Politics & Policy

Braveheart Stands Athwart a Brave New World

Mel Gibson takes on government-funded Twilight Zone research.

“I would find it difficult to look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t take a stand against this disingenuous proposition,” says Academy Award-winning director Mel Gibson in an interview with National Review Online. Last week, Gibson publicly joined the campaign against Proposition 71 (the California Stem Cells Research and Cures/Bond Act), a $3-6 billion California referendum to fund embryonic-stem-cell research and human cloning. Under the false promise of panacea cures, Proposition 71 would also create a constitutional “right” to conduct human-cloning research.

In addition to his concern for the sanctity of human life, Gibson offers frugal common-sense points in his opposition to Prop. 71. “Why,” Gibson asks, “is the state with the lowest credit rating and the highest debt cost in the country responsible now for borrowing money to pay for dubious research for the rest of the world?”

Gibson’s opposition to Prop 71, embryonic-stem-cell research, and human cloning does not make him–as the knee-jerk rhetoric often goes–”anti-science.” Recently, for instance, and not for the first time, Gibson donated $10 million that will be split between Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA and the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to help care for seriously ill children.

As you’ll read below in his interview with NRO editor Kathryn Lopez, Gibson is no half-heart in his campaign against Proposition 71–this is no casual celeb endorsement of the “No to 71″ campaign. Rather, Gibson is a California citizen concerned with the Brave New World the Golden State is about to usher in; he won’t let it happen without a fight.

National Review Online: What is it about Proposition 71 that made you want to speak out against it?

Mel Gibson: I’m interested in cures and in eradicating diseases. This touches my own family. It was brought to my attention that this proposition is deceptive. It’s a deliberate attempt to mislead the public.

They use scientific terms to obfuscate their true intent. They don’t want to talk about human embryos or the cloning of human embryos so they use arcane scientific terms that mean the same thing, like “pluripotent stem cells” and “somatic-cell nuclear transfer.”

Truthfully, I would find it difficult to look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t take a stand against this disingenuous proposition, particularly in light of the fact that in 23 years of research with embryonic-stem-cells not one single cure has been obtained.

Not so with adult and umbilical-cord stem cells, which have resulted in more than 300,000 effective cures including spinal-cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and multiple sclerosis. That’s not what Prop 71 is about.

NRO: Your governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, supports legal abortion. So are you surprised that he is for Prop 71?

Gibson: I’m still surprised that he supported it given the fiscal ramifications.

Why is the state with the lowest credit rating and the highest debt cost in the country responsible now for borrowing money to pay for dubious research for the rest of the world? Research has always been done on a pay-as-you-go basis.

NRO: Isn’t this just a typical Election Day bond issue?

Gibson: Not at all. Bond measures are the most expensive way to finance any governmental activity. Prop 71 is a $300 million annual constitutional entitlement that lasts for ten years even if the research falls flat after three years.

And who will be looking over the shoulders of the political appointees as they hand out the $3 billion of our money?

Not the public. The commission deliberations are exempt from the California Open Meeting Laws.

Not the press. The commission is also exempt from the California Public Records Act under the same terms.

Not the law. The working groups that will score and recommend projects for funding are completely exempt from California’s Conflicts of Interest Law.

Do you want to know how your $3 billion is spent? You’ll never know under Prop 71.

NRO: This stem-cell issue, of course, goes way beyond just California. Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards recently suggested that a Kerry administration would, basically, have saved Christopher Reeve’s life–and let him walk again! Michael J. Fox, whom we’ve all watched deteriorate from his acting prime, is for Prop 71. How do voters–especially people who need hope, who want to be compassionate–vote against that?

Gibson: There’s nothing compassionate about using a worthy cause to peddle false hope so that some special interests can succeed in a money grab.

NRO: What questions would you want every California voter to ask himself before voting on Prop 71?

Gibson: Why has there been a deliberate attempt to mislead the taxpayers? Why are the taxpayers rather than the private sector being asked to shoulder this burden? How much will big medical-research firms and drug companies stand to profit from the $6 billion of your money? Do you believe you’ll see any of these profits?

What about California schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and trauma centers that are already strapped and closing down as we speak?

Why did the $30 million to support Prop 71 come from the very same biotech companies that stand to benefit from it?

Where will these embryos come from? Are we going to turn women into egg factories using follicle-stimulating-hormone drugs, which are known to cause cancer?

Why are they misleading the public into believing there’s a promise of cures through human cloning when all of the science so far says just the opposite?


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