Thursday, February 21, 2002

On Cloning

I haven't said much, if anything, about cloning despite the alleged national argument on the subject. Although I think it's an important topic, it's also a reasonably complicated one, and so I've left it to the province of people with more knowledge about it, like Virginia Postrel and Rand Simberg, to make the arguments. Glenn Reynolds (aka the Uberblogger) penned a good piece this morning pointing out that those opposed to cloning have yet to make a real argument in favor of their point of view. It's a well-written argument I won't repeat here, go check it out yourself.

Having read that, however, I did a little thinking about cloning myself, and decided to work through my own thoughts on the issue. My first instinct when hearing about human cloning is to shiver slightly, as the idea of the rich cloning themselves does bother me. But what about a couple that has had no luck with any other method of conception, including in vitro? Without effective human cloning, a method that's still many years away, that couple has to choose between adoption (an excellent choice) and having no children. Further, if you're rich enough, you're going to be able to get yourself cloned anyhow, regardless of what laws are created to ban it. A ban on human cloning would be very similar to the bans on abortion prior to Roe v. Wade, ensuring the poor don't have access, but allowing the rich to go on as they did before. Although at least it's unlikely any women would be killed by back-alley cloners.

Having said that, I come to an argument that is possibly more important; the role of government. September 11 was a jarring reminder of what happens when a government tries to do too many things; people can only monitor a limited number of things at once, regardless of how good our technology gets. The more things government does, the more likely it is it will do none of them well, a situation familiar to most Americans. The question then becomes, even if banning cloning is a good thing to do, does it rank high enough to make it the responsibility of the government? Looking at photos of downtown Manhattan, I've got to say it doesn't.

That is a bit of a cop-out. I haven't actually said whether or not I think cloning should be banned, I've just argued government has more important things to do. So I'll carry this a little further. Although I have some qualms about human cloning, I do not have any logical arguments opposing it. Therefore, I believe the question of human cloning should be left to scientists working in the field, with the media providing a level of overwatch so we can continue to make informed decisions on the question.

The Joys of Hackers is being hit with a denial of service attack, so I'm back to Blogger for the time being.