During World War II, the famous British playwright Bernard Shaw proclaimed that those incapable of economically contributing to society should be exterminated. The beliefs from the Fabian socialist Shaw supported Adolf Hitler’s murderous regime against the developmentally disabled. Is this kind of thinking making a resurgence on college campuses today?
Millenials at the University of Tennessee Knoxville recently agreed with this premise, as shown in a video discussion by the campus pro-life group Students for Life. In the video, the interviewee concurs with colleagues that two-year-olds unable to speak due to muteness, autism, learning infirmities, and other difficulties should be put to death. He then goes on to compare the youngsters to a nearby tree, stating:
“Without communication, we have no way of knowing if you’re sentient or not. It’s no different than this tree. It’s alive, but is it sentient? I don’t know. I cannot communicate to it.”
The arguments put forward are illogical and reprehensible. They also run in contrast to basic scientific evidence, which college students should have the capacity to comprehend.
Firstly, the idea that speech is the only indicator of consciousness is erroneous. According to Penn State University, brain imaging techniques measure senses, as they examine physical responses to stimuli. For instance, viewing a sad photo may incite specific regions of the mind responsible for controlling emotions, which brain imaging visibly captures. There is no need for actual speech to show consciousness.
Furthermore, speech is not the only form of conversation, as explained by Liberty Nation. Body language, eye contact, and facial expressions are often revealing of one’s emotional state. Knowledge of these primitive behaviors requires no previous scientific evaluation but a minute aptitude for common sense, which the interviewees at the Tennessee university blatantly lack.
Is sentience truly important in the decision of whether to kill a two-year-old, or anyone for that matter? That point is more hotly argued, not only in the college community but among the general public and medical profession.
Many argue that to euthanize the mentally impaired is immoral and reminiscent of the stances of Bernard Shaw and the Nazis. These critics suggest that the prevalence of infirmities does not denote an individual’s worth but rather that those with conditions often serve significant contributions to society in other ways.
Advocates of Shaw’s stance suggest that it is torturous to keep those with particular disorders alive, not only for economic factors but due to the suffering and supposedly low quality of life some patients endure. It is this supposition that has, in part, led to the current situation in Iceland where nearly 100% of expectant mothers carrying a child with Down Syndrome choose to have an abortion, as reported by LN.
Although the suffering of many brings the topic into question, logical arguments are required to reach a reasonable conclusion. The viewpoints demonstrated by these students at the University of Tennessee and their lack of solid reasoning show the unfortunate inability of many millennials to think critically.
Their education may allow them to head companies and run organizations in the future, but it is a frightening thought that these same minds may be in a position to set the moral tone of society within just the next few years.