A Letter to a Conservative About Stem Cells

This is a modified post from the old digs, moved over here to the new site.
Stem cell research has always been a very personal issue for me: a close family relative is a type I diabetic (this is an autoimmune form of diabetes caused by the body’s destruction of the pancreatic cells that produce insulin, and is not related to diet). Over the years, I have watched this relative, despite her best efforts, suffer various side effects, ranging from heart disease (despite no family history and an excellent diet) to a detached retina (another common side effect of type I diabetes). And in one way, she is fortunate: she has the time, ability, and financial resources to manage her illness. Many less fortunate people do not.

Stem cell research not only holds promise for type I diabetes, but for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and spinal cord injuries. Despite the promise, we essentially have no publicly funded stem-cell research programs. A fanatical, unjust minority that has decided that a clump of undifferentiated cells has the same ‘right to life’ that a living, breathing human being has.
And I use the word unjust intentionally. Any ideology, philosophy, or theology that would willingly consign millions to needless suffering and death because of an obsession with blastulas is unjust. We should tolerate those with different beliefs, and I try to do so. Yet our tolerance must stop when the lives of our fellow citizens would suffer, or even end prematurely as a result of these beliefs. The notion that we would do nothing to alleviate the anguish of millions of people due to obtuse theological ‘reasoning’ is horrifying. It is nothing less than religious tyranny. I will not willingly bend knee before the Falwells, the Dobsons, and their false Congressional disciples-and I am certain there are still a few true ‘lower case’ republicans who feel the same way.
In the mainstream media, these zealous views are treated as legitimate, even though the consequences of these beliefs are cruel and savage. Why does no one say this? Why are these beliefs not called by their true nature, unjust? To this you say, “Well, that is what my religion tells me to do”, or “This is a matter of personal belief”, and I would respond:

what you call religion or ‘faith’ is nothing of the sort. It denies the divine faculties of compassion, free will, and reason. What you call obedience is nothing more than servitude; the false pieties you utter are only the mewling of the slave before the master. You take hope and replace it with fear and desperation. You have elevated anguish to a sacrament.

And finally, there is the issue of hypocrisy. If you are willing to stand for the millions of aborted fetuses, what of the millions of people who will be born and will need the fruits of stem-cell research? Is your “culture of life” nothing more than a tactic or a weapon? In this, your real nature is exposed: you are a cruel, heartless dogmatist. And like all zealots, whether secular or religious, your ideology subsumes all: joy, hope, friendship. In your obsession with a clump of cells, you have revealed your true self; and it is unjust.

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2 Responses to A Letter to a Conservative About Stem Cells

  1. TikiHead says:

    It won’t do any good since they actually believe what they, um, believe in.
    They use the same sort of argument themselve, only from their own crazy perspective – they feel it’s unjust NOT to save infidels, homosexuals, pagans etc. from eternal damnation – even if it means being authoritarian, theocratic pricks. all for the greater good you know.
    I think belief in the afterlife is at the root of the evil – it gives one permission to devalue our existence here on earth, or more accurately, coopt it to the demands of a diety of dubious reality.

  2. Great post, plus great comment, TikiHead.
    If the ID/evolution debate in Dover is any indication, I’m sure the far right nutbars don’t have a clue what an embryo is, and probably only have a tenous grasp on how babies are made. So it’s an emotional response.
    Either that or they sit down and ponder “What is the best course of action about [insert topic]?” Then they brainstorm and come up with something. Then they say “Ok, now what is the opposite of that?” Then they implement it.

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