There has been a lot of chatter on line these days about this new PSA
Go watch - see what you think. I'd be interested to hear.
I've listened to parents say how good it is to see an ad that shows the truth about how hard FASD is. I've listened to other parents talk about how hard this is to watch and how much it hurts them to think about their own children in these terms. I've listened to adults on the fetal alcohol spectrum and to outsiders who have no personal connection to our community. I find myself in bits and pieces of all of their comments and still somehow struggling for my own words. I've asked permission to share some of theirs and where I have received it I will but I feel like continuing to wrestle with it myself is important. For me this video cuts to the heart of the dilemma I struggle so hard to express over and over here.
If we know how to prevent a difference should we be doing so? Does that make the difference automatically “BAD”? There are so many differences we have learned to accept – imperfectly true – but in this wholly imperfect world we have made at least some space. Those that are blind or deaf or paralyzed or of different skin tones or different religions or different sexuality are not automatically shunned or separated. To be sure racism, sexism, homophobia, religious persecution, ableism all still exist but they are no longer universally accepted. There are people who will stand up and say “NO – this is not acceptable!” And they are not only the people who ARE different fighting and pushing back on that hate.
What if though, what if we knew how to “prevent” homosexuality? Or blindness? Or a particular belief system? Would it be ok to run public service ads promoting prevention? Especially ads that focused entirely on fear – on the worst possible outcome for their lives? Would it be ok to film a PSA that showed a young deaf boy – never taught to sign or lip read- punished for not hearing until he became depressed, violent, abused alcohol or drugs to escape his pain and confusion, ran away and living on the streets – to encourage women to – I don’t know - what ever prevented deafness in this hypothetical construct. Having had many deaf friends in college (I attended a school with a specific program for deaf students) I feel pretty safe venturing the guess that the deaf community would be up in arms and they would not be alone. How about an ad that showed a young homosexual being bullied and shamed into depression and possible suicide attempts then being killed by thugs like Matthew Shepard? So that women would avoid what ever "caused" homosexuality?
I’m not saying that the information about the cause of FASD should not be out there – should not be widely distributed to the public, that we should not try to minimize the number of children born exposed. But I AM tired of the relentless negative portrayal of those affected. I’m tired of seeing their struggles and pain shown as inevitable when huge parts of those very struggles are preventable. Let's work on prevention - lets work on prevention of their pain with understanding and support. Being born deaf, or blind or homosexual or to a certain set of religious beliefs or of a certain race does NOT doom one to a life of misery and destruction and neither does being born alcohol exposed.