Skip

Our future lies . . . with eugenics???
March 27, 2002 3:02 PM   Subscribe

Our future lies . . . with eugenics??? "The useful and intelligent classes should be allowed, indeed encouraged, to breed, and the murderous morons, who are never going to contribute anything except misery to themselves and others should be discouraged. No one need be killed." If this wasn't published in the London Telegraph, I'd think it was from the lunatic fringe. Is A. N. Wilson attempting satire or auditioning for the lead in Springtime for Hitler?
posted by Erendadus (25 comments total)

 
This particular man may be loony... but in general...

Why is this lunatic? Growth must end, eventually, and why shouldn't the reasonably competent be the ones with genes going forward... and this is not anything murderous, just encouragement and discouragment.

Course, the problem is, who's to decide who does the encouraging and the discouraging.... ?

I'm not so much for *encouraging* anyone... but the breeding of incompetents [IE: those who can't fully support their children] should, at the least, not be state-funded. I fail to see why people should be able to hand me the bill for their procreation...and this includes paying to educate their progeny... when I didn't get a say in their decision to have kids. In essence, that's taxation without representation.
posted by dissent at 3:35 PM on March 27, 2002


And, no, on consideration, this particular man seems quite reasonable. Once again, the problem is... who gets to set the guidelines?
posted by dissent at 3:37 PM on March 27, 2002


I do, of course. Sheesh.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:39 PM on March 27, 2002


anybody who's in favor of eugenics shouldn't be allowed to reproduce.
posted by signal at 3:46 PM on March 27, 2002


yikes. this has some holes in it. Judges come from "well-to-do-families", because they can afford to send their kids to the best schools, get the best education and are extended societal and heriditary priviledges...

Ugh, so there is no hope for the people who through sheer force of will, intelligence and wit manage to pull themselves out of the gutter despite their parental baggage? Oh yeah, that question never need arise, as under eugenics they wouldn't have ever been born...
posted by jkaczor at 4:05 PM on March 27, 2002


This sounds similar to the theme of the famous science fiction short story The Marching Morons by C. M. Kornbluth. Essentially, it deals with the fact that "intelligent" people tend to have fewer children than the rest, and that eventually that will lead us into problems.

Personally, after some days at work, I think we may already be there...
posted by elvolio at 5:47 PM on March 27, 2002


You'll find The Image Archive of the American Eugenics Movement enlightening. Would your parents have been found "defective"? Would YOU? Some of the best parents I know would have been sterilized as "defective." My guess is Wilson would sterilize the same groups of people, if he had his way.
posted by realjanetkagan at 6:09 PM on March 27, 2002


If this wasn't published in the London Telegraph, I'd think it was from the lunatic fringe

The Telegraph isn't the lunatic fringe..?
posted by normy at 6:16 PM on March 27, 2002


This is clearly propaganda for stage three of WWOT1 (World War on Terrorism 1). First we go after the evil doers in Afghanistan, then the evil manufacturers of weapons of mass destruction (Iraq) and then we go after the evil recipients of welfare (unwed mothers and the dumb). I can't wait to see the CNN subtitle for this last stage!

Better check my pedigree to see what side I am on. Where did I put that damn pedigree? Oh right. I fed it to the dog!
posted by srboisvert at 7:00 PM on March 27, 2002


Those of you that aren't familiar with eugenics or its effects would do well to learn about Buck v. Bell. Here in Virginia, we decided in 1927 that it was acceptable to sterilize people against their will for being sub-standard. We were really just catching up to California, who had been doing it for awhile, as eugenics was very trendy in the 20s. By the mid-1930s, our country had forced 20,000 people to be sterilized. Carrie Buck is the most well-known victim. As a seventeen-year-old girl, she was selected to be the first Virginian sterilized under our 1924 Eugenical Sterlization Act. She was chosen because her baby was said to be "not quite normal" and "below average," and because she had "a record of immorality" and was "anti-social." It is worth noting that she had a child because she was raped, and that she was an honor roll student in school. During the trial, Oliver Wendell Holmes argued for her sterilization, saying famously:

"We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the state for these lesser sacrifices. . . . It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that stains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

Just last week, the Virginia House passed a bill that will create a memorial to Carrie Buck here in Charlottesville.

For more information on eugenics' history in Virginia, read:

UVa Prof. Lombardo's "Eugenic Sterilization Laws"
Stephen Jay Gould's "Carrie Buck's Daughter"
Salon.com's "Playing God"

And most useful (and most powerful), The Image Archive on the American Eugenics Movement.

Eugenics is a huge can of worms. If you advocate it, do so knowing that you don't understand the ethical ramifications. That's because no rational individual that understands medical ethics could ever advocate eugenics.
posted by waldo at 10:17 PM on March 27, 2002


It's hard to take an article containing the phrase "baby hooligan" seriously.
posted by monosyllabic at 11:16 PM on March 27, 2002


sterilise rapists and bring back the death penalty on murder in the UK.
posted by Frasermoo at 12:57 AM on March 28, 2002


I showed that article to a friend of mine - here is his response, which I thought worth posting for sheer causticness.

"He has a point. I mean lets face it look at the increase in scum on the streets, these fuc*ers are breeding, they are producing more and more concentrated scum.
I think anyone who wears a baseball cap, flattens his hair down with wax, wears addidas track suit bottoms, and drives any car that has been 'modified' should be dragged off the streets, and castrated with a pair of rusty scissors. Also any girl walking down the street with scrunchies in
her hair, and any visible sign of perm, and too much cheap make up, also wearing sports clothing and screaming obscenities at her kids while chugging on a B&H should also be sterilised by a struck off doctor with a coat hanger."

he is an angry young man.
posted by Frasermoo at 1:53 AM on March 28, 2002


Once I was debating this subject with some friends. It all had started with some news about euthanasia and someone mentioned that it was the second step towards eugenics (first, abortion; second, euthanasia). Some of them went on saying that we should not allow poor people to breed and that if the unborn baby was tested positive for any phisical problems the pregnancy should be terminated.

Personally, I think that we should be putting our efforts in making this world a better place to live, not in keeping people from living on it. I think that if you get to be taught some tolerance and respect towards people in general, it's very hard to accept this ideas.

What about diversity? I thought that it played a major role in our evolution. The issue should be dealing better with it, not trying to avoid it by all means.

It's incredible that we can easily find people pro-eugenics on issues like this (it's very easy to think that the end of misery could be achieved with the castration of the miserable ones). But as soon as you start to push it a bit harder (like asking people if they think that the end of racism should be achieved by stoping all people from different color skins from breeding - haven't we seen this before?), they start to loose their 'well-thought' arguments.
posted by rexgregbr at 3:44 AM on March 28, 2002


A history of the eugenics movement.

That the author would praise Galton's ideas, truly racist and based on misunderstood genetics, is amazing... The closest ideological relatives of Galton's living today is probably Aryan Nations or something similar... The added irony is that this argument is set forward in a country in general demographic decline...
posted by talos at 4:23 AM on March 28, 2002


The gostak distims the doshes!
posted by straight at 6:15 AM on March 28, 2002


I'm this has been posted in the past, but here's an interesting article that suggests that the dramatic decrease in crime that occured in the 1990s can be correlated to the previous decade's dramatic increase in abortions among mothers from the classes that produce the most criminals. In other words, voluntary, pre-emptive eugenics. Interesting. (While there is much to be said for preventing the conception of -- not aborting -- future criminals, I can't help thinking about all the artistic geniuses who were spawned by rowdy, criminal environments, from Irving Berlin to -- hey, me!)
posted by Faze at 7:16 AM on March 28, 2002


Here's a fairly cogent argument against the theory that more abortions=less crime.

Personally, I don't like equating abortion or euthanasia with eugenics. There's a difference between permitting personal choice in medical issues and legislating or enforcing those same medical issues. I like the idea of having as few people on earth as possible, and sometimes I wish I could mete out sterilization as punishment for people who litter, chew gum too loudly, or honk their horns outside my apartment, but those are obviously selfish and capricious feelings. This gives me the impression that people who avidly support eugenics are inwardly just selfish, emotionally overwrought and/or stunted creeps. (Not unlike myself. I just don't choose to entertain the idea for more than a few minutes.)


posted by cowboy_sally at 8:01 AM on March 28, 2002


>and that if the unborn baby was tested positive for any
>phisical problems the pregnancy should be terminated.

Hmmm, so if we could test for "Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis" which horribly eats away at a person eventually leaving them immobile, we would abort the fetus immediately, right?

pity, we need less of these deficient people, right?
posted by jkaczor at 8:34 AM on March 28, 2002


As to the eugenics advocacy vs. social satire argument, this article is a remarkable failure either way.

"The ever-growing hooligan class" is a boring canard that's been around for about five hundred years, at least. What a stupid article.
posted by Skot at 8:43 AM on March 28, 2002


What about diversity? I thought that it played a major role in our evolution. The issue should be dealing better with it, not trying to avoid it by all means.

We don't really evolve anymore. Natural selection has been quite stifled; I'm blind as a bat without my glasses and physically awkward, and I had a childhood marked by allergy and illness. Were this prehistoric days, I likely would have been little help in a hunt and would have quickly met my demise at the hand of a predator.

I have no problem with eugenics in theory, but in practice, seemingly worthless parents have worthwhile children on a fairly regular basis. If wealth were one of the criteria, my parents likely never would have been allowed to breed. And there's also this thing called "regression to the mean," where smart parents often have children closer to average intelligence than they are.
posted by kindall at 8:52 AM on March 28, 2002


It reminds me of the original modest proposal, only I think this guy is serious.
posted by boltman at 9:02 AM on March 28, 2002


Hmmm, so if we could test for "Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis" which horribly eats away at a person eventually leaving them immobile, we would abort the fetus immediately, right?

Anecdotal evidence. If Hawking hadn't come along, someone else would have taken his place. And in any event... who's to say that if his parents had screened their embryos, chosen one that lacked the gene in question, that there wouldn't have been a healthy Stephen Hawking that would have accomplished just as much...? After all, he was far on the path to brilliance before the disease manifested, so you can't say it was responsible for his greatness.

If the cost of losing Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is "losing" a Hawking... or two... or one hundred... I'm not worried. They'll be made up. No one person is irreplaceable.

But once here, once born, once sentient, the life of any one person is irreplaceable. Therefore, the duty to make sure those lives are free of such diseases, when this can easily be done at the pre-birth, pre-sentient phase, is compelling.
posted by dissent at 11:20 AM on March 28, 2002


We don't really evolve anymore. Natural selection has been quite stifled; I'm blind as a bat without my glasses and physically awkward, and I had a childhood marked by allergy and illness. Were this prehistoric days, I likely would have been little help in a hunt and would have quickly met my demise at the hand of a predator.

Yeah, and if you'd been born back when the earth's atmosphere had more methane than oxygen you'd have been in trouble too. So?

We're "evolving" every bit as much as we ever did. We just have a different environment than our ancestors, and so natural selection is going to select for whoever can survive and breed most effectively in this environment.
posted by straight at 12:44 PM on March 28, 2002


We're "evolving" every bit as much as we ever did. We just have a different environment than our ancestors, and so natural selection is going to select for whoever can survive and breed most effectively in this environment.

Actually human evolution arguably will keep going as long as genetic diseases kill babies, but the mechanisms of natural selection have been knocked back more than a few notches thanks to doctors finally taking germ theory seriously after much debate and name calling and the whole healthcare thing.

No prophet I, for all I know we'll fall into barbarism next week and use up all our precious drugs in a year.
posted by skallas at 5:16 PM on March 28, 2002


« Older   |   This New Yorker article Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post