Friday, November 18, 2011


"I just can't imagine why with knowledge ahead of time one would allow the birth of a baby with any major mental or physical handicap to occur.  You wouldn't walk into Best Buy and say, 'Excuse me, I'd like to buy a broken television,' would you?  So why would you allow a broken child to be born?" - jekyll - 

This horribly ignorant statement is a comment on a column entitled "Will America Cull People With Down Syndrome?"  After reading the column, I'm still not sure exactly what argument the author was trying to take, but the part that really disturbs me is some of the comments, especially ones like the comment quoted above.

Really, Jekyll?  Broken?  Well, congratulations.  You've succeeded in insulting over 400,000 people in the United States alone.  Your comment was absolutely ridiculous, insulting, demeaning, and dehumanizing.  You've managed to dismiss an entire group of real people.  You've just told Mitch, Andrew, Karen, Katie, Tony, and many, many others that they shouldn't exist.  Were they not good enough in your high and mighty eyes?  Who made you the judge of who is and who isn't a worthwhile human being?

I could go on for pages upon pages in reaction to Jekyll's arrogance and ignorance, but I also want to write about another statement.  Surprisingly, Jekyll's ridiculous comment isn't the worst reaction to the column.  In a response to Jekyll, Ronald Davis the following statement:

"BRAVO jekyll...
I agree 1000% with your analogy!  Unfortunately too many people actually enjoy endless war and welfare, prisons and mental institutions!"  

Ronald Davis, are you actually insinuating that people with Down Syndrome are the source of all of these problems?  That we have Down Syndrome to blame for the very existence of war and prison?  You know, somebody else had some very, very similar ideas about people with disabilities.  Judging from your comment, I would think that that you, Jekyll, and this man might agree upon a few things...

Perhaps I'm being too harsh in comparing the Ronald Davis' and Jekyll's views to the views of Adolf Hitler.  You can read the quotes below and then decide for yourself whether or not you agree with me.

“Anyone who sees and paints a sky green and fields blue ought to be sterilized.” 
― Adolf Hitler

“Humanitarianism is the expression of stupidity and cowardice.” 

According to this article written by Mark P. Mostert of Regent University, under Hitler's command, The Committee for the Scientific Treatment of Severe Genetically Determined Illnesses required physicians and midwives to report the births of those born with various types of disabilities.  The Reich Health Ministry would then determine whether or not the reported children were fit to live, thus not allowing many of these children to exist (161).  Adolf Hitler, much like Jekyll, seemed to believe himself important enough to have an opinion on who is and who is not fit to exist.  The list of disabilities that required a report to the CSTSGDI certainly sound much like the things that would cause Jekyll to liken a person to a "broken television."  

According to the same article, certain types of thinking prior to WWI paved the way for Hitler's genocide of people with disabilities.  For instance, Mostert discusses the fact that the legal system of Germany often dealt with behaviors that society viewed as inappropriate.  As a result, many began to mentally blend together criminal behaviors and disabilities (156).  Does this kind of thinking sound eerily similar to what Ronald Davis said in his comment?  

We could very well dismiss the uneducated comments of these two men as lunacy.  However, if we've learned anything from history, we should know that ideas such as these have a tendency to grow when ignored by those who disagree.  A very real prejudice exists against people with Down Syndrome today, and we simply cannot ignore it.  The second we deem one life more important than another, we justify ideas such as the ones that Adolf Hitler believed in.  We absolutely must keep fighting against such evils because they will not go away if we just leave them alone.  

"Ignorance, when it is voluntary, is criminal; and he may be properly charged with evil who refused to learn how he might prevent it." 
-Samuel Johnson, Rasselas- 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Nefarious: Merchant of Souls

"If to be feelingly alive to the sufferings of my fellow-creatures is to be a fanatic, I am one of the most incurable fanatics ever permitted to be at large." 
-William Wilberforce- 

"Evil can be undone, but it cannot 'develop' into good.  Time does not heal it.  The spell must be unwound, bit by bit." 
-C. S. Lewis- 

A few nights ago, I drove back to my university from a dance rehearsal for The Nutcracker, fully determined to make it back to campus as quickly as possible.  After dropping off a friend, I quickly (and somewhat illegally) parked behind the music building and ran at top speed across the full Humanities parking lot to get to a small recital hall.  I arrived at exactly 7:00 pm, and the room was already packed.  "Can we try the balcony?" One person asked the student at the table.
"Well, you can try," she said skeptically, "but I think the balcony might be full, too." Another student came rushing down the hallway.
"We just filled up the lecture hall," he said.
Unsure of what else to do, I slipped into the recital hall and leaned against the back wall, trying to take up as little room as possible.

The documentary that I watched that night was very well worth the the rush back to school, the time spent circling parking lots, the risk of a parking ticket, and the challenge of cramming myself into the back of a crowded room.

The documentary was called Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, a work that recorded the journey of a team of four men who traveled across four different continents.  Throughout this documentary, the team interviewed victims, buyers, and merchants of the sex slave industry.  My own words do not do justice to the haunting images of the film, the intense pain of the victims interviewed, and the cold indifference of those who profit from the industry.  Many of the men interviewed in the film admitted that they found the sex slave industry difficult to witness at first, but after a few times of selling a young woman's body for profit, they just grew used to the idea.  The most haunting of all of the images in the documentary was a simple photograph of a pair of blue pajamas similar to something that my sister might wear.  These pajamas, recovered by a member of the team, had belonged to a seven-year-old girl and were stained with blood.

Nefarious listed multiple ways that people have become trapped into sex slavery.  Some are abducted.  Others are lured with false promises of real jobs or romantic relationships.  One scene that struck me a bit more than the others, though, was the revelation of the fact that many young girls who become slaves are orphans.  Orphanages do indeed care for children, but unfortunately, many of those children have nowhere to go once they become adults.  Children cannot stay in the orphanage forever, and with no parents to provide training, security, or any kind of help at all, these orphans simply age out of the system and leave with nowhere to go.  According to the documentary, orphanage directors often tell pimps when an orphan is about to age out of the system.  These pimps hang out around the orphanage and very quickly lure the orphans into slavery.  "They just disappear...," a voice on the documentary says.  "...Nobody cares about the orphan."

The booklet handed out to students before the start of the film revealed unbelievable statistics about the amount of women and children forced into sex trafficking.  For instance, one statistic from Kevin Bales says that "27 million people are enslaved around the world."  Now, my brain doesn't process numbers very well, and seeing a statistic on a page does not typically cause me to react or spring into action.  However, when I see those intensely heartbreaking stories of human pain in front of me and then multiply each story by the number I see on the page, I suddenly understand that all of those numbers represent real lives.  They represents real people who live in constant fear, real pain and guilt that won't go away, and real childhoods that will not be recovered.

Nefarious, though, does not leave its audience with a sense of futility.  Rather, it ends with a call to action.  For instance, it asks its viewers to pray.  Last night, a friend of mine stated that "We always say that prayer is the least we can do, but really, it's the most powerful thing that we can do."  Truly, human trafficking will not end without strong dedication to prayer.  In addition, the documentary asks viewers to donate funds to causes involved in ending sex slavery and to do everything possible to raise awareness about this problem.

I would like to add one more thing to this list of things that we must to help the least of these.  We must end the attitude that "nobody cares about the orphan."  Children such as Maya will never have the opportunity of a real childhood or a healthy adulthood without somebody to love and to care for them.  If you do determine that you will care about the orphan, though, you can give a child hope.  You can rescue that child from a life of misery.

Finally, if you ever get the opportunity to watch Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, I would highly recommend doing so.  The film will open your eyes to an issue that we cannot just turn our backs on.

"For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me." 
-Matthew 25:34-36-