He Ain't a Blastocyst, He's My Brother:
Here's a fun story: When the Rude Pundit was a red state pedestrian, he had many, many friends who were some level of fucked up fundamentalist Christian. Every once in a while, one would try to convert him, witness to him, or in some way make him take the Jesus suppository. One of his closest wacko fucked up fundie friends was, oh, well, shit, let's call him "Floyd," because the name "Floyd" makes the Rude Pundit giggle.

The Rude Pundit and Floyd had been to see the Who in concert in one of their many "our-last-tour-ever-suckers" shows. It was a long drive to the stadium and back. And it wasn't until on the long, long car ride home, in the southern summer heat, that Floyd decided to put on a cassette of rock music. The Rude Pundit wasn't listening that closely, but when Floyd asked, "What do you think?" the Rude Pundit, hearing a guitar or two, said he thought it was good. Floyd may as well have leaped out his seat because he said that it was a Christian rock band and they were singin' 'bout Jesus, the implication being that if the Rude Pundit was tricked into lovin' somethin' with Jesus in it, he must be a closet Christian or at the least conversion-oriented.

And then the drive got even longer. For Floyd decided he wanted to know why the Rude Pundit could support abortion rights. Long before Floyd had ever tried to make him believe he was in favor of murder, the Rude Pundit had accepted that to be for abortion was to be for the elimination of a potential life. Sure, sure, that life might turn out to be Jesus, might turn out to be Ted Bundy, but a potential life just the same. The Rude Pundit simply said he supported the Roe v. Wade decision, and that if a life cannot exist outside the mother, then it wasn't a life at all. (This was back when a five month-old preemie surviving was unheard of. Oh, and since so few third trimester abortions have ever been performed, the right hadn't shoved it down our throats as an issue yet.)

Floyd tried everything. When he brought up the Bible, the Rude Pundit stared at him like he had a third eye on his forehead. When he insisted that the in utero fetus was a life from the moment of conception, the Rude Pundit told Floyd that he didn't. Floyd pushed it: if it's not a baby, what is it? "It's a bunch of cells, that's all." Floyd was upset - he pushed, he prodded, he annoyed, it was fucking hot outside and the Christian rock was now revealed to be the bullshit it always was, so the Rude Pundit exploded, "Look, unless it can live on its own, a fetus is like a cancerous tumor, alright? It's a living, growing bunch of cells, and that's it." The Rude Pundit didn't believe this, but, fuck, he wanted Floyd to shut up. Which he did, for the rest of the eight hour drive.

The Rude Pundit is not going to try to outline the science for you. You can find some great primers on stem cells out there. But let's just say this: if you believe that blastocysts created for in-vitro fertilization should be protected as if they were living, breathing, walking, talking, shitting, fucking beings, then you should offer up yourself or your wife or your mistress or your daughter to be constantly implanted with these cute lil' babies to make sure they're all adding to your voting base.

As with the Terri Schiavo debacle, the over-the-top rhetoric reached its pinnacle with Tom DeLay, who said during the debate on stem cell legislation in the House of Representatives, "An embryo is a person, a distinct, internally directed, self-integrating human organism. We were all at one time embryos ourselves. So was Abraham. So was Muhammad. So was Jesus of Nazareth." And so was Hitler. And so was Saddam Hussein. And so was Tom DeLay. So the fuck what?

Doesn't it just hit you in the gut, like a sumo wrestler leaping on a wayward toddler, to hear George Bush say with a straight face and no sense of irony, "We should not use public money to support the further destruction of human life"? Bush tried so hard to not say that his crazed Christian beliefs were the reason why he threatens to veto the stem cell research bill. Instead, he used a tortured version of ethics, some fucked-up idea that it is more ethically sound to use leftover blastocysts for the occasional baby than for research that has the potential to help, well, every real and living person on earth. Somewhere, Benedict de Spinoza is screaming, "Are you fuckin' kiddin' me?" And, at bottom, Bush brought it home to "because I said so": he says the House of Representatives bill, modest though it may be, "violates the clear standard I set four years ago." If your memory is short, that standard would be "Fuck Science."

The game is on. And it is a game. When the bill comes up in the Senate and it passes by a veto-proof margin, it'll be a way for some conservatives to wave the banner of moderation. And since the House will sustain the veto, the conservatives never have to worry about it actually becoming law.

Meanwhile, South Korea has lapped us in research and is making us look like the backward-ass, idol-worshipping colony we've been aspiring to be.