Mark E. Sullivan: Not eugenics

June 24, 2014 

Regarding the June 21 column “ Yes, Virginia, there is eugenics”: Strangling the meaning of words may make cute headlines. It doesn’t justify creating new definitions to argue against a perceived wrong.

A Virginia plea agreement included consent to a vasectomy by a man who’d fathered seven or eight children, all by different women. He stood charged with child endangerment, hit-and-run driving and driving on a suspended license. To create a pretext for opposing this plea deal, the article claimed that this is eugenics.

However, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary says that eugenics is “a science that dealt with the improvement – of hereditary qualities of a race or breed.”

Ensuring that a defendant who cannot exercise restraint and self-control in so many areas will not be able to bring more children into the world whom he cannot “father” in any meaningful way is not “eugenics.”

Mark E. Sullivan

Raleigh

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