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Friday, September 9, 2011

The Black Stork

Sometimes, in an effort to learn, I play a sort of ping pong, going between articles on various sites, looking in Google Books, and heading into archives held by SUNY, among others. Of late, I keep finding myself interested in eugenics- the same way I'm interested in learning about serial killers--- how do people tick when their minds are blackened by ignorance, ill intent, or a love only for themselves?

First I got my hands on Eugenics and Sex Harmony-Must Read of 1938! and found myself digging more, particularly after a question asked by my brother: "Now reading that, tell me, do eugenics experiments STILL go on?"
Then, amusing myself for a bit with vintage ads---both funny, sweet, and absolutely horrifying (radium enemas, anyone?) I came across for an ad for the 1917 movie, The Black Stork, starring Dr. Harry Haiselden as himself.
Here's the interesting bit. Haiseldon was in hot water for allowing disabled newborns to die, judging them unfit to live, and criticized doctors who wanted to help them. This isn't the end.

I quote:  "In the film, Haiselden actually plays himself, a wise doctor who attends the birth of a child born with congenital syphilis -- incurable at the time and a major cause of congenital disabilities. Two other doctors interfere, out of personal pride and misplaced benevolence, and try to convince the woman to save the child's life. The woman is forced to choose.
"She dreams a tormented dream of her child's probable future: He grows up physically, mentally, and morally deformed. He becomes a criminal, and fathers a brood of disabled children. He isn't allowed to enlist in the Army ("Uncle Sam won't take anybody who's not perfect"). Aware that he is entirely different from others, despised and angry, he returns to kill the doctors who performed the operation that saved his life."After this vision the woman decides to accept the doctor's advice and lets the infant die."End quote.

News articles of the time are not nearly as infatuated with him as the films' distributors, or one of the  supporters, the one and only Clarence Darrow (They mentioned Helen Keller as support---yes, THE Helen Keller, but did not supply a quote.) 

A rather alarming quote smacks of something my former mother in law liked to say:
(NOT from Darrow.)
 "It is the will of God that this baby be born a defective, and without the meddling of surgery, it is the will of God that the child die. "

Idiot. Imbecile. Defective. Parasite.
I'll repeat that... PARASITE.
"Put them down like you would any sick animal"- wait, sorry, that is said somewhat, but that's a direct quote I've gotten. I can't let myself put too much hectic color into this.

Here is a list of stills, all terrifying, from the Black Stork, and I am amazed people could watch this without vomiting.
The Black Stork, Movie Stills

Ad for the 1917 "eugenic photoplay", the Black Stork
Just know: Many so-called "parasites" actually try to make the world a better place. And look around you-- you may actually know someone who fights daily. 

The last scene of The Black Stork, seeing the baby letting go and  its' soul jumping into Jesus's arms: a nice touch. Almost comforting. Except: in the still, it looks more malevolent. All life is precious, and we all have something. Jesus said "Suffer the little children"- don't hold them back- not "If there's something wrong, kill it." 

Edit: 7:28PM 9/9/2011:
Numerous opposing comments were edited and used out of context by Black Stork supporters. Helen Keller was not a supporter, her quote would have not gone unused. Rather a dissenter mentioned Ms. Keller and songwriter, Fanny Crosby--- "If we allow this, we would have lost people like Helen Keller and gospel songwriter, Fanny Crosby". Like all propaganda, comments that disagreed could easily be edited to show support.  


  1. I see!  Glad I'd never heard of the Dr. - but I now know who it is :-D

  2. I spent time researching him for something years ago. I actually saw bits of the movie... I'm not sure if it's creepier in stills or in action!

  3. We are doing some research in my company and trying to find a copy of this film. Does anyone know how we can obtain one?

  4. I got these via NPR.org. Perhaps you could talk to them. :) Good luck in your endeavor.