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Pro-Cloners’ Dishonesty


An email:

I’m not sure I agree with you on this one.  I think one can fairly argue that when you say “X is opposed to stem cell research,” it means that they are opposed to embryonic stem cell research, because that’s really the only controversial kind.  If I said, “Y is opposed to Arctic oil drilling,” everyone would know I mean that Y is opposed to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, not that Y opposes all drilling for oil above the Arctic Circle.I’ll grant you that the Fox ad could have been worded more precisely for clarity, but it’s not their obligation to explain the nuances of their opponent’s position.  As JPod has noted, this ain’t beanbag.
I have three objections to this argument.1) Embryonic stem-cell research isn’t the only controversial kind of stem-cell research. Some people object, for example, to funding research on non-embryonic sources of pluripotent stem-cell research. In general, it has been the pro-life side of the debate that has been for that and the Cardins of the world who have been against it.2) We should be very careful about assuming that “everyone would know” what’s meant in an ad on stem-cell research. People don’t know much about these issues, and the pro-cloning side has revised the lexicon repeatedly over the last four years to keep people off balance. Everyone doesn’t know that Fox is talking about human cloning. Everyone doesn’t know that Fox is talking about the deliberate destruction of human embryos. Everyone doesn’t know that Talent has not tried to criminalize all embryo-destructive stem-cell research. This ad is deliberately designed to keep them from knowing any of those things.3) No, it’s not a candidate’s obligation to run ads that explain the nuances of their opponent’s position. But it is their obligation not to describe it in flatly inaccurate ways–or, at least, it’s within other people’s rights to point out their dishonesty when they do. If a liberal candidate runs an ad saying his opponent has “voted against education” by supporting school vouchers–on the theory that “everyone knows” that’s what he means–he should be called on it. If a conservative runs an ad charging that his opponent “doesn’t want America to fight the war on terrorism” when that opponent really just opposes the Iraq war, he’s going to be called on it, too. And should be.


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