Tuesday, March 02, 2004

The “littlest groom” reality show, genetic engineering, and homosexuality

Being stuck in Oregon with little to do and no cable gives you a lot of time to watch horrible Fox reality shows. Most recently I watched “The Littlest Groom,” a show that pairs one dwarf bachelor with several women; some short, some regular sized. The show presents an honest moral question because all things considered, I think it’s fair to say that it’s better to be a big person than a little person. Assuming that the big women weren’t all jerks and that the little women weren’t outstandingly desirable you’d imagine that the big ones would be preferable mates. Choosing a big woman on the other hand, seems like selling out. I was able to resolve this by observing that it’s desirable to have a mate that understands you and is of approximately the same level of desirability.

The show did get me thinking. If you have a genetic irregularity, one which clearly impacts your fitness, isn’t it ok to admit that it would be better not to have it? Specifically, if you are a dwarf, shouldn’t it be ok to admit that you’d rather your unborn child be a big person? And now for the money shot: If you are gay, shouldn’t it be ok to admit that you’d rather not be gay but you are, so get used to it? (note: for my socially conservative readers, I will be assuming that homosexuality is a genetic or formative trait, not a choice)

This should not be taken to justify putting down gays. Even though asthmatics don’t breath in the best way we still encourage them to do so, often. By the same token gays should be allowed to form relationships, marry, and raise children same as anyone else. But we must admit that gays are at a natural disadvantage as being homosexual means that physical procreation with someone you love is not possible. Even if science advances to the point where a child can be made from two eggs or two sperm such a process would be costly and distinctly not preferable to the cheap old fashioned way. So in my opinion, it’s the same choice as genetically modifying a child that would otherwise be born infertile.

Watch closely, I am not basing this opinion on the fact that gays are discriminated against. A Black or Roma would be rightly castigated for genetically modifying their child to look white. Furthermore, if someone did have a trait that made them more fit than the rest of the population, it probably wouldn’t make her many friends. This choice has to be based on actual physical ramifications, not on social whim.

This brings up some issues: Yes, gays have some distinct disadvantages, but seeing how homosexuality seems to pop up everywhere in nature, couldn’t it be that it is somehow advantageous to have them? It is conceivable that homosexuality serves some kind of service as population control or to provide spiritual leaders (where do you think we get all those priests?). Certainly, it would be nice to explain why a trait that would seem so uniquely detrimental to passing on one’s genes seems to occur so often.

It could turn out that asthmatics can breathe underwater or that they are immune to a horrible disease or something. And similarly, we could find out that without gays and lesbians modern society doesn’t function. It’s possible. That’s why though I think it is best that your kid is actually straight, I think the choice should be reserved for the parents only. If I knew my unborn child was going to be born gay, and had I the technology to change that (without otherwise impacting its health or emotional wellbeing) I would do so.


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