Aaron Swartz was Right!

The current state of academic publishing is in need of big changes. Academic authors are signing over copyrights to the publishers who in turn charge universities exorbitant  fees for access to the work. The publishers have become bottlers of knowledge instead of disseminators of knowledge, releasing to the highest bidders and blocking all others from access. Aaron Swartz  simply decided it was time to take action.

“Those with access to these resources—students, librarians, scientists—you have been given a privilege,” he wrote. “You get to feed at this banquet of knowledge while the rest of the world is locked out. But you need not—indeed, morally, you cannot—keep this privilege for yourselves. You have a duty to share it with the world. And you have: trading passwords with colleagues, filling download requests for friends.”

Aaron Swartz was a computer programmer who was involved in the development of the web feed format RSS (Rich Site Summary), which includes full or summarized text. RSS feeds can be subscribed to and readers can receive updates or new posts from their favorite web site(s). Aaron also was involved in the creation of Creative Commons (CC), a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works (articles) available for others build upon and to share. Creative Commons has released several copyright-licenses known as Creative Commons licenses free of charge to the public. The campaign Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was founded by Aaron in 2010. All of this and more from a young man born in 1986. The basic premise of much of Aaron’s work was that “Information was power, but like all power, there are those that who want to keep it for themselves…” Aaron Swartz was arrested in 2011 for making academic journals available to anyone who wanted to read them. The story of his arrest was covered by the media. Federal Prosecutors charged him with wire fraud and violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, carrying a cumulative maximum penalty of 35 years in prison. January 8, 2011 Aaron’s body was found dead in his New York apartment. In June 2013, Swartz was posthumously inducted into the Internet Hall of Fame.  The above quote is taken from article about Aaron Swartz by Peter Ludlow, professor of Philosophy at Northwestern University. You can find the complete article here: http://m.chronicle.com/article/Aaron-Swartz-Was-Right/137425/

Future Past: Disability, Eugenics, & Brave New Worlds

Future Past: Disability, Eugenics, & Brave New Worlds. A public symposium on the history and ongoing implications of eugenics ideologies and practices for people with disabilities.
Why do these issues matter? How can we address them in teaching and pedagogy, in policy and activism, and in art?

On November 1, 2013 at San Francisco State University, Seven Hill Conference Center from 9:00 am – 8:00 pm.
The Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada is co-sponsoring a conference, dinner and reception plus the screening of FIXED: The Science/Fiction of Human Enhancement. Conference organizers include: Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability, Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada, and the Center for Genetics and Society.

Registration is free:  geneticsandsociety.org/futurepast

Future Past is the result of a cross-national collaboration among advocates and academics interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the long and tangled relationship between disability and eugenics, and the contemporary implications of genetic technologies to the lives and futures of people with disabilities.

Program – November 1, 2013

9:00 – 9:15: Welcome

  • Provost Sue Rossier, San Francisco State University
  • Catherine Kudlick, Director, Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability

9:15 – 9:30: Table Introductions

9:30 – 11:30: What? Eugenics and Disability: Past and Present

Many people are unaware of the history of eugenics movements in North America, yet they are disturbingly relevant today.

Presenters:

  • Alexandra Minna Stern (moderator), Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology, American Culture, and History at the University of Michigan.
  • Marcy Darnovsky, Center for Genetics and Society
  • Glenn SInclair, Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada
  • Nicola Fairbrother, Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada

Table Discussions

11:30 – 12:30 : Lunch

12:30 – 2:30: So What? The Consequences of Misremembering Eugenics

What are the social and ethical consequences of omitting eugenics from historical memory or misrepresenting it? What is the price of the pursuit of “human betterment” for reproductive and disability justice?

Presenters:

  • Marsha Saxton (moderator), World Institute on Disability
  • Rob WIlson, Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada, University of Alberta
  • Troy Duster, Warren Institute for Law and Society Policy, University of California, Berkeley
  • Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Emory University

Table Discussions

2:30 – 3:00: Break

3:00 – 5:00: Now What? Looking Ahead to Brave New Worlds

What is being done – and what can be done – to increase public and student understanding of the legacies of eugenics through teaching, activism and art?

Presenters:

  • Milton Reynolds (moderator), Facing History and Ourselves
  • Gregor Wolbring, Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada, University of Calgary
  • Kate Wiley, Lick-Wilmerding High School
  • Patricia Berne, Sins Invalid

Table Discussions

5:00 – 6:30: Dinner and Reception

6:30 – 8:00 Sneak-preview screening

FIXED: The Science/FIction of Human Enhancement

Producer/DIrector Regan Brashear will answer questions

 Future Past Nov 1

Individualism and Eugenics

h/t to Ken Bond; from Nathaniel Comfort at the Scientific American blog:

Is eugenics a historical evil poised for a comeback? Or is it a noble but oft-abused concept, finally being done correctly?

Once defined as “the science of human improvement through better breeding,” eugenics has roared back into the headlines in recent weeks in both Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll personae. The close observer may well wonder which will prevail. The snarling Mr. Hyde is the state control over reproduction.

To read the full story:

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2013/08/23/is-individuality-the-savior-of-eugenics/

 

North Carolina’s bold model for eugenics compensation

BY PETER HARDIN AND PAUL LOMBARDO

In a landmark action, North Carolina legislators have voted to spend $10 million to compensate men and women sterilized under the state’s 20th century eugenics program.

After years of debate, the Republican-controlled legislature included the reparations in a $20.6 billion budget bill. When Gov. Pat McCrory signed it last month, North Carolina became the first state to earmark compensation for people who were forcibly sterilized.
By demonstrating moral authority in a time of budget constraints, North Carolina offered a bold model for Virginia to emulate. About 8,300 Virginians were sterilized involuntarily under state law between 1927 and 1979, surpassed only by California, with more than 20,000 sterilizations.

Last year, a North Carolina governor’s task force staked out the moral grounds for action by declaring, “The compensation package we recommend sends a clear message that we in North Carolina are a people who pay for our mistakes and that we do not tolerate bureaucracies that trample on basic human rights.”

Twelve years earlier, the Virginia General Assembly issued a statement of “profound regret” over “the incalculable human damage done in the name of eugenics.” Its action followed a series in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and other media coverage, about Virginia’s role in the forefront of the movement aimed at eradicating crime, poverty, disease and disability by controlling who could reproduce.

Gov. Mark R. Warner went further in 2002, issuing a full-throated apology during the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Buck v. Bell ruling, which validated a Virginia law mandating sterilization for people who had been declared “socially inadequate.”

The Buck case endorsed the theory that social problems and personal defects were caused by heredity. It provided a legal anchor for operating on more than 60,000 Americans in more than 30 states in ensuing years.

The action by Warner, now a U.S. senator, triggered apologies in six other states, including North Carolina. After a 2002 series in the Winston-Salem Journal, a legislator there repeatedly proposed bills to compensate victims. Unlike most states, North Carolina stepped up its sterilization program after World War II. Despite revelations of eugenic practices in Nazi Germany, Virginia also sterilized almost as many people after the war as it had in earlier years.

Today, legislators in Raleigh are to be applauded for voting to “pay for … mistakes” of the past. Since dead people don’t cash checks, the bill will not bust the state’s treasury: About 7,600 men, women and children as young as 10 were sterilized in North Carolina, yet fewer than 200 surviving victims have been identified by the state so far. That means each victim would receive a modest compensation of about $50,000.

North Carolina has provided a beacon for Virginia. A dozen years ago, Virginia legislators didn’t go far enough by adopting a “profound regret” resolution for the 1924 eugenics law that “permitted involuntary sterilization, the most egregious outcome of the lamentable eugenics movement in the commonwealth.”

There is a permanent stain on Virginia’s record. Yet North Carolina has shown how the cost of addressing an egregious justice on an individual level can be fiscally and politically achievable. Before it’s too late, Virginia must retake the moral high ground and compensate its surviving victims of eugenic sterilization.

Peter Hardin wrote about Virginia and eugenics when he was Washington correspondent for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Paul Lombardo is a professor of law at Georgia State University and author of “Three Generations/No Imbeciles: Eugenics, the Supreme Court and Buck v. Bell.” Contact Hardin at plhardin2013@gmail.com.

Original article can be found here: http://www.timesdispatch.com/opinion/their-opinion/north-carolina-s-bold-model-for-eugenics-compensation/article_10ed1912-b0ea-59b0-97d3-d69d6fff7203.html?mode=story

Sterilization Abuse in State Prisons: Time to Break with California’s Long Eugenic Patterns

An article by Professor Alex Stern, Living Archives Team Member, has been released today in The Huffington Post. The article, Sterilization Abuse in State Prisons: Time to Break With California’s Long Eugenic Patterns, reveals that at least 148 female prisoners in 2 California institutions were sterilized between 2006 and 2010. Tubal ligations in violation of prison rules during those five years – and there are perhaps 100 more dating back to the late 1990s, according to state documents and interviews.  Professor Stern’s work points to a discernible racial bias in the state’s sterilization and eugenics programs.

Corey G. Johnson of the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) published on July 7th a detailed expose’ of unauthorized sterilizations of unwilling women in California prisons. Johnson’s excellent report brought international attention to a scandal that some activists and researchers have at least partially documented. It is important to note that, as the CIR report says, these sterilizations were illegal: Federal and state laws ban inmate sterilizations if federal funds are used, reflecting concerns that prisoners might feel pressured to comply. California used state funds instead, but since 1994, the procedure has required approval from top medical officials in Sacramento on a case-by-case basis. Yet no tubal ligation requests have come before the health care committee responsible for approving such restricted surgeries….

How could this happen?

Governor Gray Davis apologized in 2003 for California’s twentieth-century sterilizations, 20,000  procedures carried out under an explicitly eugenic law. He did so  quietly, via press release, and with no attempt to discover or  compensate the victims. (Recognized experts on American eugenics were  disappointed at the time: Paul Lombardo called it “premature” and Alexandra Minna Stern said it was “preemptive.”) Now his statement seems like a sham. The  fault is no longer the law, it’s the failure to follow the law.

North Carolina is still struggling to pass a budget that includes compensation for its victims of eugenic sterilization.  California has barely started the process of coming to terms with its  troubled history.

The California state prison system is overcrowded — Governor Jerry Brown is appealing a federal court order to release inmates — and conditions are so bad that 30,000 are on  hunger strike. If this report about sterilization helps to usher in a  period of genuine reform, that would be wonderful.

We would still need to educate all too many people, inside and  outside the jail system, about the moral and practical harm of modern  eugenics. Based on some of the remarks by state officials that Johnson  reported, and on some of the comments on coverage of his investigation,  people slide right back into eugenic ways of thinking.

Justice Now is an organization that works with women in prison. Their website has links to the CIR  reports and videos.

Professor Stern’s article in the Huffington Post raises awareness about eugenic practices and calls for a new era of human rights and the protection of vulnerable populations. Tony Platt co-authored the post. The original article can be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-stern/sterilization-california-prisons_b_3631287.html

Eugenic sterilization NOW

courtesy of Miroslava Chavez-Garcia and from The Modesto Bee:

Female inmates sterilized in California prisons without approval

Published: July 7, 2013 Updated 8 hours ago

http://www.modbee.com/2013/07/07/2796548/female-inmates-sterilized-in-california.html

Students Fight to Include Difficult History in California Schools

from Facing History; you might also want to check out their publication for schools on eugenics here:

March 8, 2013

In San Francisco, a group of Facing History and Ourselves students is spearheading a movement that could change public high school history classes for generations of future California teens. Their goal: to include California’s history with eugenics and sterilization in the state’s public high school curricula.  To read more, see the original post.

Recompensation for Eugenic Sterilization in North Carolina Thwarted

Eugenic Sterilization laws were in effect in North Carolina between 1929 and 1974 – dates very close to the existence of such laws in Alberta, Canada (from 1928 to 1972), which resulted in nearly 8,000 sterilizations.  These focused originally on those who were mentally ill or mentally retarded, and living in institutions.  However, this grew to include criminals, the blind, the deaf, the disabled, alcoholics, those suffering from epilepsy, and those who were poor.

The debate for compensating these victimes have been ongoing for some time in the Carolinas, eventually culminating in the creation of a bill that went to the General Assembly, suggesting that each victim be paid $50,000 by the government.  In Alberta, a number of cases against the government have been successful in gaining compensation for wrongful sterilization, including the well-known case of Leilani Muir.    However, the General Assembly voted this past week against these measures.

The General Assembly cites the tough economic time, and the difficulty they have in justifying spending $10 million when the money is not in the budget.  They further justify their decision, saying that history cannot be changed, and that are indeed many suppressed groups over history, including slaves and Aboriginals, who have suffered.  These statements have generated even more debate.  For more articles and reactions, see links below.

Links

  1. Tax Provision Could Thwart Compensation for Eugenic Victims – Carolina Journal
  2. Changing History – Mount Airy News
  3. No Easy Answers – Mount Airy News
  4. Column  – Winston-Salem Journal

Wallace Kuralt’s era of sterilization

The Charlotte Observer has recently published an article on the story of Wallace Kuralt, a primary figure behind the eugenics movement in North Carolina. The article weaves between Kuralt’s personal story, his struggle to find a job during the depression, his desires and motivations, with the broader history of eugenics in North Carolina and the United States:

Compassionate. Visionary. A champion of women and the poor.

That’s the reputation that Wallace Kuralt built as Mecklenburg County’s welfare director from 1945 to 1972. Today, the building where Charlotte’s poor come for help bears his name – a name made even more prominent when his newscaster son, Charles Kuralt, rose to fame.

But as architect of Mecklenburg’s program of eugenic sterilization – state-ordered surgery to stop the poor and disabled from bearing children – Kuralt helped write one of the most shameful chapters of North Carolina history.

You can read the rest of the article here.

North Carolina Eugenics Task Force, Preliminary Report

The preliminary report of The Governor’s Task Force to Determine the Method of Compensation for Victims of North Carolina’s Eugenics Board (available beneath the fold) was delivered today. In it, North Carolina State Representative Larry Womble says, at the final meeting of the committee, held three weeks ago:

Eugenics [is] a fancy name for sterilization. I am very compassionate about this issue and have worked on it for 10 years. If I’ve been involved for 10 years, what do you think about the victims themselves and it is a shame and disgrace what has happened to them. I thank the Task Force for all their work. But at the same time, I cannot be timid about this, I can’t be Mille mouthed. I cannot be cute about this because it’s not a cute and nice subject. We did to humans what we do to animals, we spade and neuter animals not people. And we did this to children 10 and 11 and 12 years old, they were not criminals, they did nothing wrong. We talk about we are the land the free and the home of the brave and when we do this to children and I’m wondering how sincere we really are. Continue reading

CFP: “Breeding the Nation: Eugenics, Culture, and Science in the United States, 1900-1940”

Call for Papers

“Breeding the Nation: Eugenics, Culture, and Science in the United States, 1900-1940”

Workshop 13 of the 2012 Biennial EAAS Conference
The Health of the Nation
26–29 March, Izmir, Turkey

for more information about the conference, see the EAAS site at
http://www.eaas.eu/conferences/eaas-biennial-conferences/information-izmir-2012

Chair Bob Rydell, Montana State University rwrydell@gmail.com, and Jaap Verheul, Utrecht University j.verheul@uu.nl.

Continue reading

Added support for compensation and public acknowledgment for eugenics victims in North Carolina

h/t Doug Wahlsten.

North Carolina state flag

North Carolina state flag

The state of North Carolina has recently been revisiting its extensive eugenic past, and the latest move is a statement of support for compensation for sterilization victims from the director of Legal and Regulatory Studies at the John Locke Foundation.  Eugenic sterilization legislation was in place in NC until 1979; there are slightly fewer than 3000 living survivors of the regime of sterilization that was in place in NC until that time.

The full story is in the Lincoln Tribune.

“Project Prevention”

The story below by Nick Collins is from the Sydney Morning Herald; h/t Peter Chen.

What year is it?  From what they’re doing, you might think 1910, rather than 2010.  And from the name of the project, you might think  1984.  See also the earlier BBC News story, from February 2010, “Should drug addicts be paid to get sterilised?”

Charity pays addict $320 to have a vasectomy

Nick Collins

October 19, 2010

LONDON: A drug addict has become the first person in Britain to be sterilised in exchange for cash under a new project.

The man, known as John, who has been addicted to heroin for 15 years, was given £200 ($320) by a US charity to have a vasectomy.  Project Prevention, the charity running the scheme, has made similar payments to thousands of men and women in the US in a campaign to prevent them having children who may inherit their addictions. //

The 38-year-old man said he had been involved with drugs since age 11 or 12 and that the offer of money had prompted him to have the operation.  ”It was kind of what spurred me into doing it in a way. It was something that I’d been thinking about for a long time and something that I’d already made my mind up that I wanted to do. Just hadn’t got around to it.”  The charity began offering the cash incentive to British addicts after paying 3500 Americans to be sterilised.

You can read the full story here, and an earlier story on passing the 3000th person milestone, back in April 2009, over here. There is also a Facebook group, “No to eugenics in the UK! Keep Project Prevention Out of the UK“.  You can also see how Project Prevention presents itself on its website; it is a 501(c) registered charity in the US.

Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada

From Express News, University of Alberta:

Provincial eugenics archives awarded one of two SSHRC Awards

Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson


February 10, 2010 – (Edmonton) On Feb. 4, the federal government announced nearly a $1 million each over six years for two University of Alberta-led projects aimed at bringing communities and universities together to build knowledge on areas affecting Canadians.

Robert Wilson, professor in the Department of Philosophy, was awarded $1 million in a community-university research alliances grant by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to fund his project titled “Living Archives on Eugenics in Western Canada.”  Read the rest here

Tracking Chromosomes, Castrating Dwarves

This is the title of a new paper by distinguished historian of eugenics, Paul Lombardo, available for download via SSRN here that recently appeared in the journal Ethics and Medicine. The paper focuses on Charles Davenport, who became the Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in 1910 and immediate set up the Eugenics Records Office there later that year. It was to become a major institutional force in the development of North American eugenics. While the paper concerns a small episode in the history of eugenics from 1929, what it says about consent, medical intervention, and disability will ring bells for regular readers of this blog. The abstract of the paper reads: Continue reading

Retrofit 5-Pack, end of 2009 spirit

Here are five What Sorts posts that I had particular fun writing–from mid-2008 to early 2009–that can serve as a kind of bon voyage for 2009 … despite the fact that only two of them were written in 2009, and pretty early on, at that. Farewell 2009, farewell! May 2010 bring more sunshine and fewer clouds.

Julia Serano’s “Cocky”

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

Two birds, one stone

Pollyannaism about polygamy: Martha Nussbaum on Mormon History

Standing corrected: Why is there no apostrophe in “Hells Angels”?

Monkee Armada on American Eugenics

During the summer, Monkee Armada put up a couple of posts on the “secret history” of American eugenics. While most of this is not exactly secret, there are some interesting details, especially about North Carolina. You can see part 1 here and part 2 (with it’s NC focus) right here.

One of the things that Monkee Armada focuses on are the demographics of eugenic sterilization in North Carolina, especially those of sex and race.  For example, 6/7 sterilizations were of women, and the proportion of those sterilized class as Black shifted from 23% in the 1930s and 40s to high 50s – low 60s during the 1960s.  But I’m curious as to whether the shift in racial sterilization rates was, seemingly like shifts in the sterilization rates of women (which approximated 100% during the 1960s) a function simply of sterilizing fewer members Continue reading

ACT UP NEW YORK: ACTIVISM, ART, AND THE AIDS CRISIS, 1987–1993

EXHIBITION: ACT UP NEW YORK: ACTIVISM, ART, AND THE AIDS CRISIS, 1987–1993

running until December 23, 2009; for an earlier What Sorts post on the ACT UP Oral History Project, click here

the exhibition poster below is worth downloading for both the images it contains and the schedule of events it lists.

Harvard exhibition of visual media in AIDS activism marks 20 year anniversary of the formation of ACT UP New York — Premiere of the ACT UP Oral History Project

exhibition poster pdf file

The Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts and the Harvard Art Museum present ACT UP New York: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987–1993, an exhibition of over 70 politically-charged posters, stickers, and other visual media that emerged during a pivotal moment of AIDS activism in New York City. The exhibition chronicles New York’s AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) through an examination of compelling graphics created by various artist collectives that populated the group. The exhibition also features the premiere of the ACT UP Oral History Project, a suite of over 100 video interviews with surviving members of ACT UP New York that offer a retrospective portal on a decisive moment in the history of the gay rights movement, 20th-century visual art, our nation’s discussion of universal healthcare, and the continuing HIV/AIDS epidemic. The exhibition opens just over 20 years after the formation of ACT UP and also marks the 40 year anniversary of the Stonewall riots, the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States. The exhibition ACT UP New York: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis, 1987–1993 provides an opportunity to reinvigorate a debate around the realities of HIV/AIDS today, and about the links between visual art, political activism, health, and human rights.

ACT UP’s demonstrations in the late 1980s and early 1990s reflected the group’s outrage against a governing establishment that ignored HIV/AIDS as a national health crisis; that failed to secure funding for medical research, treatment, and education; that profited from inflated costs for therapeutic drugs; and that perpetuated homophobic misrepresentations of HIV and AIDS. Continue reading