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Did you hear about that Newsweek thing going on in the States at the moment? This post from my favourite monkey (the Kung-fu Monkey) has a clear description that puts it all into focus. There is also a number of swear words.
For a “lighter” story, try this one about the American eugenics program of the 1920’s to 1970’s. “From the early 1900s to the 1970s, some 65,000 men and women were sterilized in [the US], many without their knowledge, as part of a government eugenics program to keep so-called undesirables from reproducing”.
Waikato ethicist and Brother-in-law Scott responded to my inquiry about whether the article could be true:
I’m not angling for controversy here at the Hammer, but it seems like if you surf the net you just bump into it.
Unfortunately the article is probably true (if it isn't true, it's so damn close as to not matter). In Medical ethics, we covered eugenics (the belief that medical problems can/should be solved using selective breeding) briefly. It was commonly considered a good idea in most of Europe (including the UK) and the US. The US held several conferences on it before the Second World War, and prided itself on implementing programs well before Hitler was in power. After the war, propaganda used against Hitler meant that the public associated eugenics with Nazism (a reasonable association), and the public were simply not told it was continuing. I have a funny feeling doctors might still believe this stuff (eugenics is to doctors what the rational free market is to economists). In Nazi Germany, the rate of euthanasia of those people considered unfit to live (intellectually/physically disabled) was (so I've read) dependent only on doctor's moral choices, rather than any kind of incentive or censure. Apparently doctors were killing people outside the criteria because they wanted to. The American problem seems to just be a more "acceptable" continuation of that. Here is another source to cross reference.
Ps. José got hate mail the other day at his other post, and I am so jealous.
Pps. I accidentaly called Scott a sociologist and he gave a more accurate weblink for eugenics as well.