Thursday, May 25, 2006

Building a Better Race

So it turns out F.W. Hatch practiced eugenics. How long before the tide turns again to "sexually suspect" women? There is a new "moral panic" brewing and we read more and more about women sexual predators.

From: Building a Better Race: Gender, Sexuality, and Eugenics from the Turn of the Century to the Baby BoomBook by Wendy Kline; University of California Press, 2001

Dr. F. W Hatch, the general superintendent of California state hospitals, strongly agreed with the findings of Lucas and Terman and used their conclusions to promote the eugenic strategy of segregating sexually suspect women. Sonoma's adoption of Goddard's term, moron, to designate the highest grade of mental defect also reflected the belief that moral deficiency and mental deficiency were closely related. In Hatch's discussion of high-grade morons at Sonoma, he noted their “lack of the moral sense” and their inability to “resist the impulse to do wrong.” He echoed Goddard 's argument that morality was a learned concept and therefore unavailable to the mentally deficient. “The foundation of their troubles, ” Hatch said of the moron class, “is to be found usually in a true lack of development of brain or mind engrafted upon them by their ancestors, which greatly limits their capacities to benefit by study or to properly exercise their will power.” By claiming immoral behavior had ancestral origins, Hatch was applying a eugenic argument to justify the segregation of the mentally (or morally) deficient. 32

Hatch was therefore very much in support of Lucas's conclusion. Based on his survey, the doctor recommended that Sonoma establish a “high grade moron colony for girls, ” consisting of eight or ten cottages, “each holding 15 or 20 girls, with a housemother and teacher residing with each group.” Lucas stressed that the colony should be “erected at some distance from the present group of buildings” to protect other inmates from corruption. Using the medical metaphor of contagion, Lucas contributed to a construction of the female moron as a life-threatening, race-threatening contaminant. Hatch, Dawson, the Board of Charities and Corrections, and the Commission in Lunacy all responded enthusiastically, pressing the state of California to allocate funds for such a colony. 33


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