Yet the cultural impulse to assume that people with genetic variations are in a constant state of suffering, and that it blights our lives, is so pervasive that it is even internalized by some with genetic conditions themselves.
Such genetic determinism is a new form of eugenic thinking grounded in what the communications studies scholar James L. Cherney calls “common sense” ableism, a belief system that allows people to simultaneously deny any commitment to distasteful eugenic principles while also holding them up. Common sense ableism permits, even encourages, such injurious attitudes.
Utilizing genome manipulation tools and performing genetic selection is tantamount to engaging in what Rosemarie calls “velvet eugenics.” Enforced by laissez-faire commercialism, rather than by the state, velvet eugenics seems like common sense, yet it hides its violence and inequality behind claims of patient autonomy and under a veil of voluntary consent. Ultimately, market-driven velvet eugenics embodies a similar goal of purging unacceptable human variations that campaigns to eliminate the supposedly unfit and inferior have held in the past. Both enact a mandate to exclude people with disabilities from coming into the world.
“Common sense ableism” and “velvet eugenics”. I like those terms. They capture so much. “Common sense ableism” is a deadly fixture of COVID responses.
You should totally subscribe to Sara Luterman’s “need-to-know neurodiversity and disability rights newsletter”, “The NOS-Letter”.