THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 166, March 25, 2002
Every Stem Cell's Sacred
by L. Neil Smith
Exclusive to TLE
I was disgusted a while back, when I saw a photo on the Drudge Report, of the President of the United States conferring with the Pope.
I've always believed that the Pope should enjoy no special status with the US government, any more than the Queen of England. No 21-gun salutes for her, in this country that once told an ancstor of hers to go to hell, and no state dinners. When she arrives on these democratic shores, she should be known as Betty Battenberg, and have to eat at MacDonald's.
Understand that I have nothing against the Roman Catholic church, except for the irrational mysticism and altruism it promotes. I have nothing against the Pope himself, except that I disagree with almost everything he says or writes. I admit to a grudging detective writer's respect for an old guy who can take four slugs in the gut the way he did and keep on trucking, but there are grave dangers in letting a religious leader tell the President what's moral or immoral, thereby influencing laws and regulations under which you and I are forced to live.
Haven't we learned anything from Nixon and Billy Graham?
That's the very reason the Founders wrote the First Amendment, to establish a formal, legal separation of church and state that today's right-wing socialists erroneously assert doesn't exist -- in the same smarmy tones, and with the same smarmy expressions on their faces that you hear and see on the faces of left-wing socialists who claim the Second Amendment doesn't protect an individual right to own and carry weapons.
In today's world of politics, the socialists who call themselves conservatives always complain about the way the socialists who call themselves liberals achieve their agenda through incrementalism. They allowed the Left to outlaw the concealed carry of weapons for personal defense in places like Dodge City and New York; that seemed reasonable to some. They allowed them to outlaw private ownership of machineguns, and to some, that seemed reasonable, too. Then they allowed them to outlaw mail order sales of firearms, and there were lots of slobbering nutcases (including the imbeciles, poltroons, and golden parachutists who run the National Rifle Association) to whom that seemed perfectly peachy.
Now the socialists who call themselves liberals, openly aided and abetted this time by the socialists who call themselves conservatives, want to ban all semiautomatic weapons. They've successfully told us how many cartridges we can carry in a magazine, and we all know what's next.
It's said, metaphorically, that if you drop a frog into a pot of boiling water, he'll simply hop out again, but if you put him into cool water and turn the heat up a degree at a time, before he realizes the water's boiling hot, he'll already be cooked. Left-wing socialists aren't the only ones who play at boil-the-frog politics, and that's nowhere more apparent than with all this recent blabber over stem cell research.
Stem cells, I should explain, are cells with a capacity to become whatever kind of tissue the body decides it needs. The place they're easiest to get -- not the only place they're found -- is from aborted embryos.
Recently, embryonic stem cells are being looked on by scientists as the Next Big Thing for curing everything from brain tumors to the paralysis suffered by Christopher Reeve. I recall the hoohah about fetal brain cells curing Alzheimer's, and before that, how interferon (obtained from the silliest source in the Known Universe) was going to make cancer a thing of the past, so I'll restrain my enthusiasm. But this is not the kind of thing that government should involve itself in, and George W. Bush's spineless waffling only makes that point more emphatic.
To begin with, it was the human fetus that conservatives said they wanted to protect, bleating, in some vague, ill-defined, unscientific sense, that it's the moral equivalent of a full-blown human being. Now they say that the embryo -- the stage of development that precedes the fetus -- is fully human, too, and must be legally protected. If we let them get away with that, then tomorrow it'll be the predecessor of the embryo, the zygote, that they'll demand human status for. After that, we'll find ourselves smack in the middle of the opening production number of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, [paperback book, VHS, DVD] where "Every Sperm is Sacred".
The deliberate, dishonest confusion conservatives have created between "life" and "human life" is exactly analogous to the deliberate and dishonest confusion liberals have created between people who were murdered, and predators who perished at the hands of their intended victims.
While we're at it, let's get something else straight once and for all: there's no real difference between a human clone and an identical twin. If it's allowed to develop that far, a human clone will become a human being, with all of the rights and responsibilities possessed by any other human being. Why anybody ever began thinking it would be any other way -- or why a clone automatically wouldn't have a soul, when it's assumed by religious types that identical twins do -- is beyond me.
Now we begin to see a danger in having elected a President who's a Born Again whatsit. Cut off from anything that makes life pleasurable, Bush has begun to transform the whole country and the planet into the sort of seething cauldron of self-abnegation and dissatisfaction that fills his own heart and mind, and we're all having to suffer for his "virtue".
I'm starting to think we were better off with the unreconstructed reprobate Bill Clinton. Looking back, we could probably have lived with his peccadillos, if we could have convinced him he wasn't obliged to drop bombs on innocent foreigners whenever his sex life was being publicly discussed. Hell, if I were ever to occupy the Oval Office, I'd want to celebrate it, too, albeit within the bounds of my marital contract.
But once again, I have digressed.
Given today's barbaric rates of personal and corporate taxation, a presidential decision not to fund certain varieties of research, or to limit that research to materials already at hand, dooms that research, no matter what the president's flacks and water-carriers may claim to the contrary. No doubt the money will be used, instead, on developing "smart" guns that only operate when your local government wants them to, on obliterating cybernetic privacy, on installing closed circuit cameras on every doorstep, and on airport security devices capable of measuring the length of your weenie in millimeters, right through your clothing.
Am I saying that the government should underwrite this kind -- or any kind -- of scientific research? Absolutely not. Taxation for any purpose, no matter how noble it's made out to be, is theft. Government use of science and technology is almost invariably evil. And what's more, the federal funding of politically correct science has corrupted free and genuine scientific inquiry beyond comprehension, let alone recovery.
What this country desperately needs (in addition to a permanant tax cut of sufficient magnitude to leave politicians and bureaucrats with cartoon barrels strapped around them, denoting utter destitution) is a Constitutional amendment establishing a formal separation of science -- and especially of medicine -- and state, of exactly the same kind libertarians insist must be established between school and state. And, as I pointed out earlier in this essay, that conservatives have begun erroneously claiming doesn't exist between church and state.
Stem cells may not represent a real Fountain of Youth, but you may rest assured that whatever the Fountain of Youth is truly comprised of will be set off limits, too, by any government run by men of faith (as opposed to reason) who believe it's better to live a mere Biblical (meaning, neolithic) span and go to Heaven, and more patriotic to stop collecting Social Security from a system they can't fix but don't dare abandon.
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