Monday, July 07, 2003

Dwarfism and the new eugenics. What were you doing on the Fourth of July? Probably not reading the New York Times. That's all right. I was, and this morning I want to call your attention to this splendid column by Nicholas Kristof about the ways in which genetic advances may eliminate various types of disability -- including achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism.

It turns out that Kristof has family members in Britain who are dwarfs. He introduces us to one of them, Tom Shakespeare, a scholar of genetics. I'd heard of Shakespeare, but didn't know much about him. He seems like a pretty interesting guy. Shakespeare has a website, which you can get to by clicking here.

The point of Kristof's column is that what might seem at first glance to be an unalloyed good thing -- genetically engineered "cures" for dwarfism and other types of disability -- could have disastrous consequences down the road. It also happens to be a major theme of my forthcoming book on the culture of dwarfism, Little People.

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