Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Luntz Language: "Clone and kill"
Republican pollster Frank Luntz is very good at identifying how people respond to terminology. His research is what turned the "estate tax" into the "death tax". He turned Social Security "privitization" into "personalization". Rather than pursue popular policies, Republicans prefer to hide unpopular policy behind popular phraseology.
...A Christian medical group is reacting to news that a researcher in the United Kingdom has been given approval to create human clones -- which is tantamount to a 'license to kill,' since the scientist must subsequently destroy all those human beings he clones for study. The British government has given the green light to Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute to begin cloning human embryos, and Dr. David Stevens of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations is responding to the news with concern. 'This is something that should be disturbing to us all,' he says, 'that life has become so cheap that a clone-and-kill policy that's now on the books in that country doesn't cause more of an outrage in ours.' The CMDA spokesman worries that U.S. taxpayers may soon be forced to pay for human cloning experiments. He notes that Harvard's Human Research Committee has actually already applied for permission to clone and kill human beings for research purposes. Dr. Stevens says if this idea that life is cheap or can be used as a commodity for 'research purposes' continues unchecked, Americans could see that mentality spreading throughout their nation before long.
"Clone and Kill" isn't new language in anti-stem cell community, but it is new to me. What really makes it Luntz Language, though, is it's inaccuracy. The embryos to be used for stem cell research are going to be destroyed no matter what. Thousands of similar embryos have been created by people hoping to have children with full knowledge that many of the embryos would be destroyed. The choice is not between cloning and killing and not cloning and not killing. The choice is between cloning and destroying and not cloning -- and destroying anyway.
The harsh fluorescence of science threatens to strip away the mysterious breath of God delivering a soul into each zygote as it forms. Perhaps that's the greater threat to those opposed to therapeutic cloning.