Friday, January 9, 2009

eugenics for idiots

Well, "imbeciles"-- actually....

I've written on this at length (especially in this post/essay). But here's an interview by Damon Root with Paul Lombardo in Reason on the subject of his new book, Three Generations, No Imbeciles. Lombardo discusses the Supreme Court’s notorious 1927 decision in Buck v. Bell, which upheld a Virginia law allowing the state to forcibly sterilize the “feebleminded and socially inadequate.”

The famous quote from that case: In his majority opinion, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes dismissed Buck, her mother, and her daughter as “mental defectives” and declared, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

Q: Justice Holmes’ ruling shows incredible deference to the state.

A: It’s the most blunt kind of statism. If we can draft you into the Army, he suggests, then we ought to be able to sterilize you. We execute criminals; why can’t we sterilize these people in the asylums?...He says it’s not too much of a leap from doing a vaccination to cutting the fallopian tubes, as if these two things were somehow equivalent. So Holmes does really break new ground in terms of a radical definition of state power....


At January 9, 2009 at 8:21 AM , Blogger said...

"If we can draft you into the Army, he suggests, then we ought to be able to sterilize you."

Some argue that "if we license marriages, we should also license children."

Strange the "if, then" argument is seldom stated backwards: "If the gov't can't sterilze you, then the gov't shouldn't be allowed to draft you." Or, "If it's wrong to license children, it is also wrong to license spouses."


At January 9, 2009 at 8:33 AM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...


does that point towards a statist bent in general-- or more likely, the use of lame stories to promote a statist bent?


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