Murrow wasn’t arguing against fairness. He was merely arguing that good journalism is more than stenography. For example, if a woman says that two plus two is four, and a man says that no, two plus two is 78, we may have an obligation to report what they say.
But we also have an equally strong obligation to try to get at and report the truth. Murrow managed to do that brilliantly with McCarthy, by letting him hang himself with his own words.
And I think there is a strong need for journalists to try to perform some similar function on the stem cell issue. Most of the anti-stem-cell advertising I have seen, whether online or on TV, consists of blatant lies. Spokesman for those opposed to stem cell research say it would cost the taxpayers a lot of money, which isn’t true.
They say that it would open the door to human cloning, which also isn’t true. They also argue that there is no value whatsoever in using embryonic stem cells, which is also untrue.
Never mind that some of these lies contradict each other; I guess they feel if they throw enough mud, some of it is bound to stick.
What this is really about, of course, is religion, and the main opposition – probably the only opposition – comes from people, primarily Roman Catholics, who believe it is a sin to use embryos for even life-saving research.
The odd thing about this is that the embryos that the anti-stem cell crowd professes to be so interested in saving are destined to be poured down the drain if not used to help mankind. That’s because they are all excess or defective products of fertility clinics.
I suspect the opponents would really like to outlaw the clinics, but know they couldn’t get anywhere with that. Here is the bottom line: The scientists who do understand embryonic stem cell research, like Sean Morrison, believe that it offers the best kind of hope for treating a large variety of diseases, injuries and disorders.
What’s more, if cures are found, they might – might – hold enormous future economic potential for the state of Michigan.
Nobody can promise that. What we do know is that if we don’t lift the ban and permit this research, Michigan will be doomed to the status of a scientific and intellectual backwater.
This country was founded on the principle of freedom of religion – and freedom from being oppressed by other people’s religion.
Voting for embryonic stem cell research is a real no-brainer. Nobody is going to require anyone to donate any embryos.
But if anyone still longs for a society where religion is allowed to block scientific and economic progress … there is always the Taliban.