Here Thar Be Monsters!

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Opening Arguments

(Part 2 here) (Part 3 here)

Your honor, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, thank you for your time in hearing this case.

I represent the people of the world - natural human beings - and their generations yet to come, whose very existance hinges upon the outcome of thise case.  Your decision will affect millions, if not billions of lives over the next several hundred years.  This is not hyperbole, but a fact that I intend to prove during the course of this trial.

The facts of the case will be complex and subtle, and it will require deep reflection and understanding on your part to grasp what is at stake here.  The argument will touch on both physics and metaphysics.  It will delve into the very nature of what it is to be human, and who can and does own those things which make up our mental, physical and spiritual selves.

This case is styled Humanity vs. Biotech Companies, et al., for a reason.  This is a class-action suit on the part of every single human being living and not yet born - the Plaintiffs - versus companies who seek to "improve" human beings or modify them for specific purposes, and thus patent and claim ownership of some or all of the human genome.

Some would call this "playing God" while others say that no individual or organization can own DNA or genes, and thus have no claim on the results of processing and modifying the genomes of living things.  Yet, there is a long history, predating genetic research, that has established legal precedent for these claims of ownership.

Under Western patent law, a patent is granted if a process can not arise in nature - in other words requires humans to create it - it uses a documented and repeatable process, like Henry Ford's assembly line, and the product is unique and useful to others.  In granting a patent, the law protects this process and its product as intellectual property for a certain amount of time, so that the inventor may profit from his labor.

Patents have already been granted and upheld for genetically modified lab animals, food crops and cloning.  Thus, the law has recognized the right of individuals and companies to 'own' various lifeforms because they were the product of a process invented by Man and/or they contained artificial genes and chromosomes that were created by Man.

So far, these patents have only applied to lower animals, plants and microbes, however, we are here today because we are on the verge of applying these processes to human beings, the products of which will be called property of patent owners.

We intend to prove that this is, in fact, slavery under a different guise.  We intend to show that the genome of lifeforms can not be owned by any one entity, no matter what the circumstances are that created the lifeform.  By granting even a small foothold into the realm of owning Life in any form, we open a Pandora's Box that can and will ultimately lead to mass slavery on a scale never before seen in human history - a concept that violates the very heart of human development over the past 300 years since the Enlightenment.

The defense will argue that their lifeforms will not be used as slave labor or that their processes will be so limited in scope that they will never lead to the creation of entire classes of sub-humans, but history teaches us differently.

Slavery has been endemic to humanity since records began.  Whether involuntary or indentured, slavery has existed for as long as humans have had civilization - until recently.  Beginning in the 1600s, and on up to today, we have sought to end slavery.  The highest ideals and sensibilities of modern society is that slavery is unacceptable in any form and for any reason.

The defense will argue that beings containing genetic property will only be charged a small royalty fee throughout their life.  In effect, they will argue, this fee is no different than government taxes on people, who by virtue of being born in a certain location, must legally pay a fee called tax for the rest of their lives.

Here we will step into a very sticky area, because they are right.  Taxes are legal, patents are legal, so why shouldn't life-long royalty fees charged to humans with patented genetic modifications be legal?  In fact, ladies and gentlemen, you decision in this case will change how we look at taxes, property and life.  The verdict you render will have far-reaching implications that touch at the heart of our modern life - how governments operate, who can own what things, and is slavery acceptable in any instance?

We will argue that children contain the unique genetic imprint of their parents,  Thus, they are the direct and repeatable product of the union of two people that could not have arisen in any other way.  Yet, we do not view children as the property of the parents, nor do they own fealty to their parents for any other reason than voluntary loyalty.  There are no legal precedents allowing parents to claim ownership, nor are they allowed to demand royalties from their children.  Why should corporations be granted this priviledge?

Even more worrisome is the notion that an individual may become inadvertent property by virtue of having ingested a patented gene or chromosome.  If we take as axiomatic that we are what we eat, then it stands to reason that by eating GMO foods and incorporating private property into our beings, we become property of a corporation until such time as that property is purged from our bodies.  As beneficiaries of private property, we therefore would be required to pay royalties to the patent owners under current law.

As you can see, this case has far-ranging implications into nearly every aspect of our existance, and the decision you render here will affect generations of humans to come.  The possiblity exists that finding in the favor of the Plaintiffs will in fact lead to all of humanity one day becoming nothing more than products and property of corporations.

The only way to stop this is to remove the profit incentive.  By taking away the right of property and the right to benefit financially from intellectual property, these corporations will cease their efforts to engineer slave races.

We claim that all humans are created equal, by whatever process, and endowed by God with rights that can not be taken away, among these being liberty and self-determination.  We stand on the threshold of two very different futures.  Either we chose the road of freedom, or we choose slavery.  There is no middle ground.  A foot in the door towards slavery will be thrown wide open at some point, sooner or later.  We are tasked here with closing that door forever or risk losing our humanity - possibly forever.

Our decision here is that important.

The trial will be long and involved.  It will require surveys of history, science and metaphysics.  It will demand profound reflection on our parts into the nature of what it is to be alive and to be human.  We will be wrestling with questions that have perplexed philosophers for centuries.

It is absolutely vital that your decision come down on the side of humans and liberty.  We owe no less to our children and their children.  While profit and the advancement of science are noble and necessary, we can not sacrifice our future to them.

We ask your undivided attention.  We ask your deep reflection.  And we ask that you render a verdict that will ensure the greatest benefit to the largest number of humans.  Remember, there is no grey area, there is only black and white.  Either life itself can be owned, or it can not.  Any other decision will allow future challenges of this kind, if we are ever able to bring the matter to argument again.  Do not squander this opportunity.

Thank you very much for your attention.