Saturday, July 7, 2018

Why Buck v. Bell was not an Anomaly (Part IV)

Segregation, marriage laws and race:

Eugenics leaders and scientist also drew upon other methods, besides sterilization, to achieve their goal of a pure America. Two of the most popular were segregation and marriage laws. In the era of racist Jim Crow laws, laws opposing interracial marriage and placing “undesirables” into asylums was a common practice for eugenics supporters to achieve their goals. This is not too much different than today where minorities and the poor are segregated in our decaying inner cities fighting addictions and crime. Think about it; no one cares when blacks are killed on the streets of Chicago or die from a heroin overdose. The only stories that matter to the media are ones that affect whites in rural areas or in suburbs. The only reason people are starting to care about young adults and youths dying from drug overdoses is because the issue has spread to affect middle and upper class whites. No one cared when the problem was mostly centered on those inner city underprivileged individuals. It is modern day eugenics at practice: to let segregated underprivileged persons kill off each other in a form of legal euthanasia. The prison system is another example of segregation. Sure, hard core violent criminals need to be behind bars. But a vast majority of criminals are small time. For instance, many prisoners are there for drug possession. And possession of any illegal substance does not do anything to hurt the personal rights of other people so it is questionable as to whether possession is really a crime.

Immigration policy:

Eugenics influenced immigration policy in the 1920s. Immigration laws were changed to not only decrease the number of new immigrants, but limit certain types of immigrants such as Jews and those coming from continents other than Europe. In fact, immigration policy from Europe favored Western and Northern European Countries over those from the South and Eastern Europe. The government even required new immigrants to pass intellectual tests before they entered the country. Today, the fight on terrorism and illegal immigration has forced the U.S. to look seriously at its immigration policies.

Environment and Education:

Eugenic scientists did not give any credence to any variables that may lead to many of the “undesired” or “unwanted” qualities in humans other than hereditary. A few key variables ignored by eugenics followers were both the environment and education. Present day legislators also ignore the same obvious variables when it comes to fighting poverty. Modern governments feel any problem can be solved by throwing money at it. However, more money with the same environment and educational variables (curriculum, teachers, administrators, infrastructure etc.) is not going to change the outcome of any welfare recipients. The goal of eugenics was to stop poverty, addiction, low intellect, and crime by eliminating the offspring from “questionable” individuals whereas modern eugenics is focused on keeping the addicted, undereducated, and impoverished persons alive on welfare for the sole purpose of winning their vote. Both forms of eugenics fail to address the key reasons why it fails the poor: the environment and education. What’s worse, the environment and education are blatantly ignored for political purposes.


Buck v. Bell is still good law today because it has never been overruled. In Skinner v. Oklahoma (1942) the Court held that mandatory sterilization of criminals was not constitutional. The reason was because there was no consensus as to which criminals would qualify for the medical procedure. In other words, where is the line drawn to determine which crimes qualify and which do not. So in Skinner, the Court was not necessarily against mandatory sterilization, it was just not too sure which criminals should be sterilized and which ones should be spared. In a 2001 U.S. Eighth Circuit case, Vaughn v. Ruoff, the court cited Buck v. Bell and said “involuntary sterilization is not always unconstitutional.”

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