Michael P. Ackley has worked more than three decades as a journalist, the majority of that time at the Sacramento Union. His experience includes reporting, editing and writing commentary. He retired from teaching journalism for California State University at Hayward.More ↓Less ↑
Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns are satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell which is which.
News item: On Dec. 27, a spokeswoman for the Raelian sect announces birth of first cloned human being. The following is an exclusive interview with Claude Vorilhon, former sports journalist and the organization’s founder.
Your Reporter: Mr. Rael …
Rael: Please, just call me Rael.
Your Reporter: Why, thanks. That’s the name given you by the extraterrestrial you met in the dormant French volcano, right?
Rael: That is correct.
Your Reporter: This cloning was big news the world over. How did your organization, with only about 55,000 members, pull off this scientific breakthrough?
Rael: We’re all very smart.
Your Reporter: I see. Why did your organization get into cloning?
Rael: We’re involved in an effort to use science to help parents choose not only the gender and physical attributes of their children, but also a superior intelligence.
Your reporter: In other words, eugenics.
Rael: Yes. Modern genetic eugenics will allow us to improve the human race as a whole, irrespective of race, ethnicity or religion. Not like that Nazi business.
Your Reporter: But many people question the ethics of eugenics and cloning – even if they aren’t applied to “master” races.
Rael: “Ethics” is simply a last-gasp attempt by deist conservatives and orthodox dogmatics to keep humanity in ignorance and obscurantism. Eventually, we will be left with a few conservative and anti-science dinosaurs who will continue to generate genetically handicapped children until a law is passed forbidding this crime against future generations.
Your Reporter: But cloning isn’t exactly eugenics.
Rael: True, but it’s a great way to get publicity.
Your Reporter: I’ll say. You weren’t getting too far with the straight extraterrestrial line – that stuff about “The Messages.” By the way, your website says “Traces of this epic masterpiece of creation can be found in all religious writings. It is to them that Moses, Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad referred.” Didn’t you notice that the teachings of these figures differ radically?
Rael: Sure, but most people don’t know this. One thing you have to learn in this business – excuse me, in promoting a philosophy – is you just have to say things with apparent conviction.
Your Reporter: You mean, you don’t really believe what you espouse?
Rael: Of course I believe it. I’m just pointing out that it isn’t necessary to believe. Fact is, if you say the most outlandish thing with apparent conviction, somebody will buy into it.
Your Reporter: Like saying that dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was terrorism, just like the Sept. 11 attacks?
Rael: You got it. That really played with the Japanese last August. And don’t doubt that I believe it.
Your Reporter: OK, let’s move on to more important matters: Why do you wear your hair in a bun?
Rael: Hey, you aren’t making fun of me, are you?
Your Reporter: No, no, no.
Rael: All right, then. You don’t have to have a non-standard hair style in this line, but it helps. That’s also why I wear the white suits.
Your Reporter: Mark Twain wore white suits.
Rael: Yeah, he was on to something, but he didn’t follow through. Same with Tom Wolfe.
Your Reporter: Was meeting the extraterrestrial in a dormant volcano a marketing thing, too?
Rael: Listen, I’m really beginning to think you’re making fun of me.
Your Reporter: Just trying to get the real story.
Rael: It helps to have things happen in volcanoes – even dormant ones. That’s just one of many things I learned from the master.
Your Reporter: The master? You mean the extraterrestrial?