Carrie Buck

Topics: Eugenics, Buck v. Bell, Charles Darwin Pages: 5 (1501 words) Published: March 22, 2012
An Analysis on Stephan Jay Gould
Buck versus Bell 274 U.S. 2000 (1927) was the United States Supreme Court ruling that upheld a statue instituting compulsory sterilization of the unfit, including the mentally retarded “for the protection and health of the state.” (Holmes) It was largely seen as an endorsement of negative eugenics which is the attempt of science to improve the human race by eliminating “defectives” from the gene pool. (Elof) Paul Lombardo argues (in N.Y.U. Law Review, April 1985, 60(30):30-62) that the Buck case was a milestone in government power over individual rights. (Lambardo) In his essay “Carrie Buck’s Daughter: a popular, quasi-scientific idea can be a powerful tool for injustice,” Stephen Jay Gould attacks the injustice of the false “science” of eugenics, and champions Carrie Buck as the example of the victims. This paper aims scrutinized Gould’s writing skills by studying and analyzing the five metaphors he used in the essay. First, the comparison to Judeo-Christian (Exodus) and pagan Greco-Roman (philosopher Plato) ideas of punishment through 3 generations which is unjust will be tackled. Second, Carrie Buck is an instrument of showing the people what injustice is. Third, the references to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi’s policy of eugenics through gas ovens will be analyzed. Fourth, the issue of the dishonesty of the American legal system and the issue regarding Oliver Wendell Holmes will prove that government powers overpower the individual rights. This should not be the case. Lastly, the metaphor from the ballad “Barbara Allen” will be talked about. At the end this paper will also examine and evaluate whether Gould succeeded or not in his argument or persuasion essay

Gould was a world renowned historian of science. (Shermer) This is why one believes that he uses metaphors that happened in history. He wanted to prove his arguments by relating to what has already happened in the past which is unique for a writer to do. The first metaphor was a comparison to Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman ideas of punishment through 3 generations. In addition to that is the superstition of bad things happens in threes. One supposes that Gould wants the readers to realize the similarity of the ruling and the ancient beliefs. He argued though that the injustice here is that the children are innocent of the crimes of their fathers or grandfathers. (Gould)

When Gould referred to Adolf Hitler as the perfect metaphor for evil, it could be he was coming from a point of view that no person in the history of the world had done what Adolf Hitler did and all for the reason of eugenics. Gould was also known to write about philosophical matters. He was clearly disgusted by the eradication of over 9 million people through gas ovens just because they were considered “imperfect.” (Gould) How could Hitler know what is perfect if he is imperfect? Surely, it seems illogical when one sees this argument.

As for the issue of dishonesty of the American legal system were the victims were not told of sterilization and that the government falsified records was just plain unjust. The government does not have powers to undermine the rights of any individual. The individual is in the proper perspective to know how to better a government and a sense of bettering a society rather than one person holding a high office. That should better fulfill each individual needs and in turn produce a more controlled government. A government should be entirely equal to all citizens and each individual should make his or her own decisions. (Rousseau) One of the most notable documents in history tells of the necessity of individual rights and explains why those rights are a necessity. Individuals’ wants and needs could possibly be blind to the state running the government and everyday pleasures that many take for granted could quickly come to light once they were gone. Often, the state does not visualize this method and can...

Cited: Darwin, C.R. "Letter 3257 — Darwin, C. R. to Fawcett, Henry, 18 Sept [1861]." Darwin Correspondence Project Database. 2 November 2010 .
Elof, Axel Carlson. The Unfit: A History of a Bad Idea. Cold Spring Harbor, New York: Cold Spring Harbor Press, 2001.
Friend, Celeste. "Social Contract Theory." 15 October 2004. International Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 1 November 2010 .
Holmes, Oliver Wendell Jr. "BUCK V. BELL, 274 U. S. 200 (1927)." 2 May 1927. Justia US Supreme Court Center. 2010 November 1 .
Lambardo, Paul. "Buck v. Bell." NYU Law Review (1985): 30-62.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. The Basic Political Writings. Hackett Publishing Company, 1987.
Shermer, Michael. ""This View of Science"." Social Studies of Science (2002): 489–525.
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