Science

Bold: State Rep Moves to Keep Georgia Free of Werewolves, Mermaids, Centaurs

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Via the Google+ feed of Reason's Adrian Moore comes news of how Georgia plans to keep itself free of werewolves, mermaids, centaurs, and other human-animal hybrids that don't, you know, actually exist.

Reports Watchdog.org, a project of nonprofit news-gathering group The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity:

State Rep. Tom Kirby, R-Gwinnett, is proposing legislation that would prohibit scientists from attempting to create human-animal hybrids in laboratories by experimenting with DNA….

"I say no. And thats what this bill is really all about," he told the [WXIA in Atlanta]….

When it comes to mermaids, Kirby says humans shouldn't try to create them, "but if they exist, that's fine."

He applies the same standard to werewolves — if they're "naturally occurring in the environment, that's fine…"

But he's not so forgiving about centaurs, which Kirby says have a bad attitude.

"Y'know, I really don't like centaurs," he says. "We've got enough people with bad attitudes as it is."

He's also trying to ban glow-in-the-dark people (theoretically made by splicing together jellyfish DNA with a human).

Let's leave aside the har-har-har elements of the story (of which Kirby is fully aware). Watchdog quotes a different Peach State pol who I think has a better sense of how innovation and scientific discovery works:

Georgia Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Tucker, worries about the "unintended consequences" of placing limits on what science is allowed to do.

Kirby's bill exempts research from the ban, so scientists who are playing with animal DNA as a potential cure for human diseases would be able to carry-on with their experiments. One promising strain of research shows that shark DNA might help cure cancer, for example.

This story appears in Watchdog's "Nanny of the Week" (coff, coff, rip-off, jes' kiddin'), and writer Eric Boehm gets it right in his wrap-up:

Maybe it's unfair to call Kirby a nanny — after all, he's not banning anything that you and I would likely ever have a chance to do — and his proposal does not deserve to be ridiculed the same way as those that would ban childhood fun or economic activity.

But trying to ban things that don't exist is always a good way to end up here – even with the best of intentions.

More here.

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