Octomom and Oliver Wendell Holmes


From the LA Times on the octuplets mother:

In 1999, she was injured during a riot at Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk when she was hit in the back with a desk. She went on temporary disability and was paid nearly $170,000 in disability benefits between 2000 and 2008 for injuries to her back, neck and shoulder, the records show.

What kind of hospital has a riot? Oh, that kind …

The LA Times doesn`t explain, but Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, founded in 1915, is an old-fashioned 162 acre sanitarium for mental patients. So, Octomom was locked up for being crazy back in 1999 before she had any of her 14 kids.

Is there a policy issue here or are we just dealing with anomalous insanity? Perhaps. I think we`re seeing an extreme case of the reaction to pre-War eugenics in action here.

Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. has been relentlessly castigated for decades for opining in the 1927 case Bell v. Buck upholding a forced sterilization that “Three generations of morons were enough.” That was a classic Progressive-era busybody view.

In reaction, we`ve moved very far in the opposite direction. A couple I once knew wanted to have their extremely retarded daughter (non-speaking, non-toilet trained) sterilized so she wouldn`t get pregnant if some predator thought that the perfect rape victim would be a woman who couldn`t testify in court. The state wouldn`t allow it because the ACLU had sued over it.

Octomom appears quite capable of doing it again — she`s only 33 — but I haven`t heard any “respectable” calls for sterilizing her against her will (although plenty of ordinary citizens have called for it in Internet comment sections). It would be just so eugenicy, so Oliver Wendell Holmesy for anybody to even think of doing such a thing.

It`s an extreme case, and I don`t have an opinion on what the law should be, but it does provide a measure of the zeitgeist.

(For my opinions on eugenics, see here and here.