Crossposted at Gender Agenda
Parahumans only vaguely exist at this point. They remain embryo’s grown, destroyed, and harvested for stem cells. Some how a scientist mixing human dna with animal dna is not the ethical conundrum that growing a 100% homo sapiens embryo for harvest is.
Have you heard of H.R. 5910? It was introduced by Christopher Smith (R) of NJ to the House on April 24, 2008. It never passed the House. It is also known as the Human-Animal Hybrid Prohibition Act of 2008. An identical bill was introduced into the Senate this year. Bobby Jindal has signed passed an act that prohibits the creation of such hybrids in the state of Louisiana with a 10, 000 dollar fine or 10 years in jail.
Is it so hard to believe that we are approaching a point where human-animal hybrids a lá Doctor Moreau could exist? Regardless it is evident that this issue is important to a number of people, nearly all of them conservative. This issue has more importance than just the ethical qualms of having beings who are part-human, and who may well be deserving of personhood.
Section 2.2 of HR 5910 (identitcal to Section 2.2 of S. 1435):
(2) human-animal hybrids are grossly unethical because they blur the line between human and animal, male and female, parent and child, and one individual and another individual;
“Creating human-animal hybrids, which permanently alter the genetic makeup of an organism, will challenge the very definition of what it means to be human and is a violation of human dignity and a grave injustice” —Senator Brownback who introduced S. 1435
“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” Presiding State Judge on Loving v. Virginia
By proposing the naturalness of man/woman in a document that attempts to outlaw the unnaturalness of an artificial human-animal is a rhetorical equating.
There is a bigger issue here— in the minds of the author at least— admitting that human-animal hybrids exist is the same as admitting that a human being can maybe not fit so nicely into the categories of man and woman. The special line is the last boundary, a binary that is so incredibly real, that it can not be claimed to be socially constructed— to break that line is to question biology.
This is a stand, on the part of certain politicians, to rule not just on the state of (as of yet) hypothetical parahumans, but also on the naturalness of certain social binaries.
Biology and naturalness have always been toted as a a reason for denying people. Regardless of how you feel about the issue (I’d imagine most of us are not for the lab creation of parahumans), do we want a rhetoric of naturalness, of comparisons to other supposed natural binaries? This bill does not need to tote around any of Section 2.2, which seeks moral ground in reifying binaries.
What does it say about the way those in power view sex, gender, gender performance?
(Probably nothing we didn’t already know).
What does it mean when/if these bills pass?
How does the admission of the potentiality of species being not straight mean for the Senate? What does it mean for us?
What Section 2.2 also does is equate the human/animal binary as a social one. No one could deny that parent/child and individual/individual are social binaries. Many of us would agree that man/woman is a similar social binary.