August 12, 2012

Silver Demon: In the Name of Science

This past week, the curiosity mars rover landed on the surface of the red planet. A proud moment in science to be sure. Given that this was also at the height of the Chick-Fil-A madness, a meme quickly followed that went like this:
Dear Religion,
While you were busy debating which chicken sandwiches were okay to eat, I landed a rover on mars.
Your pal science.
This got a chuckle from me. However, perhaps this also is a good time as any to point out that science is not always a pure light into the darkness.

Hubertus Strughold is considered to by the father of space medicine and went to work for NASA following WWII. Dr. Strughold also once held a post at the NAZI Concentration Camp of Dachue. The experiments that Dr. Strughold were connected to involved placing concentration camp inmates in low pressure chambers, forced consumption of seawater, exposure to extremely low temperatures and submersion in freezing waters. These experiments are believed to have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of prisoners.
Dear Religion,
I shot for the moon by murdering the weak. Your Spanish Inquisition was nothing. Envious yet?
Your Pal Science.
Following World War II, Operation Paperclip went into effect. In a desperate bid to stay ahead of the Soviets during the Cold War, the United States aided numerous German and Japanese scientists in obtaining clemency and U.S. citizenship in exchange for the knowledge they had obtained from experiments that could easily be classified as war crimes. Or as it might also be said, crimes against humanity.
Dear Religion,
While you were busy persecuting those of different faiths, I exploited that bigotry for cannon fodder.
Thank you,
Your Pal Science.
A full accounting of the horrors of the medical experimentation that was conducted during The Shoah would be impossible. The NAZI's did tests to discover the effects of frostbite, hypothermia, malaria, mustard gas, dehydration, the transplantation of tissues, and more.

Under the NAZI regime, gay men and women were also persecuted and imprisoned in concentration camps. Experiments on gay men imprisoned at Buchenwald, undertaken by Dr. Carl Peter Vaernet, were attempted in order to find out if it was possible to use hormones to make gay men straight. If he were alive today, one wonders how readily Dr. Vaernet would fit in with the ex-gay movement.

While castration was only rumored to have been done to the pink triangle prisoners, the British actually went ahead and chemically castrated Alan Turing, who was instrumental in the defeat of the NAZI's, for the grand old crime of being gay. As a result of this hormone treatment, Alan Turing committed suicide by eating a poisoned apple.

Alan Turing, in addition to helping defeat the NAZI's during WWII, is considered the father of modern computer science and the person whom you should be thanking for the computer you are reading this article on.
Dear Religion,
While you were busy persucuting the homos, I've been busy developing the tools that let you do so.
You're welcome,
Your Pal Science.
The history of medical experimentation in the United States has been as equally horrific as that which occured in NAZI Germany. Children, the disabled, the poor, the homeless, prisoners, and military personnel have been among the most commonly used subjects. Prior to the Civil War, expirementation on slaves was a widely accepted practice.

History is easily forgotten and when it comes to queer history, our community has been faced with a particularly virulent purge of anything that could possibly be construed as rainbow tinted.

This has been one of the main reasons I have been motivated to do the work that I have done on my novel Silver Demon. The subject of medical experimentation, particularly the tests that were conducted during The Holocaust, is one that will feature heavily.

Nobody wants to remember the dirty and grimy parts of history, only the roles we played as heroes. I cannot count myself as an exception to this. Frequently, I find myself wanting to bury my head in the sand, only to discover that there is no sand, only the ashes of the innocent.

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