Thursday, January 25, 2007
Gay Sheep ThreatenedI've been working so much that I completely missed the beginning of the Gay Animal Rights Movement. I never knew that anyone actually cared about gay animals, and I've never myself even known a gay animal, although in Shark's Tale, I suspected that Lenny, the vegetarian shark who refused to kill, might have been a little limp in the fins. Gay animals wanting to get married, or have the same benefits as straight animals have not been a problem, have they? The other animals don't seem to care, they just keep on doing their animal things, eating, producing food for us humans, and breeding.
So I was a little surprised that Martina Navratilova had gotten into a snit about this doctor who is trying to cure the worlds gay sheep from their offensive homosexuality. The doctor injects the male sheep with enough hormones to make him want to basically bonk anything with four legs. Even Andrew Sullivan has weighed in on the controversy, saying that the research could be developed for humans, and that someday, a patch of hormones could be available for pregnant women who might not want their offspring to grow up to be gay. Which could be a problem for the future generations, all of Broadway would suffer, who would write the show tunes? And those few mothers who chose not to subject themselves to additional hormones, might give birth to a very lonely minority, sending their gay children out into a world that is not likely to provide a compatible partner.
What mother says to herself, "I want my son to grow up to be a ballerina."?
The poor doctor is not a homo-phobe, he is merely trying to help farmers. When farmers buy an animal who won't breed, they are stuck with this big hairy thing that can't produce milk or cheese, and is maybe only suitable for mutton chops. There are many ethical questions that we face as the planet becomes more populated, and food becomes scarce. Do we use our science to genetically modify food, not knowing the risks, but knowing that we may someday be dependent on the technology as the planet changes, and crops are ruined by changing weather patterns? Consider what happened in California last week, when oranges and avocados were wiped out by an unusual freeze. What do we do when our growing regions are subjected to flooding and drought on a massive scale? A hungry person doesn't have the luxury of worrying about additives and hormones in the food that they need to keep them alive. To a person who has children dying from hunger in front of their eyes, preservatives and artificial flavoring mean nothing. Our planet today cannot produce enough food to keep children in Africa from dying from hunger. If science can help us to keep people alive, do we have the luxury of choosing which science is moral?
In a perfect world, I would love to see sheep frolicking in the meadow (is that what they do? Do sheep frolic?) with another sheep of either gender. I don't believe in messing with nature, but we have opened the door to some miraculous discoveries, and maybe we should not close the door so abruptly before we explore all of the possibilities. Placing trust in future generations to use the science for the good of all of humanity is a loser's bet, but technology and ideas will spread like grass, or spread like poison, and there is nothing we can do to stop the advance of science.
We all hope for a happy ending, and science can provide that. On the flip side, science can be used to threaten and impoverish many. We have to teach the future generations the gravity of rash decisions and to use our knowledge wisely.
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No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."
-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?
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