Not every Comstock Lode has a silver lining.The original bonanza led to the glory days of Silver City Nevada and a cascade of new dollars from the Carson City mint . But even as the outpouring of metallic wealth revivified America's post-Civil War economy, another Comstock was campaigning for a darker sort of Fame. Anthony Comstock epitomized the definition of a puritan as someone who fears that someone, somewhere . might be happy , and accordingly moves to outlaw the cause
Comstock's campaign bore fruit in 1873 , as Congress passed laws bearing his name outlawing " every obscene, lewd, or lascivious, and every filthy book, pamphlet, picture, paper, letter, writing, print, or other publication of an indecent character, and every article or thing designed, adapted, or intended for preventing conception or producing abortion."
In a regulatory frenzy, they authorized the U.S. Post Office to confiscate any writing providing advice on contraception , condoms shipped through the mail and whatever else a postmaster might find suspect. It was till OK to post and publish matter arguing for racial purity ,or advocating the foced sterilization of the 'unfit' and the first eugenics law was duly passed in Indiana in 1907 . Others followed , dictating forced sterilization in 30 states, a fate that befell 66,000 between the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the practice in Buck v. Bell in 1927 and overthrowing it in the 1960s. we often forget that the U.S. Supreme Court only stepped in to overrule state interference in the reproductive decisions of Americans a single generation ago. So much for "The End of History."
Now it transpires that that famous essay's author, Francis Fukuyama , wants the history of comstockery repeated on the high tech front. In the current issue of Reason, Ronald Bailey, whose journalistic metier is the life sciences reports "Fukuyama would completely ban human reproductive cloning, the creation of human animal chimeras for the purpose of reproduction, germline genetic modifications, any procedure that would alter the genetic relationship of parents to children, and the patenting of human embryos.The new agency would regulate research cloning, PGD, sex selection of embryos, and the commercialization of certain elements of human reproduction such as the sale of eggs, sperm and embryos. It would consist of a set of commissioners, appointed by the president and advised by a board consisting of various stakeholder groups such as patients, ART practitioners, scientific community and the biotech industry. Fukuyama also introduced a novel set of mechanisms for consulting with the wider public including deliberative panels and a consultative college of consisting of randomly selected members of the public ."
Read more of what Bailey has to say about the regulatory ( and metaphysical ) fantasies of Neo-Hegelians Gone Wild on the Reason website http://www.reason.com/news/show/119060.html