Imitation of Life

Today, in Washington, D.C., Mary Cheney gave birth to Samuel David Cheney. The baby, the product, apparently, of artificial insemination has no known father, apart from Ms Cheney’s girlfriend Heather Poe. Up the road from Washington, in Hackensack, N.J., 60-year-old Frieda Birnbaum, described as a “mid-life counsellor,” gave birth to twins.  Ms Birnbaum does have a husband and three children, but the twins are the product of in vitro fertilization arranged in South Africa.

Mary Cheney’s father says he is delighted. Four years ago, when the subject of his daughter’s lesbianism was brought up, Cheney declared the new moral code of the Republican Party: “Freedom does mean freedom for everybody. People ought to be free to choose any arrangement they want. It’s really no one else’s business.”  Ms Birnbaum’s party affiliation is not known, but she obviously agrees. The oldest new mother on record, she told ABC News: “Age has been redefined” and warned that people who think otherwise “need to get ready for what’s coming up in our society.”

The fact that she will be over 80 when the twins graduate from college does not bother Ms Birnbaum one whit. The three Cheneys, for their part, do not seem bothered by the fact that their child will be reared, without a father, by a pair of Lesbians. Babies in our society are not potential adult human beings. They are merely toys to be played with by morally retarded freaks.

In roaming briefly in the blogosphere, I find some disapproval but almost exclusively on pragmatic grounds. “There’s nothing wrong with artificial insemination/in vitro fertilization per se, but under the circumstances–Lesbian couple, 60-year-old woman–it is inappropriate in this case.”  To take only the example of in vitro fertilization, this procedure normally depends on the implantation of many fetus, hence the likelihood of multiple births. It also means that human lives are being created as procreational cannon fodder: bear two, kill three or four.
I sometimes wonder what alien planet I have landed on. It does not require a papal encyclical (Humanae vitae) to tell Christians that playing God is always wrong, even in the best of cases. But non-Christians with a moral sense beyond Christopher Hitchens might reach the same conclusion. What is it environmentalists are always warning us against–the human presumption that we humans have the right to subjugate nature to our personal whims. For ancient pagans, the bottom line of their moral code was summed up by a famous poet (Pindar): Do not try to be a god. That is the true meaning of the Delphic injunction, Know Thyself.

But today we are all a bunch of freaking (I mean it literally, not as a euphemism) Frankensteins. We want our children to have designer genes inside their designer jeans, we want to have sex with whatever we like whenever we like, and we want to go on being stupid spoiled children, thanks to face-lifts, breast-lifts, and penis-lifts, until the ultimate cosmetic surgeon–the undertaker–mummifies us for earthy eternity.

“Here pickled in formaldehyde and painted like a whore
Shrimp-pink incorruptible, not lost or gone before.”

That’s from the poet Dennis Barlow (Waugh’s hero in The Loved One).

These people cannot give birth naturally, live naturally, or die naturally. Or, put more simply, they can never really die because they can never really live. Scott records the witticism of a French actress who described divorce as the only Jacobin sacrament. In a similar sense, the liberals’ only sacrament of death is not a funeral, but Lenin-style preservation, and for them life is the virtual reality of videoporn, virtual sex, and text-messaging. I feel sure the libertarians will be congratulating Ms Birnbaum on the courage to express her freedom, and conservative Republicans, with whatever reservations they have, will applaud the Cheneys for their family values.

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