Straws: so what do we do about them?

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post on Facebook (replicated here) which was shared around a lot. About three quarters of the comments were, irritatingly, people saying some variation of ‘but you get reusable straws’. Of the remaining quarter, there were a handful of people saying they’d learned something, a fair bit of abuse and then a lot of people people asking ‘so what do you suggest?’


So here is my untested, offhand set of suggestions based on what I’ve read, what research I’ve seen, etc.


First, a note on why bans are harmful even when medical necessity exceptions are made:

In articles about Seattle, it says that, if a person asks for a straw they should be given a compostable one. Further down, it says some plastic straws will be available for people with a medical need.


The problem with this is ‘who gets to decide what a medical need is?’ When measures like this are introduced, it creates a cultural effect where people feel they are justified in policing people’s use of facilities available for medical need. Most disabled people who use accessible facilities right now – accessible toilets, accessible parking, etc – already have to deal with all the people who take it upon themselves to demand proof of need, or to yell at you for not being disabled enough to need those resources.


By using the language and protocols of a ‘ban’, even with exemptions, the society is giving licence to people to act in these ways. And those examples are ones where there isn’t a physical person between you and the accessible thing every time you need to use it – you submit your proof and get a blue badge, but you don’t need to have a person assess whether or not you’re *allowed* to use a space every time you park. The vast, vast, vast majority of people who will be tasked with making these decisions will not have enough understanding of the variability of disability to make those decisions based on reason. They’re going to be deciding based on biases and assumptions, and that almost always goes badly for us. Having to decide whether you can deal with the risk of humiliation every time you want a drink is exhausting and excluding.


We have to stop using language which emboldens the people who are already making our lives harder. It isn’t up to an untrained, minimum wage server to make an assessment of whether or not our medical needs are legitimate enough to be granted a straw.

So, what to do? Here is my three-pronged approach.


First: instead of a ban, we mandate that businesses must offer a range of options – at the very least offer paper/compostable straws alongside plastic. Instead of handing them out to everyone, and instead of putting the onus on disabled people to risk the confrontations above, servers should just ask if the person would like a straw. Most people will say no, but if they say yes, offer the different options including plastic. Once the new designs (see second point) are available, phase those into this stage.

Second: in the immediate future, we begin a design programme, open to anyone but particularly targeting design schools, technical colleges, etc. We give them a brief to design a range of straw replacements which, when used as a set, meet the needs of both consumers and environmental needs. It could be a better designed compostable straw, a way of recycling straws, a range of straws for different types of use.

The ones which apply with proposals which seem plausible, we fund their research and design up to an agreed price (including wages, obviously). We pay for this by getting corporations involved – it’d be great if we didn’t have to, but it’s the most obvious interim solution. They offer sponsorship and (possibly), say, a year’s paid placement in their research and development departments if their final design is chosen. In return, the companies can use that as a tax write-off, and their logos will be on the final design branding for a year or whatever.

Once you have a final design, the designers keep the intellectual property, but for two years the price to market is kept low to facilitate uptake across the country.


As it turns out, whatever is developed will almost certainly be applicable far beyond just straws.


Third: we increase and maintain pressure on corporations and governments to deal with plastic waste in better ways. The reality is that much of the plastic waste in the oceans comes from a few countries and since it’s pretty hypocritical of developed countries to say to developing countries that now we’ve reaped the benefits of rampant industrialisation, they have to not do the same thing because now we’re suddenly worried about the environment. This means that it’s on us to distribute some of that wealth by funding (not loaning – funding) systems for waste management, recycling, etc. Trash wheels in the major rivers, aiding in infrastructure development to move waste to managed landfill, etc. It means pressuring our governments to stop seeing any of this as a country by country issue. Climate change affects all of us, so it’s up to us to help where we can. Realistically, straws are a minute fraction of the waste which needs to be dealt with, and it’s only at the transnational level that real change will happen.


Disability activists still usually care deeply about the environment. We’re not arguing against straw bans just because we don’t want to be inconvenienced. What we want is for people to use their energy to make real, lasting changes which do not unfairly disadvantage already marginalised people. The future has to be accessible, or what kind of world are we bothering to create?


Straws. Again.

So Seattle has banned straws.

I’m so far past done with this, but it appears to be grumbling on, so once again. I apologise in advance – I used up all my gentle approach words last time.

Banning straws because you saw that sad video of a turtle is bullshit.

Straws are necessary for a large number of disabled people.

1 – But plastics are killing the planet
Yes, that’s true. Here are some better targets which don’t actually have a functional use: balloons, balloons, BALLOONS. If your answer to this example – something which actually has a base of evidence to show it’s harmful as opposed to a single emotive YouTube video – is that children like balloons, then take a long look at your priorities.

Straws are a tiny, tiny fraction of the plastic waste we generate but apparently it’s reasonable to expect disabled people not to be able to drink like other people do but it’s unreasonable to expect a child to go without a balloon they won’t notice the absence of.

2 – but you can get paper/metal/glass straws

Yes. We know. You’ve told us almost as many times as you’ve told us to try yoga or cbd oil to cure us.

Straws of those types do not meet the same needs as most plastic straws do. They can replace some straw use, and offering a few different types is a good idea, but the bendiness and poseability of plastic straws is one of their main selling points. If you’re a cinema, offering paper straws in place of the large, non-bendy plastic ones is a good option to have.

Re-usable straws require that you’re able to use the kind of fine motor skills to clean them THAT YOU PROBABLY DON’T HAVE IF YOU NEED A STRAW TO DRINK. Also, social vs medical model of disability: why is the expectation that the disabled person should do all the work of finding accessibility, rather than some of that weight being taken by the society in which we live? Other people get to go out and have a drink without having to bring their own cups.

And this should go without saying but ableds keep fucking it up so: YOU CANNOT TELL BY LOOKING AT A PERSON WHETHER OR NOT THEY’RE DISABLED AND YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO THEIR MEDICAL INFORMATION. If you see someone using a straw in a place where there’s a straw ban, just move the fuck on with your day because your average disabled person is tired of people like you demanding to know what their disability is. You have no right to ask. If you are working and a person asks for a plastic straw, give them a plastic straw. You can tell them that you also have other types of straw available, but don’t ask them why they need it. Sure, don’t just give them out to everyone as standard, but if someone asks for one, give them it. In some pubs I’ve been in, they just have a jar of straws on the bar so that, if you need one, you can take it.

3 – But the turtle
Yes. It was very sad. It was a good video. We should absolutely be pressuring corporations and governments to tighten up how waste is disposed of. Plastic waste like that should never reach the sea. However, making life harder and more inaccessible for a group of people already excluded by society is a dick move if it’s just to pat yourself on the back about how green you are. It doesn’t make much of a functional difference to the environment and you only think that straws are pointless because you’re lucky enough not to need them.

Balloons, on the other hand. That’s a good target for the energy you’ve been using on this, if you want a simple, easy way to show everyone that you care about plastics without you having to make any major personal changes to your life.

The Disabled Students’ Allowance and the Open University – My Experience

Let me tell you about my experience with the DSA, and by extension, the Open University, which is currently under threat. You should know why both are necessary to an accessible, decent society.
I had to leave university nearly 20 years ago when I got sick and was far too ill to stay in place, or pick up my studies later. Eventually, I decided that it was important to me to continue studying, even if it was in a different field, and I began a writing degree with the OU. It allowed me to do my work part time, with the ability to work from bed when I needed to. The OU is a world-class university, respected everywhere, and is absolutely invaluable to some of the country’s most marginalised groups – disabled people, single parents, the working poor, etc. It provides a stellar university education, over a longer period of time, with tons of support and flexibility.
However, a couple of years ago, I had to defer a module because the way it was set up just wasn’t working for me and I realised I needed more help than just the flexible and remote learning provided. The OU recommended that I apply for DSA and then I could start again with the support I needed.
I was terrified the day I went for my assessment. Having been through DWP assessments, I had a couple of panics beforehand and considered just dropping the whole thing. But still, I showed up.
It was a vision of the world we could have. It was beautiful. I cried my eyes out when I got home because it was the first time I had ever been in a situation where the basis of the interaction was ‘what do you struggle with? What do you think you need to be able to take part? And here are a bunch of things which are available which you might not even have thought of but which will make your life much easier.’
It wasn’t just equipment, though they set me up with a laptop which I could use from bed, an adjustable frame which would hold the laptop in bed or on a sofa or wherever I needed it, a headset and Dragon for when I struggle to type, an audio recorder for note taking, and some other bits. They also provided programmes which helped address some of my OCD issues by getting stuff down in map forms, for when I got overwhelmed by a blank screen, and a programme which took my audio notes and split them into sections for me to refer to.
And they also provided personal support, though in the end I didn’t need it – someone who could meet up with me every week or month or whatever I needed to see how I was getting on, to help me plan stuff out, to overcome some of the issues with remote learning and disability which make it hard to stay on track.
It was beautiful. I went back to my studies, and am in my second-to-last year. It is still my shining example for what the social model of disability in action looks like. ‘What support can we give to ensure you are able to take part in society?’
The OU is currently under threat, facing the loss of a third of its courses and transition to just being a ‘content provider’ instead of a world-class university. Because it isn’t profit-making. It is an institute of higher learning, which makes further education available to people who would never be able to go to university otherwise. The loss of the OU would be tragic beyond words. It is a public good, it is a benefit to the whole of society. Fight for it.
And, when developing plans for inclusion, look to the DSA for how to do it well.

Beyond The Default

I make a conscious effort to read outside what is normative – reading sci-fi by people from other cultures, like The Three-Body Problem or Lagoon, for example, or economics books by women like Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?: A Story About Women and Economics (these are affiliate links, which I’ve never tried before, but these are books I absolutely recommend). I am trying to be better at looking for women or POC to cite when I’m citing stuff, because they tend not to get the press or the credit for their work and I want to help address that.
When you’re looking for people for a panel, look for people from marginalised communities. It makes a huge difference, not just to them but to your work. It makes your work better to include people with different experiences.
I was recently at a conference where the majority of the attendees were disabled. After one workshop, the presenter commented to me that she was stunned by how many new ideas we had and that we weren’t just coming up with idealistic concepts, we were talking about how they would be implemented, governance structures, possible pitfalls, how to navigate conflicts of interest. I pointed out that disabled people have to problem solve on a level most people never have to. We require project management skills just to live our lives, to go to the shops, to get to work, to interact with people. We have a wealth of skill and experience that would make any project better. Employing us, inviting us to panels, consulting us – it isn’t charity. It benefits you.
So I try hard to extend the same consideration, the same awareness of how it is good for me, for my readers and for the people involved, to any organising I do from the construction of conferences down to who I choose to link to in online arguments. I have a long way to go, but the more we talk about doing this explicitly, the easier it becomes.
If you are looking for a citation, a guest for a panel, a speaker, a book to read, don’t just go for the defaults. Go past the easiest, obvious choices and it will do wonders for your work, your life, your world.

Notes From The Disability Frontline (Or: Stuff I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming Disabled)

I will probably update this from time to time as I think of more stuff.

1 – if someone is using a wheelchair and has someone with them, ALWAYS start from the assumption that the person using the chair is the person you’re dealing with. Speak to them normally. If appropriate, their carer will correct you. I can count on one hand the number of times strangers talked to me as an adult when I was using the chair (3.5 years full-time, on and off since).

2 – Wheelchairs are not tragedies. They are beautiful, miraculous things which allow people freedom. Using one when I need to allows me to conserve energy, means I can do much more than I would otherwise, reduces recovery time.

3 – Referring to yourself as disabled is not ‘giving up’ or ‘limiting yourself’. It gives you power to name, and therefore deal with, the ways society still sucks at being accessible. It gives you a baseline to start from in building a good life.

4 – Disability is a massive, massive umbrella. Static, mechanical impairments like paralysis and amputation are commonly thought of as ‘real’ disability, but that’s a fraction of the whole.

5 – Importantly, though, a common way of highlighting ways invisible disabilities affect people, that ‘you wouldn’t tell someone with cancer to just cheer up, in a wheelchair that they just need to think positively’ is, unfortunately, not true. People say that shit ALL THE TIME. Like, all the time. I have no idea how many times I have been told that I should just stop taking all my meds, or just try harder to walk, or think more positively, or have more faith in Jesus.

6 – Disability intersects with every other form of marginalisation. Disabled POC are much more likely to be over-policed, treated as threatening, have excessive force used on them. Disabled women are vastly more likely to be victims of sexual assault or domestic violence. Women with mental health conditions are more than four times as likely to be sexually assaulted, and disabled people rarely see justice because they are not treated as ‘credible witnesses’. Disabled children are vastly more likely to be bullied and to experience long-lasting trauma from their treatment. (updating sporadically because doing other stuff too)

7 – There is no disability hierarchy. People keep trying to impose one, but as soon as we draw those lines, the lines become shiftable. Saying addicts don’t count because they ‘chose’ it means you can say people hurt horse riding ‘chose’ it, or war veterans.

8 – Pain is not a morality issue. You are not a better person because you endure pain unnecessarily. We all make decisions about what we do about our pain, but it is not weakness to take medication. Pain is a major health risk.

9 – Medical treatment is not universally good or healthy. Many disabled people have trauma from bad experiences with medical professionals, and so support cannot be conditional on forced treatment.

10 – Disabled people are the targets of many, many charlatans. However, they are not ‘stupid’ for engaging with them when medicine has failed or hurt them. It’s important to fight the charlatans, not the people who are just surviving.

11 – Parents and caregivers of disabled people are important allies, but they should not be the spokespeople for disability. Interview them on issues of caregiving, but find disabled people to talk about disability.

12 – Disabled people are not a monolith. Disabled people can absolutely be brave, selfless, kind, but we can also be bitter, angry, devious, boring, honest, smart, positive, pessimistic, logical, conspiracy-theorising, gullible, shrewd, loyal, cheating, sexual, asexual.

Some of the first disability equality training I ever got included stock phrases used about disabled people. While most people rightly recognised that ‘disabled people are liars/fakers/whatever’ were false, they thought that ‘disabled people are brave and good people’ was true. No. Many of us are brave and good. Many of us are assholes. We’re just people.

13 – If you can, learn some basic signing. Hearing society excludes Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in so many ways, but the assumption that the full weight of responsibility is on them to communicate with us is ridiculous.

Don’t say ‘never mind’ if you realise someone is Deaf, ask how they want you to communicate, tap their arm lightly if you need to get their attention (don’t wave wildly in their face, don’t snap your fingers in front of their eyes, etc).

Recognise that Deaf Culture is a vibrant community, and that ‘curing’ Deafness is not a positive idea for many people. Do some research into how cochlear implants actually process sound, and how unpleasant they can be before sharing any inspiration porn videos about them. Understand that Deaf people are right to be suspicious of the medical model of disability, and that some people might want treatment while some don’t, and that it’s their choice to make. Again, see earlier point that treatment is not universally a good thing.

14 – See mobility aids as part of a person’s body. Treat them with respect. Do not move them without explicitly asking first. Never move a person’s wheelchair without asking them first. Never lean on it unless offered. Do not, as happened to me, hang your shopping off the handles if you are a total stranger and in a lift with a person using a chair.

A person may offer that if you are friends, in which case feel free to take them up on it, but let them offer.

15 – Fatness. Stay with me on this.

a) Many disabled people are fat. They might be fat for a huge variety of reasons, just like abled people. They might be more likely than the abled population to be fat because of specific conditions or medication. However, and this is important:

b) It doesn’t mean they’re the ‘good kind of fat’ while abled people are ‘the bad kind of fat’. People are fat for all kinds of reasons, and none of them are a moral issue, and very little about other people’s fatness is relevant to you.

c) Some people are fat because they are disabled, and some people are disabled because they are fat. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHICH CAME FIRST.

If a person is using a mobility scooter, it isn’t ok to mock them for using it if they are fat. It isn’t ok to mock them for using it at all. If a person is fat enough to be disabled by it, they are still disabled, just like every other disabled person, and are entitled to the same rights of access that everyone else is. Their health is between them and their doctor. It’s fuck all to do with you.

16 – Do not, with no prompting, ask someone ‘what’s wrong with you?’ You might be curious. You might be interested because you like them. Doesn’t matter. They’ll tell you if they want to. Don’t try to cover it up by saying it’s just cause you want to know how to help. People have a vast range of different needs even if they have the same diagnosis or impairment. Instead, say ‘Can I do anything to help?’ They’ll tell you if there is. Be honest about what you can do, don’t hurt yourself in order to help them, don’t help without asking. If they say no, LET IT GO. DO NOT INSIST ON HELPING. Say ‘Ok, let me know if anything comes up’, and move the fuck on.

17 – related: Do not, if they do decide to tell you what their disability is, immediately list everyone you know who has died of that condition.

This happens all the time. It’s never a good idea. For fucks’ sake.

18 – Accessibility is bigger than ramps and hearing loops. Those things are fundamental and useful, but they’re not enough. We have to change the way we, as a society, understand ‘worth’ and ‘value’, and then adjust our behaviours to match. For example: as a society, we believe that being able to live without the support of anyone else is the only ‘real’ way to be an adult. It’s bullshit. There are maybe a dozen people worldwide who do not rely on anyone else.

All of us rely on other people to some degree – we rely on them to grow our food, to transport it to nearby shops, to build shelters, to supply electricity. We don’t suddenly not need them just because we pay for their work. We all rely on other people to some degree, and some of us rely on each other more than others. It shouldn’t be necessary to live alone, without any financial, social or physical assistance from anyone, to be considered a functional human being.

Instead, we could all see that we’re part of a huge web of give and take that has many more forms than just monetary transactions. We have value beyond our ‘economic viability’. We could teach kids that and then newly disabled people wouldn’t have to spend years deprogramming.

19 – Not all forms of accessibility look how we want them to. Trigger warnings are accessibility issues as much as ramps are. It doesn’t matter that you don’t like them, it’s a disability issue.

20 – Sometimes, different accessibility needs contradict each other. Some people might need smooth pavements with no raises, while that can make navigation tough and/or dangerous if you are blind. Some people might need to type, while the sound can be overwhelming for others. It doesn’t mean that we don’t try to find ways to ensure that everyone has what they need. Sometimes that is as simple as different textures of pavement to denote different parts, but might also mean that you have different seating areas, or give lectures in multiple formats.

We are not absolved of our obligations to accessibility just because it can be complicated. If we approach it in good faith, by asking people what they need and trying to find new solutions, we will usually be able to do right by people. Disabled people, for the record, are often excellent problem solvers because of this. We have so much experience of finding ways around the world and its inaccessibility.

21 – related: Disabled people have value. We are a vast, mostly untapped resource of ingenuity, information, insight. Employ us or talk to us because the more diverse a group is, the more likely it is that you’ll get great ideas. New ideas.


On ‘Real’ and ‘Fake’ Disability

In response to this fantastic article: Forced to Fake It: How the System forces Disabled People to Lie

I know, more than many, the toll on trust that Munchausens by Internet has taken from us. The knitting world (weirdly) is chock full of fake deaths, fake illnesses. However, there is a common thread in the reactions to these weird and awful cases which disturbs me: that people like this make life harder for people with ‘real’ problems.

The only people who make life harder for us are the gatekeepers, the people who decide that they get to decide who is sick or disabled enough to deserve assistance. The fakers might well be grifting for money, or they might be sick in a way that isn’t obvious (spending the vast amount of energy it takes to keep systematic lies, personalities and often a few supporting characters going is a type of breakdown, and though it doesn’t make it any better for the people who trusted them, it is something which should be approached with caution).

But the people who really do us disabled people harm are the ones who, having seen these fakes, decide to be arbiters of justice by telling everyone who is sick and who isn’t. They pick over the inconsistencies of illness, the way we, as this article points out, are not allowed to be just disabled – we have to be disabled in the *right* way, in the way that abled people understand, for us to gain access to necessary services. I have to use a stick even when it hurts my wrist and elbow more than it helps my walking, because otherwise people get frustrated with me for walking so slowly, and don’t give me a seat when I desperately need it. They need the visual cue or they dismiss me as just another fat, lazy slob who wants an easy ride. The inconsistencies these ‘sleuths’ find are usually there because the disability is inconsistent. I can’t explain why I can walk around on one day but not another, or the complex calculus of hope and risk I work with when I decide to do something I really want to do even though I know it will cost me. To the outside world, it just looks like I’m disabled when it works for me, and not when I want to do something. I don’t talk about all the other times when I want to do something but can’t, or have to rest when I had planned to go out, or how lonely it gets. When it comes to faking things (as we all do, whether it’s enthusiasm for a friend’s night out or a partner’s hobby or whatever), I am much more commonly faking being well. I put on a great show as the person who needs a stick or a chair but is otherwise fine. I pretend I’m not always in pain. I pretend there won’t be a cost for my choice to go out with friends. I fake being healthy.

So please, be careful with your accusations of fakery. Be careful with your righteous anger. There are plenty of people out there who deserve to be criticised; the world is not lacking in monsters. Just be aware that the fakers aren’t somehow *making* you accuse other disabled people of faking. You’re making that choice, and you have to hope that you’re not just making life a lot harder for a person with a disability you don’t understand.

Toby Young’s Dizzingly Unscientific Eugenics Argument

Eugenics is the study of the agencies under social control, that improve or impair the racial qualities of future generations either physically or mentally. - Sir Francis Galton

By now, you’ll hopefully have heard all about how terrible a person Toby Young truly is. The man appointed by the UK government to a position on the board of the new English University Regulator believes that the Equality Act should be abolished because it is ‘ghastly’ that disabled people have access to education and that texts are not universally written by white men.

He has been explicitly misogynist, homophobic, racist and ableist, and a true litany of the Who’s Who of British Awfulness have been defending him. Kirstie Allsopp, in a now-deleted tweet, tried to blame his horrific statements on ‘Turrets Syndrome’ [sic], before saying that he doesn’t really believe the things he says and that it would be ‘a shame’ if he wasn’t allowed to take up his position.

Kirstie Mary Allsopp: If Toby Young was diagnosed with a rare form of turrets [sic] it would surprise his friends not one jot, he says things he neither believes nor means and is now reaping the whirlwind of that, but it will be a shame if this highly intelligent man isn't allowed to be in public service.
For the record, this isn’t even vaguely how Tourette Syndrome works. Not even slightly.
He does seem to embody that most particular of personality quirks of the British right wing – the idea that what makes a person intelligent is their ability to not care about anything, ever. That being casually cruel is a sign of an enhanced wit, and that caring about people and wanting to not harm them is a sign of intellectual weakness. Those of us who fight for human rights are well-acquainted with this fallacy – we are frequently told that only objectivity counts, and anyone who is angry, even if they are perfectly logical, has ‘lost’ the argument. As if it was a game, and not the stuff of people’s lives. Most are not quite as explicit as Toby Young, however, who claimed he was better placed to talk about racism than Diane Abbott because he hadn’t been affected by it. His defenders, among them Allsopp, Piers Morgan, Sarah Vine, Michael Gove, Stephen Daisley, Nick Timothy, all use the notion of his intelligence as a defence for, among so many other things, repeatedly referring to the breasts of women MPs, pretending to be a lesbian to try to ‘get off with them’ in a gay bar, referring to people with intellectual disabilities as ‘troglodytes’. For some reason, for all his vaunted intelligence, he didn’t think to scrub his profile and articles before his appointment was announced. Although he has now deleted thousands of tweets, articles and messages, there was plenty of time for people to get the necessary screenshots.

Inclusive. It’s one of those ghastly, politically correct words that has survived the demise of New Labour. Schools have got to be ‘inclusive’ these days.  That means wheelchair ramps, the complete works of Alice Walker in the school library (though no Mark Twain) and a Special Educational Needs Department that can cope with everything from Dyslexia to Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. If Gove is serious about wanting to bring back O-levels the government will have to repeal the Equality Act because any exam that isn't "accessible" to a functionally illiterate troglodyte with a mental age of six will be judged to be "elitist" and therefore forbidden by Harman's Law.

He and others continue their attempt to gaslight a nation by sticking to the hymnsheet: the outcry is because the left can’t deal with people who don’t agree with them, because the left are furious that they might not have a monopoly on higher education. The fact that far greater men than Young have been brought down in recent months by far lesser behaviours is, apparently, unimportant. As is the fact that people are outraged not just by his being a leering, cruel, bigot but because he is a proud, open eugenicist. He has talked about his eugenicist beliefs in both national and international media, on the BBC, in Australia and elsewhere. He makes no attempt to hide them, because he believes his ideas are a kind of (his words) ‘progressive eugenics‘.

I’m not going to go line for line through his full eugenic argument, but I’m going to distil the main reasons why, yes, these ideas are eugenics and yes, they are dangerous – not just ethically but also scientifically. People without the backing of scientific training might not know these things, and what Young excels at is using enough jargon to convince untrained people that he knows what he’s talking about. So, as briefly as possible, here is why those beliefs are dangerous even if they don’t involve the kind of eugenics where mass murder is the solution.

1 – IQ is a largely debunked concept when it comes to actual scientific measurement. It measures a very specific set of skills under very specific circumstances, and is no measure of ‘intelligence’, which is now considered at the very least to be far more complex than we ever assumed it was. Here is an article about why IQ is a worthless metric:

The idea that intelligence can be measured by IQ tests alone is a fallacy according to the largest single study into human cognition which found that it comprises of at least three distinct mental traits.

IQ tests have been used for decades to assess intelligence but they are fundamentally flawed because they do not take into account the complex nature of the human intellect and its different components, the study found.

2 – even if there was a way to measure intelligence, that in no sense means that it follows that intelligence is determined by genetics. As referred to in the above article, intelligence is an incredibly complex system which is affected by a vast, vast array of factors. Sure, there might well be genetic components to it, but they are unlikely to be specifically genes for intelligence – they will be genes which affect the types of chemical structures which affect neuroplasticity, for example, or which keep blood flow to the brain at a certain level, or any of a range of other things which are not specific to intelligence.
3 – even if we can isolate those genes, tampering with them is likely to have some unintended (at best) results. Changing the way neural pathways work, overloading them, etc, can have catastrophic effects. People who actually have conditions which enhance these aspects of their memory and intelligence are pretty often severely disabled by them, whether because of how overwhelming the required information processing is or because it carries other types of neural damage or because being that much smarter than everyone you meet is incredibly isolating.
4 – the primary text he uses as his reference in this article is The Bell Curve, by Hernnstein and Murray. It is an almost entirely debunked piece of ideological evopsych. Here is Scientific American’s takedown, here is one of the world’s leading cognitive psychologists writing soon after it was published, here is the New Yorker’s take, and a brilliant piece from NY Books on the sources used. Young is the first person I have seen seriously refer to it for years (as anything other than a cautionary tale of how bias destroys science) who wasn’t wearing a 1488 shirt or sporting an Iron Cross avatar. There are pages and pages and pages of posts about it on Stormfront.
It is a text beloved of Nazis, because it justifies in clear (though unscientific) terms their current vehicle of supremacy. They don’t hate black people or women or brown people or whatever, it’s not their fault that they’re lesser species, but we can’t ignore the ~science~.
5 – even if – EVEN IF – all of this were correct and possible, it would still be eugenics because it would be targeted control of the childbearing of a sector of the population. Things like, say, a blanket one-child policy might be considered eugenic, but if they are administered across the board with no fear or favour then it becomes a different form of control. That isn’t what this is. Even if it is theoretically a positive thing, it is used to change the way we understand our rights and responsibilities as potential parents and as a society. It is already happening – parents in many developed countries won’t have a child that isn’t totally healthy if they can test for it early enough. The fewer kids are born with disabilities, the less society feels a need to ensure that disabled people have access to it, the more it is seen as a tragedy rather than just a thing that is.
Once we test for intelligence, what about everything else? Why intelligence above all other factors, and not, say, disease resistance or strength or speed?
Leaving you with the words of Colossus: “It always begins as a joke. One sees a parent of whom they do not approve. And their brats won’t shut up and the parents are so exhausted they let their children scream and run wild. And you say to your friends, you should have a test to breed. You should have to get licenses to have kids.
It starts as a joke. Then perhaps there is a tragedy. A postpartum mother who needed help but her insurance didn’t cover the therapy. A father who failed because he believed men are pathetic if they are the caregivers. The first tests are drafted. And you think: “Good. Those children will be safe now.”
But now anyone with mental illness, with a criminal record, is barred from becoming a parent, and you think that’s sensible. Because you’ve never known anyone like that, so who’s to tell they are not like in the stories. Sick dangerous, criminal.
Suddenly, it is anyone with diabetes or cancer because they could die and leave their children as orphans. It is deaf couples, disabled couples, interracial couples, gay couples, because don’t they know how hard they are making it for their children?
Then it is whoever they want, and one day it is you. Some gene, some history, some past behavior and suddenly you too are sick, dangerous criminal. Because the truth is human hate can adapt to anything. You think you are safe. It if someone hates you he can come up with a reason after the fact. Only then do you realize what you put into power, what you stripped away.

There is terrible power in a joke, in a story, in taking the truth and making it ugly. Do you understand, children?”