Ethical discussion: a slip of the tongue?

Get Religion and Touchstone have each directed attention toward a recent interview former president Bill Clinton gave on the subject of embryonic stem cell research in the wake of President Obama’s changes to embryonic stem cell research funding.  During the interview Clinton repeatedly refers to a fertilized embryo as though there were such a thing as an unfertilized embryo.  As I posted on Touchstone’s site, I’m willing to give Clinton the benefit of the doubt that he actually knew what he was saying and that he really meant “implanted.”  But whether he merely mis-spoke or he actually doesn’t understand the basics of biology, I believe his interview is indicative of a problem we have as Americans: a basic inability to discuss important ethical issues because so many of us have absolutely no clue what the heck we are talking about.  I might give Clinton the benefit of the doubt and say that he probably knows the difference between fertilized and implanted–but there are a ton of other folks out there that I wouldn’t assume that about.  Of course some folks are assigning nefarious intent to Ole Bill, saying that he’s intentionally muddying the waters.  I don’t know about that, but I do want to know why no follow up questions were asked to help him clarify what he was trying to say.

Update: First Things has some commentary as well.

  • Hotspur

    Ugh…I feel this is one of those times where I’m going to have to play the black sheep role on an important issue.

    Here’s what nobody is “publicly” saying about this issue: The bad guys (mostly) and some of our allies have been experimenting with embryonic research for some time now. It’s not science-fiction. I’m 40 and remember growing up with the stories of what the Chinese and Russians were doing behind closed doors to test biological weapons. They couldn’t get away with using prisoners for this type of work anymore, so guess what the next step was? This type of research has been done inside the closet overseas for many years now. My father worked for that company in Langley, VA that you see in the movies. Some of this stuff was bs…some of it wasn’t…there’s a reason why I was interested in religion from an early age.

    On another front: without being too simplistic…most Jews tend to see the “conception” issue differently than Christians. Just a reminder that this is a secular issue with moral overtones. Trust me: Jews don’t care much for experimenting with human beings.

    My opinion: let it happen in the open with heavy-duty oversight. It is a slipperly-slope issue…but we’ve been going down that road clandestinely for sometime now…

  • Hotspur

    On a more light-hearted note: I’m listening to the audio book version of “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind” by Chuck Barris (read by a college classmate of mine!)

    No…I don’t believe that Chucky-baby was a company gun…but I do believe that he chatted with one or two of the real thing before writing this…some of the descriptions are just too accurate…My dad wasn’t…and what he did do is still classified ;-)

    Favourite quote: Prayer on board a jet before a mission…

    “The older we get, the more help we need. Isn’t that right Lord?”

    The Lord replied…”What’s this ‘we’ crap?”