Legislators in Louisiana are considering a bill to prohibit human-animal hybrids. We’ve been all over this subject before — it’s ridiculous and founded on complete incomprehension of what the research is all about. How ridiculous is it? SB 115 bans the “mixing of human and animal cells in a petri dish”!
Guess who is pushing this ban? The Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops, a collection of professional ignoramuses, like this guy, Archbishop Alfred Hughes: old, white celibates with clerical collars and heads stuffed full of decaying dogma.
Look, Hughes, let’s face up to reality. You aren’t promoting this ban because you have any knowledge of the science; if you knew anything about the subject, you’d know that culturing cells of different species is common. Those cell lines to which George W Bush limited government-funded research? Many of them are grown on beds of mouse feeder cells. We could grow specific human cell lines on human feeder cells, but you’d freak out over that, too. There are gene mapping procedures that use fused rodent/human cells to produce cell lines with partial chromosomal losses. Monoclonal antibodies are made by combining immune system cells with immortalized cancer cell lines. And then there’s the ultimate miscegenation: bacterial cells made with copies of human genes, to make human gene products, like insulin. You look old enough that if you aren’t diabetic yourself, you probably have friends who are…and they’re shooting up the product of a human-non-human hybrid. Are you going to ban those next?
Let’s not pretend this is a decision based on morality, either. People are not harmed in the production of these hybrid cell lines, the work is biomedical in intent and produces knowledge and treatments that help people. The decrees of the Catholic church seem to have little to do with human values any more; they’re all about enforcing a rigid dogma and regimenting people, not in mutual cooperation to help one another, but instead to perpetuate your authoritarian hierarchy.
You aren’t promoting this silly because it’s good science or good morality: it’s simpler than that. You’re doing this because biology disgusts you. This isn’t unusual at all — many people are squeamish about the oozy, squishy, squirty, gooey, slimy, sloppy, messy wet business of what goes on beneath their skins. That it makes you feel icky is not grounds for demanding that others unburdened by that bias must follow your taboos. Your personal sense of revulsion is not an argument for your position.
Worse, this is a topic all tied up in your, umm, issues with sex. Your priesthood is just plain weird in its denial of a basic and healthy human urge and its obsession with regulating the private behavior of others. You are not normal. You are the wrong people to be taking on the responsibility of dictating anything about human sexuality — you’re just too far out on the fringe of perversity. There are a lot of weird sexual practices out there, but I’m afraid denial and repression and the kind of self-loathing that characterizes the professional celibates of the Catholic church are among the weirdest. That doesn’t mean you have to stop, of course — your kinks are your kinks, and I will defend your right to not do whatever you want in the privacy of your bedroom — but you have to realize that in the face of the riotous diversity of human sexual behavior, no one gets to use their personal preferences to instruct others on what they may do in private and between mutually consenting adults.
And that includes using a little polyethylene glycol on an assortment of cells in a dish to encourage a bit of fusion. As long as no aware, autonomous individuals are slithering out of the dish, you don’t get to argue that it is wicked and hurting people.
You’re being a sour old prude trying to impose your quaint morality on situations in which you are probably among the least qualified people on the planet to judge, and I have no sympathy with your position at all. But I’ll make you a deal. If you grim old white male virgins leave sex and science alone, I won’t suggest that your sexual pathologies could be treated with regular exposure to the soft and slippery bits of living, squirming human women (or, if you prefer, the flesh and fluids of human men)…you know, all that biology you deny. Even if it would be good for you.