Grandma Manimal

Carl Zimmer in his always excellent blog, The Loom:

Nothing gets the blood boiling like a manimal. For many people, the idea of breaching the human species barrier–to mingle our biology with that of an animal–seems like a supreme affront to the moral order. In his January state of the union address, President Bush called for a ban on “creating human-animal hybrids.”

These so-called chimeras, according to their opponents, devalue humanity by breaching our species barrier. “Human life is a gift from our creator, and that gift should never be discarded, devalued or put up for sale,” Bush declared. Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas expanded on this sentiment in his Human Chimera Prohibition Bill of 2005. Chimeras, according to the bill, “blur the lines between human and animal.” They must be banned because “respect for human dignity and the integrity of the human species may be threatened by chimeras.”

Some opponents cite the Bible as proof that chimeras are wrong–in particular, I Corinthians 15:39: “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.” Others rely on their own sense of disgust as a reliable guide to the wrongness of chimeras. “When we start to blend the edges of things, we’re uneasy,” explains Grant Hurlburt, a psychiatrist and member of the President’s Council on Bioethics. “That’s why chimeric creatures are monsters in mythology in the first place.”

So let’s imagine, for the sake of argument, that a nefarious plot to create human-ape hybrids was discovered in some distant country.

More here.