Paul Greenberg

"One can't believe impossible things."

"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." --Lewis Carroll

"Through the Looking Glass"

Slowly but with increasing momentum, the great juggernaut of government continues to cross the line between life and death, good and evil, till all is moral murk.

Thou Shalt Not becomes Thou May or May Not under Certain Conditions, Reservations, Guidelines and Stipulations listed in Executive Order 1234, Sections A, B, C and so endlessly on. ... Data multiply, wisdom diminishes, money flows to no clear end, and humility vanishes. Especially the kind that once inspired awe in the presence of the miracle that is life.

Now one more line has been crossed with great fanfare and called Progress. Just as promised, this administration has announced it will be sponsoring more experimentation with the earliest, most vulnerable form of human life. "Safe as a child in his mother's womb" becomes an ironic phrase.

The bright line that once protected the human embryo from such experiments has grown increasingly dim over the years -- till it grows faint.

For a time government hesitated, as if it knew it was about to tread on sacred ground. But something there is in Homo sapiens that cannot resist violating old rules. All we need be told is: Thou shalt not. And we do it.

It's a story as old as Eden, as new as our president, and as gothic as Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" -- but without the character development.

It's the oldest temptation known to man: We shall be as gods! We shall create life -- and then destroy it to satisfy our scientific curiosity. This is called Progress.

Moral recklessness, if presented as high-minded idealism, can be quite attractive. It may even become a political cause. What was once cause for trepidation becomes cause for celebration. Complete with photo-ops, presidential press conferences, and souvenir pens. Once we looked down the slippery slope we were on with fear and trembling; now we look back with pride at how far we have come. Down.

Here is how the Washington Post, in language as murky as the ethical grounds on which the administration based its decision, began its story on this latest Scientific Breakthrough:

"WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration on Wednesday approved the first human embryonic stem cells for experiments by federally funded scientists under a new policy designed to dramatically expand government support for one of the most promising but also most contentious fields of biomedical research...."


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.