Sunday, March 12, 2006

A catalogue of horrors

In this week's New Yorker, there is an article by Michael Specter that made me want to tear my hair out. If you are looking for the worst weapon of mass destruction, look no further: it's George Bush and his murderous assault on science. What this administration is unleashing against scientific progress and public health and environmental issues in this country and the rest of the world is an even potentially more dangerous, genocidal policy than the war in Iraq and all the other disasters it has wreaked upon this nation.
The article begins by saying that there is now a vaccine against the human papilloma virus, which is mainly responsible for cervical cancer. This vaccine has had an amazing rate of success, but in order to work, women need to be innoculated at an early age. But if the Bush Administration has its way, it won't be approved by the FDA because innoculating young girls will give them the idea that they can have all the sex they want. Instead, this administration pretends that cancer and HIV can be fought with abstinence, despite the fact that studies have proven that abstinence is no match for condoms when it comes to preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. Bush has given the majority of its funds to abstinence programs instead of to scientifically designed programs that actually have better rates of success. What is this? The stone age? In fact, if a succesful AIDS vaccine is created, Bush and the far right will try to impede its approval on the same grounds. An AIDS vaccine could signal to people that they can have orgiastic sex 24/7 and be immune.
I want to throw myself out the window.
And it gets worse from there. The Administration cuts off aid to any NGOs working in the Third World that so much as mention abortion. The Administration is against the distribution of condoms. It has started to curtail the freedoms of American scientists to speak openly about any issues that are at odds with our zealot evangelical president, whether it's stem cell research, global warming initiatives, and effective policies for controlling the spread of AIDS. Scores of prominent, respected scientists have had to resign due to constrictions and interference from the Administration on how to conduct their research. Now, if they want to attend international scientific conferences, they need to request permission beforehand.
I wish scientists, many of whom have been quite outspoken in their outrage, would get together and march or strike or do something that would catch the media's attention and the turn the public focus off American Idol and Project Runway, for one second. I know it sounds naive, but scientists are not making enough of a racket; they are screaming at the wind by publishing their anguished warnings in scientific journals that only they read. They need to engage the American public in their fight. Somebody has to do something.
Forget about the war on terror, this administration's war on science will have negative effects that will be felt for generations to come. These policies could actually help kill millions of people in America and around the world. And the US is reverting from one of the most scientifically progressive countries on Earth, to something more akin to Afganistan in spirit and in deed.
We still have three more years of this criminally irresponsible man in office.
I'm tearing my hair out.

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