Christopher Reeve’s death (which coincides with a US presidential election where stem cell research is an issue) reminds me of the rare outbreak of rationality that was concurrent to the otherwise hysterical debate on animal experimentation: the UK leading the way on human cloning.
Alongside Parkinson’s sufferer Michael J Fox, Christopher Reeve helped show that this is nothing to do with designer babies for the wealthy, but everything to do with helping people like himself and defeating debilitating diseases of the brain. All through research that (unlike that on animals) inflicts no suffering.
Thanks to them, opponents like George W Bush look increasingly hysterical; ‘This is a frightening scenario. It is creating a new kind of sexless human being to supply stem cells and with the intention of killing it’, says anti-abortion Life. Nonsense, of course. These embryos left over from fertilisation treatment are yet more waste from the incredibly wasteful human reproductive system. Labelling them as life is purely arbitrary; we could just as easily take the point of ovulation (or ejaculation) as the beginning, but nobody suggests trying to save all those ‘lives’.
Having said all that, it’s no surprise that people get so hot under the collar as it goes right to the heart of the Judeo-Islamic-Christian mythology that sustains so many. Here other animals are simply resources to be exploited as man sees fit. So the dissection of living primate brains is okay. However, an embryo otherwise destined for the incinerator being put to good use, denies the uniqueness of humanity.
There’s something of a moral realignment occurring, as the implications of recognising that we are another form of animal life finally hit home. We’re rightly questioning the morality of experimenting on other animals in a way we would never allow on a person, while moving away from seeing all to do with human reproduction as holy. This (to some scary stuff) explains why relatively godless Britain is leading the way.
On animal fashion, morality and suffering……God to get real with Priest Idol……Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals by John Gray