Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Ph34r the unnatural man-beasts!!

Rethuglicans are once again beating on that dead (and thoroughly rotted-through) horse of human-animal hybrids, claiming that the science-fiction scenario of creating and growing humans with wings or cats that can talk is now becoming a reality in labs and that it must be stopped. Because, you know, humans (and their purity) are sacred and all that.

Led by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), 19 Republicans and 1 Democrat introduced a bill yesterday that would prevent U.S. researchers from developing embryos that use both human and animal material, a controversial practice underway in the UK.

Brownback has long been an opponent of stem cell research and human cloning, yet the idea of human-animal hybrids has gotten little media attention.

"What was once only science fiction is now becoming a reality, and we need to ensure that experimentation and subsequent ramifications do not outpace ethical discussion and societal decisions," Brownback said last year when he introduced similar legislation. "History does not look kindly on those who violate the dignity of the human person."

Oh dear, a Republican who has no idea what the hell he's talking about and is clearly completely clueless regarding science? My, what a shock.

Unfortunately, they've even managed to make the bill bipartisan by enlisting Dumocrat Sen. Mary Landrieu who, in line with Brownback's stupidity, has had this nugget of brilliance to say:

"Here in the United States, we simply cannot open the door to the unethical blending of humans and animals, which the British government seems intent on doing," Landrieu said the last time she introduced similar legislation. "It creates an unnatural species and is a clear line we cannot cross."

Always nice to add a little tinge of xenophobia to attract idiot conservative votes. But the truth of the matter is that this bill fails catastrophically for two crucial reasons: a), no-one has any intention of, or sees any real interest in, creating man-animal hybrids the kinds of which the bill speaks about (and even if they did, the knowledge and technology needed for such an undertaking is still decades and decades away at best), and b) this Brownback bill of stupidity would illegalize many modern life-saving medical operations and treatments, notably the practice of xenografts (taking a small part of some animal – an organ, or a bit of tissue – and implanting it in a human when no human alternatives are available).

It would also render illegal all the research being done that has anything to do at all, however loosely, with the blending of human and animal cells, gametes, etc. It's a highly crucial body of experimentation and it has already unlocked many secrets that we couldn't have figured out before; for more info or examples, I refer you to PZ Myers' post on the subject, where he details some of the types of work that specifically require the use of both human and animal cells and parts.

This is obviously yet another attempt by Rethuglicans (and that one dumb Democrat) to try and elevate the human species to a sacred, untouchable, revered level amongst the order of living things in the world. As long as this mindset that humans are better than everything else in the world exists, we will see idiotic legislature such as this being peddled through – and we will keep having to deny it each and every time in order to protect good science.

I must admit that a hypothetical, future world where "anthros" (or whatever term would be most appropriate) live amongst humans and the two species share a society together does evoke a particularly strong and interesting imaginative image in my mind; maybe it's just because I love animals, am particularly imaginative, or because I like furry artwork too much (oy), but a world where both humans and hybrids coexist peacefully (assuming humanity had matured a bit by then and stopped blowing itself up at the slightest opportunity) is quite an attractive one to me. But again, that's likely just me (though if anyone else would like that I encourage you to "come out" in the comments :P), and at any rate, that is a vision that is decades, or even centuries, from ever being even remotely plausible, much less routine or normal.

(via Pharyngula)


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