Monday, May 12, 2008


One of the coolest things about traveling is the opportunity to read, uninterrupted, for several hours. I often say I hate to travel, but oh, how I love the reading time. I managed to read a book start-to-finish on my trip last week, a real rarity. I get to read AND I actually finish a book? Whoa!

Anyway, the book is G.K. Chesterton's Eugenics and Other Evils. [NOTE: eugenics is the study of hereditary "improvement" of the human race by controlled selective breeding. Yes, you read that correctly].

It's a brilliant book (did Chesterton write any other kind?), written in 1922, when eugenics was very popular among scientists, politicians and academia. Naturally, while the rich and powerful liked eugenics, it was less popular among the poor, the marginalized, the outsiders, the oppressed and anyone else in the category of "unfit." But while eugenics was popular in 1922, it wasn't quite national policy... yet. So, GKC was characteristically ahead of his time when he wrote "It is often essential to resist a tyranny before it exists."

A decade after GKC's book, everyone's favorite villain Adolph Hitler took eugenic principles to their twisted, evil, logical conclusion.

As I finished the book, I sighed in relief. "Whew," I thought. "It's actually kind of a good thing for us today that Hitler supported eugenics, because that connection to Nazi's should make it pretty unlikely for anyone today to adopt such a view or talk about things like 'racial hygiene.'"

Yeah, you'd think so, wouldn't you? But a quick google search turned up more than a few pro-eugenics websites, like Future Generations. Yikes! If you can stomach it, Marian Van Court wrote "The Case For Eugenics In A Nutshell," published in 2004. It includes lines like "If the retarded were given sufficient cash or other incentives to adopt permanent birth control, mental retardation could be cut by approximately 1/3 in just one generation..."

Better yet, skip Van Court's stuff, and go right to GKC's book, which you can download for free here. Looks like this tyranny must again be resisted before it exists... again.

1 comment:

Gabe said...

Stupid Google!

(That was a Homerism in case you din't get it)