“Many people who were classified as feebleminded would now be called mildly retarded, learning disabled, or simply underachievers. Although the eugenicists saw the Buck family as a pedigree of degeneracy, many would now say that they had few problems a bit of money, education, and opportunity would not have solved. Their only sin was to have been born poor women in the impoverished South….Carrie Buck was sterilized because it was thought that she carried a gene that condemned her and her offspring to substandard intelligence and immoral behavior. Hers was deemed a worthless lineage to be snuffed out.”
—None Without Hope: Buck vs. Bell at 75 (Dolan DNA Learning Center)
The history of eugenics is closely tied with racism and elitism, supported by pseudo-scientific claims that have long since been debunked. While the study of genetics is not the same thing as the social practice of eugenics (as a reader reminded me a few months ago when I ranted against a comment made by James Watson), the successful sequencing of the human genome raises interesting questions. The cerebral Sci-Fi movie GATTACA explores some of them quite well.