Thursday, February 02, 2006


It had been a long and tiring day monitoring postings on the discussion boards of the Human Cloning Foundation. A lengthy parade of zealots had accused those of us who supported human cloning of playing God, assured us God was against cloning, even maintaining that children conceived through cloning would lack a soul.
There is something simultaneously arrogant and depressing about a fourteen year old telling you that she knows what God wants. I left the computer feeling like a monkey who was losing a banana-throwing contest.
I should fight these people on their own ground. I declared to a few friends who were gathered in my Greenwich Village Art Deco lighting shop. I should put the ball in their court. I should publish some Clone Jesus buttons just to get them stirred up.
You wouldnt do that! Charlie, a friend who had helped hand out packets of cloning literature during my 2001Congressional testimony, responded. That is really sick. If you did that, I would never speak to you again!
His outrage startled me. Actually, his emotionally overwrought response would move me to do the irrational and incomprehensible- order a batch of Clone Jesus buttons.
They came a few weeks later. I opened the box, shuddered, and closed it quickly. How could I, a responsible and visible advocate of human cloning, have been so foolish as to print them?
It was instinct. I had been the button king in the late 1960s .I really hated some of the best sellers in those days ­It Sucks and the smile buttonbut I had followed the market and met the demand.
Seeing CLONE JESUS in white letters on a black background simultaneously titillated and frightened me.
To clone anyone, you would have to have viable living cells. The idea of cloning Jesus was as much science fiction as was the story that some businessmen were going to clone Dracula.
Indeed, in August,2003, The Scripts Howard News Service would cause something of a fuss among established theologians by announcing: Filmmaker David Rolfe is planning to make a spine-chilling science fiction thriller about international power games and a cloned Jesus
 Such debates were far from my mind as I fancied fighting nonsense with nonsense.
Certainly, cloning Jesus was a more worthy undertaking than cloning Hitler (Boys of Brazil). Id discovered that most people thought the idea of cloning Princess Diana was acceptable. Id gone to Central Park to a memorial service and handed out thousands of badges that were eagerly accepted by her admirers.
So, I had these joke buttons designed to push buttons. However, I really didnt want to be associated with them. They were babblings of idiocy.
After all, I was the major pro-human-cloning spokesperson, the worlds first human cloning activist, I didnt want to be associated with such nonsense.
Clone Jesus buttons would simply destroy whatever credibility Id achieved. On the one hand, I could only imagine what Rev. Jerry Falwell would have said had I the bad judgment to wear one while debating him on Fox-TVs Gibson Show.
The responsible side of me said: Throw them into the garbage. But the revolutionary in me knew I held Uranium 235 in my hands.
 Being a human cloning activist means that you are taking on a public that is somewhere between eighty and ninety percent negative.. And most of that opposition is based solely on religious perspectives.
In any war, especially a war of ideas, one of the most effective techniques is to fire a stealth missile into the enemy camp to create confusion and pandemonium.
Better yet, on an intellectual level you change the meaning of the terminology. You redefine the debate. You make definitions obtuse. You change the parameters of the discussion..
Terminology always defines any debate. Our opponents tried to stick us with certain terminology. Cloning, they argued, was replication. Sorry, but cloning is reproduction by definition.
Reproduction is defined as passing your genes on to another generation Score one for the underdog. Score one for us!
         The buttons sat for two or three weeks in the closed box that they had arrived in, like trapped aliens waiting to explore a new world.
Timidly, I gave one to a friend, a devout member of the Metropolitan Community Church, who promised me she would risk wearing it.
If someone, gets physically antagonistic, I counseled, you should take refuge in the idea that whenever you do good works, you are acting in Jesus behalf and are therefore cloning Jesus.
Thats theologically sophisticated, she agreed while pinning the first button onto her dress. I was flattered. Theology was one of the subjects that interested me the least.
The next night would present me with the person and the means to explore the Clone Jesus possibilities.
Coco was one of those people who inhabited my extraordinary life. She was a most unlikely friend of a retail merchant. She was mainly black and part American Indian.
Shed help me care for a roommate who had died of AIDS. I had taken her in for a couple years because I was lonely. Coco was good intelligent company.
Ultimately, she had been sent back to jail for three to seven years for selling a $10 bag of crack to an undercover officer on the street. 
When she came out of jail, Id given her a chance at a normal life job and all. For several months, she seemed like a changed person. Then, warm weather arrived and the call of homeless life on the street and prostitution reclaimed her.
Homelessness is actually a state of mind. Whenever I challenged Coco about her circumstances at thirty-four years of age, she would always remind me that she had chosen this life at the age of fourteen.
Coco was a male who was small and had feminine features. She was what is today called transgendered. Those of us who knew her thought of her as a feminine personality although her physical sex was male.
When she panhandled, she preferred to use a wrap around her head. Frequently she would wear a wig.
People give more to homeless women. Coco explained when I asked why she wore a wig while panhandling.
Coco plugged into Housing Works where being HIV Positive entitled her to 28 day residences in certain assigned hotels. In the Bronx a large rat had pounced on the bed and scampered over her face while she slept. That was why she had chosen to crash on the kitchen floor of my Greenwich Village Art Deco lighting emporium on the Saturday before Mothers Day.
Resenting another request for funds, I decided to let Coco be my ambassador to the world. I pressed a bundle of Clone Jesus buttons into her hands and suggested she use them to get money.

Ultimately, I would discover that I had indeed found the means to confuse the enemy and change some of the parameters of the debate on human cloning.

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