by Denyse O'Leary
Birth control pioneer Sanger thought that the pivot of civilization was getting rid of the carriers of supposed bad genes. Fat genes. Rat genes. Frat genes. Whatever. In her hands, the glorious cause was never about personal choice. It was about eugenics. Or, as Margaret liked to say: More children from the fit, less from the unfit.
So what happens?
If crime, pauperism, alcoholism, and general feeble-mindedness (however defined) are thought to be the result of genetic imperfections, then the eugenist will want to get rid of those genes by getting rid of the gene carriers. All it takes to construct a devouring eugenic juggernaut is the suspicion that there is some connection between particular genes and particular imperfections. In Sanger's deranged mind, a low or even moderate IQ was linked inextricably to nearly every social ill. It doesn't matter that she was wrong, what matters is if enough other people think she's right, and pseudo-science becomes well-funded public policy.And people can actually be punished with babies.
Next: Ten Worst Books 7: Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf (1925)
Toronto-based Canadian journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of the multiple award-winning By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy. She was named CBA Canada's Recommended Author of the Year in 2005 and is co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of The Spiritual Brain: A neuroscientist's case for the existence of the soul (Harper 2007).
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