11/24/2017

Nov. 26, 2001: While the world was busy marveling at how the Georgia Bulldogs kicked Georgia Tech’s backsides, 31-17.

and won undisputed bragging rights for a whole year (you knew I was going to sneak that in, didn’t you?), scientists at Advance Cell Technology in Worcester, Massachusetts, announced that they have cloned a human embryo. As near as I can figure, they don’t plan to make a bunch of new humans to tend all the sheep they have already cloned. I think they just want to turn out a few body parts.

This development raises some significant moral and ethical issues. For example, what if the Taliban had discovered that backbones and guts could be cloned? They could have used a large quantity of both since they couldn’t back up their big jivetalk about what they were going to do to the infidels. Now these brave warriors are trying to convince us that they were only joshing and really didn’t know anybody was going to take them seriously. They probably wish somebody would clone us a sense of humor.

Had cloning been possible back in the dark ages, I might have been a better student. I must confess I flunked biology in college, took it over and made a “D,” which matched my trigonometry and French grades. If the folks at Worcester could have given me a brain – since God didn’t see fit to do so – I might have learned the difference between a hypothalamus and a hippopotamus.

I know one of them lives in a river but I can’t remember which one. I would have been able to satisfy my French instructor when he asked me if a table is masculine or feminine. (I told him I’d peek under the table and see. He didn’t like that answer.) I might have understood what distinguishes a tangent and a cosine, although no brain – no matter how big – could possibly figure out any reason to apply that piece of useless knowledge to everyday life.

Despite their claims, I suspect these scientists are pulling our uncloned leg a bit. Let’s face it. If you can make a hipbone or an ear lobe, probably you can make all the other parts and put a human being together, which raises a big question of whether or not any rules exist about who or what gets cloned. For example, suppose somebody decides to make more lawyers? Lord knows, we have more now that we can possibly use. So far, we’ve been able to convince many of them to go into politics, which keeps them busy and out of our hair but we may be living on borrowed time.

And do we really need to create more people driving SUVs? If so, I hope we can clone a few thousand more police officers to stop just the ones doing 95 miles per hour on the freeways, which is most of them. Who knows? We could collect enough in fines to build our own clone factory and not have to bother those snoots up in Massachusetts.

We had better think this cloning business through very carefully. What if there were two Monica Lewinskys? (Although I know somebody who might like that.) Or an additional Cynthia McKinney running loose, heaven forbid. We don’t need to clone more ice hockey players, either. We need to get rid of the ones we already have.

We also don’t need to clone any Brenau University graduates who have degrees in psychology and business from that outstanding university and who never attended the University of Georgia (hint, hint) running down up escalators in airports and disrupting air traffic on the eastern seaboard just to get to a football game. (If Tech fans continue to associate him with UGA, I’ll remind them that when they couldn’t beat the University of Maryland on the football field, they tried to beat up the band. That ought to keep them quiet for a while.)

But here is the scariest thought of all. What if somebody’s bright idea is to clone The Woman Who Shares My Name? If that happens, the world will be reduced to outlet malls, two-for-one coupons, broccoli and asparagus on every dinner plate, and an outright refusal to learn to use the computer. What’s more, husbands will never be allowed to make any substantive decisions or eat red meat. Is that the kind of world we want to live in?

Progress isn’t necessarily a good thing.