Science, Morality, and Rock

Earlier this month, I
about the indie rock band Brother’s upcoming “Stem
Cell Awareness” tour
. The news has gone beyond a mailing to fans and is now available on their website for all to see. Once again, I urge those who oppose embryonic stem
cell research to ask the band to specify which forms of research they support and
politely ask them to not support embryonic research.

I never thought I’d be fisking one of my favorite bands, but…

“The impact on individual lives and the lives of entire families when dealing
with debilitating and life-threatening conditions is immense. The courage and achievement
we see in kids and parents is inspirational but if there’s potential for cures to
things like Parkinson’s, spinal injury, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis…and the list
goes on, then we believe we as a community should get seriously informed, then get
serious about the way or ways forward”

That’s a promising start.

“This is not a black and white issue – it’s not one side is right, one side
is wrong. ”

Well, in a broad sense, he is right. It’s not a matter of those who disapprove of
stem cell research of any kind and those who don’t. It’s a matter of what kinds
of stem cells scientists play with and the associated bioethical concerns.

“The BROTHER campaign is about getting informed on the subject and finding
a path through the emotional rhetoric and political point-scoring that can bury
the truth.”

There’s definitely some emotional rhetoric coming from those who support all kinds
of stem cell research. Some notable names in that camp would be Nancy Reagan, Michael
J. Fox, and Christopher Reeve. While I sympathize with the pain they have suffered
as the result their illness, or that of a loved-one, that should not distract us
from the crux of the matter. Is the production of embryos solely for research purposes

“At the CWD (Children with Diabetes) conference in LA last month, it seemed
like everyone was talking about how ‘this could help my kid.’ The potential to raise
awareness around this at this moment is great.”

That sounds an awful lot like the emotional rhetoric that we’re supposed to push
aside. Is this a veiled endorsement of unrestricted research, or am I just cynical?

One of the links in their news post is to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

“In addition to the $3 million in human embryonic stem cell grants it doled out to researchers in last year, the foundation has set aside at least $1 million for what it calls ‘education’ _ and what critics call ‘lobbying’ _ of state and local lawmakers and voters.” – Paul Elias (AP)

Here’s the email address the band gives for questions about the Let’s ask them what kinds of the research they’re endorsing with their tour.