India man to sue parents for giving birth to him
February 7, 2019 11:54 AM   Subscribe

A 27-year-old Indian man plans to sue his parents for giving birth to him without his consent. Taking "I wish I had never been born" and turning it into action. "I must admire my son's temerity to want to take his parents to court knowing both of us are lawyers. And if Raphael could come up with a rational explanation as to how we could have sought his consent to be born, I will accept my fault," she said. Mr Samuel's belief is rooted in what's called anti-natalism - a philosophy that argues that life is so full of misery that people should stop procreating immediately.
posted by GoblinHoney (58 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I would settle for the ability to sue someone else's parents for raising assholes that affect my life.
posted by delfin at 12:04 PM on February 7 [64 favorites]

That quote from his mother should be listed in the dictionary under "droll."
posted by duffell at 12:05 PM on February 7 [38 favorites]

The parents are merely puppets of a generations-long conspiracy to engineer a class of humans possessing the biological characteristics best-suited to propagating genetic information. Sue the nucleotides.
posted by logicpunk at 12:06 PM on February 7 [11 favorites]

Since there's such a things as pregnancies that spontaneously abort, sometimes for no clear reason, how do we know that life doesn't involve consent?
posted by wildblueyonder at 12:07 PM on February 7 [13 favorites]

So wait, he doesnt have a lawyer yet and from what i know of the Indian courts, even if he did the odds of his parents still even being alive by the time the case was heard would be . . . not good.

also his fake beard is whack.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:07 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]

Reminds me of this
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:08 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]

Birth is a curse and existence is a prison.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:11 PM on February 7 [27 favorites]

Wasn't this an episode of Ally McBeal? Or am I thinking of the one where the boy wanted to sue God?
posted by octobersurprise at 12:12 PM on February 7

This is a little bit silly, but I empathize. Puts me in mind of an inversion of the trope of "parents present child with invoice for 18 years of upbringing", where you're not allowed to reproduce unless you can endow your offspring with an existence fund designed to last 70-odd years.
posted by salt grass at 12:14 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]

somebody needs to send this guy a card
posted by philip-random at 12:15 PM on February 7

I would not turn down a trust fund an existence fund, is what I'm saying.
posted by salt grass at 12:15 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]

It would be interesting if the court establishes/confirms a right to suicide on the basis of this case.
posted by explosion at 12:16 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]

Sooo... if the Court decides in his favour and orders such measures as would place him back in his original position, he would no longer have standing to sue.
posted by Capt. Renault at 12:20 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]

Oh, his mom is definitely the comedian here: "Mum said she wished she had met me before I was born and that if she did, she definitely wouldn't have had me," he says laughing and adds that she does see reason in his argument.


six months ago, one day at breakfast, he told his mother that he was planning to sue her. "She said that's fine, but don't expect me to go easy on you. I will destroy you in court."
posted by Emmy Rae at 12:23 PM on February 7 [94 favorites]

I don't like how Onion articles are now reality in the year 2019.
posted by Fizz at 12:35 PM on February 7 [26 favorites]

This guy is a dope. His mom should sue him for being a PITA.
posted by freecellwizard at 12:38 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]

Anti-natalists rise up.
posted by gucci mane at 12:44 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]

I sympathize with him and believe suicide is a human right. As far as the actual case goes... well, we all bond with our families in our own ways. It seems they’re having fun with it.
posted by thoroughburro at 12:47 PM on February 7 [14 favorites]

Even if there's a mental health thing here, that fake beard is ridiculous. But I kind of feel like he knows part of this is ridiculous, which is why I feel okay saying that much. He doesn't even really seem like he has a serious depression problem? Or at least it suggests that he's actually working and not, say, disabled and desperate for financial support. He seems like he's having a philosophical argument with his parents, who are attorneys, and they aren't taking it seriously, so he's trying to establish that no, he does genuinely believe this and he wants them to engage with it. If he genuinely believes this, I don't agree with him, but... well, it might suck to have parents who argue for a living but won't engage with the things you think and believe in the same way that they do their work.

Not "suck" in a way that entitles you to huge sums of money or anything, obviously. But still. I can see being frustrated.
posted by Sequence at 12:47 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]

this guy made a bad facebook meme page and is having a larf with his mom. that's all it is, folks.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:49 PM on February 7 [10 favorites]

This is literally the plot of the Lebanese film Capernaum, which is currently nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
posted by Awkward Philip at 12:53 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]

The paradox is, if he wins he'll be really happy.
posted by Beginner's Mind at 12:54 PM on February 7

Instant counter suit: son now enjoying life I have been mandated to justly end.
posted by thoroughburro at 12:57 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]

What this guy is doing is very silly, I assume deliberately so.

Anti-natalism is an idea that's very hard to look right in the face, because the conclusions can be so deeply upsetting. I found it very liberating, however, to be able to admit to myself that life as I experience it, on balance, is more bad than it is good, that I wasn't crazy or rotten for thinking so, and that I had not, in fact, asked for any of this.

Every Cradle is a Grave, by Sarah Perry, changed my life a little bit.
posted by Sokka shot first at 1:05 PM on February 7 [22 favorites]

In following that link, Sokka, I see that Amazon's "Sponsored products related to this item" includes a book called Self Talk: How to Train Your Brain to Turn Negative Thinking into Positive Thinking & Practice Self Love.

I have definite antinatalist feelings, but I don't express them much for a lot of reasons. One is that I have major depression, and it's difficult, if not impossible, to tell where one begins and the other ends. Hence the widespread depression and death-wish jokes on Twitter, so well known that brands are beginning to monetize them.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:17 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]

When I read the headline, I thought this was going to be about someone who had to sue his parents to get their insurance to cover his treatment for some genetic defect.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:27 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]

His parents are taking this a lot chiller than mine would.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:39 PM on February 7

In the U.S. system at least, the remedy for a claim sounding in tort is an award that would restore the plaintiff/victim to the position that she would have been in had the defendant/tortfeasor not committed the tort. In this situation... that's not going to be workable.
posted by skewed at 1:40 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]

Yeah, this whole thing and all the people involved in it seem a lot more reasonable than the headlines would lead you to expect. I'd be really interested to see how it goes.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:42 PM on February 7

Most people take care of this impulse with passive aggression. If the court rules for him and takes his life away, he definitely won't have a leg to stand on.
posted by Oyéah at 1:43 PM on February 7

“Oh, wretched ephemeral race … why do you compel me to tell you what it would be most expedient for you not to hear? What is best of all is utterly beyond your reach: not to be born, not to be, to be nothing. But the second best for you is—to die soon.” - Silenus in The Birth of Tragedy
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 1:47 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]

Anti-natalists aren't committed to saying that their lives are bad. It's consistent to say "my life is mostly pleasurable, but most lives are mostly painful, so it was morally wrong of my parents to roll the dice."
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:53 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]

It seems obvious to me that this is some sort of performance art and intended to drive traffic up on his website.

Look for his dirge metal band "existential regret" EP- Why mom Why?
posted by Dillionaire at 1:58 PM on February 7

Mr Samuel, of course, understands that our consent can't be sought before we are born, but insists that "it was not our decision to be born".

Kurt Vonnegut suggested that this was a defense to be used on Judgement Day.
posted by nubs at 1:59 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]

I have a rough time with natalist AND antinatalist philosophical positions.

It's clear enough to me that the universe exists, that there can be great pleasure in experiencing its beauty and understanding a tiny sliver of its scientific basis during the brief span of existence. The only thing that would be worse than a universe full of mortal beings, some of whom suffer sometimes, would be a universe without any minds at all to appreciate it and themselves. So in that sense I'm firmly (pro)natalist.

On the other hand, suppose someone invents a "suffering AI" and creates instances of it by the billion, just because they can. If the suffering of the AI is "real suffering", a just moral system would act to prevent their actions, and prevent further suffering (possibly including terminating the AIs that were already created, but certainly stopping the creation of new ones)

Somewhere between "deliberately creating creatures only for them to suffer and die" and "being a member of a prosperous society in a peaceful time and having kids you can reasonably expect the same for" is the world we find ourselves in: A 1-in-3 lifetime chance of sexual assault? A 1-in-20 chance of dying from cancer? A 1-in-a-million birth defect? Or, the prospect of global warming, of large-scale war over resources, of living through a civil war or dictatorship in your home country?

There must be some point, depending on your personal circumstances and the circumstances of your society, where natalism is clearly no longer a tenable moral choice. I'm pessimistic enough to think that now is one of those times...
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 1:59 PM on February 7 [8 favorites]

In her statement, his mother also said it was unfair to focus on a "sliver of what he believes in".

"His belief in anti-natalism, his concern for the burden on Earth's resources due to needless life, his sensitivity toward the pain experienced unwittingly by children while growing up and so much more has been ruefully forgotten.

"I'm very happy that my son has grown up into a fearless, independent-thinking young man. He is sure to find his path to happiness."

Mr Samuel says his decision to take his parents to court is only based on his belief that the world would be a much better place without human beings in it.
OK, OK, ha ha fake beard Indian weirdo, but putting aside the Lord Haw Haw colonial crap there's a serious point here.

It is simply a fact that the world would be a better place without so many human beings in it. I know this for certain, because when I was a child the world had four billion fewer people in it than it does now - less than half its present population - and on every metric except those rooted in the way we treat each other, it was better.

The Barrier Reef had only just started to get destroyed by the crown of thorns starfish whose larvae get dumped in it with the ballast water from international container ships. Most of it was still astonishingly beautiful.

It was possible - easy even - to find places to camp for free in or near any town in Australia.

There were a million square kilometres - that's a hundred million hectares, two hundred and fifty million acres - more Amazon rainforest than there is now.

The climate was not significantly different than it had been for the previous thousand years.

Peak hour on the roads in my home city actually lasted for an hour or less, not for three hours.

There was more plankton in the oceans than plastic.

The refrigerant-caused polar ozone holes had not happened yet.

Orangutans had something resembling a future.

Desalination plants supplying major cities were not a thing, mainly because they would have been redundant. And on, and on, and on.

By the time I was twenty years old it was completely apparent to me that humanity was algae in a planetary pond that wasn't getting any bigger, that we were at about that point in the life cycle of an algal bloom just before the water gets so thick with us that we kill ourselves off and take most of the pond life down with us, and that the single most important moral choice I would ever have to make was how to respond to that knowledge.

Unlike algal cells, human beings have a nuanced understanding of the future. It should not be beyond the wit of humanity to understand the need for voluntarily lowering our reproduction rate below our natural attrition rate for a few centuries in order to curb our bloom as gently as possible.

At thirty I had still seen no evidence that this view was incorrect, and got myself sterilized before reproducing. It seemed to me at the time, and still does, that this is a contribution to the solution proportionate to my own existence's contribution to the problem; slightly over the odds if anything, given that any new people I did add would more than likely end up members of the same privileged over-consuming culture as me.

None of us consented to being made. But given that all of us are here and real and actual and not mere potential people, it strikes me as insane to end our lives deliberately early for no better reason than that there are completely obviously already far too many of us, and cowardly to live in denial that this is in fact the case.

All that said, I have no respect at all for any claim that personal suffering, rather than an appreciation for the way ecologies work, is a sound basis on which to come to that view.
posted by flabdablet at 2:02 PM on February 7 [12 favorites]

Great, another dude trying to tell women what they should or shouldn't do with their bodies.

I have little patience for arguments like this that handwave away the existence of joy, or refuses to countenance the idea that even a few moments of wonder are worth some amount-- even a great amount-- of suffering.

Extra take: the Earth never asked to be born, either.
posted by phooky at 2:10 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]

You’re handwaving away the non-existence of joy which many experience.
posted by thoroughburro at 2:18 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]

I have little patience for arguments like this that handwave away the existence of joy, or refuses to countenance the idea that even a few moments of wonder are worth some amount-- even a great amount-- of suffering.

Well I have little patience for arguments like yours that handwave away the persistence of human suffering and refuse to countenance the utter meaninglessness of "wonder" and "joy" for many individuals. I have arguably had one or two moments of wonder or joy in my life but they don't begin to make a dent in the suffering, and my life is easy.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:19 PM on February 7 [18 favorites]

Conversely, this is a woman telling a dude he has to have a body.

P.S. The Earth did ask to be born, filled out the petition forms and everything, got sick of life in an accretion disc.
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:19 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]

Sometimes the beans overthink themselves.
posted by klanawa at 2:21 PM on February 7 [12 favorites]

Great, another dude trying to tell women what they should or shouldn't do with their bodies.

And yet, the argument that humans must continue to exist, are indeed obligated to continue to exist and be created, on the basis of potential for "joy" and "wonder" and in spite of a "great amount" of suffering is literally what anti-choice assholes scream at me on Twitter every day.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:22 PM on February 7 [14 favorites]

another dude trying to tell women what they should or shouldn't do with their bodies

To be fair, he's suing both his parents.
posted by flabdablet at 3:00 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]

Instead of suing my parents, I'm going to sue Luminarias because their 2-for-1 margarita special is the reason I'm here on this planet.
posted by betweenthebars at 3:49 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]

And the Luminarias buffet is one reason why there’s so much of me on this planet. I think there’s a pattern emerging here.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 4:12 PM on February 7 [9 favorites]

point of order - antinatalism is not founded on the idea that life is so full of misery that one should not procreate. it is founded on the idea that we have a moral duty to minimize harm to others, and that all lives will experience suffering. Reproducing guarantees suffering in the reproduced.

I am an antinatalist. I am not a nihilist. I find Mr. Samuel's antics amusing and am unconvinced that he is serious.
posted by mwhybark at 7:30 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]

This guy may be clowning a bit with his fake beard, but I've read incels voicing suspiciously similar things, and with their tendency to project their self-loathing onto just about everyone else, I shudder to think of one of them getting access to the smallpox vault.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:45 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]

Dude does NOT understand karma.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:01 PM on February 7

Peak post-millennial death-drive.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:19 PM on February 7

I understand where this guy’s coming from but the way to get back at your parents is to be a massive disappointment on every conceivable axis, just like I have.
posted by um at 8:30 PM on February 7 [18 favorites]

antinatalism is ... founded on the idea that we have a moral duty to minimize harm to others, and that all lives will experience suffering. Reproducing guarantees suffering in the reproduced.

This line of reasoning is one of the ones I have no time for. It rapidly takes a turn into the weeds of useless bickering as soon as somebody raises the point that having a moral duty to minimize harm to others doesn't automatically imply an easy out in the form of minimizing total others.

I take the view instead that as well as doing our best to avoid causing avoidable harm and to make amends for such harm as we do cause, our fundamental moral duty is to leave systems and spaces we share with others in better condition when we leave them than they were in when we entered (a principle that applies at all scales, from the share-house kitchen to the workplace to the Earth as a whole). This strikes me as a much more defensible basis for voluntarily winding back our present dominance of the ecosystems we operate within, because that kind of dominance always and everywhere impoverishes ecosystems.

So knowing that there are nearly eight billion of us already in existence, with us and our livestock accounting for 95% of the mass of all the planet's mammals and more living species in decline than at any time in living memory, while being distinctly unenthusiastic about both murder and suicide, I'm a pragmatic present-era antinatalist who objects to principled timeless antinatalism, the embrace of which strikes me as involving the very same fundamental failure of clear thinking being parodied here by Raphael Samuel and his excellent parents.
posted by flabdablet at 10:53 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]

Anti-natalists aren't committed to saying that their lives are bad. It's consistent to say "my life is mostly pleasurable, but most lives are mostly painful, so it was morally wrong of my parents to roll the dice."

That's only the first step. The second realization is that everyone is unbearably miserable, and anyone who claims otherwise is either delusional or lying to hurt others.

The third stage is to understand that it is one's moral duty to end this suffering in the most permanent way possible.

The fourth stage is to make a costume and become a Batman villain.

It is simply a fact that the world would be a better place without so many human beings in it.

Hence the Involuntary Human Extinction Movement. Which is getting to be more of an Avengers level problem.

I wonder how many people here have T-shirts saying "Thanos didn't go far enough"?
posted by happyroach at 10:58 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]

i may be totally alone here, but... i guess as someone who grew up with a sibling who meant this very seriously – wasn't formally or philosophically an anti-natalist per se, but seriously held my parents responsible for having created him, which he never wanted, none of the sort of philosophy-bro cheekiness i read in this case – and as someone who used to be a serious buddhist, with what in retrospect was a pretty shitty view of buddhism deeply distorted by my using it as a way to deal with trauma and depression – saw it as essentially a movement towards mass-extinction (don't @ me real buddhists) and an attempt to attain a sort of living death – my main objection to anti-natalism (at least when primarily premised on the suffering argument) is that is seems to idealize nothing/non-existence, which is impossible... you cannot have not been born. if you weren't born then there would be no you (that should be obvious and go without saying) to wish to have not been born; there would be nothing, but not even that, because there's already a certain being of nothing when you exist to say "there is" or "there isn't". 無 or whatever.
guess what i'm saying is like amor fati, burn your schopenhauer, there's no exit, etc. also not to mention all the class baggage anti-natalism carries: yes, we're an enlightened, well-to-do upper-middle class well-educated couple, we realize life is suffering, we're not going to have kids, we're going to leave existence to the unwashed masses who are still attached to their paltry enjoyments and sufferings while we live our best lives, do yoga, meditate, and fuck (but no procreation!). i feel like this whole things has been pretty screedy but it's pretty touchy subject matter, yknow
posted by LeviQayin at 11:36 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]

I would be anti-natalist but babies are delicious and I can't see myself just giving those up any time soon.
posted by loquacious at 3:19 AM on February 8 [13 favorites]

"I got an idea. Let’s make the car a place of silent reflection from now on. Okay?"
posted by Prince Lazy I at 4:56 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]

Yes, yes, entertainment. That's what she is. We'd already visited Iceland, so we figured this year, let's have a baby.
posted by Naberius at 7:45 AM on February 8

Damn, and here I thought I was petulant in my twenties.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:52 PM on February 9

I'm guessing by the comments my opinion is not popular, but I did feel some heavy ethical guilt when I had my baby. I can't guarantee that her life will be good or even more good than bad on balance. There is a lot of misery and pain in this world. I was reading a lot of Cioran right before I found out I was pregnant, and I now carefully choose to ignore this subject whenever it pops up in my mind. I mean, I did have a baby for my pleasure and personal development. It was purely a selfish decision. I adore her, though, and now my only realistic option is to protect her and prepare her to face the world as well as I can, but that doesn't remove the fact that I made a life-changing decision for her for my own pleasure.

I realize there is no way to get consent for birth, but it is an interesting ethical dilemma. It reminds me of Cohle in true detective, talking about his daughter's death:

"Think of the hubris it must take to yank a soul out of non existence into this... meat, to force a life into this... thresher. That's... so my daughter, she spared me the sin of being a father."
posted by Tarumba at 8:25 AM on February 13 [2 favorites]

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