April 5, 2017

"The province of Ontario swooped in and took them from their parents, declaring that they had to be protected from exploitation."

"Then it exhibited the children three times a day in a human zoo called Quintland, to be raised as a sort of science experiment. Three million visitors came in the 1930s.... Little is left of the playground where the 'Quints' were displayed to thousands of paying customers who peered through wire mesh from elevated walkways. Though they still resent the way the government exploited them, Annette and Cécile smile at the mention of Quintland. 'Paradise,' Annette said of the compound. 'Was it ever,' Cécile agreed. The mesh kept them from seeing the spectators, but both sisters said they could certainly hear them, and often played the crowd for laughs. 'It wasn’t good for the children to be like that, to be shown like that, playing naturally and knowing that other people were looking,' Cécile said. 'It was sort of theft from us.'"

From "2 Survivors of Canada’s First Quintuplet Clan Reluctantly Re-emerge." The re-emergence is on the occasion of a pending decision by the North Bay city council whether to move the log house where the Dionne quintuplets were born to a fairground 45 minutes away. Annette and Cécile didn't want the house moved, and the city council voted last night not to move it. From the second link:
Shortly after their birth, the province of Ontario took them away from their parents, making them “wards of the king,” saying it was necessary to prevent their exploitation. The province soon built a human zoo in which they were exhibited to about 6,000 sightseers a day until the age of 9.
Here's a picture of the premier of Ontario — whose idea it was to take the children away — posing with the babies:



Nice outfit, ghoul.

ADDED: That was the second time in the 13-year history of this blog that I have used the word "ghoul." The other time was in 2005, soon after John Roberts joined the Supreme Court and a lightbulb happened to burst over his head. Not a metaphorical lightbulb, and actual lightbulb. And it was Halloween....
The NYT, perhaps, found it "unfit to print" a transition that would have connected the trauma of William Rehnquist's death to the Halloween lightbulb burst and the new Chief Justice dressed as a zany comedian. Surely, it must have been tempting to write that it was the ghost of the old Chief that burst the bulb and that the new Chief's costume speaks of lighthearted happiness, while the dying old Chief, traumatizing everyone, by contrast seemed a ghoul.
The word "ghoul" has appeared 4 other times, and 3 of them are from the same source, a Scalia opinion that analogizes a doctrine called the Lemon test to a movie monster that won't die. ("[L]ike some ghoul in a late-night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad after being repeatedly killed and buried....") The 4th one was just last week, a reference to an effort to name a baby Ghoul Nipple.

"Ghoul" comes from the Arabic word "ghoul," which means "to seize," and the OED defines it as "An evil spirit supposed (in Muslim countries) to rob graves and prey on human corpses." So Scalia kind of got the word wrong, didn't he? He should have written "zombie." Influenced by Scalia, I got it wrong too.

24 comments:

Quaestor said...

The re-emergence is on the occasion of a pending decision by the North Bay city council whether to move the log house where the Dionne quintuplets were born to a fairground 45 minutes away.

I didn't know fairgrounds gave birth.

Live and learn.

rhhardin said...

Child abuse (beating) was discovered as a public problem in the 60s. Child sexual abuse in the 70s.

This is the 30s.

Watson's Little Albert Experiment in the 20s is instructive.

You got your iron bar and your rabbit...

Bob Ellison said...

Quaestor, when two fairgrounds love each other very much, sometimes one fairground puts its drop tower into the other fairground's ferris wheel, and the miracle of bumper cars happens.

Michael K said...

The whole story is still amazing in that they were natural quints and survived with no modern medical aid.

Fernandinande said...

Nice outfit, ghoul.

It looks like one of those science outfits that science guys wear when they're sciencing.

Birkel said...

During the same period eugenics ran amuck in these United States.

Unfettered power, whether government or otherwise, is dangerous.

Ken B said...

Is it petty of me to note the premier was leader of the provincial Liberal Party?

jaydub said...

At least they had free health care.

traditionalguy said...

Surprise, surprise. Kings rule over their subjects as if they own them. And to preserve that, kings wisely refuse to let their subject carry guns.

ddh said...

My grandparents and my mother drove up to see the Dionne quintuplets. My mother told me that the viewing area was very much like a zoo, but no one in the 1930s thought much about the ethics of putting people or children on exhibit. Different times, different mores.

Oso Negro said...

Taken away and exhibited in a zoo, as an act of kindness by the province of Ontario. That pretty much tells you what you need to know about "government".

Roy Jacobsen said...

Don'tcha just love it that can exhaust yourself pointing out instances of unfettered government or bureaucratic power gone wrong (and there are plenty more where this one came from), yet big government fans seem incapable of understanding that, yes, it CAN happen again.

And by "love it," I mean "hate it."

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Althouse said..."Ghoul" comes from the Arabic word ghul, which means to seize, and the OED define it as "An evil spirit supposed (in Muslim countries) to rob graves and prey on human corpses." So Scalia kind of got the word wrong, didn't he? He should have written "zombie." Influenced by Scalia, I got it wrong too.

He got it wrong if word meaning (and language generally) does not change over time--if the meaning a word has today must be the same meaning the people who originally used the word understood it to have at the time the word was created. What date or document do we have for that, though?

Anyway at the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life, so by trying to restrict the meaning an definition of a word you're basically curtailing the liberty of another person, Professor. You really shouldn't do that.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Oso Negro said...Taken away and exhibited in a zoo, as an act of kindness by the province of Ontario. That pretty much tells you what you need to know about "government".

Pardon me, my ursine friend, but I've been informed that “government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together."

Bruce said...

So the rationale the government used to take the children was to "protect them from exploitation", and they promptly put the children in a zoo and charged admission?

I mean, how much more exploited can you get?

Wilbur said...

The Three Stooges - Curly, in particular - made references to the Dionne quintuplets in at least two of their shorts in the late 30's. If you didn't know what a huge media story the quints were then, you wouldn't have a clue what he was joking about.

Hmmm ... do they qualify as Men in Shorts?

Larry J said...

Oso Negro said...
Taken away and exhibited in a zoo, as an act of kindness by the province of Ontario. That pretty much tells you what you need to know about "government".


"The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." -Ronald Reagan

Gahrie said...

Anyway at the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life, so by trying to restrict the meaning an definition of a word you're basically curtailing the liberty of another person, Professor. You really shouldn't do that.

She's also being hypocritical because she has taken the position that words do not have fixed meanings.

Gahrie said...

but no one in the 1930s thought much about the ethics of putting people or children on exhibit. Different times, different mores.

Early mental hospitals put the insane on display to the public.

Michael K said...

"Early mental hospitals put the insane on display to the public."

In London about 1800, public hangings were held outside the Old Bailey where crowds would drink at the Magpie and Stump pub and watch the convicts to the "dance" of the hangman.

Bernard Cornwell has a good new novel about hanging in 1820.

Times were very different. Of course no TV. My mother grew up around 1900 and they all learned to play the piano and had sheet music. "Tin Pan Alley" was originally made up of music publishers.

mockturtle said...

I'm still trying to imagine the province of Ontario 'swooping'.

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Unknown said...

I went to graduate school in Ottawa. The kindly and very elderly gentleman from whom I rented was the brother of the man in charge of marketing the quints. The marketing brother once, without his brother's knowledge, tried to pressure my landlord's daughter into a blowjob when she had made herself vulnerable through addiction.

Crikey, hope that's clear.

Anyway, the daughter never let her father know the true vileness of his younger brother.

The full story of the quints includes sexual molestation, too.