Wednesday, January 08, 2003
What is the world coming to? I must confess that I don't read The Weekly Standard's Web site all that often. It's not that it's bad, it's just that it's not as good as National Review's or any of a plethora of blogs. So, when it comes to my Web-commentary reading, it often falls low on the list.
That's why I missed this piece last Friday from J. Bottum entitled "Eating babies." A warning before you go and click on that link, or read further: I can't remember the last time I was so sickened and disturbed by something I read. The title of the piece, part of what caught my interest and caused me to read the piece is not metaphorical.
Bottum refers to a series of depraved acts, the most tame of which is the recent televised autopsy by a "performance artist" in Great Britain, to make the point that there is a slippery slope when it comes to respect for life.
The public figures who've fought cloning and the Brave New World of eugenics over the past few years insist that the biotechnological issues can be separated from abortion, and there are obvious ways in which they're right: If the abortion debate is really about "a woman's right to chose," then it has nothing to do with the question of creating life in laboratories.
But there are other ways in which the anti-cloning forces are wrong, for the prohibition against abortion is quickly proving to have been the key hedge against the disrespect for life. To offer a different metaphor, the Brave New World is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. Each small piece of the puzzle is held up by its advocates as though it existed in isolation, as though it implied nothing about what is to come, as though it were bad faith on the part of its opponents to point out that it fits in a larger picture. Back in 2001, we were told that the use of embryonic stem cells doesn't require cloning embryos for research. In 2002, we were told that cloning embryos for research doesn't require bringing clones to birth. And now, in 2003, the Raelians claim to have brought a clone to birth, and we are told that this doesn't require the genetic redesign of our descendants.
But it does, of course. Don't look at the single jigsaw-puzzle piece they're holding up this time. Look at the picture they're filling in with it.
Well said. Of course, Bottum's piece as a whole is much more persuasive and challenging, but it's not for the weak of heart.
I'd be curious to see how pro-choice would respond to some of the things Bottum describes have happened elsewhere in the world. I'd like to think that our mostly-moral society would not tolerate those acts here, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the likes of the ACLU defending them.