My thoughts on Down's Syndrome and the Ursula Presgrave controversy
currently facing a potential jail sentence after she expressed her opinion about people who suffer from the chromosomal defect, but that's not all. She's also being targeted with vitriolic backlash from people on social media who fancy themselves as word and thought police in the name of advocacy for people with Down's. In other words, she's created quite the mess by simply expressing an unpopular opinion. Since she's facing possible jail time she has decided to apologize for her words, which she claims were declared in order to get attention. However, from my point-of-view, it looks a lot like she's been muscled into publicly backing down from a value in which she believes. I have a lot to say in this post, and I'm quite certain that I will get some of the same vitriol as Presgrave, because I've been in her position before (minus the threats of imprisonment, of course). So fasten your seat-belts, people. It's going to be a long one.
Let's get one thing straight: Nobody should be forced to share an opinion with others simply because it appears to be a "popular" opinion. In Ursula Presgrave's situation, it seems that she is being tried in the court of popular opinion, and the UK government is indeed prosecuting her based on that concept -- which is not at all right, and not at all just. We live in an era of butthurt, meaning everyone can and will find something to be offended over while perusing social media -- whether it's an opinion about religion, politics or fashion. And the way the current laws are enforced in the UK, all you have to do is offend a handful of people on the internet in order to be criminally charged, fined a large sum of money and/or tossed behind bars and treated like a criminal. This may seem like no big deal at all to all the sheeple who fall in line and who do not have their own original thoughts, but when it's all said and done, this kind of legislation and enforcement only stifles free expression and critical thought. It also teaches people the simple message: If you stray from the collective herd, you will be punished. This is the murder of individuality.
When it comes to discussing Down's Syndrome and the moral dilemmas that parents face, passions do run high. However, I've personally found that advocates for Down's Syndrome acceptance tend to be religiously aggressive -- much like born-again Christians, PETA members, political activists and other "impassioned" interest groups. The reactions expressed by some of these individuals to Presgrave's opinion were not at all surprising to me, because I've seen it all before in response to my blogging on the topic -- and my blogs were nowhere near as callous as Presgrave's delivery on Facebook. You see, I've always supported a mother's right to abort her unborn child in the event of an undesirable amniocentesis result. By simply having (and sharing) that opinion, I've been targeted with death threats and relentless abuse for many years by these "loving" people who advocate for Down's acceptance/awareness.
When I first saw Ursula Presgrave's comment on Facebook, I winced -- not only because she was overly harsh in expressing her opinion, but because I immediately anticipated the backlash she was sure to receive. I did not, however, anticipate that she'd be threatened with jail time. Her story makes me ever-so-thankful to be a United States citizen, where our Constitution protects our rights to opinions and self-expression. Nobody should be jailed or fined for expressing an unpopular opinion. No matter how offensive a person's opinion may be to certain interest groups, they shouldn't be held as criminals by any government. Imagine if you were a vegan, and you were arrested and jailed for expressing that meat-eaters should be given the death penalty for their crimes. Imagine if you were a Christian, and you were jailed for expressing that homosexuality is a sin worthy of death. Imagine if you were a #BlackLivesMatter activist who expresses that people like George Zimmerman deserved death for what happened to Trayvon Martin -- and then ended up imprisoned for it. Imagine being a white supremacist who ends up jailed for declaring that blacks or Jews don't deserve to live on the same planet as you. Imagine being a bleeding-heart liberal who expresses that conservatives should all commit mass-suicide -- only to end up in jail. Imagine being a conservative who expresses that "every Muslim" should be executed -- only to end up prosecuted for inciting violence. Policing the opinions of people is a damned slippery slope, because none of us are perfect. None of us have completely pure thoughts and opinions.
We all hold our values and points-of-view dearly. Some of our values and morals are not popular or shared by everybody else. Some of our values and points-of-view are indeed unpleasant to others. I may absolutely despise the Westboro Baptist Church for their "God hates fags" mantra, but I would be a bleeding hypocrite to advocate for their imprisonment just because of it. So why are so many people in support of what's happening to Ursula Presgrave? Because, to put it bluntly, these people are hypocrites who lack insight. It's really just that simple.
Down's syndrome is a birth defect. It's not a quality to be celebrated.
This may come as a huge slap in the face to all the advocates out there, but it's just that simple. The fact of the matter is that people born with Down's Syndrome are susceptible to a plethora of physical ailments, depending on the degree at which they're affected by this chromosomal defect. Some of these individuals are so badly afflicted with this defect that they never grow to live fulfilling lives. Many become wards of the state, and are 100% dependent on others. It's also equally true that many persons with DS live fulfilling lives, even on their own. Nobody is the same. Everybody is different. Nonetheless, nobody should ever be forced to carry a child that they do not want. That includes a child that may be afflicted with a chromosomal abnormality or any other condition that could potentially limit their quality of life.
I understand that these opinions are not popular. I recognize and acknowledge that some people truly believe that children born with Down's Syndrome are "gifts." But you know what? There are also people out there that think children conceived from rape are "gifts" as well. There are people that believe pregnancies which result from incest and molestation are "gifts," too. It's important to realize that one person's idea of a "gift" is someone else's idea of hell-on-earth. Shaming people for their choices and decisions regarding their bodies and their pregnancies is wrong, regardless of your own personal biases. That is simply where I stand on this topic. I realize that by even having this opinion, I will draw backlash from rabidly obsessed people who are going to make this about them, and make this about their children or children they know personally. When I share a general opinion that a mother should have the right to abort a fetus that is diagnosed with DS, I realize that a number of people are going to read so deeply into that opinion that they are going to react as though I've told them that they should have aborted their own children born with this defect. Before this happens (and it will, as it always does), I want to say that this is not about any individual person. This is about a woman's right to choose what's best for her and her family. This is about every woman's right to make her own decisions without shame and without inciting anger and judgment from people with mob-mentalities.
So bring it on. I will not back down from my points-of-view, and I will not be muscled into agreeing with the herd all for the sake of having a "popular" opinion. I will not be bullied into pretending to agree with people who aggressively want to change the minds of every person on planet Earth.
Furthermore, I support Ursula Presgrave's right to have and express her opinion. I don't agree with imprisoning someone just because some people on the internet were offended by her points-of-view. Ultimately, I would like for this woman to give up on Britain and come to the USA where she can legally and rightfully speak her mind without fear of persecution and prosecution.