Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/94

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such as have a white, hairless skin, that have never acquired an appreciation of cause and effect, of the importance of controlling the sex-passion, of the necessity of regarding the rights and feelings of others. The marvel is not that these strains still persist, but rather that they have been so nearly exterminated.

This brings us to the subject of the control of mental defectiveness. We see at once that there must have been at work, even in prehistoric times, a sort of natural control by the elimination of those incapable of meeting the ever-increasing complexities of "advancing civilization."

As man spread to the north those strains that had not acquired the trait of hoarding for the winter mostly perished of cold and hunger; those strains that had not acquired the sense of property rights and tended to invade the stores of others were always in danger of being cut off. In England, less than a century ago, there were 323 classes of offences punishable by death. Under such rigid selection "defective" ancestral strains tended to be eliminated.

To-day, in our most highly civilized countries, the process of elimination of the unfit animal strains is largely reversed. We protect, in an institution, the members of a weak strain up to the period of reproduction and then let them free upon the community and encourage them to leave a large progeny of "feeble-minded"; which, in turn, protected from infantile mortality and carefully nurtured up to the reproductive period, are again set free to reproduce, and so the stupid work goes on of preserving and increasing our socially unfit strains.

But a reaction is setting in. The legislatures of six of the United States have already voted to permit the sterilization of defective persons. But it is doubtful if the "more advanced" public is altogether ready for such operations. A less drastic, but not less effective, method is the segregation of the defective strains during the entire reproductive period. However, the method is not so important, but in some way or other society must end these animalistic blood-lines or they will end society.