Civil Liberties

North Carolina Will Give Victims of Involuntary Sterlization $50,000 in Comp.


How do you close out a disgusting chapter in the history of eugenics? If you're the state of North Carolina, by taking forever to cough up token compensation of $50,000 per victim.

From an AP account:

State officials sterilized more than 7,600 people in North Carolina from 1929 to 1974 under eugenics programs, which at the time were aimed at creating what was seen as a better society by weeding out people such as criminals and mentally disabled people considered undesirable.

North Carolina was not the only state to engage in the practice. But it was different because it ramped up sterilizations after World War II despite associations between eugenics and Nazi Germany. About 70 percent of all North Carolina's sterilizations were performed after the war, peaking in the 1950s, according to state records. The state officially ended the program in 1977.

A task force report last year said 1,500 to 2,000 of those victims were still alive, and the state has verified 72 victims.

More here.

The Winston-Salem Journal has put together a stunning series on the program. Go to it here.

Always worth remembering: Oliver Wendell Holmes' chilling statement in Buck v. Bell, the 1927 Supreme Court case upholding such programs:

"The public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives," wrote Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes for the majority in that case, Buck v. Bell. "It would be strange indeed if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices…in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence….Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

Also worth remembering: Holmes' bon mot that "taxes are the price we pay for civilization."

A 1997 piece by yours truly discussing how the two are sentiments are linked.

Reason on eugenics, which is always done for "the right reasons" and according to the "best science" available.