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Thursday, January 28, 2010

And so this is SOTU

For a moment, I actually forgot Chris Matthews was white.

And I’m looking forward to the new musical adaptation of Avatar, opening at the Kennedy Center next month!  With Barack Obama as Jake Sully and Sally Quinn as Neytiri.  Also featuring Michelle Obama as Dr. Grace Augustine, Fred Hiatt as Tsu’tey, Peggy Noonan as Moat and David Broder as Eytukan.  That should settle the question of whether the narrative is “racist” once and for all.

Posted by Michael on 01/28 at 01:52 PM
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Equilateral triangulation

I’m glad to see that President Obama has taken this blog’s advice, and will use tonight’s State of the Union address to begin walking back his controversial and polarizing arranged-gay-marriage, full-employment, single-payer, DOJ-stacking, Cheney-prosecuting, war-ending, cramdown-enforcing, bank-nationalizing, gun-confiscating agenda.  But I don’t see why liberal bloggers are flipping out about this.

Look, people, the proposed “budget freeze” is not a “freeze.” It’s more of a “chilly wind” or a simple “breeze,” like a “fudget breeze.” It’s not as if Obama gave us all a pony, and then there came a killing frost.  The “fudget breeze” will not affect most of your favorite federal programs, such as defense, Medicare, foreign aid, Homeland Security, weapons development, Medicaid, the Pentagon, fruitbat subsidies, Social Security, stuff having to do with veterans’ services, and the Department of Blowing Shit Up.  Furthermore, there’s no real chance that Obama will be able to clamp down on agribusiness supports, and the White House is saying that education won’t take much of a hit either.  So let’s not worry too much about reallocations within the remaining 2.8 percent of the federal budget, OK?  It may turn out that the only thing affected by the fudget breeze is that infamous $3 million overhead projector, originally earmarked for one of Obama’s cronies on the South Side of Chicago.

Instead, let’s try to come up with some constructive criticism.  To that end, I have three suggestions for tonight’s STFU SOTU that will, I think, (a) enhance Obama’s savvy political appeal to Cokie Roberts, Congressional Republicans, and David Broder, (b) piss off liberals, and (c) not do any real damage anyway, except perhaps insofar as they adopt conservative talking points and further delegitimate the project of social democracy:

School Uniforms.  School uniforms are not only an important device for preserving civility and order in our schools; they also saved Bill Clinton’s presidency and elevated Dick Morris to the ranks of the Most Brilliant Presidential Advisors Ever.  By promoting school uniforms in his very first State of the Union address, President Obama can convey a sense of urgency and gravitas on one of the issues voters care most about; but by secretly promoting school uniforms that are actually tear-aways, he can simultaneously let progressives know that he remains committed to our agenda of letting unruly adolescents do whatever the hell they want.

Enterprise Zones. America’s inner cities are shackled by excessive regulation.  To unleash economic growth and create jobs, President Obama needs to expand tax breaks for businesses and cut back on pesky planning regulations while allowing America’s entrepreneurs to offer new employees a “training wage” that will be exempt from America’s notoriously burdensome “minimum wage” legislation.  On the sly, however, Michelle Obama will continue to serve free food to the urban poor owners of color televisions and cellular telephones, so don’t worry, it’s all good.

Compromise on Abortion.  To win back the critical William Saletan/ Amy Sullivan vote, President Obama needs to assure the American people that he thinks abortion is very, very icky.  Clinton’s famous mantra—that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare”—remains a winning formula, although Obama may need to find a new way to frame the profound ickiness of abortion, and the even more profound ickiness of women who purchase health insurance that covers abortion, while secretly recommitting himself to the “have one, get one free” policy that has long been the cornerstone of the liberal social agenda.

It will be a delicate balancing act: Obama will need to accept the Beltway verdict on the recent election of Senate Majority Leader Brown and pander to some of conservatives’ social-agenda obsessions while his advisors use cryptic hand gestures to signal to liberals that he’s not really accepting the Beltway verdict on the recent election of Senate Majority Leader Brown and pandering to some of conservatives’ social-agenda obsessions.  Can he pull it off?  This sanguine blog has not yet given up hope:  yes he can.

Posted by Michael on 01/27 at 08:31 AM
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Jets At War

All right, am I crazy to think the Jets actually have a chance against the Monsters of the Midwest?  I mean, against their actual “starters” over “four quarters.” Because here’s what I saw last weekend: on Saturday, the Colts seemed to smoosh a hapless, punchless Ravens team 20-3.  But wait!  One of those Colts touchdowns was actually a gift from the officiating crew, who decided to call two phantom penalties on the Ravens secondary on the Colts’ final drive of the first half, and then decided to pretend that the Colts’ penultimate play of the half lasted only two seconds.  (And you thought that time-warpy thing could only happen in the Big House!) OK, so really we’re talking 13-3 or 16-3.  And then in the second half, there was the Ed Reed factor.  Merciful Moloch, that young man is talented.  Unfortunately, at some point this year someone told him that the NFL had converted to Australian Rules, and now he thinks that after he intercepts a pass he has to dribble the ball once every ten yards.  Anyway, the game could have been a nailbiter if a few breaks had gone the other way, is what I’m saying.  And the Colts appear to have zero running game, zero.  I hear their quarterback is well-regarded, but then again, the Jets’ pass defense does not suck.  So I’m gonna say Jets 16-7.  I don’t know why—it just sounds nice.

The NFC Championship poses a serious problem for my eventual Super Bowl pick, since neither team has a manly jersey.  The Vikings’ cute purple has only gotten more festive in recent years, and the Saints, of course, sport the deadly fleur-de-lis.  But who cares?  Here’s to a Saints-Jets Super Bowl, surely a sign of the Apocalypse and a harbinger of the incoming Palin Administration.

Oh, right, and here’s Frank Caliendo talking about Jet Favre.

In other news, The Left At War manages to get almost everything right in a way that’s almost totally wrong, and even picks up a brief discussion in Newsweek—in the context of a review of The Hurt Locker, of all things.  Actually I think I agree with Seth Colter Walls’ argument that the actual content of recent Iraq films has been stripped of any serious political, you know, content.  As for Paul Anderson’s review of the book, well, I suppose it’s nice to be mostly right in a largely wrong kind of way, but when someone says “he under-eggs the case for getting rid of Saddam which was—yes, really—a lot stronger than he claims,” I have to say that a parenthetical “yes, really” doesn’t really make the case.  If you think the prowar case was stronger than I let on, go ahead and make it!  I was kind of hoping to have that argument, after all.

So, to recap: Jets over Colts 16-7, Saints over Vikings ... um ... let’s say 59-28 to be safe.  And don’t forget to go out and buy a copy of The Left At War, because it’s selling like hotcakes lutefisk and it’s fun for the whole family.

Posted by Michael on 01/24 at 06:43 AM
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Friday, January 22, 2010

In praise of humility

Scott Brown’s election this past Tuesday offers the Democratic Party a new hope.  A new hope for a politics of modesty in place of the politics of arrogance; a new hope for a politics of cooperation in place of the politics of demonization.  Democrats might not realize it now, but they have before them a historic opportunity to seize the day and regain the trust of the American people for at least a generation.  By turning their backs once and for all on the scorched-earth approach of the party’s liberal wing, Democrats can consolidate their legitimate gains while cutting loose their least reliable partners.  They have the ability; all they need is the will.

The problem—if there is one—is that time is tight, and the party will need to move on several fronts at once.  What follows is not an exhaustive list, but rather a series of first steps Democrats will need to take if they are to remain a meaningful majority party.

Scaling back the gay agenda

The voters of Massachusetts know only too well the damage wrought by the Obama Administration’s relentless pursuit of radical GLBTQ policies.  Tuesday’s exit polls revealed that 77 percent of voters were “opposed” or “strongly opposed” to the Obama Administration’s promotion of arranged gay marriages in which prospective partners were “chosen” (or, more accurately, assigned) by a lottery conducted by each state’s Secretary of State.  Opposition to Obama’s “Queering Coupledom” initiative rose to over 90 percent when voters were informed that the program allowed state officials to dissolve existing heterosexual marriages and re-assign husbands and wives to state-sanctioned same-sex couples.

The lesson is clear.  From the moment he chose Harvey Fierstein to deliver the invocation at his inauguration to the week he conducted a special White House “webinar” on Michael Warner’s The Trouble with Normal, Barack Obama has put straight America on notice that he considers the United States to be a Queer Nation.  It is only fitting that the electoral rebuke to Obama’s insistence on the “fierce urgency of queering America now” came in the form of a virile heterosexual Republican who looks pretty darn good with his shirt off.

Full employment and empty arms

Nothing says “socialist maniac” like a full-employment policy, and Obama’s is no exception.  When the markets bottomed out last March, Obama could have taken the opportunity to restore confidence in the world’s financial system and to keep faith with America’s hardworking bank executives and hedge fund managers.  Instead, Obama declared war on the very people he needed to cultivate as allies, announcing the creation of a “Ten Million Good Jobs” program to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure—freeways, tunnels, bridges, high-speed rail, and, most controversially, low-income housing.  Coupled with Obama’s decision to nationalize the banking system and freeze the assets of global financial services firms Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, the “Ten Million Good Jobs” program sounded to many ordinary Americans like a homegrown version of China’s Great Leap Forward, complete with sham production quotas and widespread famine.  It was not long before Obama Administration’s obsessive drive to reduce the unemployment rate to zero met with significant pushback from voters who understand that freedom isn’t free.  Additionally, Democrats did themselves no favors by ridiculing the GOP’s “alternative budget” last spring, even though the budget clearly promised lower taxes, reforms to Medicare and Medicaid, universal access to affordable health coverage, and limits on federal spending.  Americans may not understand all the details of the federal budget process, but they know rude behavior when they see it, and they know they didn’t send their elected representatives to Washington to get their jollies by mocking their opponents’ proposals for economic recovery.

℞ for health care reform

No issue enrages the Democrats’ far-left base more than health care, and nothing reveals the Obama Administration’s craven capitulation to that base more readily than its take-no-prisoners approach to the issue.  From the outset, when the President himself declared that he would “brush off” skeptics of his plan and would not “suffer fools gladly” in negotiations, the Obama Administration has charged into this sensitive political arena with all the subtlety of the Tazmanian Devil.  Congressional leaders were left out of the loop, as White House advisors told them “we’re not making the mistakes of 1993 again—we’re just going to ram this thing through whether you like it or not.” Give me single-payer or give me death was the rallying cry, and no one should have been surprised when, last August, many voters heard that slogan as a coded call for “death panels” that would oversee a brutal, heartless regime of healthcare rationing for the elderly and disabled.  Fortunately, widely respected healthcare experts such as Betsy McCaughey and Megan McArdle exposed Obama’s Eurosocialistcare for what it was, and the Tea Party Patriots™ were born.  In less than a year after the first national Tea Party™ rally, Scott Brown, Tea Party Patriot™ in good standing, was elected to the Senate.  The symbolism couldn’t be any more evocative: Brown’s election not only renews the original Tea Party revolt in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, it also allows ordinary taxpaying Americans to dance on Ted Kennedy’s grave.

Historians will long wonder what might have happened—and what real social progress might have been achieved—if only Obama had sought a moderate, bipartisan solution to America’s healthcare crisis.

Executive power and its discontents

Prudent constitutionalists have been taken aback by Obama’s slash-and-burn attitude toward federal appointees.  Ordinarily, this would be a wonky, inside-baseball consideration, but Obama’s excesses have registered even with Joe and Judy Six-Pack.  The appointment of Maulana Ron Karenga as Secretary of Education was a warning sign, followed swiftly by “Operation Blackout,” the Obama Administration’s plan to stack the federal judiciary with ACORN-approved attorneys and underqualified campaign workers whose only interview question was “what is it about Barack Obama that makes you want to serve him?” As longtime Democratic pollster and advisor Patrick Caddell acknowledged in August, Obama’s bench-packing amounted to “a gross violation of the idea of an independent judiciary and a responsible executive branch.”

The politics of vengeance

Obama’s vendetta against the Bush Administration achieved at least one of its goals: it destroyed what little was left of comity and civility in Washington.  Announcing, in only the first week of his Presidency, that he would “not rest until Dick Cheney hangs in The Hague,” Obama proceeded to embark on a program of vilification and vituperation more suited to a banana republic than to the world’s only superpower.  “Dick Cheney was precisely the wrong target for Obama,” notes veteran Democratic advisor Lanny Davis.  “Americans don’t see him as their enemy.  Americans see him as a kind of crazy old Uncle Fester—but an Uncle Fester who kept them safe.” Obama’s determination to “root out torture,” “bring John Yoo to justice,” and “get to the bottom of those fishy Gitmo suicides” alienated independent voters across the country, who understand intuitively why the Bush Administration had to take aggressive measures to stop terrorism after inheriting the tragedy of September 11, 2000.  “Let’s not bicker and argue about who tortured who,” wrote Democratic advisor Dan Gerstein last April.  “We need to look forward, not backward.” But the White House would hear none of it, and now it reaps the whirlwind.

Clearly, the Democrats have a great deal of rebuilding to do.  The loss in Massachusetts should serve as a wake-up call to the wing of the Democratic Party that wants the federal government to overreach, overspend, and overprosecute.  Let’s hope that this time, there’s someone in the White House ready and willing to answer the phone.

x-posted

Posted by Michael on 01/22 at 10:59 AM
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reasonably accommodating

While we’re talking about intellectual disabilities and cures mitigation reasonable accommodation on this humble blog, I thought I’d share with you an excerpt from an email Jamie received late last week.  It’s official!  Jamie has had his first job interview, and he’s gotten his first job:

Dear Jamie,

Congratulations on doing a good job when we met with three of the staff members in the mailroom this morning! To review, here is what was discussed:

~ You were offered a part-time job in the mailroom.

~ The job involves sorting mail and packages for students who live in the East Halls dorm complex.

~ Your hours will be 12:15 - 2:15 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.

~ Your job will start on Tuesday, January 26 and will continue through the end of Penn State’s spring semester 2010 when Penn State students are in session.

~ The exact ending date of this job will be determined closer to the end of the semester, but it could end on Friday, April 30 or on Friday, May 7.

So what this means, logistically, is that on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Jamie will be shuttled from his high school over to Penn State after lunch.  He’ll miss a few classes, yes, but since his junior and senior years of high school are supposed to help him “transition” from school to work, this arrangement is actually part of the curriculum.  (Many thanks to the transition team at State College Area HS and Penn State.)

Wish him good luck!  He’s very excited about this, as you might imagine.  And since it’s a paying job, he’ll have his mind on his money and his money on his mind.  What should he do with his first paycheck?  I think he should take his parents out to dinner, don’t you?

Speaking of transitions: you may recall from the World-Transforming Jamie News post that State College also has a high school/ college transition program that allows people with intellectual disabilities to take appropriate courses at Penn State.  Well, guess what?  The 2008 revisions to the Higher Education Act actually include a whole bunch of brand new sections devoted to enhancing the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in higher education.  (Here’s a precis in .pdf.)

I’ve been looking around lately, and I haven’t seen anyone discussing this anywhere.  So I decided to write a little thing about it, the way I do sometimes.  It appeared in last week’s Times Higher Education Supplement (UK), and it’s available now in a nearby intertube.  Spread the word, if you’re so inclined.

Posted by Michael on 01/19 at 09:47 AM
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mighty Moloch, cure me of my severe allergy to the discourse of the “cure”

A friend alerts me to this recent item in Lisa Belkin’s NYT “Motherlode” blog:

Should Down Syndrome Be Cured?

The guest post here on Friday—about the birth of Cash Van Rowe during a blizzard, and the jolting news that he had Down syndrome—led many of you to leave comments for his parents, assuring them that the road ahead was a journey they would cherish.

But what if Cash’s Down syndrome could be cured—or, more precisely, be mitigated?

News out of Stanford University late last year hinted that this might one day be possible. Researchers from its medical school and the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital explored why children born with Down syndrome do not start life developmentally delayed but rather fall behind as they get older. By using mice that were genetically engineered to mimic Down syndrome, they found that neural memory deficits prevent such children from collecting learned experiences, and that they could improve memory and cognition by medically boosting norepinephrine signaling in the brain.

The study (which was published in the November issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine) and the accompanying announcement by Stanford hinted at an eventual cure. “If you intervene early enough, you will be able to help kids with Down syndrome to collect and modulate information,” said Ahmad Salehi, a neurologist and the primary author of the study. “Theoretically, that could lead to an improvement in cognitive functions in these kids.”

There are already drugs on the market that boost norepinephrine signaling. They are used to treat depression and A.D.H.D., and Salehi expressed the hope that his findings would soon lead to trials of such drugs on babies with Down syndrome.

Good news, right? Not necessarily. The announcement of a potential breakthrough (which, it should be noted, is still mostly theoretical and well in the future) has led to some soul-searching among parents of children with Down syndrome who wonder how much the presence of an extra chromosome makes their children who they are.

On the Web site Contrarian, Jenn Power, a Canadian mother of twin boys with Down syndrome (and the daughter-in-law of the Web site’s author), is described as greeting the news with tears. Explaining her reaction, she wrote:

As you know, I have many years of history supporting people with intellectual disabilities. Through my connections with these remarkable people, both personal and professional, I have become more and more convinced of the fundamental human dignity present in each person, the vital importance of diversity among the human race, and the particular and irreplaceable role that folks with intellectual disabilities play in creating a more humane, compassionate, and hospitable society. It is clear to me that, as a society, we need what people with intellectual disabilities have to offer.

Before we welcomed Josh and Jacob into our family, I might have had a much easier time responding to this particular piece of research. But as a mother of two little boys with Down syndrome, boys whose identity, personality, appearance, is linked to that extra chromosome, my ability to rationally argue my point is seriously compromised. I find it hard to read this article without hearing a judgment on the value of my children, children who have transformed my life and the lives of many others—for the better—with the help of an extra chromosome.

In the debate surrounding disability, there is an assumption that we all agree on a definition of what is good, what is better, what is the ideal. Who decided that smarter is better? Who decided that independence takes precedence over community? Who decided that both the individual and the society are better off without Down syndrome? I would assert that something important is lost as our genetic diversity diminishes.

I would also assert that people with disabilities may not themselves choose to be ‘cured.’ The bioethicist and disability activist Gregor Wolbring, who happens to have no legs as a result of the effects of thalidomide, asserts that, if given the choice, he would want to remain ‘disabled.’ He feels it gives him an evolutionary advantage, even as it allows him to weed out the ‘jerks’ who treat him differently as a result of his disability. He poses the compelling question: ‘What exactly is the problem? Is the problem that I have no legs, or is the problem that I live in a leg-dominated society?’ Similarly, what exactly is the problem with Down syndrome? Is the problem that my boys have a low I.Q., or that they live in an I.Q.-dominated society?

I believe that our lives are lived not only for ourselves but for others. My experience with people with intellectual disabilities is that their lives enrich the lives of others, and of the world around them, in significant and irreplaceable ways. I see this everyday in the school where my boys are in Grade Primary. I see how their presence brings out compassion, kindness, even tenderness, in the older kids at the school. How much money do we pour into anti-bullying strategies? Why do we not see the important ways that kids with disabilities help to reduce bullying in schools?

In the end, for me, this all comes back to people. Josh, Jacob, Mary, Cathy, Kate, Janet … these people have Down syndrome. These people are my family, my friends, my teachers. Without the benefit of that extra chromosome, they would not be who they are. Their intellectual ‘impairment’ gives them an insight and an emotional intelligence and maturity that I can only aspire to. They do not need a needle in their brain to make them more functional, to help them find their car keys. What they need is a society that values what they have to offer. I would like to think that I can be a part of creating that society.

The Powers asked Salehi for his thoughts, and he did not disagree. He wrote:

The goal of our research is not to change the personality of a person with Down syndrome but rather to help them lead more independent lives.

There are many aspects of people with Down syndrome that we should consider a blessing. Their positive interactions with others, their cheerfulness and affection, and their nonjudgmental attitude are just a few examples. The question whether all people with Down syndrome need some kind of treatment is entirely personal and completely depends on the individual situation. Nevertheless, not every child with Down syndrome is as lucky as Jenn’s children. There are many places in the world that may not look at Down syndrome the way that Jenn does. For these children, finding a way to even partially restore cognition or preventing further deterioration in their learning and memory would be extremely important and helpful in their very competitive societies.

On the one hand, parents of children with disabilities are emotionally well served to find a silver lining in that disability. It makes it easier to get through the day if you focus on what life has given TO your child, rather than what has been taken away. On the other hand, optimism is not merely denial. It is based on an intimate familiarity with a condition and a firsthand knowledge of what life looks like from inside the disability, looking out.

If there were a cure for your child that would fundamentally change who he is, would you welcome it?

And then come dozens of epic-fail comments, in which the overwhelming majority of Ms. Belkin’s readers insist that parents who are skeptical of “curing” Down syndrome are selfish, irresponsible, deluded, and even colonialist.  Colonialist!  That’s a new one.

Look, before we go any further here, let me start by saying that the title of my post is supposed to be every bit as provocative and misleading as the title of Ms. Belkin’s. I am not against cures for things. As I have pointed out many times in disability-studies debates, the discourse of the “cure” is most controversial with regard to Deaf culture, partly because of the long history of “oralism” (which involved more than a century of trying to stamp out sign language) and partly because there are myriad social contexts (you’re reading one now!) in which it is no disability at all to be deaf.  But even in the most cure-averse precincts of disability studies, there is no Polio Restoration Society, no Smallpox Appreciation League.  And hey, even though I am very, very, very skeptical that there could ever be a cure for Alzheimer’s, would I be happy if we discovered the magic Alzheimer’s-B-Gon mineral on the planet Pandora?  You betcha!  I would even be in favor of mining for it.  As I’ve detailed many times in this venue, Jamie has a phenomenal memory, and he collects learned experiences better than many nondisabled people I know.  I can’t really bear the thought of him living through the experience of having that wonderful faculty eroded gradually and inexorably, to his complete and utter confusion.

But there are two important points being elided totally ignored here.  The first is that we need to understand that disability cannot be collapsed into disease, and disease is not synonymous with disability.  Some diseases are disabling, yes; others are potentially disabling (diabetes, Graves, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) but can be palliated or controlled with medication.  And most disabilities have no disease etiologies whatsoever.  Applying the cure/disease model to those disabilities is a category error, and fundamentally mucks up our thinking about how to accommodate disability in society as best we can.

When I’m in one of my black-humor moods, the kind into which I was plunged last night upon reading that comment thread, I tend to say, “the reason all the T-shirts say ‘RACE FOR THE CURE’ is that ‘RACE FOR THE REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION’ doesn’t fit neatly on one side of the shirt.” By which I mean, of course, that the discourse of the cure is everywhere, and the discourse of reasonable accommodation, so far as I can see, is understood only by those people who already know something about disability, disability law, ramps, kneeling buses, in-class paraprofessionals, and job coaches. It’s almost like a kind of sign language, spoken only by those who are already disability-literate.

So yes, some things should be cured, and their cure would be an unambiguous species-wide good.  Tay-Sachs disease, for example.  Alzheimer’s.  Perhaps Parkinson’s and Huntington’s, too.  But Down syndrome and deafness aren’t anything like these.  So when I see people saying (and this is a comment recommended, at last count, by 60 readers!),

Are babies who are born with cleft palates fundamentally who they are so we should not use surgery to fix them? Are babies born with a genetic disorders such as celiac disease, Tay-Sachs or Sickle-cell be lft to suffer because to do anything would compromise “who they are?” This is ridiculous. If there’s something you can do to help your children get along better in the world you do it. Anything else is about you and is fundamentally selfish.

I have to say, are you seriously comparing Down syndrome to fatal conditions? Have you the faintest idea what in the world you’re talking about?  Sure, you should do things to help your children get along better in the world.  Janet and I do those things too.  That’s why we watch what Jamie eats, and try to make sure he stays active in swimming and basketball and tang soo do (and lately, 45-minute workouts at the gym with his father).  That’s why Janet downloads all kinds of music onto his iPod and talks to him about the differences between rock and folk and punk and soul and blues.  That’s why we buy him all the art books he asks for, from Leonardo to Edward Hopper.  That’s why we hire a tutor for an hour per week to help him with his second-year French homework, because even though he’s mastered the verb endings for the past participles of regular verbs in the passé composé (é for -er verbs, i for -ir verbs, u for -re verbs, and don’t tell me you didn’t know that), he has trouble with the irregular verbs and more trouble understanding why “aller” takes être rather than avoir as its auxiliary.  And we do all this, believe it or not, without medical intervention.  We simply try to build on his strengths and compensate for his weaknesses (he still has no idea how to spend or keep track of money, which is either a disability or a qualification for an eight-figure bonus, depending on whether you have Down syndrome or a job on Wall Street).

The second thing is that the entire premise of the discussion here is wrong, wrong, wrong, and the wrongness starts in Ms. Belkin’s second paragraph.  Once again with feeling:

But what if Cash’s Down syndrome could be cured—or, more precisely, be mitigated?

Yeah, well, so much for that “more precisely.” Because once the word “cure” appears—as it does, unfortunately, in Ms. Belkin’s concluding question to her readership—the game is up, and the brain shuts down.  Of course cures are good!  Only crazy selfish irresponsible people are against cures.

But as the great Allen Iverson once said, we’re talking about mitigation.  Not a cure, not a cure, not a cure, we’re talking about mitigation.  Mitigation.  Not a cure.  Not a cure.  I mean, how many times do I have to say it?  We’re talking about mitigation.  Not a cure.

Actually, it’s even more tenuous than that.  We’re talking about the potential for the mitigation of some aspects of Down syndrome.  Not a “cure.”

It isn’t until the 69th comment (recommended by only six readers!) that someone points this out.  Laura from Boston, you win the thread:

This really isn’t a question of curing Down Syndrome; it’s a question of mitigating certain aspects of Down Syndrome to make it easier for those with DS to live independent, healthy lives.

See, we’re talking about potential mitigation.  Not a cure!  And mitigation can take many forms—including reasonable accommodation!  That’s right, folks, when you make it easier for people with disabilities to get around in society, whether they have mobility impairments or intellectual disabilities, you are mitigating the effects of their disabilities.  And who could possibly be against that?  Clearly, the only people who oppose support services, vans, job coaches, widened doors and bathroom stalls, closed captioning, Braille, guide animals and handicapped-parking spaces are selfish, irresponsible, deluded, and even colonialist.  Let’s fix these broken people today!

And don’t forget to race for the reasonable accommodation while you’re at it.

(x-posted.)

Posted by Michael on 01/14 at 08:10 AM
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