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From the "Just When You Thought Your Opinion of The Grand Ol' US of A Couldn't Sink Any Lower" Department:

Governor Mark Warner of the Commonwealth of Virginia recently oversaw the placement of a plaque on the side of the highway in Charlottesville, VA memorializing the Supreme Court case of Buck vs Bell. Now hundreds of drivers per day can whiz by and wonder what the small print on it said and remain as completely unaware of the great state of Virginia's dabbling in eugenics as they were before. Virginia was one of 30 states to actively practice eugenics during the 20th century, breeding out traits that it deemed undesirable: mental illness, mental retardation, epilepsy, alcoholism, criminal behavior, you name it.

How, you may ask, did it go about this? Why that's easy: forcible sterilization. Virginia was the trendsetter back in 1924 when Carrie Buck, a young unwed woman, barely 18 years of age, was sterilized after giving birth. Others would follow. Rose Brooks, age 17, also unwed, gave birth to twin sons and suffered the same treatment. Having been deemed unworthy of passing along any more of her genes, she certainly was not considered a suitable parent for her children and they were given up for adoption. She would not meet her boys until 1991. Jesse Franklin Meadows was also sterilized at the same facility, the State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble Minded in Lynchburg, where he was told it would be "good for his health" and that he wouldn't have any "feeble-minded" children. He was then hired at very low wages to perform menial labor at the hospital and farms in the area.

Carrie Buck's case was the example upon which 29 other states based their eugenics laws. Virginia's eugenics program would not come to an end until 1979, during which time 7,450 people were sterilized. Nationwide, a total of more than 60,000 people were selectively bred out of the human race. German eugenicists of the time applauded the country's efforts.

75 years later, Virginia got to be a trendsetter once again, becoming the first state to apologize for its heinous acts. Not a formal apology, of course. That would expose the state to a potential lawsuit. Heaven forbid that the state should actually pay for its crimes. A small ceremony and a quick statement of apology would have to do. Simply another footnote in the history books, just like Carrie Buck, Rose Brooks and Jesse Franklin Meadows.


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