A video that shows someone described as a “Dutch bureaucrat” explaining to a man with Down syndrome how much people like him cost the government each year compared to those without the chromosomal disorder has sparked quite a bit of controversy.
But it turns out there’s some apparent context, at least according to conservative website Hot Air. It’s not clear where outrage over the video first started, though pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha posted the clip in question on Thursday, saying that it broke her heart.
Watching this broke my heart?.
This dear man who has DownSyndrome is told exactly how much he is costing society & how “expensive” he is☹️.
— Obianuju Ekeocha (@obianuju) December 14, 2017
“This dear man who has Down syndrome is told exactly how much he is costing society & how ‘expensive’ he is,” she wrote. “Why has the Dutch National Institute for Public Health (@RIVM) put a price tag to human life? Why?”
That sparked a reaction from Princeton University professor Robert George, who also lamented the clip’s contents.
My God! People! People!!! Do you not see where this goes??? Do the Dutch, who suffered under–and in many cases heroically resisted–Hitler's domination, forget that the "final solution" began with the dehumanization and eugenic killing of the handicapped? https://t.co/2blq0OXGzL
— Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) December 14, 2017
“My God! People! People!!! Do you not see where this goes???” he wrote. “Do the Dutch, who suffered under — and in many cases heroically resisted — Hitler’s domination, forget that the ‘final solution’ began with the dehumanization and eugenic killing of the handicapped?”
HotAir’s Allah Pundit noted, though, that there could be more context to the clip in question that makes it less “creepy” or disturbing. While he couldn’t find an in-depth explainer or review, he said a friend gave him some additional information about its origins.
It's a TV show produced by an evangelical christian broadcasting corporation. Very much pro-life. They wanted a debate about society's attitude to Down's Syndrome patients, and had asked the institute to calculate these costs – presumably to show they weren't excessive.
— Joshua Livestro (@JoshuaLivestro) December 14, 2017
“It’s a TV show produced by an evangelical christian broadcasting corporation. Very much pro-life,” Joshua Livestro tweeted. “They wanted a debate about society’s attitude to Down’s Syndrome patients, and had asked the institute to calculate these costs — presumably to show they weren’t excessive.”
Allah Pundit also offered his own take on what this would then mean:
If that’s true then the math problem here was probably an early scene in the show, essentially conceding a point made by opponents before proceeding to argue against it. Fair enough, the disabled do cost more in social services than the average person does, but not an outlandish amount. And now here’s three dozen reasons why eugenics is still a bad idea.
Of course, we can’t really know the full context of that video without a proper view of the original documentary. Also, there’s a chance that the man could, indeed, be presenting a problematic government view on the issue.
Either way, the situation sends an important reminder to us all: context is key — and social media oft-times opens a window to misunderstanding — or, at the least, a path to premature assumptions.