Friday, September 30, 2005

Is Asexualization Ever Justifiable?


Is Asexualization Ever Justifiable In The Case Of Imbecile Children

READ AT VINELAND MEETING, 1905


S.D. RISLEY, M.D. PHILADELPHIA.




In no direction possibly has greater advance been made during the past century on medico-sociologic lines than in our knowledge of the defective classses of the population; this knowledge, however, has served only to afford a more adequate comprehension of the extreme complexity of the problem of how we can best deal with these unfortunates. Careful study of the social evolution of the race has, on the one hand, taught us the hopeless condition of the habitual criminal, the mentally defective and pauper classes. In large measure discouragement has thus far been the result of our endeavor to re­form the one or train to useful citizenship the other. The higher ethical considerations cause us to stand aghast at the suggestion that they be left, as indeed they were before the advent of the Christian era, to the unobstructed operation of the law of selection. This law, harsh, and utterly void of sym­pathy as at first sight it seems, was nevertheless the natural method of progress for the race; but under modern social conditions with its altruistic ideals, based upon the recognition of a universal brotherhood, the weak and unfortunate are protected against the operation of the law which ordained their destruction. In the eye of the law of selection they were reprobate. We have sought for their physical redemption but have been taught the futility of our well-meant endeavors. We have fed and clothed the pauper, and sought to imbue him with the spirit of thrift and self-help, but like “the sow that was washed he has returned to wallow in the mire.” Instead of hanging the thief, as was done in former times, he has been placed in a reformatory, taught useful trades and his mind stored with moral precepts; “but can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?” The criminal too often remains the criminal still. He, too, is reprobate. We have reared asylums and training schools for the feebleminded, and have sought to protect and to train them into useful lives only to discover that they too are the victims of a physical and moral reprobation.

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