Cloning is another selfish form of breeding

It’s been over a year since Dolly the cloned sheep was born. When University of Hawaii researchers cloned a bunch of mice, they showed that Dolly was not a fluke, but the result of careful application of scientific method. Even though the hoopla has died down, these advances mean only one thing: Human cloning could be a reality in our lifetimes.
Hot damn!
Since I’ve always wanted to have a son to live out my fantasies and have never been able to sustain a relationship that couldn’t be timed in hours, cloning rocks!
Remember all the ill-fated decisions, clumsy faux pas and missed opportunities that make you want to kick yourself? How many times have you wondered how things would have turned out if you knew then what you know now? Don’t lie — we’ve all been there. In the near future, your genetic duplicate can make up for your history of buffoonery. I know mine will.
Many of you are probably calling me a self-serving creep to clear your conscience. But that’s bull! Every intentional birth is a selfish act. No one has a baby to propagate the species anymore — they’re looking for someone to carry on their legacy, to leverage a loved one into a committed relationship or simply to show off as another possession. The main difference is that my protÇgÇ will be playing with a stacked deck on the road to success — my hard earned wisdom.
Obviously environmental and social forces will shape little Eddie into a radically different person. My knowledge of Ska revival bands and Beanie Baggie Babies is completely useless. However, he will have my physical attributes. Knowing he will end up weighing a whopping 120 pounds, I won’t let little Eddie waste seven years of his childhood playing hockey or practicing his “Kevin McHale moves” on the basketball court under the misguided notion that he will turn pro (or even make the high school team) someday. Since I know he’ll be under five feet tall until he’s 16, I could encourage chess, art, drama or computer programming instead.
Of course, the disadvantage of having a moron like me as his only parental figure is he may act like a normal kid by pretending to take in all my advice and then doing exactly the opposite. He’d be a bigger geek than me.
What if growing up in a homogeneous, sports-crazed, repressive, suburban culture is not relevant in the future? What if little Eddie doesn’t grow up in Minnesota or our society changes and white middle-class suburbanites no longer make up the dominant culture? What if scrawniness becomes a coveted physical trait that reflects great wealth because of a worldwide food shortage? What if dangerous and archaic contact sports like football no longer exist? Learning the intricacies of my experiences would mean nothing. I can’t control any such unforeseen circumstances. Little Eddie would probably be better off without my preconceived notions of the path to success in this world.
Perhaps my zeal to atone for my previous failings has clouded my thinking. The abuse inherent in a cloned child is pretty obvious. Unrealistic parental expectations already create self-doubt and self-esteem issues because kids realize their parents live vicariously through them. In the past, some parents have delayed their child’s entrance to school under the guise of “academic readiness,” but everybody, including their child, knows the real reason is because the additional physical maturity greatly improves the chances of athletic success.
Cloning a child will become just another method parents deploy in attempting to breed a star athlete or the next Bill Gates. But other uses of cloning technology could be even more disturbing.
How about selling a supermodel clone? Elle McPherson and Pamela Anderson could make a mint selling clonable cells to the highest bidder. Isn’t this just capitalism at its finest? I don’t know. But I guess the real question is: If the technology can be bought, does the product, the cloned person, become property? The owner of an Elle McPherson knock-off could groom her to be his love slave, or possibly a companion for his son.
What should the right to life coalition think about this new development? Cloning puts a whole new spin on the abortion debate. If any specialized human cell — be it a nose, muscle or pancreas cell — can potentially become a whole new person, what constitutes an abortion? Getting punched in the arm kills millions of cells — millions of “potential” lives. Is that murder? These questions sound preposterous, but as future technology becomes a reality, similar questions will demand answers.
Is banning cloning techniques the answer? Science and technology have little to do with this debate. We’ve had the ability to create genetic duplicates for a long time. Artificial in-vitro fertilization already makes it possible for identical fertilized eggs to be implanted at different times, making it possible for a mother to have “twins” who are five or 10 years apart in age. To the best of my knowledge, no one has done (or wanted to do) this, probably because they think the prospect of having cloned siblings is too weird to comprehend — pointing straight toward the answer.
Science and technology continue to outpace the ability of society to comprehend the ramifications. The ethics of human cloning will be determined by societal norms and ethics — in other words, the extent to which we accept cloned humans really depends on how much we can stomach the idea of it.
Here’s hoping we’re squeamish.

Ed Day is the Daily’s copy chief. He welcomes comments to [email protected]