Saturday, June 23, 2007

Medieval Australia

I'm shocked by the fact that certain elected politicians in Australia are described in the local press as "Catholic MPs", as if their religious beliefs might impinge upon their political convictions and choices. Are so-called catholic MPs expected to cater for voters who might be Protestants, or Jews, or Moslems, or atheists? Or does the Catholic tag attached to such a politician mean that he/she is morally justified in ignoring non-Catholic citizens, and leaving them to rot in hell? To my mind, the expression "Catholic MP" cannot logically exist, and should not be tolerated in serious journalism. When an elected member enters the sanctuaries of the State, he/she should leave his religious beliefs in the cloakroom.

Today, no nation can claim to be adult, and no political constitution is sound from a purely human viewpoint, unless a strict separation is established, once and for all, between the supreme concept of the State (that is, in the case that concerns me, the nation of Australia), on the one hand, and the multifarious religious organizations that the land might shelter. Ideas of the latter folk should not be allowed to ooze, like medieval sewage, into the sacred domain of the Nation and the People.

Now, as if it weren't enough to have the Church—like an antiquated harlot in parrot-colored robes—trying to allure hesitant politicians in the context of the ongoing debate (not only in Australia) about research using human stem cells, there's a greater cause for concern in this domain. Apparently, a new social phenomenon is arising, described colorfully by Australia's national media organization as stem-cell tourism. What's it all about? Well, in the backwoods of Australia's great Asian neighbors, private charlatans have started to jump onto the bandwagon of stem-cell treatments by offering miraculous cures of a highly suspect nature. Their potential patients (customers) include Australians with a terminal illness or spinal injury.

Funnily, in speaking out against this quackery (a tiny voice in the wilderness), I would seem to be on the same side as the Sydney cardinal. This is an illusion. In French, there's a terse old saying: Robes don't make a monk. In Sydney parlance: Clothes don't make a drag queen. My simple advice to the cardinal (borrowed from Kurt Vonnegut's Deadeye Dick): Watch out for life. The same advice might be given to travelers of all kinds, including sexual tourists and stem-cell tourists.

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