What's Shakin', McFly?

30 October 2006

Michael J. Fox recently ran this ad in Missouri:

To which Rush Limbaugh responded:

"In this commercial he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking and it is purely an act."

"I stated when I saw the ad, I was commenting to you about it, that he was either off the medication or he was acting. He is an actor, after all."

It seems pretty clear that he wasn't off his medication for the ad, because the medication is what causes that severe shaking. People with Parkinson's Disease tend to stiffen when they're off their medication.

As far as him faking it, it's also worth noting that Michael J. Fox is pretty much like that for all of his interviews. After this was pointed out to Rush, he issued a semi-apology and then shifted gears a bit:

So I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox, if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act, especially since people are telling me they have seen him this way on other interviews and in other television appearances.

"Michael J. Fox is allowing his illness to be exploited and in the process is shilling for a Democratic politician."

As far as him shilling for a Democratic candidate, it's worth noting that Michael J. Fox ran a similar ad in support of Republican Senator Arlen Specter in 2004. I think it's pretty obvious that he's doing these ads simply to promote stem cell research. I haven't seen any evidence anywhere that he has some secret liberal agenda or that he was pressured into this by the Democrats.

Several B-List celebrities also put out a very cheap-looking counter-ad:

The claim that this will allow human cloning is bogus. So is the claim that it will seduce poor women to sell their eggs in some back-alley clinic. Let's look at the language of the proposed amendment itself:

Section 38(d). 1. This section shall be known as the “ Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative.”

2. To ensure that Missouri patients have access to stem cell therapies and cures, that Missouri researchers can conduct stem cell research in the state, and that all such research is conducted safely and ethically, any stem cell research permitted under federal law may be conducted in Missouri, and any stem cell therapies and cures permitted under federal law may be provided to patients in Missouri, subject to the requirements of federal law and only the following additional limitations and requirements:

(1) No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being.

(2) No human blastocyst may be produced by fertilization solely for the purpose of stem cell research.

(3) No stem cells may be taken from a human blastocyst more than fourteen days after cell division begins; provided, however, that time during which a blastocyst is frozen does not count against the fourteen-day limit.

(4) No person may, for valuable consideration, purchase or sell human blastocysts or eggs for stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures.

(5) Human blastocysts and eggs obtained for stem cell research or stem cell therapies and cures must have been donated with voluntary and informed consent, documented in writing.

(6) Human embryonic stem cell research may be conducted only by persons that, within 180 days of the effective date of this section or otherwise prior to commencement of such research, whichever is later, have
. . .

Despite the amendment's language saying that "No person may clone or attempt to clone a human being," its opponents say that the amendment's definition of cloning is misleading. The amendment does allow researchers to undertake a procedure called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT). Basically, they can take a human egg and fill it with a nuclear body cell and then do research upon it. This is the first step in the process that scientists used to clone Dolly, except that under this amendment you can't take any further steps that would grow and develop this cell into a human being.

To say that this amounts to "human cloning" basically requires you to say that this cell and the blastocyst that it forms within the next two weeks is a human being itself. The first thing that I would like to point out, however, is that this group of cells doesn't even have a single brain cell, let alone any brain activity. It takes two weeks or longer for this to even form a the beginnings of a pre-neural network. A blastocyst is simply a pluripotent group of cells that could turn into pretty much anything. It could turn into a liver or a pancreas or a human, depending on the conditions provided. But a sperm could turn into a human being, if given the right environment and conditions. To say that this is a human being simply by virtue of what it could turn into just doesn't make much sense to me.

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