Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Life is for the Living

I saw the documentary Life is for the Living (created by Michael Rubyan) today, along with a lot of people I know. It was surprising how full the theater was. The film made the case for embryonic stem-cell research well, relying mainly on the emotional stories of those with the disease, but not neglecting reason, explaining talking to experts on stem-cell research.
The documentary doesn't come off as balanced. Almost any documentary proving a point talks to experts extolling the opposite view, but this one does not. I think this is rather a one-sided issue, but dissenting voices are sorely missed. Instead, when we merely see people against research, we have no idea why they would be (granted, their ideas aren't usually good). Before I went to the documentary, one of my friends said she believes DNA to be sacred. I don't agree, but I wish we had heard that sort of thing.
Toward the end, someone made the argument "if you don't like the research, than don't use the cures, but don't stop us", and then sited the fact that there is religious dissent on such things as blood transfusions, pointing out that others are still permitted to get. I don't really by this argument. The problem with the anti-embryonic research crowd is not that they are trying to universalize personal beliefs (after all, if you believe such research to be wrong, you should fight to stop it), but that their beliefs are silly. There is no way the life of a cell is more important than that of sick people. Similarly irrational is the unwillingness of Jehovah's Witnesses to take blood transfusions (based on a highly questionable reading of a Bible verse), a which the speaker mentioned (not to mention Christian Science's all-out aversion to medicine). The problem with these beliefs is not that they can't be universalized, it's that they are disconnected from reality.
Despite any flaws, it was excellent. A congressman and Republican got the most applause from an audience enthusiastic about stem-cell research by saying the most pro-life position in favor of the research. Amen to that idea, so alien in Bush's carnivorous coalition.

2 comments:

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Nick aka Air Jordan said...

I think that the embryonic stem cell research opposition is probably worsened by voicing their opinions. This is because they are, as you put it, "not in touch with reality". I was surprised that Michael chose not to put any resistive opinions in as exempla of horribly misguided "pro-life" beliefs.