Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Rand and the Handicapped

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

I think it's a monstrous thing — the whole progression of everything they're doing — to feature, or answer, or favor the incompetent, the retarded, the handicapped, including, you know, the kneeling buses and all kinds of impossible expenses. I do not think that the retarded should be ~allowed~ to come ~near~ children. Children cannot deal, and should not have to deal, with the very tragic spectacle of a handicapped human being. When they grow up, they may give it some attention, if they're interested, but it should never be presented to them in childhood, and certainly not as an example of something ~they~ have to live down to.

- Ayn Rand, The Age of Mediocrity, Q & A Ford Hall Forum, April, 1981

As referenced here

Background: This quote was presented as a justification for condemning Ayn Rand, in tandem with another quote regarding her comments on Native Americans from the West Point Q&A (Philosophy - Who Needs It). The 2nd quote - on the Native Americans - as presented was HEAVILY edited to change the context and meaning, and deliberately left out the comments Ms. Rand made about Native Americans and their own negative behaviors during the westard expansion of the US.

Because I knew one of the two quotes to be grossly misrepresented, I simply pointed out that the quote was severely hacked, and did not comment further.

Now I haven't had a chance yet to listen to the whole Q&A from Ford Hall (its on my list), but I want to know whether this is also true of the second quote, which I have presented above as it was presented to me. I already know that the poster removed the first part of the quote (altering the context slightly), I am asking if the quote as presented on the blog (linked) is, itself, another hatchet job of what Rand really said?

Anyone had time to listen/read the Q&A in full recently able to elucidate this mater for me?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As referenced here

Background: This quote was presented as a justification for condemning Ayn Rand, in tandem with another quote regarding her comments on Native Americans from the West Point Q&A (Philosophy - Who Needs It).

The quote was initially posted by me in the comments section of this thread to give an example of Rand's views, that she held toward the end of her life, on the weak and handicapped. The purpose of my posting the quote was to present Rand's own words on the subject.

The 2nd quote - on the Native Americans - as presented was HEAVILY edited to change the context and meaning, and deliberately left out the comments Ms. Rand made about Native Americans and their own negative behaviors during the westard expansion of the US.

Because I knew one of the two quotes to be grossly misrepresented, I simply pointed out that the quote was severely hacked, and did not comment further.

Now I haven't had a chance yet to listen to the whole Q&A from Ford Hall (its on my list), but I want to know whether this is also true of the second quote, which I have presented above as it was presented to me. I already know that the poster removed the first part of the quote (altering the context slightly), I am asking if the quote as presented on the blog (linked) is, itself, another hatchet job of what Rand really said?

I quoted the tape of Rand accurately. There is no additional "context" on the tape to soften Rand's opinion that the retarded should not "be allowed to come near children," or that children cannot deal with the "spectacle of a handicapped human being."

J

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The quote was initially posted by me in the comments section of this thread to give an example of Rand's views, that she held toward the end of her life, on the weak and handicapped. The purpose of my posting the quote was to present Rand's own words on the subject.

I quoted the tape of Rand accurately. There is no additional "context" on the tape to soften Rand's opinion that the retarded should not "be allowed to come near children," or that children cannot deal with the "spectacle of a handicapped human being."

J

Thanks for the link - the comments were helpful. Its a shame there isn't more direct material on Rand's thoughts RE the handicapped. I do agree that they should not be held up as goals, but I'm disappointed that her legacy on this particular subject is, well, so ugly.

It only serves as fuel for those who look for any excuse to condemn objectivism as a whole. "Oh, you're an objectivist? Well you know Ayn Rand HATED the handicapped so you must too you evil evil person!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is no additional "context" on the tape to soften Rand's opinion that the retarded should not "be allowed to come near children," or that children cannot deal with the "spectacle of a handicapped human being."

Of course we shouldn't expect Rand to have managed to fit her entire philosophy into a single 60 minute talk and still have time for the high-level, specific Q&A that was the purpose of the event. Taken in the context of her whole philosophy, the quoted remarks make a great deal of sense. Parents should hold off on introducing their children to the idea of a broken man until after they first have a solid grip on the idea of a man. The quote is out of context, because you have not presented it with any understanding of Objectivist epistemology, esp. Rand's approach to concepts and concept formation.

~Q

Edit: I should hit that point harder - Rand's statement about keeping the mentally handicapped away from children is not a political remark.

Edited by Qwertz
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For people who haven't listened to this segment, there was a significant discontinuity in the recording before and after this segment. The portion quoted is preceded by a question about Vietnam (not the whole question, and none of the answer), presumably some antecedent question regarding children being forced to debase themselves in some way to "empathize" with the handicapped, then the recording continues in the middle of her reply saying just "for healthy children to use handicapped materials..." at which point the recording is interrupted, an then it starts up again. She continues to speak beyond the quote, but the recording stops after the word "to". Because the recording is so fragmented, no conclusions can be drawn about her attitude to the handicapped. It is fair to conclude that she is disgusted at the use of children as political tools to secure special privileges for the handicapped.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...ugly.
I understand how someone might interpret this as hating the retarded, but do you think that is an objective conclusion? If not, then -- with the caveat that there may be some missing material -- could you explain a little bit more about what is "ugly" about that quote. Not saying it isn't, just trying to understand the "next level" of detail.

What was the whole kneeling bus thing?
The buses that are designed to drop close to the ground, to make it easier for handicapped people to get on. Later, President Bush Sr. signed the "Americans with Disabilities Act", which required much more.

Also, if anyone is interested in listening to that portion, the lecture is accessible via the "Registered User' page at ARI. The timing is approximately 51:40.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I understand how someone might interpret this as hating the retarded, but do you think that is an objective conclusion? If not, then -- with the caveat that there may be some missing material -- could you explain a little bit more about what is "ugly" about that quote. Not saying it isn't, just trying to understand the "next level" of detail.

Do *I* think its an objective conclusion that the quote is ugly? No. I think objectively one has to understand as much as one can about the whole person and philosophy.

Legacy, in my earlier post, was a bad choice of words. I should have said, "available public record".

The choice of words by Ms. Rand, combined with the fact that, as DO pointed out, that the tape is clearly incomplete in this point, leaves behind a quote that, as I said before, if one is looking for an excuse to condemn Rand AND her philosophy, this quote, served up out of context, serves as quite a hot point for anyone driven by knee jerk reactions to phrases chosen and not the reasons behind them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do *I* think its an objective conclusion that the quote is ugly? No. I think objectively one has to understand as much as one can about the whole person and philosophy.

Legacy, in my earlier post, was a bad choice of words. I should have said, "available public record".

The choice of words by Ms. Rand, combined with the fact that, as DO pointed out, that the tape is clearly incomplete in this point, leaves behind a quote that, as I said before, if one is looking for an excuse to condemn Rand AND her philosophy, this quote, served up out of context, serves as quite a hot point for anyone driven by knee jerk reactions to phrases chosen and not the reasons behind them.

People who are serious about ideas have to deal with the central tenets of the philosophy, not out of context statements. Otherwise, they aren't going to convince anyone of anything.

As to Ayn Rand's statements here, I'm sure it stems from her disgust over altruism and to the evils to which it leads. Altruists are hell bent on bringing everyone down to the same level and they love to inculcate guilt over issues like these. If you want to see direct evidence of what altruism does to people, the results are writ large in history. The Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and other collectivist totalitarian states show clearly how much life is valued by altruists. The end result of such a moral code is the exact opposite of caring for people, because at core it's saying "You are nothing", “Du bist nicht". Altruism is death worship. Anyone who acts on altruistic premises, whether they know it or not, are acting on ideas that do not value individuals, and we’re all individuals, including those who are handicapped. I don't have that particular lecture, so I can't comment any more than that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Even if that quote IS fully accurate and in context, I would STILL agree with it! I am so sick of people acting like if we ignore the problem it doesn't exist! Handicapped and retarded people ARE HADNICAPPED AND RETARDED! OMG just accept it and deal with it already! Why do we as a society have to pretend like they are the same as everyone else (i.e. "just as capable")? Here's a newsflash - THEY'RE NOT! That's WHY they are H-A-N-D-I-C-A-P-P-E-D! Let's all say it together now - HAAANNNNDIIICAAAPPPEEED! God forbid we actually accept the reality of people and accept handicapped people as handicapped and retarded people as retarded. No, let's all make-believe that they are just like everyone else, cuz if we believe that they are - then they will be!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From personal experience, I would tend to agree that sending seriously retarded children to school and forcing normal (i.e. non-retarded) children to interact with them is painful for everyone involved. I went to a school where they made an effort to "socialize" the children with Down's Syndrome by sending them to classes with everyone else. Except that the children weren't capable of participating in the class in any meaningful fashion. So they either became bored and disruptive or they were basically imprisoned in their chair and forced to sit quietly.

I actually made the mistake of being nice to one of these children and he decided that I was his "girlfriend" and followed me around poking and harassing me. No effort of mine could convince him to stop because he simply wasn't up to the level of social functioning that could comprehend that he was annoying me. I tried to get the teachers to make him leave me alone, but they wouldn't because it was *my* duty to tolerate *him* because *I* was normal and *he* wasn't.

Children, i.e. people who already have very limited control over their immediate surroundings because their rights are exercised on their behalf by adults, should NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES be forced to socialize with the mentally retarded. Handicapped (such as someone who is blind or deaf) is another subject, because such physical handicaps don't mean that the child is being forced to deal with someone who does not have the capacity to understand. I am not saying that the severely retarded or mentally disabled should be locked away where "decent people don't have to see them", and neither was Ayn Rand. It did not inculcate *me* with any degree of pity, affection, or kindness for the truly less-fortunate. All I feel when I encounter them now is a sense of disgust and annoyance. No one with an active mind learns genuine kindness from being treated like a slave: they learn resentment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You bring up great points. I would also add that children are not trained to properly interact with handicapped much less mentally retarded children. So it's somewhat absurd to think they should. I view it as harmful to the retarded child to do so. That's why there are college degrees specifically in the field of special education!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You bring up great points. I would also add that children are not trained to properly interact with handicapped much less mentally retarded children. So it's somewhat absurd to think they should. I view it as harmful to the retarded child to do so. That's why there are college degrees specifically in the field of special education!

My daughter uses a wheelchair and her speech development is delayed because of a neurological defect that prevents some signals from passing accurately from the brain stem to her muscles.

At school, she is in a regular classroom for the non-basic, or subject-based curriculum such as history, science, music, art and field trips. She goes to a special education classroom for core cirriculum, specifically reading and math (though she also does math in the regular classroom because she is at her grade level). Her reading development was also delayed because speech delays (including those that are solely of a physical rather than cognitive nature) delay language development, where that's not the case with numbers or other subjects.

She has no problem interacting with other children and has only one friend who is disabled - another girl who uses a wheelchair. She plays tag and tether ball with the other kids, and thanks to her iBot she can be in an upright balance mode for either and she can even do relays and sports during PE. Her speech can be hard to understand, but my daughter knows it's incumbent upon her to slow down and be more understandable. And the kids tend to be patient enough to listen.

What the other kids see is someone who is learning to enjoy life in spite of physical disabilities with the help of parents who obtain her innovations that extend her reach into places that, for instance, regular wheelchairs can't. She's so independent that she only needs help if something falls on the floor beyond where she could reach down or to use the lift that helps her use the bathroom.

With regard to the kids with mental disabilities, yeah, even my daughter has problems with them when they act outside the mainstream (like the weird boy who always talks about guns but doesn't know what one is or how they work, and yet knows about shooting and pointing). Those kids spend most or even all of their day in the special ed class where they can get individual instruction.

I've learned that the key with getting kids to understand disabilities is just to tell them the truth and confront it head on. What I see the problem is the altruistic notion of washing over the fact that these kids are different. Everyone is different. And I remind people there's nothing wrong with that, if nothing else because I sure as hell would rather be me than them. But that's hard to grasp in a collectivist or altruistic leaning society.

When I tell kids the truth about my daughter's disability or even what's wrong with the kids who are retarded, autistic or have Down syndrome, and why they are that way, then it all makes sense and they are OK with it. Maybe that's why truth can set one free. But schools are good at lying to kids and that's the problem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, what about within a family? Not every mentally handicapped is an only child.

Yeah but family interaction isn't really the same thing as "socializing". A family member is someone the child is going to learn to deal with from the day either the handicapped member, or the child, is born.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's a huge difference between interacting with family that may behave weirdly and with strangers who are extremely peculiar. I tend to get along okay with the handicapped people I meet provided they don't treat me like a servant because I have the use of all my arms and legs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I assume the real problem would be if a normal kid was expected to interact with a retarded kid on a peer-to-peer basis. If that is not expected, and if the normal kid has been properly briefed, the interaction would be acceptable; but, even so, it would be one-sided.

When one goes beyond mental defects to other types of handicaps, children can relate, because -- when one comes down to it -- it's their minds that are connecting. When it comes to other handicapped kids, it would be a problem if other kids were asked to accommodate the other child's handicap by somehow significantly lowering their performance or enjoyment to accomodate the one with the handicap. As long as that does not happen, non-mental handicaps ought not to be an issue.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There's a huge difference between interacting with family that may behave weirdly and with strangers who are extremely peculiar.

Well, you wrote that there were absolutely no circumstances under which children should be forced to interact with the retarded. In a family, the force is implied. This is your handicapped sister, deal with her kindly, or I will punish you, you rotten, irrational, malevolent child.

Putting a Down Syndrome child in a regular classroom is common practice. Some exceptional kids with Down Syndrome have been known to exit high school and head for college. Is there an especial horror or pain or rights violation when a child of normal intelligence is made to share her classroom with one or several folks with intellectual handicaps? I don't see it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you think this is good pedagogical practice, for either the kid with Down Syndrome, or for the normal kid?

There is a real struggle for the Down Syndrome child, no matter the preparation by an enlightened parent, no matter the amount of tutoring, note-taking, etc. The very quality of difference, the social deficit, the extreme difficulties with mathematics . . . my heart is touched by the struggle to fit in where the 'fit' will always be an awkward one.

Is it good practice to 'mainstream' children with cognitive deficits? To my mind the difficulties are always going to be with the handicapped child. The accomodations to such a child are relatively minor. I don't believe the normal children are particularly damaged by a 'retard' in their midst, nor do I feel the instructor is unduly handicapped -- within the 'normal' cohort of a class will be a variety of problem children anyways . . . from dullards to troublemakers.

I am one of those who found the Rand comments on the handicapped to be troubling.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is it good practice to 'mainstream' children with cognitive deficits?
I find that even kids who are mentally completely normal, but who -- for whatever set of reasons -- are significantly below average in class, often force a teacher to change pace. I have taught high-school age kids, and even there I found that the greater the diversity of interest and ability in the classroom, the more difficult the task of targetting a lesson.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is it good practice to 'mainstream' children with cognitive deficits? To my mind the difficulties are always going to be with the handicapped child. The accomodations to such a child are relatively minor. I don't believe the normal children are particularly damaged by a 'retard' in their midst, nor do I feel the instructor is unduly handicapped -- within the 'normal' cohort of a class will be a variety of problem children anyways . . . from dullards to troublemakers.

I’ve been thinking about this and although I appreciate your point of view I think you have missed a very important point. The classroom is not primarily a place for social interaction, we send our children there to learn. Even many of the “normal” ones have problems learning, from lacking the discipline to do it to not caring to do it. There are distractions aplenty from social factors. Why, when it is estimated that not all the “normal” students who 'work' their way through the system are properly prepared to function in the real world would you want to add yet another distraction to the mix?

With class sizes getting bigger and bigger why would you want to further burden the teachers with a special needs child who may or may not be able to keep up, who may prevent other children from getting help by taking more than his/her fair share of the teachers already limited resources?

I won’t suggest that when a child (any child) can keep up without accommodation that they should be removed from a class just for being different, but I will suggest that ANY child who can not keep up should be removed in order that those who can get the best possible preparation for life. Remove them all, the dullards, troublemakers and the handicapped that can not make the grade.

When I was going to school we had Special Education classes for those people. Now it is seen as demeaning or mental abuse to have any such division. I was put in one of those classes. The stigma of it “cured’ my disruptive behavior and focused my attention PDQ.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...