Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Eunuchs in Alabama

Fellow TMV co-blogger David Schraub looks at castration-as-punishment here. Yikes. Who knew there was precedent for this? Who knew that the Supreme Court had already waded into the castration quagmire, back in 1927 and 1942? You know, I have a lot of relatives down in 'Bama, but their state is certainly one of America's most insane.

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  • Well, I guess we can next start chopping off hands for stealing. On the face of it, it sounds crazy. But why is castration for rape any different, really, than execution for murder? It's still the whole idea of an eye for an eye. If you think about it, rape victims suffer from the rape all of their lives; this would be a way to make sure that rapists also suffer forever. As a matter of fact, this might be surefire deterrence! I'm not sure if this means I'm for castration or against the death penalty! (I'm kidding.)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:03 AM  

  • As a physician, I read the whole "castration-as-punishment" idea not as eye for an eye mentality (as Marc suggests above), rather, it strikes me more as removal of chemical stimulus.

    After all, we're not really talking about removal of the penis, per se, but of the testes - thus rendering a sex offender not free of his actual weapon, but of the testosterone drive that may have contributed to his violent and aggressive behaviour.

    This has been exaplored numerous times in the medical literature - there is evidence that males who have an extra Y chromosome may be more likely to perpetrate violent crimes. Reduction in testosterone either by surgical or chemical castration has also been explored in the law enforcement literature.

    Perhaps the surgical approach is superior along this line of thinking since it is far less simple to be noncompliant - therapy is fairly definitive - unlike chemical castration, which would require one to take a medication that renders him impotent on a daily basis.

    Taken in this manner of thinking, we're not really talking about the idea of limiting one's capacity to procreate - that is merely a side effect, which, in turn, may limit the question of lack of constitutionality to some extent. After all, it is perfectly legal and has held many times that medical therapies for the necessary safety of the greater public can, in fact, supercede one's individual rights (take cases for observed tuberculosis therapy, or court-ordered electroshock for example).

    Perhaps a better question is whether this is medically ethical?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:20 PM  

  • Eunuch: "castrated men - men who have had their testicles either removed or destroyed. At various times and in various cultures eunuchs were asexual, heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual."

    "Tens of thousands of adult men are either surgically or chemically castrated each year in North America,those reasons range from testicular cancer to transsexualism."

    The most common reason is advanced prostate cancer in which surgery and radiation therapy weren't successful, so another option is chemical castration.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:34 AM  

  • This reminds me of the great movie "A Clockwork Orange" in which the government somehow removed the aggressive instinct from a violent criminal and turned him into a pussycat who was basically helpless on the street. The idea was that this was "Big Brother" at its worst, but I'm sure a lot of people would be glad to see criminals surgically repaired. I can't speak to the medical ethics of this or castration, but the movie addressed the issue of how far can or should society go to alleviate social deviancy. As bad as the problem of rape, for example, is, are you getting into dangerous areas in changing people's behavior through compulsory medical intervention?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:49 AM  

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