Representation Of Cloning In The Media

1523 words - 6 pages

Representation of Cloning in the Media

   Since the birth of Dolly, the cloned sheep, the debate over human cloning has been characterized in the media as an ethical debate. When scientists announced that they had cloned an adult sheep, the public also heard that cloning humans was possible. The media stories about this unprecedented feat was not about the procedures utilized in but rather about the morality of the process itself. Media coverage focused on ethical concerns of cloning, its social, religious and physiological significance, and the motivation behind it. Although the there are many views expressed in the media on cloning, the main characterization of cloning as an ethical issue centers around two connected worries: the loss of individuality, and the seemingly evil motivations behind cloning. In a sense media coverage framed the public moral debate on cloning around the above issues.


In the coverage of cloning, the media has chosen to represent cloning as a danger to individuality and uniqueness. This concern about losing individuality stems from the status of clones as copies. The March 10, 1997 cover of Time Magazine shows two large identical pictures of sheep and in the background numerous copies of the same picture and the cover title asks, "Will There be Another of You ?". The picture accompanying the main article shows a coin operated machine dispensing white males, while another picture shows identical bodies dropping out of a test tube. Similar images expressing this concern over the loss of individuality brought on by cloning dominate the popular media.


This representation of cloning as a means of bringing about the loss of individuality reflects two widespread ideas. The first is the idea that copies cannot measure upto originals. Time reports, " Dolly does not merely take after her biological mother. She is a carbon copy, a laboratory counterfeit so exact that she is in essence her mother's identical twin" (67). The use of the word counterfeit conveys a message that clones are illegal and at the same time are inferior to the originals. U.S News & World Report informs us that many ethicists believe that the interest in cloning will die away, because "making copies pales next to the wonder of creating unique human beings the old fashioned way" (61). The implication of both articles is that clones are not as good as the originals.

Moreover, the existence of clones is interpreted as an affront to human dignity. Time magazine, for example, uses militaristic language to show that cloning is in some way a declared war on our very humanness; "for many, the basic sanctity of life seemed to be under attack" ( Nov 3, 67). In the same issue, Time quotes a scientist who claims, "we have a right to our own individual genetic identity...cloning could well violate that right." By making such claims, the media assumes that a fixed quantity of human dignity is allocated to each genetically distinct...

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