Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Sordid History of Eugenics in America

From Christine Niles:
During the so-called "Progressive Era," the United States became the first country in the world to implement wholesale compulsory sterilization laws with the aim of weeding out "inferior stock," i.e., eugenics, in order to produce a more "perfect" race. Multiple states passed laws requiring forcible sterilization of inmates, with the American Eugenics movement gaining traction among intellectual elites in the early 20th century. The American Eugenics Society was founded in 1926 with the aim of "improving the genetic composition of humans through controlled reproduction of different races and classes of people." 

The American Birth Control League, headed by one Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, worked out of the same office as the American Eugenics Society, and pushed the same eugenic goals. The American Eugenics Society published propaganda to persuade Americans that the "unfit" must be breeded out. Among those deemed "inferior stock" were individuals suffering from blindness, deafness, mental defects, disease, physical deformity and "feeblemindedness" (i.e., low IQ). (Read more.)

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, according to The Week:
Under existing asset forfeiture laws, it is legal for government officials to seize your gambling winnings, your Dan Brown paperbacks collection, your Lucky Charms collectible cereal bowl and spoon sets, or a bag of paper clips you might have lying around. If you want to get out of jail early in White County, Tennessee, you might have to let them take your fertility too.

I wish I were joking. But there is actually nothing amusing about Judge Sam Benningfield's standing order signed on May 15 awarding inmates 30 days worth of credit toward their jail sentences if they agree to undergo a sterility-inducing procedure — a vasectomy for male offenders, a Nexplananon implant for females. Both procedures are available free of charge courtesy of the Tennessee Department of Health.

This is not some kind of innovative crime-reduction plan. It is eugenics.

How exactly it is possible for a judge in a general sessions court with juvenile jurisdiction to impose this order and arrange the gratis performance of these operations with state funds is a question best left to legal experts. The ACLU has released a statement denouncing the program as "unconstitutional." The local district attorney has called it "concerning," citing the difficulties of reversing a procedure undergone by impressionable young offenders looking for a speedy way out of their difficulties. But I am not interested in the constitutionality of the program. It is evil. (Read more.)

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