Inspiring and Informative: Unspeakable Conversations

Before reading Unspeakable Conversations, I had never even been aware that infanticide was a topic that people discussed. I have heard of those who believe that a woman should have the right to abort a fetus if it is disabled or believed to be suffering from some sort of mental or physical disability, but actually killing a living infant or child because of a disability is an argument that I (thankfully) have never come across.

I had also never read a story in this form. I was very honestly very intimidated when I was approaching this article because it is a long story with no breaking points in between. It goes against much of the writing techniques we’ve been taught in j202, but it works. It works so well that I don’t think this story would have quite the same effect in any other form. When I was reading it, I felt as if I was right there, listening to Harriet McBryde Johnson telling the story. Though I had never heard of her or Peter Singer, I could visualize them and the situation as if I had seen them every day of my life.

I was curious to learn more about both of the main characters in this story after reading Unspeakable Conversations, and was saddened to learn that Johnson, the author that moved me with this story, passed away suddenly in 2008, at age 50. The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina said her sudden death stunned everyone in Charleston. They describe her as a strong woman, a fighter, but also as having a great sense of humor, and a love of passing people on the street with her power scooter.

The other character in this story, Peter Singer is still a professor at Princeton. Reading more about his beliefs and ideas, I am very confused as to how he could feel this way and so publicly say things like that he doesn’t consider handicapped children as people (paraphrased by Johnson in paragraph 3). An idea like this seems so monstrous to most people, and in fact Johnson refers to him as a monster and a Nazi in the story, names that those around her called Singer. The fact that he basically believes she shouldn’t have had the chance to live, and says this to Johnson, and yet she still by the end looks to him almost as a friend, says so much about who she was as a person.

I really enjoyed this reading. I not only learned about these important ethical issues that I had been previously unaware of, but also learned about a truly inspiring person. How she lived her life is amazing, and a real wake-up call to appreciate what we have, and to treat those around us with kindness and respect no matter what their abilities or their opinions are.

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