Imbeciles

The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck

Author: Adam Cohen

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 1101980834

Category: History

Page: 416

View: 831

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Longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction One of America’s great miscarriages of justice, the Supreme Court’s infamous 1927 Buck v. Bell ruling made government sterilization of “undesirable” citizens the law of the land In 1927, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling so disturbing, ignorant, and cruel that it stands as one of the great injustices in American history. In Imbeciles, bestselling author Adam Cohen exposes the court’s decision to allow the sterilization of a young woman it wrongly thought to be “feebleminded” and to champion the mass eugenic sterilization of undesirable citizens for the greater good of the country. The 8–1 ruling was signed by some of the most revered figures in American law—including Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former U.S. president; and Louis Brandeis, a progressive icon. Oliver Wendell Holmes, considered by many the greatest Supreme Court justice in history, wrote the majority opinion, including the court’s famous declaration “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Imbeciles is the shocking story of Buck v. Bell, a legal case that challenges our faith in American justice. A gripping courtroom drama, it pits a helpless young woman against powerful scientists, lawyers, and judges who believed that eugenic measures were necessary to save the nation from being “swamped with incompetence.” At the center was Carrie Buck, who was born into a poor family in Charlottesville, Virginia, and taken in by a foster family, until she became pregnant out of wedlock. She was then declared “feebleminded” and shipped off to the Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded. Buck v. Bell unfolded against the backdrop of a nation in the thrall of eugenics, which many Americans thought would uplift the human race. Congress embraced this fervor, enacting the first laws designed to prevent immigration by Italians, Jews, and other groups charged with being genetically inferior. Cohen shows how Buck arrived at the colony at just the wrong time, when influential scientists and politicians were looking for a “test case” to determine whether Virginia’s new eugenic sterilization law could withstand a legal challenge. A cabal of powerful men lined up against her, and no one stood up for her—not even her lawyer, who, it is now clear, was in collusion with the men who wanted her sterilized. In the end, Buck’s case was heard by the Supreme Court, the institution established by the founders to ensure that justice would prevail. The court could have seen through the false claim that Buck was a threat to the gene pool, or it could have found that forced sterilization was a violation of her rights. Instead, Holmes, a scion of several prominent Boston Brahmin families, who was raised to believe in the superiority of his own bloodlines, wrote a vicious, haunting decision upholding Buck’s sterilization and imploring the nation to sterilize many more. Holmes got his wish, and before the madness ended some sixty to seventy thousand Americans were sterilized. Cohen overturns cherished myths and demolishes lauded figures in relentless pursuit of the truth. With the intellectual force of a legal brief and the passion of a front-page exposé, Imbeciles is an ardent indictment of our champions of justice and our optimistic faith in progress, as well as a triumph of American legal and social history. From the Hardcover edition.
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Three Generations, No Imbeciles

Eugenics, the Supreme Court, and Buck V. Bell

Author: Paul A. Lombardo

Publisher: JHU Press

ISBN: 0801890101

Category: History

Page: 365

View: 4598

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Looks at the case Buck v. Bell, covering the events of the trial and the 1927 Supreme Court case which upheld Virginia's compulsory sterilization of "feebleminded" individuals.
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Why Fish Don't Exist

A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life

Author: Lulu Miller

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

ISBN: 1501160370

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 240

View: 5428

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A wondrous debut from an extraordinary new voice in nonfiction, Why Fish Don’t Exist is a dark and astonishing tale of love, chaos, scientific obsession, and—possibly—even murder. David Starr Jordan was a taxonomist, a man possessed with bringing order to the natural world. In time, he would be credited with discovering nearly a fifth of the fish known to humans in his day. But the more of the hidden blueprint of life he uncovered, the harder the universe seemed to try to thwart him. His specimen collections were demolished by lightning, by fire, and eventually by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake—which sent more than a thousand of his discoveries, housed in fragile glass jars, plummeting to the floor. In an instant, his life’s work was shattered. Many might have given up, given in to despair. But Jordan? He surveyed the wreckage at his feet, found the first fish he recognized, and confidently began to rebuild his collection. And this time, he introduced one clever innovation that he believed would at last protect his work against the chaos of the world. When NPR reporter Lulu Miller first heard this anecdote in passing, she took Jordan for a fool—a cautionary tale in hubris, or denial. But as her own life slowly unraveled, she began to wonder about him. Perhaps instead he was a model for how to go on when all seemed lost. What she would unearth about his life would transform her understanding of history, morality, and the world beneath her feet. Part biography, part memoir, part scientific adventure, Why Fish Don’t Exist reads like a fable about how to persevere in a world where chaos will always prevail.
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Crime Without Punishment

Aspects of the History of Homicide

Author: Lawrence M. Friedman

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

ISBN: 1108619762

Category: Law

Page: N.A

View: 2500

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In this compelling book, Lawrence M. Friedman looks at situations where killing is condemned by law but not by social norms and, therefore, is rarely punished. He shows how penal codes categorize homicides by degree of intent, which are in turn based on society's sense of moral outrage. Despite being officially defined as murder, many homicides have historically gone unpunished. Friedman looks at early vigilante justice, crimes of passion, murder of necessity, mercy killings, and assisted suicides. In his explorations of these unpunished homicides, Friedman probes what these circumstances tell us about conflicts in social and cultural norms and the interaction of law and society.
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American Pharaoh

Mayor Richard J. Daley - His Battle for Chicago and the Nation

Author: Adam Cohen,Elizabeth Taylor

Publisher: Hachette UK

ISBN: 0759524270

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 640

View: 8468

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This is a biography of mayor Richard J. Daley. It is the story of his rise from the working-class Irish neighbourhood of his childhood to his role as one of the most important figures in 20th century American politics.
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Supreme Inequality

The Supreme Court's Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America

Author: Adam Cohen

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 0735221510

Category: Political Science

Page: 448

View: 679

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From New York Times bestselling author Adam Cohen, a revelatory examination of the conservative direction of the Supreme Court over the last fifty years since the Nixon administration In 1969, newly elected president Richard Nixon launched an assault on the Supreme Court. He appointed four conservative justices in just three years, dismantling its previous liberal majority and setting it on a rightward course that continues to today. Before this drastic upheaval, the Court, led by Chief Justice Earl Warren, had been a powerful force for equality and inclusion, expanding the rights of the poor and racial minorities. Its rulings integrated schools across the South, established the Miranda warning for suspects in police custody, and recognized the principle of one person, one vote. But when Warren retired, Nixon used his four nominations to put a stop to that liberal agenda, and turn the Court into a force for his own views about what kind of nation America should be. In Supreme Inequality, bestselling author Adam Cohen surveys the most significant Supreme Court rulings since the Nixon era and exposes how rarely the Court has veered away from its agenda of promoting inequality. Contrary to what Americans like to believe, the Court does little to protect the rights of the poor and disadvantaged; in fact, it has not been on their side for fifty years. Many of the greatest successes of the Warren Court, in areas such as school desegregation, voting rights, and protecting workers, have been abandoned in favor of rulings that protect corporations and privileged Americans, who tend to be white, wealthy, and powerful. As the nation comes to grips with two new Trump-appointed justices, Cohen proves beyond doubt that the modern Court has been one of the leading forces behind the nation's soaring level of economic inequality, and that an institution revered as a source of fairness has been systematically making America less fair. A triumph of American legal, political, and social history, Supreme Inequality holds to account the highest court in the land, and shows how much damage it has done to America's ideals of equality, democracy, and justice for all.
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The Perfect Store

Inside eBay

Author: Adam Cohen

Publisher: Hachette UK

ISBN: 031605464X

Category: Business & Economics

Page: 300

View: 6091

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When Pierre Omidyar launched a clunky website from a spare bedroom over Labor Day weekend of 1995, he wanted to see if he could use the Internet to create a perfect market. He never guessed his old-computer-parts and Beanie Baby exchange would revolutionize the world of commerce. Now, Adam Cohen, the only journalist ever to get full access to the company, tells the remarkable story of eBay's rise. He describes how eBay built the most passionate community ever to form in cyberspace and forged a business that triumphed over larger, better-funded rivals. And he explores the ever-widening array of enlistees in the eBay revolution, from a stay-at-home mom who had to rent a warehouse for her thriving business selling bubble-wrap on eBay to the young MBA who started eBay Motors (which within months of its launch was on track to sell $1 billion in cars a year), to collectors nervously bidding thousands of dollars on antique clothing-irons. Adam Cohen's fascinating look inside eBay is essential reading for anyone trying to figure out what's next. If you want to truly understand the Internet economy, "The Perfect Store" is indispensable.
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Better for All the World

The Secret History of Forced Sterilization and America's Quest for Racial Purity

Author: Harry Bruinius

Publisher: Vintage

ISBN: 0375713050

Category: History

Page: 401

View: 7830

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Traces the history of eugenics in the United States, drawing on personal letters, diaries, and documents to chronicle the little-known quest for racial purity.
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The Supreme Court Reborn

The Constitutional Revolution in the Age of Roosevelt

Author: William E. Leuchtenburg

Publisher: Oxford University Press

ISBN: 0199839387

Category: Law

Page: 368

View: 6827

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For almost sixty years, the results of the New Deal have been an accepted part of political life. Social Security, to take one example, is now seen as every American's birthright. But to validate this revolutionary legislation, Franklin Roosevelt had to fight a ferocious battle against the opposition of the Supreme Court--which was entrenched in laissez faire orthodoxy. After many lost battles, Roosevelt won his war with the Court, launching a Constitutional revolution that went far beyond anything he envisioned. In The Supreme Court Reborn, esteemed scholar William E. Leuchtenburg explores the critical episodes of the legal revolution that created the Court we know today. Leuchtenburg deftly portrays the events leading up to Roosevelt's showdown with the Supreme Court. Committed to laissez faire doctrine, the conservative "Four Horsemen"--Justices Butler, Van Devanter, Sutherland, and McReynolds, aided by the swing vote of Justice Owen Roberts--struck down one regulatory law after another, outraging Roosevelt and much of the Depression-stricken nation. Leuchtenburg demonstrates that Roosevelt thought he had the backing of the country as he prepared a scheme to undermine the Four Hoursemen. Famous (or infamous) as the "Court-packing plan," this proposal would have allowed the president to add one new justice for every sitting justice over the age of seventy. The plan picked up considerable momentum in Congress; it was only after a change in the voting of Justice Roberts (called "the switch in time that saved nine") and the death of Senate Majority Leader Joseph T. Robinson that it shuddered to a halt. Rosevelt's persistence led to one of his biggest legislative defeats. Despite the failure of the Court-packing plan, however, the president won his battle with the Supreme Court; one by one, the Four Horsemen left the bench, to be replaced by Roosevelt appointees. Leuchtenburg explores the far-reaching nature of FDR's victory. As a consequence of the Constitutional Revolution that began in 1937, not only was the New Deal upheld (as precedent after precedent was overturned), but also the Court began a dramatic expansion of Civil liberties that would culminate in the Warren Court. Among the surprises was Senator Hugo Black, who faced widespread opposition for his lack of qualifications when he was appointed as associate justice; shortly afterward, a reporter revealed that he had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Despite that background, Black became an articulate spokesman for individual liberty. William E. Leuchtenburg is one of America's premier historians, a scholar who combines depth of learning with a graceful style. This superbly crafted book sheds new light on the great Constitutional crisis of our century, illuminating the legal and political battles that created today's Supreme Court.
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Hideous Progeny

Disability, Eugenics, and Classic Horror Cinema

Author: Angela Smith

Publisher: Columbia University Press

ISBN: 0231527853

Category: Performing Arts

Page: 384

View: 6311

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Twisted bodies, deformed faces, aberrant behavior, and abnormal desires characterized the hideous creatures of classic Hollywood horror, which thrilled audiences with their sheer grotesqueness. Most critics have interpreted these traits as symptoms of sexual repression or as metaphors for other kinds of marginalized identities, yet Angela M. Smith conducts a richer investigation into the period's social and cultural preoccupations. She finds instead a fascination with eugenics and physical and cognitive debility in the narrative and spectacle of classic 1930s horror, heightened by the viewer's desire for visions of vulnerability and transformation. Reading such films as Dracula (1931), Frankenstein (1931), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Freaks (1932), and Mad Love (1935) against early-twentieth-century disability discourse and propaganda on racial and biological purity, Smith showcases classic horror's dependence on the narratives of eugenics and physiognomics. She also notes the genre's conflicted and often contradictory visualizations. Smith ultimately locates an indictment of biological determinism in filmmakers' visceral treatments, which take the impossibility of racial improvement and bodily perfection to sensationalistic heights. Playing up the artifice and conventions of disabled monsters, filmmakers exploited the fears and yearnings of their audience, accentuating both the perversity of the medical and scientific gaze and the debilitating experience of watching horror. Classic horror films therefore encourage empathy with the disabled monster, offering captive viewers an unsettling encounter with their own impairment. Smith's work profoundly advances cinema and disability studies, in addition to general histories concerning the construction of social and political attitudes toward the Other.
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