Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday, Wednesday & Friday.

The Fanatical Paul Ehrlich

SPOTLIGHT: Saving the world = demonizing alternative visions.

BIG PICTURE: On page 181 of his bestseller, The Population Bomb, “qualified scientist” Paul Ehrlich told readers: “if you really want to survive, start writing!”

But it wasn’t sufficient for these individuals to express their concerns to elected officials and newspaper editors. Instead, the biologist urged his readers to chase other points-of-view off the stage.

Those who didn’t kowtow to his hardline analysis should be economically harmed via boycotts. Television and radio programming involving families of three-plus offspring should be maligned as offensive and irresponsible. No other considerations – artistic, legal, moral – mattered.

We now know that Ehrlich was profoundly mistaken about how the future would unfold. But 50 years ago, his sanctimony knew few bounds. Intolerance was the name of his game. He urged readers to:

Complain bitterly about any positive treatment of large families. Attack the publicizing of “mothers of the year” unless they have no more than two children or have adopted extra ones. Request that the publications you address stop carrying any advertising implying by statement or inference that it is socially acceptable to have more than two children. (pp. 179-180, my italics)

Ehrlich urged citizens “who do not want to see our way of life destroyed by the population explosion,” to form action groups, whose members should

Put together a blacklist of people, companies, and organizations impeding population control…and go to work on them. Organize boycotts of products of guilty companies. Work for the opponents of guilty politicians. (p. 182)

Television shows featuring large families, he said,

should be assailed…Raise a fuss whenever programming or commercials promote reproductive irresponsibility…Those producing offensive advertisements or advertising during offensive television programs should be threatened with boycott…The day is upon us when we can no longer tolerate television programs that feature large families as if they still represented acceptable behavior on the part of parents. (p.180, my italics)

Let me repeat those words: we can no longer tolerate [thought crimes].

TOP TAKEAWAY: The 1960s ethos of ‘live and let live’ had no claim on Ehrlich’s soul. This scientist thought anyone who didn’t buy into his hysteria deserved to have their artistic and political careers destroyed.

LINKS:

The Population Bomb
Paul Ehrlich

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