Friday, June 22, 2007

Our future Ewok children

Mark Morford balks at the brink

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford is not known for his timidity. How surprising it is, therefore, to see him pull back from the brink instead of making a bold leap of imagination.

Morford's topic in his June 20, 2007, column is human knowledge. He mocks the narrow sectarians (e.g., Focus on the Family and its ilk) who tremble at the expansion of human knowledge and celebrates the rising flood tide of information—as well as its daunting power.
We are on the cusp of being able choose, should you so desire, the exact size and length and speed and eye color and specific pleasing fur markings of ... your dog. And your cat. And your baby (well, minus the fur).
I am, quite frankly, stunned. With his throwaway parenthetical aside, Morford fails to grasp the obvious point: Of course we can also choose the fur markings of our future children. Traditionalists will naturally (naturally!) opt for classic hairlessness, but more forward-looking parents will certainly want to consider the advantages of tiger-striping versus zebra-striping. (And do you really want your children to blend well into the tall grass?)

Morford proves his boldness in other ways, so I suppose I'll forgive him this one small failure of imagination. Having poked his finger in the eye of Focus on the Family types in his first paragraph, Morford cuffs them up alongside the head in the concluding lines of his column, where he discusses coping mechanisms for handling the scary flood of human knowledge.
There are only two real options. One is to hold tight to the leaky life raft of inflexible ideology (hello, organized religion), to rules and laws and codes of conduct written by the fearful, for the fearful, to live in constant low-level dread of all the extraordinary changes and radical rethinkings of what it means to be human or animal or male or female or hetero or homo or any other swell little label you thought was solid and trustworthy but which is increasingly proven to be blurry and unpredictable and just a little dangerous.

There is another option. You can choose nimbleness, lightness, a sly and knowing grin to go with your wine and your vibrator and your never-ending thirst for more and deeper information. It's possible.
It certainly is, Mark.


jwer said...

Mark, not Mike. But yeah.

Zeno said...

Duh! Thanks for the catch, jwer. Fixed.