Anatomy of a Webpage, Part 3: Selling “Peace of Mind”

Posted by George Estreich, Biopolitical Times guest contributor on November 13th, 2012

Happy baby, apparently with Down syndrome, playing in grass

One of the many mini-scandals in the recent Presidential election erupted when Ann Coulter tweeted a reference to President Obama as a “retard.” As the father of a sixth grader with Down syndrome, I found the tweet simultaneously sickening and reassuring. Sickening, because of the ubiquity of the word; reassuring, because of the pushback. Coulter clearly assumed that her use of the word would be shocking enough to generate attention, but not shocking enough to incur any cost. She was clearly wrong.

On disability as on many other issues, our mores are changing with unbelievable speed. What was acceptable last year is less so this year, and taboo next year. Most heartening of all after Coulter’s blunder was the public reply made by John Franklin Stephens:

I’m a 30 year old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow.  I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you.  In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night…

Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.

No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.

Come join us someday at Special Olympics.  See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged.

A friend you haven’t made yet,
John Franklin Stephens
Global Messenger
In a world where people with disabilities have made such strides, what are we to make of the spate of new prenatal tests that claim to identify fetuses with chromosomal conditions early in pregnancy? There is no easy answer, but it is hard to deny the tension between their implicit message and the one delivered by Mr. Stephens.

Selling at Sequenom

One of these tests is made and marketed by a company called Sequenom.

Read more…

Posted in Bioethics, Disability, Eugenics, Genetic Selection, Human Rights, Reproductive Justice, Health & Rights, Sequencing & Genomics


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