Re: SOC/BIO: George Will joins the bioluddites

From: Chris Russo (
Date: Sun Jan 21 2001 - 21:13:34 MST

I like George Will. I usually like what he has to say, and I take
the time to read his writings carefully. This piece, however, is one
of those things that makes me just hang my head for a second and sigh
in disappointment.

George Will wrote:
>Enhancement is not therapy, it is eugenics. Genetic selection--the negative
>eugenics of preventing certain traits in children--is already common,
>through genetic screening and amniocentesis. However, at least negative
>eugenics is supposed to serve an existing norm of health. But positive
>eugenics, any tailoring of an individual's genetic endowment, even when less
>ambitious than cloning, will put us on a slippery slope to the abolition of

What an artificial distinction that is, "negative" and "positive"
eugenics. If a doctor fixes my child's DNA so that he doesn't die of
a heart attack when he's 2, that would be "positive" eugenics, I'd
imagine. What if the doctor fixes it so that my son doesn't die of a
heart defect at 15... 30... 65... 100? Where is that
negative/positive line?

If a doctor fixes a genetic problem that keeps my child from having
an IQ below 70, is that negative? What about 100 or 140 or 180? Who
draws the line?

I'm sure that Mr. Will would draw the line at wherever the
statistical average lies, but why?

>Genetic manipulation extends the belief that all children should be
>wanted--a principle justifying abortion--to embrace the belief that
>children, to be acceptable, should, in their genetic traits, satisfy our
>wants for their identities.

Oh, so when my wife and I spend our time teaching our daughter her
alphabet, we're not just trying to give her an advantage in this
world, to make her life easier - we're trying to satisfy our wants
for her identity. Our reasons are purely selfish.

>When parents can preselect their child's genetic
>constitution, procreation will become manufacture, children will become
>artifacts, identity and individuality will become confused, and parents will
>become despots.

How in the hell does this follow? How does making choices to benefit
your child make you a despot? My wife chose to not drink during her
pregnancy, is she now a despot?

>But it is not good, Kass insists, if human nature becomes just the last part
>of nature turned into raw material for human willfulness. ANDi is an
>intimation that nuclear explosions are not the only way science can end the
>human story. Biology might do that more gradually than physics can, but no
>less decisively, and even more repugnantly.

By making life a little easier for ourselves and our offspring, we're
going to destroy mankind. By helping our children to be able to run
a little faster, to live a little longer, and to be a little smarter;
we're going to destroy mankind.

Disappointing... so disappointing.


Chris Russo

"If anyone can show me, and prove to me, that I am wrong in thought 
or deed, I will gladly change.  I seek the truth, which never yet 
hurt anybody.  It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance 
which does harm."
              -- Marcus Aurelius, MEDITATIONS, VI, 21

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