Saturday, October 05, 2013

Even Churchill got some things wrong

Churchill and Eugenics: "The Feeble-Minded Control Bill rejected compulsory sterilisation, but made it a punishable misdemeanour to marry or attempt to marry a mental defective, or to solemnise, procure or connive at such a marriage. It provided for registration and segregation. And it gave the Home Secretary the power to commit any person who fell outside the definition of feeble-mindedness but whose circumstances appeared to warrant his inclusion.

On its first reading, the Bill had only thirty-eight opponents. But the Liberal newspapers opposed it vigorously, and Josiah Wedgwood, a Liberal Member of Parliament, denounced it as a "monstrous violation" of individual rights. Roman Catholics leaders denounced it as "contrary to Christian morals and elementary human rights." When Wedgwood spoke in the House of Commons against it, he called it "legislation for the sake of a scientific creed which in ten years may be discredited.""

Well, so the progressives were all in favor of forced sterilization and the only opponents at first were Christians? Who knew? I particularly like the sensibility which calls out a political enthusiasm based on a scientific theory as a "creed which in ten years may be discredited." Just so. The heart of science is uncertainty. Something members of the Church of Global Warming might do well to remember. Moral Panics--not just for right-wing populists anymore.

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