Mensa is an association of the best and the brightest, persons with an "IQ" so high that it places them in the top two percent of the population. In 1994, American Mensa Ltd. had 55,000 members, 2,000 of them in the Los Angeles area. At the end of that year, two remarkable articles appeared in Lament, the newsletter of Lost Angeles Mensa. The authors called for the extermination of "defective" people and the creation of a "master race."
Jason G. Brent, a lawyer, wrote that "society must face the concept that we kill off the old, weak, the stupid and the inefficient." Brent supported the creation of a "master race," and regretted that Adolf Hitler's actions prevent a rational discussion of this topic. (769) Answering journalists' questions, Brent said, "We cannot continue to have population explosion. We better face that we have to kill people. There are not unlimited amounts of resources." (770)
Another Mensa member, Jon Evans, called for liquidation of the homeless. "What good are they? The vast majority are too stupid, too lazy, too crazy, or too anti-social to earn a living. ... Granted, there are a few people who have fallen beneath the blow of circumstances and are unable to afford any place to live, but they are few and far between. The rest of the homeless should be humanely done away with, like abandoned kittens." (771)
The same, according to Evans, should be done with people who are mentally or bodily deficient: "A piece of meat in the shape of man but without a mind is not a human being whether the body be deathly ill, damaged by accident, mentally blank because of brain deficiency, or criminally insane." (772)
One could easily dismiss the articles by Brent and Evans as the excesses of some freaks. But these two gentlemen were not isolated in their opinions. The editor of Lament newsletter, Nikki Frey, was unapologetic, and surprised that anybody would be offended. "I wouldn't print anything I thought was truly harmful or offensive. I didn't think it was harmful. I don't think it's even that offensive--nobody wants to have a deformed child." (773) The chair of Mensa's Los Angeles chapter, Ms. Gowen, and the chapter's board supported Frey. (774) Ultimately, however, the editor of Lament had to resign from her post. There were many indignant reactions from other members of Mensa and from outsiders. (775) A member of American Mensa's national board condemned the publication of "hate material." (776) The director of British Mensa said that "one Adolf Hitler was enough for this century." (777)
For our own safety, we should not forget what ideas ferment in a certain faction of the West Coast's intellectual elite.
(1) For a detailed discussion of the subject, see Chapter XXVIII, on "The Oregon Law."
(2) East-West Bioethics Conference III, Prague, Czechoslovakia, Aug. 29-31, 1991.
(3) A. R. JONSEN, THE NEW MEDICINE AND THE OLD ETHICS 17-18 (1990).
(4) S. Alexander, They Decide Who Lives, Who Dies: Medical Miracle Puts a Burden on a Small Committee, LIFE, Nov. 9, 1962, at 102.
(5) J. E KILNER, WHO LIVES? WHO DIES? ETHICAL CRITERIA IN PATIENT SELECTION 27-74 (1-990).
(6) C. TAYLOR, SOURCES OF THE SELF: THE MAKING OF THE MODERN IDENTITY 4-8 (1989).
(7) This reasoning has interesting consequences since it leads to the conclusion that all medical actions and also all acts of helping a person in need are morally wrong.
(8) CASES IN BIOETHICS 96 (C. Levine & R. M. Veatch, eds., 1989).
(9) KILNER, supra note 5, at 72-74.
(10) R. D. Truog, Triage in the ICU, HASTINGS CENTER REP., 22:2, at 13-17 (1992); D. E. Singer et al., Rationing Intensive Care: Physician Responses to Resource Shortage, 309 NEW ENG. J. MED. 1155-60 (1983); P. J. Strauss et al., Rationing of Intensive Care: An Everyday Occurrence, 255 JAMA 1143-46 (1986).
(11) J J. D. Rothman, Rationing Life, N.Y. REV. …