Subversive Historian – 01/05/09

The Indictment of Dr. Benjamin Spock

Forty-one years ago on this day in people’s history, Dr. Benjamin Spock alongside four others was indicted for conspiring to violate the Selective Services Act of 1948. On January 5th, 1968, the influential pediatrician and author of the best-selling book “Baby and Child Care” was incredulously charged with aiding and abetting draft resisters. As a pacifist opposed to the Vietnam war, Spock’s activist activities, including speeches he delivered, were held up as supposed evidence of his crime. As such many saw the indictment as the first wave of a coming repression against domestic dissidents opposed to the war machine. Spock found support among many including the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. who offered a statement of complicity with him and the others indicted. The American Ethical Union also authored a statement deploring the indictment stating “In our adherence to democracy, as the most equitable political form of government, we oppose repression of discouragement of the exercise of freedom of speech and of the right to dissent.” As it turned out, Spock was found guilty only to have his conviction overturned, however, on appeal.

Conservatives reviled the good doctor’s child rearing philosophies and it’s easy to see why as Spock himself said, “I was proud of the youths who opposed the war in Vietnam because they were my babies.”

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