Thursday, January 18, 2007

Meet our Heroine, Dr Helen MacMurchy

What her nicey nice wikipedia entry doesn't tell you is that she was -- and ladies and gentlemen, I shit you not, this was her official title -- Inspector of the Feeble-Minded for Ontario. She was also, in the words of the Canadian Encyclopedia "the person who did more than anyone to persuade Canadians of the need for eugenics."

You see, I'm being re-edumacated -- my employer having decided, ahead of possible Provincial legislation, to make my job require a certain level of education. I could go on about the stupidity of this, but never mind -- I'm being paid to attend a college course, so I suppose it would be churlish to complain [too much].

Anyway, so I'm sitting through the first class on Tuesday, and because I was late I had to sit up near the front (d'oh) so I had to restrict my doodling and note-passing, and I'm trying to look politely attentive, when we get to the bit about the MacMurchster in the text book -- rife with ripe 'n juicy quotes from the good doctorette about "the menace of the feeble-minded" -- and how "the stream of national life is being polluted at the source" -- and that the majority of retards come from a small group of families responsible for producing an inordinate share of the "insane, epileptics, criminals, paupers, unemployed prostitutes, inebriates..." (note I scribbled in the margin of text-book during class: Unemployed prostitutes? As in, the employed ones are okay? Nothing worse than an idle whore, I suppose) and how "sterilization is the great and only solution."

So I'm sitting there in class, hoping my growing excitement isn't showing on my face, and I'm thinking, "This is gold, baby, gold!"

I mean, I'm immediately envisioning a kind of Sax Rohmer-esque pulp thriller, with our brave hero (and, of course, plucky sidekick/narrator) shuttling around WW1-era Toronto trying to prevent retards from having sex, and battling the insidious Supervillain Retard (have to work on this, but I'm thinking six-foot-five with a bicycle helmet, coke-bottle glasses, wispy chin hair and a lisp) and his many sinister retarded minions...

So my question is, will it sell? Whaddaya guys think? Dr MacMurchy & the Menace of the Feeble-Minded -- is it a hit, or are we talking destined-for-the-bargain-bin, here?


Schadenfreude said...


I've already found you an illustrator.

the Reverend Bacon said...

Well, I was thinking something more along these lines, really. Don't you think that captures the kind of fear that the Menace of Reproducing Retards should inspire in decent, right-thinking citizens?

I mean, I wouldn't want people to think it's a joke or anything.

symbnt said...

Well, if it inspires you to write a book as well as you’ve written this post…, it won’t really matter what it’s about will it? Oops, sounds like I’m blowing smoke up you ass. My bad.

bright said...

If you could fit in a homoerotic encounter with Margaret Sanger you'll get wider US readership.

switters said...

Will it work? Are you brain damaged? How can it not work? We need a hook.

I've always been in favor of sterilizing the unattractive. If I'm not mistaken (and I rarely am), didn't the Spartans of circa 500 B.C. pitch newborn babies with even the most minor of birth defects (e.g., an unfortunately placed mole, say) right off the cliff into the drink with rocks o'plenty? Lets do that. We'll find a cliff.

Retarded sex, thoughts on the matter of retards, &c., and things of that nature, by Patton Oswalt (from Feelin' Kinda Patton) from memory (sorry for any citation errors):

There has [sic] to be gay retards, right? People who are retarded, and who want to have sex with people who are the same sex as them [sic].
"I like apples… and cock… I want cock… I will name him Henry… I will put a hat on him…"
America is like this giant retarded trust fund kid, you know? I mean, what would happen if the school was run by retarded kids?
"Let's have a pizza party!"
"Uh, shouldn't we be studying?"
I mean, imagine if they were in charge.
"What's this place: Biblevania?"
"No. Israel."

I know, I know. It's a lot funnier if you were to here it. For those of you interested, Patton Oswalt is a standup comedian and writer. He has a small part in Blade 3 (he's the short guy who says, after what's-his-face asks him if he's ever been laid, "Many times. With ladies." Apparently he was asked to spice up the script as well, which I think is why it's a lot funnier/better than the first 2.

He also plays the judge of the disco dance-off in Starsky and Hutch.

He's also a super nice guy.

[long pause]

Nobody cares. Oh well. Just thought I'd share.

Hey Ender: what's wrong with smoke up one's ass?

Oh, and as for the hook? Silly me. This movie is its own hook. Brilliant. (I think I may have had her in my Josef Mengele For Dummies 101 seminar. Bad hair.

If The Fray ebbs and flows, I think it's currently in an ebbing phase. But that may be just me.

rundeep said...

I'm ready to pre-order from Amazon. Interesting that according to the CE entry a number of the most animated proponents of eugenics were prominent feminists of the time, isn't it? That says something important, but I'm not sure what. Maybe I don't want to know. Write the book so I can figure it out.

Anonymous said...

This is Gregor Samsa.

What exactly is the argument against eugenics, other than the fact that it has fallen out of fashion in polite society? Leave aside arguments of scientific error (mistaken notions of heredity, misdiagnosis or even contestable definition of "disease") or political opportunism (proxy for anti-immigration policies). Assume we have agreed on def and diagnostic criteria for "wrecking illenesses" as well as genetic source (if applicable). Is it abominable to legislate/propagandize selective abortion (e.g. for Down's, which I believe is identifiable in the womb)?

Easy to pick on an easy target. I say let's have a lynching party for, among other things, incest laws (first cousin anybody, if you're not quite ready for sibling?), population control drives (Third world often lectured on it, as a matter of state policy) and passport control.

Hey bacon, my sympathies for the trauma of enforced kneeling before the lectern. Starting a protest literature against tweedery seems a bit of an overkill, though.

Schadenfreude said...

Nice rhetoric, Gregor. "Fallen out of fashion" [chuckle]. The art of understatement is not dead.

There are several good arguments against eugenics, not the least of which is our incomplete understanding of exactly what it is we're trying to breed out of the population.

Even assuming complete knowledge, it's a fairly fascist concept, with connotations of mandatory non-reproduction for some people.

JohnMcG said...

For this argument, I'll assume eugenics would be pursued using means I don't find immmoral in themselves, e.g. selective abortion for Down's, which we seem to be moving toward anyway.

I think the main problem is that someone or some group has to run the machine, that person or groups will be in a very powerful position, and human nature being what it is, will likely use that power for their own benefit. I suspect the products of eugenics would bear a striking resemblance to those who has put together the plan.

twiffer said...

bacon: i'm thinking cult classic, at worst.

as for we really want the government deciding who can and cannot reproduce? as well as deciding the criteria?

the Reverend Bacon said...


I've quoted this before, but like Milan Kundera said, "Me, opposed to abortion? On the contrary, I think it should be mandatory!"

The problem, after all, is not some humans...

switters: of course there are gay retards. I know a couple. I'd say the majority are more like omnisexual, any-port--in-a-stormish, which rather backs up the whole "polymorphous perversity" theory.

TenaciousK said...

Oh, we're all polymorphously perverse, under the wrong (or right, depending on how you look at it) set of circumstances.

Any port in a storm...

Bacon: Loved the post.

Dawn Coyote said...

"a small group of families responsible for producing an inordinate share of the "insane, epileptics, criminals, paupers, unemployed prostitutes, inebriates..."

Thanks, bacon, for that little glimpse into my own potential non-existence.