Thursday, October 21, 2004
Embryos and buggy whips
Kerry, appearing with Dana Reeve, widow of the "Superman" actor, portrayed the Republican president as out of touch. He suggested Bush would have sided "with the candle lobby against electricity, the buggy makers against the cars and the typewriter companies against computers."
But let's pick a more apt analogy. Dubya would have sided with the Gypsies, the mentally retarded, and the Jews against Hitler's sterilization and genocide. Whatever one thinks of abortion, whenever one thinks meaningful human life begins, it's ugly — outrageous — to compare human embryos to typewriters and buggy whips.
Update (Fri Oct 22 @ 2:00am): Since he didn't bother to send a trackback ping, I'll note here that Jesse Taylor of Pandagon (BA in Religion from Swarthmore, per his bio) saw fit to link this post with one entitled "The Hollow Echo of Jackboots." I think I'm supposed to be the one in jackboots; or maybe it's Alan Keyes, it's kind of hard to tell. We're apparently both part of "these people" who are ready to start bombing fertility clinics.
In addition to Charles Krauthammer's recent WaPo op-ed (discussed and linked below in a fine comment from Va Jim), folks interested in the science and politics of this would be well served to read James Kelly's article on NRO.
Update (Fri Oct 22 @ 3:20am): Prompted by a civil email from one of the commenters on the Pandagon post, I should make clear that I'm not arguing that Sen. Kerry, or anyone else who supports human embryonic stem cell research, is a Nazi or comparable to that hated regime. That's a label that I apply rarely if ever. Rather, people of good faith and decency can and do have differing moral and ethical perspectives on these issues. Some of those with strongly held, sincere positions believe that large-scale destruction of human embryos for purposes of this research would be tantamount to genocide. I frankly don't intend to get into a lengthy debate about my own views on that subject, and I'm not trying to persuade anyone else to take one side or the other. Rather, my objection is to Sen. Kerry mocking President Bush's position for partisan gain, and trivializing the issue by ignoring the moral and ethical dimensions of this topic.
Update (Fri Oct 22 @ 8:50am): Commenter Sid the Fish on Pandagon (whose own blog post on the subject is linked in a trackback below) provides this link to the prepared text of Sen. Kerry's speech from his website, which I will concede, as he argues, discusses much more than human embryonic stem cell research. As printed there, I will also concede that the buggy/electricity analogy is far less offensive (if of equally questionable factual validity, since it there appears to claim that Pres. Bush is against any and all scientific progress in practically any field).
Moreover, one might legitimately wonder if the text of the speech as printed on the Kerry campaign's website actually corresponded to the speech as given. Perhaps Reuters, or the similar NPR report on Sen. Kerry's speech that I heard this morning, which also discussed only stem cell research, are spinning Sen. Kerry's spoken words to make him look bad. But Sen. Kerry's been known to expand and wander from his printed text on occasion, and in fact seems to do so more often than not.
Finally, Mr. Taylor has edited his original post to say that he only fears fertility clinic bombings by those with a "slightly more extreme version of [the] view" he attributes to me and Mr. Keyes. (I actually have no clue what Mr. Keyes' views are.) In an update to the post, however, he continues to argue that my original post here and comments on Pandagon represent the "utter height of irresponsibility and demagoguery," which makes me wonder what the "slightly more extreme version" might be. Ah, well — the moral I take from the exchange is, once again, not to bother arguing with such folks on their own turf.
Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to Embryos and buggy whips and sent a trackback ping are listed here:
» Moloch Nation from Sue Bob's Diary
Tracked on Oct 21, 2004 9:05:56 PM
» The ethics of arguing about stem cells from Sid's Fishbowl
Tracked on Oct 22, 2004 8:33:56 AM
Tracked on Oct 22, 2004 9:13:02 AM
(1) YouGottaBeKidding made the following comment | Oct 21, 2004 8:15:50 PM | Permalink
I find it ironic than the Dems are complaining about outsourcing and the loss of manufacturing jobs, but that they claim that Bush would side with the anti-progress groups...
(2) MV Houston made the following comment | Oct 21, 2004 8:21:58 PM | Permalink
I would Say that Kerry is the one who is out of touch. This is a subject that has very strong moral implications and just like with abortion. He thinks he can just trample over we who believe this is very dangerous ground...
He then has the audacity to play like he is such a good Catholic Christian. Oh Yea right, he just goes totally against God's law and the Catholic church...
This man nor his Sugar MAMA have any respect for we the people. The only thing he cares about is getting votes legally or illegally...
(3) Roy Lofquist made the following comment | Oct 21, 2004 9:50:59 PM | Permalink
Monsieur Kerry: "I believe that life begins at conception,but I wouldn't force my beliefs on others". ???????????????
We are electing the President of the United States. He does many things but the main thing he does is make decisions. Tough, hard decisions, each and every one, the ones that can only be made by the POTUS.
He puts his signature on each of these decisions. He has an unforgiving record for all to see, unto the 20th generation. We don't need another Carter to schedule the tennis courts or another Clinton to host late night pizza bull sessions. Kerry would be even worse. At least Carter and Clinton were governors.
(4) MattJ made the following comment | Oct 21, 2004 10:44:21 PM | Permalink
I thought the joke was funny the first time I heard it.
In the 2000 Bush-Gore debates.
Does no one else remember Bush's quip about Gore's repetition of the word risky?
Something about "If he had been there when Edison was testing the lightbulb, it would have been a risky anti-candle scheme"
Big laughs, as I recall. Four years ago when it was fresh.
Excellent point. But don't we already know what John Kerry thinks of embryos? He believes, as an "article of faith," that life begins at conception. Except he's unwilling, of course, to let that "article of faith" effect any decision concerning that "life." Bizarre. It's truly bizarre because all Bush has done is restrict the use of federal funds to already destroyed embryos (as of 2001), he has not obstructed others from pursuing the science, and he has, in fact, provided federal funds to embryonic research.
Of course, when someone says "life begins at conception" they are really just stating biological fact. But that phrase is code for the belief that embryonic and fetal human life deserves at least some respect and protection.
I am undecided on the ethics of embryonic stem cell research, but I am disgusted that Kerry and his charlatans have dishonestly presented this topic. The presumption of his speech today, and Reeves' widow, is that science should be totally free from ethical limitations, even when that concerns the destruction of human life. Sure, reasonable people may disagree about the ethics of embyonic stem cell research, but to pretend an authentic ethical question doesn't exist here is reprehensible. Or, as you said, to compare the harvesting of human life for scientific research to the mundane inventions of yesterday exposes a critical lack of respect for those beliefs Kerry "respects" and "feels" and is supposed to hold himself.
(6) Va Jim made the following comment | Oct 21, 2004 11:19:01 PM | Permalink
The whole stem-cell issue is a smoke-screen, albeit a screen with profound humanistic implications. Digressing for a moment with the absence of any humanity, nobody is addressing the issue that there is no ban on stem-cell research.
Any venture capitalist is free to invest in companies doing research with stem-cells, just as it's biologists or scientists are free to work with them. Any of them.
The campaign issue of stem-cells is all about limitations on federal dollars (and 'cell lines') set aside for this work. That the first grants for this research were made by Bush is ignored in the rush to judgement that the money be unrestricted.
Federal funding is a moot point though. Stem-cell research, at this time, is purely speculative despite Edward's claim that the deaf will hear, Reeves will walk again, and --apparently-- the dead will rise too. Any project that has promise will attract investors; see Economics 101, Supply and Demand. Stem-cell research has none.
With an estimated 75% of more of Americans destined to get Altziemer's to some degree, the potential profits from a stem-cell derived cure or preventative are staggering. If stem-cells could repair spinal and brain injuries, trillions of dollars would be saved in extended care and lost production. Of course any company producing these cures would be able to set their price. But they can't, not because the federal government is stingy, not because there's too few fetuses, but because there's no future in stem-cell research.
Not a single pharmaceudical giant is putting effort into it, though all of them have looked at the potential. If there was promise, where are the billions they'd ordinarily pour into molecular research?
No, the stem-cell debate is part of a wider issue, an issue that deeply involves our humanity. Without dwelling on the fact that it --apparently-- necessitates the death of a potential person; it's still being used in the vilest way: Preying on the hopes and fears of the sick and disabled.
Charles Krauthammer --a medical doctor who's paraplegic-- is far more eloquent than I:
In my 25 years in Washington, I have never seen a more loathsome display of demagoguery. Hope is good. False hope is bad. Deliberately, for personal gain, raising false hope in the catastrophically afflicted is despicable.
Science is double-edged. Hitler's 'racial purity' program was science in it's day. My native and beloved state carried out involuntary sterilizations until 1960. Making policy on sound science is a good approach, but making science based on policy is not; and too many people don't understand the difference. Those that do understand though, are as Krauthammer says, simply despicable.
When, for example, five embryos result from an in vitro fertilization procedure and one is selected for implantation, what should be done with the other four?
Another point as well, regarding cloning.
Should we refrain from pursuing research in human cloning while another country hostile to us eventually produces large numbers of look-alike soldiers?
Semi-Pundit, my point was not to try to answer all the difficult moral and ethical questions about stem cell research, but simply to object to Sen. Kerry's trivialization of them for partisan (and probably scientifically misleading) purposes. I don't have an answer to your question about unused human embryos from in vitro fertilization experiments. But I will go out on a limb and say that your comment about cloning soldiers is ... umm, not to put to fine a point on it ... silly. You've been watching too much bad sci-fi.
(10) Jonathan Sadow made the following comment | Oct 22, 2004 3:38:24 AM | Permalink
Yes, Beldar, SemiPundit's been watching those "Star Wars" movies too much....
I can answer those questions in more detail, though. If five embryos have been created, then five lives have been created, and if one keeps just one and destroys the others (the usual fate in in vitro fertilization procedures), then four lives have been taken. I think that is bad public policy. Of course, unlike Senator Kerry, my position is informed by my Catholic beliefs....
Putting aside the fact that cloning humans is so far in the future that the issue isn't worth discussing, you don't get exact "copies" of organisms when cloned, just organisms with identical DNA. The distinction is important. A cat has been cloned, but it looks nothing like its parent; it has a different coat pattern and coloration even though it shares identical genetic information with the parent. There's no way one could create a clone army; environmental differences within the womb will cause identical embryos to develop differently and produce different organisms, just as my identical twin brother and I (who have identical genetic material) are obviously different individuals.
Beldar, you run into one major problem: Kerry wasn't talking about stem-cell research or abortion.
Also, the title is a reference to your Nazi comparison, which you made. And if you deny that the more extreme versions of the view you presented don't bomb abortion clinics and intimidate doctors and mothers, you're even more morally ignorant than you've made yourself out to be.
(12) A Hermit made the following comment | Oct 22, 2004 9:06:57 AM | Permalink
Beldar says, in his update: "I'm not arguing that Sen. Kerry, or anyone else who supports human embryonic stem cell research, is a Nazi or comparable to that hated regime."
Yet that''s exactly what you did with this post.
It's disturbing to see this sort of comparison made in these arguments, as they so often are in discussions about abortion. Here in Canada one of the leaders in the fight for women's right to choose has been Dr. Henry Morgentaler, who was sickened by the numbers of young women he saw showing up at emergency rooms on weekends with injuries caused by self administered, or illegal abortions and felt he had to do sometihing to at least make sure they had access to safe procedures.
Dr. Morgentaler is often compared by the anti-choice crowd as a Nazi, which is kind of ironic considering he is an Auschwitz survivor who lost most of his family to the Nazis...
Think twice before making such outrageous comparisons.
(13) A Hermit made the following comment | Oct 22, 2004 9:24:09 AM | Permalink
Beldar to Pandagon comments #1:
"You've taken the trouble to link from my blog without, apparently, having read any other posts on it, and you've have painted with a broad, inaccurate, and offensive brush"
Beldar to Pandagon comments #2:
"I appreciate your furnishing a link to the entire speech, which I had not previously read from that source; I will add that link to my original post on my own blog. I agree that as published there, the speech covered more than human embryo stem cell research."
So, Jesse's bad for not reading your whole blog before commenting, but you shouldn't be faulted for relying on a paraphrase in an internet article to compare Kerry to Hitler without taking the time to read what Kerry actually said...?!
Whose the one being painting "with a broad, inaccurate, and offensive brush" here?
Maybe the moral you should be takling from all this is "think before you post"...
(14) A Hermit made the following comment | Oct 22, 2004 9:31:42 AM | Permalink
And I should spellcheck before I post...;-P
One minor point, Beldar: It's "Pandagon", not "Pandragon".
The "slightly more extreme version" would be acting on what you're saying.
Ah, well — the moral I take from the exchange is, once again, not to bother arguing with such folks on their own turf.
The moral should probably be to read things before you comment on them and not to make such morally specious statements and then lie about what you said.
And your new excuse is sad. I'm sorry if you can't debate with people away from your little comfort zone of misrepresentation, but that's really not a point in your favor.
(17) praktike made the following comment | Oct 22, 2004 10:35:48 AM | Permalink
(18) Steve L. made the following comment | Oct 22, 2004 10:37:18 AM | Permalink
This week's Time Magazine (that great bastion of conservative journalism) had an article on Reeves and research into paralysis. It discussed several lines of research and the relative successes they have enjoyed. It wans't until almost 3/4th of the way into the article that stem cells were even mentioned (and this was the ONLY reference):
For all the heat generated over stem cells, that science still requires a great deal of work. Senators John Kerry and John Edwards have both invoked Reeve's advocacy of embryonic stem-cell funding in their campaign against the Bush Administration, which restricts research on religious grounds. But scientists must first coax stem cells to develop into nerve cells before they can begin to put them to work in the spine.
Sixty-nine words out of a 745 word piece. That's not even 10%.
When I heard Kerry's statement on TV yesterday, I came unhinged. My wife thought that I had flipped out. I grabbed the magazine and flipped to the article and (irrationally) held it up to the television in front of Kerry's face. Somehow, I don't think that worked.
(19) Karl, the Idiot made the following comment | Oct 22, 2004 10:43:40 AM | Permalink
[This post deleted for failure to comply with blog commenting policies. I don't subsidize bandwidth for folks who accuse me of "fascist move[s]." A substantially similar version of the comment I've deleted, however, can be found from the self-named "Karl, the Idiot" on the Pandagon website (October 22, 2004 11:42 AM). Beldar]
(20) BSR made the following comment | Oct 22, 2004 10:57:38 AM | Permalink
you should have read the entire article before making such a rediculas statement. Kerry never made the comparison you are saying he made, ie comparing human lives to buggy whips, etc. Not even close. Your putting words in his mouth, and failure to read the article is no excuse.
To be frank, I don't believe it was an honest error. I think your simply dishonest. Have fun making up fake quotes and straw man arguements that have nothing to do with Kerry's actual positions or statements.
Lastly, the idea that GWB would have sided with my dead relatives in the holocaust is ironic at best considering hom much of his family fortune was based on Prescott Bush trading with and profiting from the Nazi regime in Germany.
-A pro life jew that thinks your comment was out of line.
Mr. Cavness, thanks for the catch on the misspelling, which I've corrected.
Mr. Taylor, A Hermit, and others: I do not accept the proposition that before blogging on anything having to do with Sen. Kerry, I have an obligation to make daily or hourly checks of his website. Indeed, it's still not been established that the website version of the speech is what he actually delivered. In any event, per the bloggers' ethics code posted on my sidebar, my original post linked my original source and contained an unedited quotation, word for word, duly indicated as such. I'm still not sure what you mean by your accusation that I've "lie[d] about what [I] said," but having been repeatedly insulted on your website, Mr. Taylor, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that you'd come here to do so as well.
Try, sir, to take the hysteria and rhetoric down a notch, and review the bidding with me:
(1) Sen. Kerry, as reported both in the Reuters article and in the website version of his speech, made an unflattering comparison about Pres. Bush the buggy/electricity line. That's an accurate quote.
(2) I felt that the comparison, as it was reported in the Reuters article, was unfair and offensive because it ignored the ethical concerns regarding research on human embryonic stem cells that can require the destruction of human embryos. I offered an alternative characterization of Pres. Bush's views, in which I compared him to someone objecting to sterilization and genocide snuffing out human life. I felt that Sen. Kerry's comparison, as reported by Reuters, trivilized the issue. I neither said, nor directly implied, that Sen. Kerry or anyone else who favors such research going forward with federal funding is a Nazi. When one of your commenters emailed me to assert that he'd made such an inference from my comment, I posted an update to deny that I had made, or intended, any such assertion.
(3) You assumed, incorrectly as it turns out, that I therefore shared the views of Pres. Bush.
(4) You further suggested in the passage on which you've since done a stealth edit (leaving no trace of your original statement; see blogger ethics link above) that I'm one of "these people" who are likely to bomb fertility clinics.
(5) At the same time you did the above-referenced stealth edit, you posted an update to your own post for which I thank you, I suppose to clarify that your "jackboots" reference in the post's title, and the subsequent reference to clinic bombing, wasn't intended to refer to me. However, you continued to attribute to me a personal position, on the merits of stem cell research, that I'd expressly disclaimed.
(6) Your commenter Sid the Fish accused me, falsely, of "taking two out-of-context quotes and trying to make a connection between them," followed by your own accusation that I was engaging in "utter dishonesty" and had "decided to go full-out dishonest."
(7) Then you come to my blog and call me a liar.
(8) All of this is the result of my defending President Bush, on my own blog, from a comparison that the mainstream press attributed to Sen. Kerry which I thought was unfair and insensitive. For this, I get a stream of false accusations, profanity, and insults.
I'll gladly let my readers decide for themselves what, if anything, to make of all this. Whether you choose to link to anything I write here in the future is, of course, up to you. If you choose to permit, or engage in, vulgarity on your own blog, that too is your business. But please refer to, and abide by, my comments policy, as posted in my sidebar, if you plan to write here in the future.
(22) Va Jim made the following comment | Oct 22, 2004 11:22:04 AM | Permalink
Jesse, it's totally irrelevant what Kerry was talking about, since Beldar was quoting what Kerry actually said
"... said President Bush's policy on stem cell research was akin to favoring the candle lobby over electricity.
"It is wrong to tell scientists that they can't cross the frontiers of new knowledge," the Massachusetts senator said. "It is wrong morally and it is wrong economically, and when I am president, we will change this policy and we will lead the world in stem cell research." [emphasis added]
Nothing about light bulbs, buggy whips, or artificial intelligence. It's Kerry's clear and unmistakable intent to include massive federal funding of stem-cell research in his definition of 'scientific progress'; a strictly political decision. If anyone want's to claim that Kerry's quote was really in terms of job creation, Beldar's use of the quote is far more legitimate. It would also highlight Kerry's belief in failed and discredited Keynesian economics; and the fallacy of 'job creation' through federal spending.
Two issues emerge. One is the use of federal funding --money obtained by forced tribute-- for uses that many people find morally reprehensible. An excellent example is American eugenics and the forced sterilization of 'the retarded, the deaf and mute, the genetically inferior' Eugenics was science in its day, but would have been harmless until the government became involved.
The other issue (which I address) is the shrill cry of welfare-queens demanding ever-increasing food in the public trough. That many of these queens have PhDs is immaterial, they are clamoring for the public's money on a false premise.
Kerry, running neck-and-neck with Bush in national opinion polls, wants to expand federally funded embryonic stem cell research that could some day be used to engineer personally tailored cells to repair injury or treat disease. [emphasis added]
The word "could" is ambiguous. The Iraqi army could have forced the US into the 'Mother-of-All-Battles®. It's possible the US could have met defeat. Small chance, but the wording is accurate. Anti-matter could solve all our energy problems next year; and stem-cell research could lead to wonderful medical cures. In reality, the probabilities of all three examples are similar.
Stem-cell research --specifically embryo stem-cell research-- has little promise in medicine. There is no ban on the research, and a great deal has been done. Every bit of evidence is that there's nothing that embryonic cells can do that adult stem-cells can't do better for spinal injuries. Absolutely nothing. The evidence (from research!) is stem-cells have no promise in treating Altzheimers or Parkinson's diseases. None. There could be other medical advances: over $250M nationwide is invested in it, Geron alone has $70M of investor money and feels they could be near some practical uses.
As of last week there were 3500 federally provided embryonic stem-cell shipments waiting for a researcher that wants them. From the feds there's $24 million available for embryonic, and $190 million for non-embryonic stem-cell research. Private companies have developed their own cell lines. No, the issue from Kerry and his Silky Pony is pure political pandering of the worst sort, pure snake oil .
Slightly off subject:
Kerry mentioned the lines available for federally-funded embryonic stem cell research were tainted by "mouse cells." Is this true? And, if true, does it signigicantly obstruct the research value of those lines approved for federal funding?
(24) A Hermit made the following comment | Oct 22, 2004 11:46:52 AM | Permalink
"I do not accept the proposition that before blogging on anything having to do with Sen. Kerry, I have an obligation to make daily or hourly checks of his website."
Of course not, and I haven't suggested otherwise (neither have I called you a "liar", sir, please don't lump my comments in with others like that), but a minimum of fact checking, like actually reading the speech yourself, might be in order before giving in to outrage.
And I'm sorry, but you can't avoid the rather explicit comparison between Kerry and Hitler which is inherent in your Holocaust analogy. You delete a post (perhaps justifiably) for suggesting an element of fascism in your attitude, but still you defend your own use of an even viler analogy.
Take that beam out of your eye, sir, before looking for motes in others.
(25) sgo made the following comment | Oct 22, 2004 12:11:14 PM | Permalink
As a Philosopher I hate this discussion.
Why you might ask, it's very spirited?
Well, it's because no one ever asks the central questions to the debate. The argument always devolves into a match about personal morals and who has some kind of mandated idea from their "god". ( notice the small "g")
Anyhow, for Socrates sake people ... answer these questions and then,, and only then, will you be able to truly argue about embryos, abortion, stem cells and the like.
Question 1: What makes a "person" a "person"
Question 2: When does that "person" become a "person".
Hermit, I didn't make an analogy comparing Kerry to Hitler. I made an analogy comparing Bush to someone objecting to Hitler's practices. Mr. Taylor then extended that, trying to argue that I was saying Kerry=Hitler. I updated my post to make clear that I'd neither said nor implied that, nor intended that it be inferred. Fer pete's sake the entire point of my post was to stress the difficult moral and ethical issues this subject raises, about which reasonable people can and do differ, and to argue that it was offensive to trivialize such a solemn dispute by comparing it to buggy-whips! It was not, and is not, my intent to get into an extended discussion of the merits of either side, but simply to plead for Sen. Kerry to recognize that any such discussions ought to take place with more dignity.
Re factchecking: I try to rely on reputable sources, broadly defined, but regardless of my own assessment and if you've skimmed my blog, you'll see that I'm a frequent and vocal critic of mainstream media organizations, specifically including Reuters I disclose and link to what I'm relying upon, so that my readers can make their own judgments as to their reliability. I continue to reject the suggestion that my factchecking obligations as a blogger include digging behind every purported quotation from a mainstream media source before I blog about it. Here, you'd have me write, I suppose, "Well, Reuters says Kerry was talking about stem cell research when he made the buggy/electricity remark, but the campaign's text version of the speech, as intended to be given but not necessarily as it was actually given, looks different." With due respect, sir, I don't think that's a reasonable expectation, and I very, very seriously doubt that any blogger, including Mr. Taylor, does that.
What I have done, and believe I'm ethically obliged to do, is to pass along (with links) information like the text version of the full speech when and if it's brought to my attention. And if it changes my analysis, I'm obliged to acknowledge that.
Finally, I didn't say you've accused me of being a liar. From my comment above:
I'm still not sure what you mean by your accusation that I've "lie[d] about what [I] said," but having been repeatedly insulted on your website, Mr. Taylor, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that you'd come here to do so as well.
Subsequent references were either to Mr. Taylor by name, or as "sir" (singular). But I appreciate your disassociation of yourself from that particular accusation, and your civil tone in general.
(27) Va Jim made the following comment | Oct 22, 2004 12:36:08 PM | Permalink
What Kerry actually said is unquestioned. Kerry said:
"It is wrong to tell scientists that they can't cross the frontiers of new knowledge. It's wrong morally and it is wrong economically, and when I am president, we will change this policy and we will lead the world in stem cell research." 0:54-1:11
The quotes in the Reuters article match the actual National Public Radio recording, so whatever Kerry was supposed to have said is irrelevant. The audio didn't include Kerry making the buggy, candles, and typewriter analogies; but was reported by NPR's Scott Horsely.
(28) A Hermit made the following comment | Oct 22, 2004 1:16:07 PM | Permalink
"Hermit, I didn't make an analogy comparing Kerry to Hitler. I made an analogy comparing Bush to someone objecting to Hitler's practices."
With respect, sir, the analogy between Kerry, or at least with the researchers whom Kerry is supporting with his comments, and the Nazis is clearly the effect of your comment. All your subsequent tap dancing cannot erase that. It was an odiuos comparison, and you would do better to admit it, apologize, and move on.
And by lumping my name in with Mr. Taylor's you associate my comments with his. Please don't.
I'm still not sure what you mean by your accusation that I've "lie[d] about what [I] said," but having been repeatedly insulted on your website, Mr. Taylor, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that you'd come here to do so as well.
I'm truly tired of debating with you, because you're engaging in a roundabout twisting of your own words and their obvious implications in order to pretend that what you were saying wasn't what you were saying.
At this point, you've been utterly dishonest about what you were contending (that Bush's opposition to stem-cell research is equivalent to opposition to Hitler, meaning that Kerry's support would de facto be equivalent to Hitler's eugenics and genocide). One of your own readers/supporters contends it doesn't matter what Kerry was saying, because you quoted him directly - as if a direct quote surrounded by misleading and erroneous interpretation is "okay", because the words that were taken out of context were accurately quoted apart from their meaning.
I'm sorry you consider an accurate description of your words some sort of attack. But you either need to measure your Nazi comparisons, or understand that reasonable people will find you grossly unfair and disgusting.
There have been no false accusations, no insults, and if profanity is truly that offensive to you, perhaps you shouldn't be laying out Nazi comparisons on your site. I still find it amazing that a reader on your blog must read the entire thing to intuit that your offensive statements aren't meant to be offensive in that way.
Goodbye, Beldar. Good luck clutching your "blogger ethics" to your chest, and perhaps you should look to add a section on intellectual honesty, or when a "stealth edit" is clearly marked at the bottom of the post. You're a ridiculously dishonest debater, and that's not name-calling - it's the truth.
Mr. Taylor, a "stealth edit" is one that conceals what's been changed or omitted. That's true even if there's an indication that a change has been made. In parts of the blogosophere, it's known as "dKos'g" for good reason. I'm grateful that you softened your original hateful speech toward me. Perhaps it's classless of me to quibble that you did so without apologizing and concealed the original version through your edit.
I understand your argument about implications, reasonable or not. We still disagree, which is no surprise. And I guess I'm not surprised, but still disappointed, that we can't even agree on whether being accused of "lying" (without details), "dishonesty," and likely to blow up a fertility clinic are "insulting." (I think at least one of these would likely qualify as a "false accusation," but perhaps you disagree.) Again, I leave my readers to judge, having a high respect for their cumulative wisdom on such matters, and an ever-growing appreciation for their civility, for the most part, in debate.
I gratefully end our debate as well, with only this parting suggestion: If you're going to end your arguing with the "Edith Ann Gambit," you might as well include the raspberry.
(31) John Mercer made the following comment | Oct 22, 2004 6:35:13 PM | Permalink
"Kerry mentioned the lines available for federally-funded embryonic stem cell research were tainted by "mouse cells." Is this true? And, if true, does it signigicantly obstruct the research value of those lines approved for federal funding?"
Yes, it is true. And yes, it makes the approved lines utterly worthless for clinical trials.
The right wing in this debate ignores several important points, two of which are technical.
1) The use of mouse feeder cells.
2) The fact that stem-cell lines lose their pluripotency. A high-passage-number stem cell line is not nearly as likely to be good as a low-passage-number one.
3) Bush's position is morally incoherent. If killing those embryos was murder, all ES cell research should be outlawed.
4) Keeping human embryos in the freezer slowly kills them anyway. This flows from noting that those who claim that stem-cell research is wrong don't offer any moral objection to the creation and destruction of human embryos.
5) If each human life begins at conception, then twins do not have separate lives or separate souls, because twinning occurs long after conception. Do Catholic and right-wing evangelical churches only allow one funeral service per pair of twins?
(32) Va Jim made the following comment | Oct 22, 2004 11:17:17 PM | Permalink
If there's any evidence of 'mouse cell contamination', please post it. Otherwise it's a worthless statement, as a quick Google indicates the exact opposite from any science-oriented cites. A number of independent researchers use mouse cells, but 'contamination' that you imply is not a factor.
As a non-right-or-left, I agree with your point that the government's position (or Bush's position as you seem to prefer) doesn't make sense. It's unnecessary for the government to finance any non-critical research that could be funded by private investors. Under Clinton's administration there was absolutely no funding at all, and there's good reason to return to that position. Private enterprise has stepped up to the plate.
Pluripotency, the ability of stem-cells to develop into many types of mature cells, is a concern for some. For others it was a challenge, and the issue may be irrelevant since Schöler's discovery of the chemical reason. Conversely, pluripotency is the cause of (unwanted!) tumor development.
I've eschewed the morality of embryo creation and destruction in my end of this discussion --others can jump in as they see fit-- more as an exersize than any other reason. The history of government sponsored or directed medical research show that federal funding has almost no positive (good) effect, though I do see a place for sponsorship of rare-disease medicines that aren't economically practical otherwise. Until this real-world objection is overcome, arguing the ethics seems moot.
With over a decade of research there's no 'big fix' from stem-cells on the horizon. We know what stems-cells won't alleviate spinal cord injuries, won't regenerate nerves, won't halt or reverse either Altheimers or Parkinsons. We know that stem-cells love to turn into cancers, often doing it spontaneously. We know that stem-cells' development into all sorts of specialized mature cells is really neat; but there's been no case made indicating that $210 million or $10 billion of federal spending will get us one inch closer to a cure for anything. The hour a true promise surfaces, some venture-capital lab will eliminate the need for tax dollars.
Equally disturbing is Kerry's claim that massive federal spending on stem-cell research (among other things) would be "job creation". The last thing our basically flat economy needs is more money taken from the productive side and distributed through the proven unproductivity of federal grants. It's not creating jobs, it's high-tech welfare.
(33) ed made the following comment | Oct 23, 2004 2:04:47 AM | Permalink
"When, for example, five embryos result from an in vitro fertilization procedure and one is selected for implantation, what should be done with the other four?"
Someone actually asked that question of all American fertility treatment clinics. What they found that those additional embryos were either never destroyed, i.e. the clinic paid the cost of maintaining them indefinitely, or they were treated humanely when they were destroyed. In a few cases the embryos were allowed to begin their growth cycle before being allowed to die. In this way they were allowed to die a "natural" death.
I'd suggest the only person that really views embryos as equivalent of cogs in a machine, and as disposable, is Kerry.
I don't think Bush's compromise is without merit. He made a choice to accept those stem cell lines which already existed. That is, the embryo had already been destroyed. That is a different circumstance than the government sponsoring the future destruction of embryos. It's true that someone may feel they are both immoral, but they are clearly different moral questions. Is it OK to fund research with cells already harvested from viable human embryos? And, is it OK to fund the destruction of human embryos?
That allegation that the cells are "tainted" by mouse cells seems to me false. But I'd happily read any citation anybody can provide.
" If each human life begins at conception, then twins do not have separate lives or separate souls, because twinning occurs long after conception."
You have conflated two separate questions. First, it is a biological fact that human life begins at conception. Period. When human life is imbued with a "soul," if one even believes souls exist, is a totally different question. Your logical fallacy also presupposes that those who don't believe in the human soul do not believe in the right of an individual not to be killed. Clearly that is false. In fact, as an agnostic on both the existence of God and the human soul, I can assure you it is false. One needn't be a devout Catholic or a fundie to realize there are serious moral questions, and implications, to ESC research.
(35) ed made the following comment | Oct 23, 2004 2:10:25 AM | Permalink
"5) If each human life begins at conception, then twins do not have separate lives or separate souls, because twinning occurs long after conception. Do Catholic and right-wing evangelical churches only allow one funeral service per pair of twins?"
That is an utterly ridiculous statement. I'm not even a Christian and I know that statement is ridiculous.
If you're having a hard time figuring it out, why not go to a Catholic church and ask a priest.
(36) Old Red made the following comment | Oct 23, 2004 4:56:30 PM | Permalink
I've been involved in neuroscience research most of my professional life. Several points must be remembered when discussing the stem cell question.
First, as others have pointed out, there is no "ban" on this research. It's quite legal, but at present there is no federal funding for most aspects. University research funds, corporate funds, Hughes Institute funds, etc., are not affected by federal controls.
Next, there are plenty of other countries with research scientists as good as any in the U.S. I suspect that stem cell research is underway in many of these places, yet where are the reports of the miraculous cures? Not that long ago, fetal tissue implants were hyped as a cure for Parkinson's disease. That has proved to be a total bust.
There is no possible application of stem cells that is more hideously complicated than regenerating lost nervous tissue. Nerve cells have incredibly intricate connections with other nerve cells, involving excitation, inhibition, and many different neurotransmitters. The recipe changes depending on the region of the brain or spinal cord, and the specific portion of the circuitry that must be replaced. Thinking that you can just throw a few stem cells in the mix and watch as they reassemble mature CNS circuitry is terribly naive.
There is some evidence that embryonic stem cells might work for some tissue replacement applications, and I'm in favor of the research if the alternative is to discard extra embryos. But it has been totally oversold, and I think the recent attempts to capitalize on the deaths of Chris Reeves and Ronald Reagan are at best incredibly cynical and manipulative.
(37) YouGottaBeKidding made the following comment | Oct 23, 2004 9:12:21 PM | Permalink
You wrote this:
Here in Canada one of the leaders in the fight for women's right to choose has been Dr. Henry Morgentaler, who was sickened by the numbers of young women he saw showing up at emergency rooms on weekends with injuries caused by self administered, or illegal abortions and felt he had to do sometihing to at least make sure they had access to safe procedures.
Using that logic, the solution to botched suicide attempts would be some sort of suicide aid that would ensure success.
Or the solution to all the crime problems would be to do away with laws and enforcement.
The comments to this entry are closed.