Disability: Not the End of the Story

One of the most crippling things the progressive intelligentsia love to shrill in the name of higher morality is the need to help the disabled. There is no compassion however, just evasions, ploys and emotions.

Ayn Rand described the hypocrisy of the “humanitarians” accurately in the Fountainhead, it took place after the Stoddard Temple, which Howard Roark designed had been converted to “The Hopton Stoddard Home for Subnormal Children”.

In September the tenants of the Home moved in. A small, expert staff was chosen by Toohey. It had been harder to find the children who qualified as inmates. Most of them had to be taken from other institutions. Sixty-five children, their ages ranging from three to fifteen, were picked out by zealous ladies who were full of kindness and so made a point of rejecting those who could be cured and selecting only the hopeless cases. There was a fifteen-year-old boy who had never learned to speak; a grinning child who could not be taught to read or write; a girl born without a nose, whose father was also her grandfather; a person called “Jackie” of whose age or sex nobody could be certain. They marched into their new home, their eyes staring vacantly, the stare of death before which no world existed.

On warm evenings children from the slums nearby would sneak into the park of the Stoddard Home and gaze wistfully at the playrooms, the gymnasium, the kitchen beyond the big windows. These children had filthy clothes and smudged faces, agile little bodies, impertinent grins, and eyes bright with a roaring, imperious, demanding intelligence. The ladies in charge of the Home chased them away with angry exclamations about “little gangsters.”

Once a month a delegation from the sponsors came to visit the Home. It was a distinguished group whose names were in many exclusive registers, though no personal achievement had ever put them there. It was a group of mink coats and diamond clips; occasionally, there was a dollar cigar and a glossy derby from a British shop among them. Ellsworth Toohey was always present to show them through the Home. The inspection made the mink coats seem warmer and their wearers’ rights to them incontestable, since it established superiority and altruistic virtue together, in a demonstration more potent than a visit to a morgue. On the way back from such an inspection Ellsworth Toohey received humbled compliments on the wonderful work he was doing, and had no trouble in obtaining checks for his other humanitarian activities, such as publications, lecture courses, radio forums and the Workshop of Social Study.[…]

The most important time of her day was the hour assigned to the children’s art activities, known as the “Creative Period.” There was “a special room for the purpose—a room with a view of the distant city skyline—where the children were given materials and encouraged to create freely, under the guidance of Catherine who stood watch over them like an angel presiding at a birth.

She was elated on the day when Jackie, the least promising one of the lot, achieved a completed work of imagination. Jackie picked up fistfuls of colored felt scraps and a pot of glue, and carried them to a corner of the room. There was, in the corner, a slanting ledge projecting from the wall—plastered over and painted green—left from Roark’s modeling of the Temple interior that had once controlled the recession of the light at sunset. Catherine walked over to Jackie and saw, spread out on the ledge, the recognizable shape of a dog, brown, with blue spots and five legs. Jackie wore an expression of pride. “Now you see, you see?” Catherine said to her colleagues. “Isn’t it wonderful and moving! There’s no telling how far the child will go with proper encouragement. Think of what happens to their little souls if they are frustrated in their creative instincts! It’s so “important not to deny them a chance for self-expression. Did you see Jackie’s face?”

The story itself is self explanatory, the humanitarian effort of the bleeding heart dictators in fact is doing more harm than good. The children who are actually bright and have potentials to do great things but were constrained by their birth were not allowed to access the charity they needed because they were deemed to have far more “hope” than the other children. While the rest of the hopeless children became inmates trapped in their benevolent prison.

Then we can see the hypocrisy of these “philanthropic” people who are holier than thou  by comparing themselves to the people who they were supposed to help to feel superior.

All the effort was futile if the children were not capable of realizing their potential, material comfort alone cannot provide what the disabled children really needed.

Does that mean the children are hopeless? Certainly not, there are degrees of ability but in most cases, the categorization of children by labelling them as mentally impaired actually does more harm than good. Using Thomas Sowell as an example, in his essay Late-Talking Children and Quick-Labelling Adults, he discussed his own study on 17 late talkers (of diverse gender and ethnicity) and found that genetics could have influence on late talking (60% have close relatives working in analytical fields and over 60% have close relatives playing musical instruments, skilfully or professionally). A 3 year old boy has learned to computer; a late talking girl graduated 13th in her high school class and studied engineering at university. Even Sowell’s own son has a degree in computer science despite being a late talker even though he was labelled as “uncoordinated”, his highest score was 289 for bowling, short 11 point from perfect score.

Another example I always like to talk to people about is Temple Grandin, one of the most amazing people I’ve ever heard of who overcame her Asperger’s syndrome with the help of her dedicated mother who refused to institutionalize her, eventually she invented the hug-box (a device to provide comfort for autistic people) and got her PhD in animal behaviour to help make meat processing more effective.

Certainly there are cases of severe degenerative disorders like cystic fibrosis and Canavan disease. But instead of ineffectively imprisoning people and labelling them as hopeless, the objectivist solution would be to create a society where people are able to take their own responsibility; if more help is needed, private charity (like ihc New Zealand) can provide better treatment for these people.







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