Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New politics of humanity

Yesterday voters in Mississipi defeated a proposed amendment to the constitution that would define personhood "to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the equivalent thereof" (Amendment 26). Good for the voters of Mississipi (frankly, I didn't expect the Bible Belt to be so reasonable). But this is a sign of things to come. The proposed amendment was not about prohibiting abortion, even though it probably was the original goal of it. It was about redefining humanity. The reference to cloning (hardly the most pressing concern in Mississipi!) is right on spot. With the development of new bio-technologies and AIs, the old politics of race and gender give way to the politics of humanity. What is a human being? Who deserves human rights? What ARE human rights and why should we take them for granted? It seems insane to afford legal protection to unicellar organisms (which is what a zygote is) but why not? Religion, bio-ethics, science and political ideologies are now heading for a new battlefield where the cause is not what rights human beings deserve but rather who has the right to be called a human being. The defeat of this scary amendment is not the end of the fight but the beginning. We'd better be ready!

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