Earnest persons, studying social difficulties, find them gravely complicated by "the unfit." The unfit are common enough, from those of mere average incapacity, like ladies living on alimony, to admitted defectives living on our taxes. They are notonly passively injurious as not earning their own livings, but actively injurious as consuming the livings of useful people.
We are mortified atour moronic average, alarmed at the increasing numbers of those far below it. Further, we find that the unfitter they are, the more lavishly they fulfil what some religionists assure us is the divine command to increase and multiply and replenish the earth. Confronted with this difficulty, We propose to check the undesirable in- crease by the simple device of sterilizing the unfit. Unfortunately, when urging necessary legislation on the subject, we meet notonly religious objections, but those of the unfit who are voters.
On further thought, seeking to antedate the disadvantageous reproduction, we seize on the benefits of birth control, a practice which does not interfere with the pleasures of the unfit but saves society from their reduplication. Again we are met by the indifference of the unfit as voters, and mere ignorance and stupimdity are likewise often backed by the enormous power of religion.
Every religion believes itself to be the Truth, and warmly desires to increase its membership, not intelligence and ability being requisite, but numbers. On no account does it wish to check the increase of constituents, and low mentality among converts offers, no obstacle. What terrors has our moronic level, the average intelligence of twelve- year-olds, to those who believe that of such is the kingdom of heaven?
Thus we find individual fundamentalists strongly opposed to any prudential checks to the increase of population, and in particular the immense authority of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic church forbidding as a sin the use of contraceptives. Members of this faith notonly are forbidden to practice birth control themselves, or even to study the facts and figures as to its social necessity, but they are urged to preventother people from studying the question.
In a recent State convention of the League of Women Voters, when the committee on social hygiene had placed the subjectof birth control on the proposed program of study, it was announced even before the discussion opened that the Roman Catholic members of the league would resign if it was favored. This was a foolish move. No one was asked to practice birth control or be instructed in it. No one was required to belong to this social-hygiene group, which proposed to study the economic and political aspects of a question which is forcing attention all over the world and demanding legislative action in this country. Any disapproving members were quite free to vote against its adoption on the program. But was it not unwise to seek to preventother people from studying it through the threatof a wholesale resignation by members of one church?
It was unwise in stirring up religious prejudice. Unwise in reviving the old menace of church interference, and revealing the new menace of the increasing power of that church in this country. Unwise in opening up the inference that it preferred its members to vote without information, and that it desired unchecked increase in membership, no matter how unfit.