I have a large family. Yes, I have 5 children of my own, but I also have 23 nieces and nephews and 30+ great-nieces and nephews. Large.
And we’ve heard it all. “Don’t you know what causes that?” (usually chortled with an accompanying poke in the ribs.) “Are you done now?” “Wow, you’ve got your hands full…” (translated: “Dear heavens, what is wrong with you people??”)
It’s all good. Say what you want; we like having loud family gatherings, trying to figure out how many chairs we’re going to need for Thanksgiving, buying in bulk and generally holding up our end of the demographic scale, since there are so many “child-free” couples these days. And as irritating as the rude remarks can be, they don’t come close to the idiocy of Zoltan Istvan, a self-described transhumanist and author, who’s recently penned an article titled, “It’s time to consider restricting human breeding.”
In even suggesting that we consider restrictions “on human breeding,” Istvan puts himself in fine company. Eugenics has been around a long time, and for whatever reason, he’s decided to join the ranks. Oh, he doesn’t come right out and say there are “certain people” we can do without. No, he hides behind a gauzy, filthy veil of “transhumanism,” trying to make his remarks seem somehow wholesome, well-being and for the common good. (I don’t think you’d recognize the common good if it jumped up and bit your nose, Mr. Istvan.)
In the UK edition of Wired.com, Istvan tells us it’s time: time to start thinking about how to control who should have kids. He’s started the list for us: homeless people, people with drug issues, criminals (he doesn’t discriminate, so I’m guessing if you got a speeding ticket, you’re doomed), and anyone who has “no resources to raise a child properly and keep it from going hungry.” Istvan also says those parents whose kids end up in human trafficking situations should be cut-off (pardon the term) from further breeding; clearly, they are unfit to parent. I wonder if he is aware that many parents in this situation do not choose this for their children. It is a situation thrust upon them by kidnappers, internet pervs, teens with serious self-control issues and other situations totally out of parental control. In fact, I wonder if Istvan is familiar with the concept of “free will.”
Breezily, Istvan says all of this is truly humanitarian. What with all the kids starving to death around the world, we really should just make sure certain people don’t breed. He’s also a feminist: women bear the brunt of breeding, and get left behind in terms of life goals and careers. Let’s not forget environmentalism: our fragile planet is going to have a nervous breakdown with so many kids running around. Don’t get him wrong; he’s not trying to take away anyone’s liberty:
The goal with licensing parents is not so much to restrict freedoms, but to guarantee the maximum resources to those children that exist and will exist in the future.
Of course, the problem is always in the details. How could society monitor such a licensing process? Would governments force abortion upon mothers if they were found to be pregnant without permission? These things seem unimaginable in most societies around the world. Besides, who wants the government handling human breeding when it can’t do basic things like balance its own budgets and stay out of wars? Perhaps a nonprofit entity like the World Health Organisation might be able to step in and offer more confidence.
As Istvan points out, the devil’s in the details (and here, I believe the devil is clearly at work.) The whole forced abortion thing is tough; just ask Chi An, a woman who was not only forced to undergo abortions, but perform them. The situation was so horrid, she fled her native China. Who would be in charge of licensing? Would we hold local elections, like we do for the school board? I’m sure you wouldn’t mind a “jury of your peers” deciding if and when you could have a baby. Or can we trust the government to this task? (Before you answer that, remember how well things like the Obamacare rollout and the War on Poverty have gone.) Or perhaps a global entity, like WHO, should be charged with the task. Their misuse of antibiotics has helped lead to drug-resistant bacterias.
Istvan’s remarks are timely, in that the movie, “The Giver, is set for release today. It looks to be a decent adaption of Lois Lowry’s book. In it, if you are deemed fit, you and your partner are given two children (but you can’t reproduce. As Istvan has pointed out, it’s too risky.) Lots of other things in life are controlled in this society as well; actually, everything in this society is controlled. Everything is great, perfect, calm, pain-free.
Until it isn’t.
Mr. Istvan, you’re a moral idiot. If you think restricting some people’s liberties because they are just too dumb to figure things out for themselves, then get ready. Your liberties are next.