Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson writes that in his own way, Trig Palin, too has made history in this election year:  

In addition to Barack Obama making history as the first African American to be nominated for president and Sarah Palin taking her shotgun to the glass ceiling, there was a third civil rights barrier broken at the political conventions this year. 

Trig Paxson Van Palin – pronounced by his mother “beautiful” and “perfect” and applauded at center stage of the Republican convention – smashed the chromosomal barrier. And it was all the more moving for the innocence and indifference of this 4-month-old civil rights leader. … 

Unlike what is accorded African Americans and women, civil rights protections for people with Down syndrome have rapidly eroded over the past few decades. Of the cases of Down syndrome diagnosed by prenatal testing each year, about 90 percent are eliminated by abortion. … 

[C]hildren born with Down syndrome – who learn slowly but love deeply – are generally not experienced by their parents as a curse but as a complex blessing. And when allowed to survive, men and women with an extra chromosome experience themselves as people with abilities, limits and rights. Yet when Down syndrome is detected through testing, many parents report that genetic counselors and physicians emphasize the difficulties of raising a child with a disability and urge abortion. 

Gerson notes that Eunice Kennedy Shriver pulled back the veil of secrecy surrounding her sister Rosemary’s mental impairment and founded the Special Olympics as “part of a great social movement of compassion and inclusion.” Gerson argues that by eliminating mentally and physically disabled people from the population through eugenic abortion “deformity and disability become more pronounced and less acceptable.”  And society becomes less compassionate, less tolerant of disability and less inclusive.

If Gerson needs any evidence to back up his thesis, he can find it right on the WaPo’s own Website. The comments below are among those posted in response to a September 1 column by The Washington Post’s Colbert King following the revelation that Sarah Palin’s 17-year old daughter is pregnant. Some of them were rather lengthy and The Stiletto redacted them, but the bits she quotes are verbatim.  Keep in mind that the WaPo allows readers to report offensive comments, which suggests that none of them were offended enough by sentiments such as these to report them:   

What else do you expect from the 17 year old brat of a numbskull who against all scientific wisdom went ahead and conceived a baby at an age of 44 when malformity risks are high and sure enough when she is told of a baby with downs syndrome, blames God for it and sentences the child to a life time of misery by bringing it to the world and gets a hero award from the “republican base” for it?
Posted by: RealityCheck | September 1, 2008 5:55 PM

I can’t digest Sarah Palin. Not for her parenting, not for her teen daughter getting pregnant but for lack of moral values. She brings out a child that she knew has down syndrome before birth. That boy IS GOING TO SUFFER HIS ENTIRE LIFE AS A RETARD. WHAT KIND OF MOTHER WOULD DO THAT?
Posted by: Robert Erb | September 1, 2008 5:56 PM

Right to life? How about right to a normal life? Why choose to have another baby at 44 when you already have 4 and the incidence for Down Syndrome is 1 in 19 by the time a woman is 45? … I’m sorry, but I don’t see what’s so noble about that.
Posted by: joyce | September 1, 2008 6:46 PM 

This story is simple B.S…. It is a cover for a lie that they could not spin. That Bristol is the mother of the little specail needs kid.. To bad its a result of diet pills not Down syndrome… Come on alittle to conveinant when all of alaska knows your lying…. John McCain picked a winner
Posted by: big lies 101 | September 1, 2008 6:49 PM  

And then … after nearly an hour, one reader takes umbrage:

I cannot believe what I am reading. Are some of you actually suggesting that a child would be better of dead than with down syndrome? That’s borderline Hitler talk.
Posted by: Wow | September 1, 2008 6:53 PM  

And this was the response to Wow’s admonishment:

YES!!!! yes someone would be better off dead that with down syndrome. if it were just a variation like hair color, it wouldn’t be a disease you MORON! do you want down syndrome? if we can trade the baby’s down syndrome for your “normal” life are you willing? after all, it’s better off than being dead if you never lived outside a uterus to begin with. blobs of cells do NOT have the same rights as humans with personalities and REAL LIVES. you religious creeps need to get a new cause.
Posted by: Anonymous | September 1, 2008 7:32 PM  

Another reader pointed out something that those who think Trig is better off dead had not considered – that a stroke, traumatic injury or Alzheimer’s could destroy their cognitive function:

I hope none of you become brain damaged as per so many posts here your life is not worth living.
Posted by: J | September 1, 2008 7:39 PM

And a few others else gave eugenicists like Anonymous lectures on compassion:

There are many mentally and physically handicapped people who are alive today that appreciate fulfilling lives. As humans we have a responsibility to protect those that are weaker than ourselves. Again I have to restate your Hitleresque type of thinking here. During the Holocaust, Jews’ lives were spared or destroyed because of strength or weakness. Was Hitler justified due to survival of the fittest? Remember, he executed the mentally and physically handicapped as well. You are so backward. Maybe you should get to know someone who lives with a disability or handicap. Maybe you would change your mind.
Posted by: Anonymous | September 1, 2008 7:56 PM  

I am horrified by the people who argue that Palin has sentenced her son with Down Syndrome to misery and life as a “retard.” Have you ever met someone with Down Syndrome? Do you know what wonderful fulfilling lives many of them have?
Posted by: Kirsten | September 1, 2008 9:20 PM

As the niece of a woman with Downs and the sister of a young man with birth defects (bought into our family by the choice of adoption rather than accident of birth), I’m appalled that anyone would suggest that a person *should* choose abortion because the child would be somehow condemned to misery as a “retard” (are you in 2nd grade?) — I’ve worked with special needs children for years, and know from first hand experience how they can reset family priorities in a very positive way. I’ve also known it to be a tragic choice. Leave it up to the families (which brings us back to REAL choice, doesn’t it).
Posted by: ak girl | September 1, 2008 9:40 PM

I believe her special needs child is a gift from God and she choose to have this baby. Imagine that NO ABORTION needed. I guess Governor Palin isn’t that selfish as others stated so rudely. I think Governor Palin is smart and decisive thinking and guess what has MORALS… Go McCain/Palin
Posted by: dkihnley | September 1, 2008 10:11 PM  

BTW, this is the WaPo’s policy on reader comments:

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com’s articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features. User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain “signatures” by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

It’s been 11 days and these dehumanizing and hate-filled personal attacks on Trig and his mother for bringing him into the world are still posted on the WaPo’s Web site.

But it’s not like the WaPo’s mods are asleep at the switch. Here’s an example of “inappropriate” comments they filter out:

It seems that if I use Race, or MSM or DNC in any post … I am violating Policy. Definitely not free speech when it comes to King Obama.
Posted by: Bob Miller | September 2, 2008 2:02 PM  

Good to know that the WaPo has standards of decency after all.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog, chosen an Official Honoree in the Political Blogs category by the judges of the 12th Annual Webby Awards (the Oscars of the online universe) along with CNN Political Ticker, Swampland (Time magazine) and The Caucus (The New York Times).

Screenshot courtesy of Little Green Footballs.

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