Of Down Syndrome, Death, and Deer

A few days ago, an editor at the Washington Post contributed an op-ed explaining that although she has never had to face the decision herself, were test results to reveal that her fetus had Down syndrome, she would certainly abort it. After all, she “reasoned,” this would not be the baby she wanted.

Progressives everywhere proclaimed this writer’s merciless self-absorption “brave.” This is not a surprising assessment, since for progressives, “brave” literally means mercilessly self-absorbed.

I already addressed this hopeful, socially-beneficial progressive movement to “eradicate Down syndrome,” i.e., to kill all Down syndrome babies, over a month ago. I would like to focus, therefore, on the broader implications of this movement, namely the increasingly unabashed revelation of the progressive mind.

People want things. Progressives call these desires “rights” as an excuse to coerce their neighbors into providing for them that which they are unable or unwilling to provide for themselves.

People face uncertainty and hardship. Progressives use these normal pains of life as an argument against the liberty of their fellow men, whose lives and labor must be tethered to the unchosen mission of providing comfort and relief for the progressives.

People often face undesirable consequences of their choices. Progressives cite the undesirability of an unintended outcome as grounds for intentionally ignoring any and all human consequences of any action they deem necessary to erase that undesired outcome.

In sum, progressives believe they should be allowed to take whatever they want, enslave whomever they need, and destroy anyone whose elimination will make their lives more convenient. That is to say, they are moral infants whose only evidence of maturation is their expansion of self-centeredness from the child’s transient crying and stomping into adulthood’s scheming hatred and systemic violence. To rationalize all this — for progressivism is all about rationalization, being nothing but cold-blooded tyranny coated with an elaborate pretense of logical justification — progressives consistently defend theft, thuggery, and murder in the measured tones of scientific investigation. (See my series, “Progressivism 101,” here in Limbo.)

And then, in response to one another’s measured bloodlust, they publicly congratulate themselves on being “brave,” “forward-looking,” and “idealistic” in denouncing private property, debunking practical freedom, and denying the intrinsic value of another human’s life.

Thus it is that a woman can be published in a major American newspaper, and then celebrated for her bravery, for writing this:

I was old enough, when I became pregnant, that it made sense to do the testing for Down syndrome. Back then, it was amniocentesis, performed after 15 weeks; now, chorionic villus sampling can provide a conclusive determination as early as nine weeks. I can say without hesitation that, tragic as it would have felt and ghastly as a second-trimester abortion would have been, I would have terminated those pregnancies had the testing come back positive. I would have grieved the loss and moved on.

She can say “without hesitation” that she would kill a human being whose life depended on her, and who was living at her mercy due to her own choices, if that human being turned out not to have the kind of life prospects she would like her child to have. The decision would be based entirely on her preferences, her wishes, her feelings. That this particular decision concerns the life of another human being, and one living at her mercy and by her choice, is of no importance whatsoever in her thought process. Her convenience and pleasure are all.

“I would have grieved the loss and moved on.” Something tells me the moving on part carries more weight with this charming lady than the grieving part — there is more “termination” than “tragedy” in her heart. In fact, the grieving in this case is merely an unpleasant by-product of the moving on. She is arguing, in effect: “Sure, it’s annoying to have to accept that your hopes of having a proper child — the kind you want — have fallen through, but in the end the goal of life is to get what you want, so you shouldn’t lose too much sleep over a child that wasn’t going to give you the kind of satisfaction you like.” If this logic resembles any kind of moral reasoning to you, then you are a progressive through and through. For the rest of us, this is as clear an example of the insane pseudo-logic of the tyrannical soul as one could ever hope to find.

Where does all this progressive, nihilistic self-gratification-as-moralizing tend? And what is receding from us as we follow this strange path to our purified pleasures? This morning, a simple pair of images set the matter straight for me.

I awoke at 4:30am. Being an early riser anyway, but also knowing the forecast was calling for morning rain, I got ready very quickly and set out on my walk to the university around 5:00 in order to avoid getting wet.

On my way, I stopped at a convenience store to buy breakfast. Outside the store, about ten university students were sitting around a plastic table, obviously finishing off a typical empty night of throwing away their lives on drunken mindlessness. They were talking very loudly but not saying anything. They were laughing continuously, but there was nothing funny. The girls laughed the loudest. In these situations, when I see and hear such girls, tarted-up and half-asleep, having shouted and flirted the night away with a group of boys, the word that inevitably enters my mind is “shameless.” The boys, for their part, were cheering on the one amongst them who had enough money left to buy more beer and snacks in the store. The group was the personified abyss, modernity’s cackling death spiral.

Having escaped with my breakfast, I walked along the stream that flows down from the mountain located behind the university campus. By luck, I saw a small Korean deer standing alongside the water, a rare sight in the city, usually possible only in these pre-dawn hours. He leapt nimbly from rock to rock as I carefully walked along in the same direction, trying not to disturb his peace. At last he noticed the movement, and stopped to observe me. We stood still watching each other for a moment. Then he turned and bounded across the river and under a bridge, until he was beyond my sight. In the perfect silence of the early morning darkness, I could hear only the slight “clop-clop” of his hooves on the rocks, and then the gentle splashing as he ran through the water.

I thought of the two moments, so close together in time and space, and yet effectively existing in different worlds. Loud, mindless people cavort in a large group to avoid the frightening prospect of being alone and thinking for themselves. They laugh and shout to obscure their hollowness. Meanwhile, a lone deer peacefully enjoys the quiet of a dark river, amusing himself and reveling in his privacy, leaping through the water effortlessly to escape the attention of an unwanted observer.

My soul was completely with the deer. I didn’t want to disturb him or bother his peace, and yet I felt connected to his instinctive, uncalculated life, and so detached from the crass representatives of “the educated” behind me at the convenience store. I thought, “They are slaves, and he is free.”

When the deer disappeared from view under the bridge, I wasn’t disappointed. I was happy for him. He wanted to be alone to enjoy the cool water and his secret nocturnal activities. I understood him perfectly. The students around the drinking table were only bodies, and most of them will never be anything more. The deer seemed to be pure soul — quiet, alone, focused, and graceful.

The age in which that cacophonous group of mindless revelers forever obscures the quiet splashing of the lone deer in his stream is now upon us. This is the age that says of its innocent victims, in tones both disingenuous and self-congratulatory, “Let us grieve the loss and move on.” They, in their progressive manner, have moved on. We, the few remaining outsiders, are left to do the grieving.

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