The Netherlands have always been at the cutting edge of social progress. Religion. Philosophy. Gay marriage. Wooden footwear. Sex and drugs. Savage, spice-based colonialism. You name it, the Dutch have done it first. So it is no wonder that the latest Dutch invention might be the grandest of them all: legal precedent to sue your parents for making you alive.
Like all great human advancements, this latest is the unintended byproduct of something monstrous and comical. Jan Karbaat, a pioneer in the field of fertility science, is alleged to have fathered more than 60 children out of his clinic in Bijdorp. The clinic was shuttered in 2009 amid claims the good doctor falsified donor analysis and descriptions.
He would never consent to DNA tests while alive, but since his death, analysis has been run on things scrounged up from his apartment and a number of Dutch Millennials will find out who their real biological father was. Critically, the BBC tells us that "if the DNA profile matches, the children, most of them born in the 1980s, hope to sue the doctor, possibly on the grounds that they should not exist."
It's hard to understate the significance here. We may be on the cusp of getting cold hard cash back for the burden of being born into a bullshit world. It might even force people to be careful before they selfishly wreck the planet.
Think about it. Most of us seem to be incapable of not being cruel and wasteful pieces of shit based on moral reasoning or basic human empathy alone. At least, I assume this is the case, given that everyone over the age of 40 has the same plan for dealing with climate change or the crisis of capitalism, namely, "run this shit into the ground and die before it pops off."
So imagine the courts grant us the power to make our parents' generation directly financially responsible for the wretchedness of living on the planet. Maybe they'll think twice about buying that coal-fired SUV or voting for the guy who wants to legalize hunting the homeless for sport. If it's a choice between sorting your paper and plastic now or having your ungrateful children posting memes on Facebook like "tfw you expropriate dad's house" later, most people will go with the recycling.
There are some other spin-off benefits too, of course. This will be a good test-run for litigation ahead of the future fads in soft-eugenics we're inevitably going to see cropping up as fertility science lets us get better at genetic curation. We are, at most, a generation away from a ruling caste of deathless CRISPR babies so it's good to know ahead of time who we can sue for this and why, before they ship us plebs out to the asteroid mines.
And also: we can finally stick it to the ancient Greek pessimists. "Call no man happy until he is dead?" Bitch, please—you've clearly never swaggered out of a courtroom making it rain the accumulated spoils of all dead generations on your squad. "Best of all for mortal beings is never to have been born at all?" How about getting fucking paid, Theognis. Lighten up.
Godspeed to you, Dutch children. We will build monuments to your triumph in our cities on the Moon. Just don't get carried away with the post-decision champagne, or else the kids will have to sue you too.
Follow Drew Brown on Twitter.