Friday, March 23, 2007

The WSJ, Bile and the Wind

Christopher Thomas Scott, the executive director of the Program on Stem Cells in Society at Stanford, sent the following along. He wrote it in the form of a letter to the editor after reading an op-ed piece on embryonic stem cell research in the Wall Street Journal last week.

"Dear Editors:

"It was familiar a twist in the gut. Robert George and Thomas Berg's "Six Stem Cell Facts" (March 14 Wall Street Journal) provoked the usual response: Should I write 1) a trenchant rejoinder (Six Stem Cell Lies) 2) a carefully crafted counter argument, or 3) lie in wait and pounce in the pages of another newspaper?

"I was up Thursday before dawn. I poured myself a cold, frothy tumbler of bile, and sat down to write.

"Nothing happened.

"I was mystified--George and Berg's essay was an easy target, trotting out old moral and religious tropes.

"It took me a few days to figure it out, but now I understand this odd ennui. Supporters of embryonic stem cell research, including those of us who battle in journals and newspapers, have moved on. Embryonic stem cell research has left the barn, as the saying goes, and now we're getting on with the important stuff--the business of discovery, treatments and cures--what America does better than any other.

"This leaves commentators like George, Berg, and Krauthammer all alone, caterwauling and swinging roundhouses into thin air. The ringside seats are nearly empty. The images of dismemberment (as if an itoa of cells has arms and legs) or Krauthammer's lovely description in sanctioned government reports of "fetuses hanging on meathooks" has become a rhetorical sideshow, better suited for circus barkers. Will they join us at the edge of medicine's most promising frontier, where new, nuanced debates about stem cell therapies are taking shape? Or will they remain behind, shouting into the wind?" Sphere: Related Content

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