics in reverse.

What bugs me, though, is that Mr. Tomato Lichy is assuming that a hearing child would not be able to be a member of her father's deaf subculture.

I've blogged on this in the past, a little more than a year ago. Now the UK is likely going to pass the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Bill, which, among other things, would make it illegal to purposely choose an embryo with a disability. The tiny minority of deaf people who, like our friend Tomato, actually wish to select a child like them will have an even harder time making their diabolical wish come true. They are calling it discrimination.

Oh, but please don't get me wrong. I know deaf people have a subculture. I can respect that. I even tried to learn American Sign Language once, and I've had friends who were legally deaf, but none of them ever expressed a wish to have children who, like them, would never be able to hear the bus bearing down on them, or the bear leaping at them in the woods, or the latest slaughtering of your favorite elevator music by star wannabes on American Idol (I'm not sure which of these is really the worst way to spend an evening).

Careful, you English Lords. You tread a fine line there regarding how you define "disabled" or "unhealthy". Sure, deafness seems an easy thing to label as disabled, but how "disabled" is disabled? Would having a gene for heart conditions count? Cancer? Irritable bowel? Acid reflux? And just because there's a genetic profile, the body doesn't always pay attention to it. Having a bad gene only increases your chances.

Is my purposeful deafening of my children really any different from dooming a child-to-be to a life of silence, just to satisfy its parents' sense of self? Would that embryo have any more say than my kids would?

Hmm. On second thought, maybe I won't ruin my kids' hearing. I'll wait and let them do it to themselves in their teen years, with whatever future form of iPod ear speakers are being used at that time. They'll just have to wait for that marvelous subculture that Tomato Lichy and his reverse-eugenics friends love so dearly. How heartless and cruel of me not to understand.

And as for Mr. Tomato's next child, I feel sorry for the baby if she isn't deaf, whatever way she comes into the world.

Image taken from HERE.


Maggie said...

Wow. People fascinate me.

(to be honest, I fixated on that name Tomato Lichy a little too much)

Anonymous said...

Are you trying to impress your readers with your sarcasm? Nowher has the moniker 'the lowest form of wit' been more appropriate.

Firstly the deaf world does have a strong identity. It has its own language.

Where you write 'I even once tried to learn ASL' is the standardized and official opening liner of prejudice. Commonly used to: 1. Elicit the reader/ listener's empathy by conferring an unbiased primary viewpoint. 2. Imply knowledge of subject matter before peddling the writer/ speakers fear driven ignorant rhetoric.

You insinuate in your opening lines that Lichy favours Deaf culture over hearing with your offensive jokes about making your children deaf. That's not the point at all. The point is equality. It'd be just as offensive joking about making your children dye their skin black.

Lichy never states that he favors a deaf child over a hearing one. He just wants the right not to kill an embryo. Can you not understand it's a hypothetical argument? You make up Lichys' favoritism in your own head and use it to hammer your point home.

To equate this with eugenics is completely despicable.

However the most offensive part of your post is to say that if Lichy had a hearing baby it would elicit your sympathy because of reverse discrimination. Again you've just made that up. Look in the dictionary under 'Equality'

Anonymous said...

I was searching for some pictures pertaining to deaf people to write about on my blog. I know this is an OLD post of yours, came up while looking for images.

I am severely hard of hearing and I have extensive interactions with the deaf community in several states.

I can see your post in two ways, one extremely sarcastic (as one of your commenters had pointed out) or being utterly funny with a creative sense of humor in a way that kind of relates to the topic.

Yes this is about equality not necessarily just wanting a deaf baby embryo although that is what Mr. Lichy wanted but he also wanted equality just as much as the choice to pick the deaf baby embryo.

I like your article and I like the way you understand the fact the deaf do have a subculture. I can go on and on because of my years of experience but I will make it short.

There are TWO sides to the deaf culture, some are extremely "atheist" to the fact that hearing people can intertwine with the hearing world and there are those deaf people who do not mind. I happen to function so well as a hearing impaired person I tend to jump on the fence a lot and a certain group of deaf people DON'T like this you are either A or B not both.

Unfortunately the deaf, the blind, the mentally challenged, the ones who can't walk are all disabled and inferior to those who do not harbor these aliments and society does not think they are just as good as they are.

Anyway, it all boils down to this: I would agree it is discrimination, how can it not be? What if it were a hearing set of parents who would rather have a deaf baby embryo? What are they going to say then?

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Anonymous said...

I think the only thing that bothers me is the fact people have the ego to think they have a right to pick there childs entire future to be deaf or not is not a choice you have the right to make i say let nature take its course and whatever happens, happens. Also who gives a damn wether somone can hear or not your still human so why try to keep away from others because they are differant in one way. if you do this you are ignorant and need to go away because that is the start of the chain that where wars are created

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