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.