Eugenics Quote of the Day: ‘Defective (ie, ‘disabled’) people should not be allowed to reproduce for the good of the state.’ RZ Mason, mayor of Appleton, WI

R.Z. Mason, mayor of Appleton, WI, “The Duty of the State in its Treatment of the Deaf and Dumb, the Blind, the Idiotic, the Crippled and Deformed, and the Insane.” [Source]

In the progress of modern civilization, the state has come slowly to a recognition of certain duties and obligations to these unfortunate classes.  At present we take up the subject in the interests not only of humanity and of sound political philosophy, but also in the interests and light of modern science.  […]  The question arises, whether the state shall expend its hundreds of thousands of dollars per annum in the almost hopeless effort to correct congenital malformations, to subdue the frantic manifestations of insanity, to counteract the subtle forms of organic disease, and to educate the feeble minded and still allow these pre-natal and constitutional disorders to flow on through countless generations of the unborn.


It is not too early in the history of man, I more fear it is too late, to ask the question, should a radically defective organization be allowed to perpetuate itself by reproduction?  To this I would answer, that for the good of the race it should not.  This must be our conclusion unless we are prepared to adopt the modern school of Euthanasists, who take the ground, that when a human being cannot live and be happy, he has the right to claim of society the boon of death, legally administered.  I would modify the position by saying rather, that such an unfortunate had a right not to be born; yet, having been born, perhaps the Euthanasist may say that he has the right to ask the privilege of an early, painless death.


If the doctrine is true, that the fittest only should live, then it follows as a rational corollary that, in a society of rational men, where the interests of a race capable of indefinite development are blended, that “the fittest only should be born.” To reproduce and fill the world with posterity is not always a duty.   Certainly not always a privilege.  The law makes it a crime where the parties have not taken the legal steps to provide, as far as may be for the protection, the education and general well being of future offspring.  Why should not the law adopt the sound maxim, that no person has the right to throw upon the charities of the world, his diseased, deformed and insane offspring.


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