Thursday, July 14, 2005

The unbearable lightness of thinking

I just picked up the latest issue of National Geographic. The cover article is about stem cell research. I only skimmed the article while I was in the check-out line, but what caught my attention was the "moral" opposition to the concept. The article pointed out that a five-day old fetus was smaller than the period at the end of the sentence that was making the point — and while it was printed at about 72 point size, it was still a dot smaller than an eighth of an inch — with no brain, no nervous system, no organs. There's no one "there" yet to feel pain or suffer. Yet some people are horrified.

These same people — or most of them, I'll wager — have no problem with other forms of suffering. Cows, sheep, pigs, even chickens, are all conscious beings who feel pain and fear. Evidence suggests they are distressed by the loss of their young, and their young by the loss of their parents; in other words, they mourn. Unfortunately, they're delicious, so our society stuffs them into pens where they can't turn around, tortures them with forced feedings, hormones, and antibodies, and as soon as it's feasible, kills them. They live, suffering in fear and pain, and die, all with barely a thought from us.

Meanwhile, at least — at least — 12,000 Iraqi civilians have been massacred by coalition forces since the invasion of Iraq began. Before that, half a million Iraqi children at least, by UN estimates not challenged by Madeleine Albright when they were put to her on 60 Minutes — have starved to death due to sanctions at the whim of Western nations. These were people who had brains, nervous systems, and organs. They were much more than mere dots at the end of a sentence, and yet their narratives were brought to a close with fiendish disregard.

But some people are going to save the world (although not the sufferers of any number of genetic diseases who might benefit) by banning stem cell research because it's inhumane, and an affront to human dignity.


Does a civilization so grossly hypocritcal as ours truly deserve to live?


pretty shaved ape said...

bonjour primate, congratulations on your recommendation from canadian cynic. i've been meaning to drop a comment in your blog for a while now. i applaud the courage you show in taking a stand against the nonsense that our culture stuffs into our wee little brains. to imagine that we somehow achieve justice for the loss of three thousand lives by spending tens of thousands of lives is the purest madness. the war on terror is a cruel sham that will reap nothing but death until we awaken from this bitter dream. cheers to you

Lone Primate said...

Thanks, PSA! You know by now that I covet your deftness with a turn of phrase. I love tuning to your blog and listening to the mindbricks fall into place. When I read for my anonymous friend, I knew I had to open a portal to your blog from mine... do my bit to channel the rivers on to the sea. :)

Thanks for swinging by... pun intended, of course.

Niobium said...

Does a civilization so grossly hypocritcal as ours truly deserve to live?


G said...

Somehow, a part of me still says yes, we actually do.

If for nothing else than that longing of "it cannot end like this".

Lone Primate said...

I suppose a better way of putting that might be, in the words of Abe Lincoln, "those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and under a just God, cannot long retain it". We may lose it in attacks, or by gnawing our own foot off in the form of the ever-more-circumscribed civil liberties that result from our demands to be insulated from them; either way, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.