In a column expressing disgust at the media’s frenzied coverage of the Clonaid claim, St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Joe Soucheray writes, “I know that many people worry that the media leans to the left. I would be more worried that the media has cracked up.” Is it possible that the media has cracked up because it leans to the left? Surely, the media’s willingness to listen to the claim was due at least in part to the excitement journalists feel when taboos are toppled. Moral rebellion is a story journalists never tire of telling.
But will journalists tell the story of all the defective and disfigured clones produced? Will the grisly cloning trial runs command widespread coverage? Will the creation of a class of parentless cripples feed their sensationalistic appetite?
The consequences of moral rebellion usually don’t receive as much detailed coverage as the rebellion itself. How many pro-abortion reporters have actually watched the performance of an abortion? A highly detailed description of abortion never makes it in to their stories about “choice.” Similarly, the thousands upon thousands of frozen and forgotten embryos created through In Vitro fertilization are not frequently mentioned in stories about the glories of that practice.
The inevitability of a prohibition collapsing is also a powerful intoxicant to many journalists. Inevitability equals moral good in their minds. Cloning is inevitable? Well, then it must be morally acceptable. What scientists can do they should do, right? Moral rebellion joined to “scientific progress” is an irresistible story to a media in thrall to liberal social change.
Some journalists are angry at the coverage of Clonaid not because they oppose cloning, but because they fear crackpots will tarnish a great scientific advance. A UFO cult is crazy to them, but cloning is not. That the craziness of cloning might attract crazies hasn’t yet occurred to them.
We don’t support the aims of Clonaid, they say. All liberal journalists want is a “debate” about cloning. But does anybody start a debate about a prohibition if they intend to keep it? The moment society “debates” a prohibition it is gone. If we are morally confused enough to debate cloning, we are morally confused enough to permit it.
The Washington Post‘s editorial last week, “All About Eve,” contained the revealing line, “This country is not ready for the cloning of human beings,” which implied that it may be ready later. It seems that the Washington Post is ready for the cloning of human beings — as long as they remain in the lab for research.
“The Bush administration has been known at times to allow religious — or political — considerations to trump scientific ones,” its editorialist writes. “But in a world where both the scientific and ethical goalposts keep changing, the best thing may be to stay open-minded. There are plenty of options in that gray zone. The least permissive would be to ban all forms of research on cloned embryos, as Mr. Bush and Mr. Frist would like, but reconsider the ban after some limited number of years.”
Let’s all stay open-minded so our consciences can float away. The Post fears that the “specter” of Clonaid’s claim could “shut down the scientific debate completely.”
If only it were just a scientific debate. It is above all a moral issue, not a scientific one. That it is characterized as a scientific debate shows why the debate is already lost.
It is not surprising that journalists, unable to see the limits of science clearly, would treat fantasists as scientists. Journalists’ eager coverage of Clonaid suggests that their scientific expertise and moral judgment are not much more refined than the Raelians’.