Apparently mental retardation is the new cause celebre of political correctness. Who knew? I mentioned a few posts back the ridiculousness of inserting a preposterously articulate mental retardate into the cast of the new “Upstairs, Downstairs,” little recking that my online inbox was going to be pummeled by successive exhortations imploring me to join in championing the wondrousness of the world’s retardates.
Here I find a crusade from my state’s delegate, crying out for millions (that’s right: millions) of dollars to be spent “atoning” for the sterilization of the mentally retarded over several decades — a better idea than which I cannot think of, on the fly. (Does anyone really have an argument that it is good for nominally human creatures of subnormal intelligence to reproduce? Does someone really mean to claim the offspring could be decently cared for, for one thing?) Here is an article asking me to condemn the admittedly sleazy right-wing mannequin Ann Coulter for using the word “retard” as an insult. Apparently we are not even supposed to use it any more at all; there is this preciousness about the “R-word.” Oh horror.
I do not get this. I had a friend when I was a small person. Her mother spent all her days teaching mental retardates. She mandated that her daughter should work as a counselor at a camp for mental retardates. A blazingly bright, sensitive, sweet girl, clearly anguished (as I look back) by issues that most people didn’t understand until they were far older, was essentially put on notice that she was not as important as a bunch of grotesque, gooping, babbling, ungainly creatures only genetically entitled to human identity: neither functional humans nor functional animals, since any cat, squirrel, dog, rabbit can get through life without sucking its family and community of resources each and every day it lives; any cat, squirrel, dog, rabbit can delight us with its animal essence rather than sickening us with a degraded parody of what it was meant to be. I was forced to be in the presence of one of them once, a seventeen year old with a mental age of about four. I came away saturated with sick horror that anyone should be expected to spend an hour or even a minute of their lives dealing with something that was such a nauseating caricature of humanity.
I think perhaps all this PC zeal comes from a certain comfort some people derive from the presence of something which is no threat. I learned early on that being precocious and articulate meant abuse, and ostracism, and systematic humiliation. I am sure that some of the same people who were involved in those experiences are now bending over backwards to carry on about how we should cherish the retarded. Nonetheless, it defeats me how people can carry this banner and take themselves seriously.
There are values in life and if we are expected to value objects like this, then everything I have done to make myself competent, capable, intellectually agile, creative, worthwhile, self-sustaining, has been pointless. If things which generally require lifelong support, which cannot reason beyond a childhood level, which have no intellectual dimension, have value, then I have none. There is no compromise.
My friend killed herself in her second year of college, when she was nineteen. I guess her mother had given her the message.
I don’t get it. I simply don’t understand.
I hope the fashions change soon.