“Let’s Talk About It”: Contemporary Eugenics for Louisiana and the Problem of Intergenerational Welfare

Famous picture of The Kallikaks

Famous picture of The Kallikaks

Republican state representative  John Labruzzo has recently suggested a sterilization program in Louisiana to solve the problem of “intergenerational welfare”. Labruzzo’s proposal derived from a “brain-storming session” (which makes me kinda wonder what sort of brains were involved). Labruzzo represents himself as prepared to go–on the bold ideas for the 21st-century front–where no man has gone. Readers of this blog, however, will know that the idea is all too familiar in the history of eugenics. The core proposal was to pay (say) women who are deemed to be in a situation of “intergenerational welfare” $1000 to undergo tubal ligation.

I don’t know whether Labruzzo has also had the bold idea of making this compulsory, or working actively in ways to make the economic plight of such women even worse than it is now so that they would be more likely to accept such a “voluntary” program of sterilization. Both might be ideas that Representative Labruzzo’s brain-storming team missed, but both would be natural extensions of the eugenics program he is just kinda throwing out there for people to consider. The proposal derived, it seems, in part from Labruzzo’s reflections on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and the more recent hurricane activity in the Gulf of Mexico.

I wish I were making this up (as can sometimes happen …). But I’m not.

What do New Orleans, or Louisianers, or Americans more generally, think of this, one wonders? Some vids and other links on this beneath the fold, where you can see Labruzzo in action defending the idea and a few ways in which it has been picked up in the media already.

You can read the ABC story by Marcus Baram on this here. And the video below shows Labruzzo smugly presenting his proposal on CNN, ending with the open-minded “Let’s talk about it” (referring here not only to a program of positive eugenics but more generally to solutions to that problem of intergenerational welfare).

No captions on this video yet.

While we’re just throwing ideas out there, I hope Representative Labruzzo will also encourage us all to talk about other ideas that are just about as current–circa 1908, rather than 2008–like whether women should vote, and state support for the KKK. Let’s just get those ideas out there, and be open to all sorts of radical possibilities

You can also see Rachel Maddow on MSNBC covering the story on MSNBC in the video below.

Again, no captions, sorry.

(h/t Sean Gouglas; Crooks and Liars.)

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