Nightmare of clone babies

By Sam Heidepriem

Let’s consider together one of those timeless inquiries, and a notoriously difficult egg to crack: why do we have sex with each other, and more importantly, what-if any-essential qualities are to be discerned in the whole phenomenon of human sexuality? My ignorance decidedly dwarfs my wisdom on this question, and I’ll accordingly limit myself to comfortably modest hypotheses. Like this one: humans have sex with each other, in part, out of biological necessity-it is through sexual intercourse alone that our species is propagated; basic human existence is inscribed with this copulatory fact. (Duh.)If there are other traits as fundamental to our being, they are few, and it doesn’t strike me as excessively deferential to our lovely Mother Earth that we leave our sexy essence unsullied by any intervention of artifice. I fear that the (not inevitable!) onset of regular propagation through cloning may introduce such a contaminant, the pernicious potential of which I hope to anticipate for you here.

Specifically, I predict that as the practice of cloned reproduction spreads, our sexual inclination will steadily morph from natural commandment to cultural suggestion. It is a modification I do not eagerly await, and my apprehensions surrounding the demotion of our sexual imperative form the grounds of my opposition to whatever enterprising ambitions are undoubtedly percolating throughout cloning’s institutional community.

A point of clarity: I understand as obvious that we would not cease making love altogether if cloning were to accede to our governing reproductive practice-carnal desire is, to put it in measured terms, perhaps the most potent and immutable influence on human thought and behavior; and it is hardly vulnerable to even the most concerted contravention.

So maybe my concerns are unfounded. Still, they persist. Indulge me in ruminating on this little morsel: the genesis of human sexuality only narrowly precedes the emergence of a countervailing element determined to expropriate from the human constitution any and all vestiges of our sexuality. This ascetic tradition-comprising myriad cultural formations explicitly repudiating sex-is as rich and varied as that of sexuality itself. An immense measure of our species’ history is in some manner reducible to the relentless antagonism between sexuality and asceticism, the skirmishes of which-despite their incalculable profusion-bear in each case a common mark: the ascetic program ultimately encounters the stubborn limit imposed by the copulatory fact of human existence, the effect of which is that at some point, to deny sex is to deny life itself-a not enviable position inescapably bounding the degree of cultural authority asceticism has historically been able to enjoy. Each of us who enjoys and appreciates sex holds a profound and ineffable gratitude-whether consciously acknowledged or not-for this resilient boundary which has provided for asceticism’s continual enfeeblement.

To systematize cloned reproduction, and thereby annul the propagative imperative of our sexuality, is to throw these ascetic twits a bone they don’t deserve. The demonization of sex is responsible for entirely too many of our species’ most despicable episodes to permit any addition to these frothing demagogues’ ammunition. Make love, not science.

Sam Heidepriem ’09 can be reached at [email protected]