A recent Sunday's Tribune of Chicago contained an article under the following headlines: "Find Crime Cure in Race Suicide." "Doctors and Lawyers Discuss Social Parasites at Great Northern Hotel."
The article goes on to say: "A symposium on the treatment of the criminal, and other social parasites, was held at the joint meeting of the Physicians Club of Chicago, and the Lawyers Club at the Great Northern Hotel on Friday. In the course of the evening these two themes were advanced:"
"Elimination of criminal children by sterilization.
"Treatment of criminals over 30 years old as habitual, and either sending them to penal institutions for life, or putting them away in some other manner, possibly by the cemetery route." ("Social Darwinism" in its early, more blatant form—MM)
"Dr. William T. Belfield was the advocate of the sterilization idea. He took up the biological aspect of the criminal, and after tracing the development of the individual to the point where he becomes a danger to society, made a plea for race suicide.
"Murder, insanity and degeneracy are increasing at ail alarming rate," he said. "Our American system of civilization is inadequate to meet the problem of the social parasite.
"The one hope of material reduction of the social parasite is in prevention. We must prevent the breeding of criminals.
"The state has let them breed and impoverished itself to take care of their children."
Dr. J. N. Hurty, Secretary of the Indiana State board of health, told of the "Indiana Movement," which has resulted in the submission of 300 criminals to the operation of sterilization in that state.
The Tribune of the same date contained another article under the following headlines:
"Women Carry Babies to Bar." "Degrading scenes Witnessed in the Public Houses of the Larger English Cities." "Give Liquor to Infants." "10,000 Children Enter 23 'Pubs' in Four Days." "Public View Horror with Apathy."
"London, Dec. 5. During the hours when the quenching of the bibulous thirst is pursued with the greatest ardor, women fairly swarm in the 'pubs'. In those of the better as well as those of the lower classes.
"And a surprising number of them are accompanied by babies in arms or children.
"That is one of the most shocking features of England's national curse—drink.
"The evil is the worst in London. Twenty-three public houses in the metropolis were kept under observation for twelve hours per day, for four days.
"During that period it was found that not less than 39,351 women and 10,747 children entered them.
"Of the children many were infants in arms. In the twelve months ending April 30th last, 1,058 were arrested for being drunk while in charge of children under seven years of age.
"Of these 220 were men and 830 women."
I wish to make the following comments on the foregoing quotations:
To me it seems passing strange that men of such splendid ability and influence as these doctors named above, should make so great a mistake in their hunt for the cure of crime as to think they have found it in the extermination of the criminal classes. Why not strike at the real cause of crime in this country, even if it is a little unpopular to do so?
One invariable rule among doctors is to find the cause of a disease and remove said cause.
Criminology plainly teaches and proves, that 75 per cent of all the crime in this country is caused either directly, or indirectly, by the drink habit; while the very latest and best authorities on nervous diseases tell us most unequivocally that more than 25 per cent of all the insanity and degeneracy is caused by the use of strong drink.
If this be true, and we challenge contradiction, why should these eminent authorities on the cause of disease fail to locate the social parasite in the 7000 schools of vice in your city, commonly known as saloons.
It is a well known physiological fact that alcohol excites most of all, the base of the brain, the seat of the animal and baser passions of man. As a natural result when drunk he does not become benevolent, kind, and charitable. We do not find him at the church worshiping his Maker, or at the library or his home reading some good book, or enjoying the society of his family. On the contrary we find him in the saloon, profane, vulgar and vicious and anxious to fight.
Is it any wonder that children begotten and reared under such vicious and degrading environment are criminals, insane, feebleminded and degenerate?
And that our state penitentiaries, insane asylums, jails, and feeble minded institutions are crowded to overflowing?
The Chicago Physicians Club can easily find the criminal parasite without the help of a microscope if they want to. Any one of the 7000 human butcher shops of your city will furnish the evidence.
The police seem to have made this discovery in advance of the doctors. For when they go in search of a criminal, no matter what the nature of the crime, the first and about the only place they look for him is in the saloon.
It is no more natural for water to seek its level than it is for crime to result from the saloon. Pardon me, gentlemen, if I have said anything offensive, but in the meantime don't forget that if you really want to kill the crime microbe, all you will have to do is to put on the lid good and hard and seal it down hermetically, and our country will be immune to the crime parasite.
Wm. W. HOUSER, M. D., President Physicians Club., Lincoln, Ill.
Ellingwood's Therapeutist, Vol. 2, 1908, was edited by Finley Ellingwood M.D.