“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The State Boys Rebellion

I just finished reading a really good book. It is called The State Boys Rebellion: A True Story, by Michel D'Antonio. I have long been a student of state institutions for persons with mental retardation, their beginning, gradual change over time, and their ultimate closing. During that time they went from being representative of the best man could hope for to places of abuse and even horror.

The book does a good job paralleling both the perspective of an inmate in the Fernald State School (which for those in the know, is the place about which Burton Blatt wrote and Fred Kaplan took pictures in the famous book Christmas in Purgatory), with events happening at the same time in the US related to ideas of disability, civil rights, etc.

The story probably came to light in response to the scandal about the "science club" at Fernald where young boys were given oatmeal laced with radiation to test its effects. But the desire of the main character of the story, Fred Boyce, is not so much to tell about the science club, but rather to expose the conditions which were allowed at the institution. Conditions which unfortunately were not uncommon.

So I would recommend the book to get an insight into what we as Americans are capable of if the conditions are as they were in the institutions.


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