May 24, 2024

Yellow journalism and cloning

Owner of cloned pit bull pups has shady history

Bernann McKinney and pupANOTHER DISPATCH FROM UPPER LALALAND – There are strong ethical arguments against
attempting human cloning (not that anyone has done it yet). But surely one
drawback for would-be cloners is having to associate with the loopy set which is
drawn to cloning like flies to carrion. The kinky Raelians, who believe that
cloning is part of their religion, are only the most prominent of these.

The latest oddbod to surface is linked to animal cloning, not human cloning,
but the same principle appears to hold. Bernann McKinney a 57-year-old
screenwriter, paid US$50,000, even selling her home, to have her pet pit bull
terrier Booger cloned. Five pups resulted. (Apparently the real cost was
$150,000, but the South Korean company RNL Bio gave her a huge discount as a way
of publicising its work.)

Booger, she told the Korean media, had saved her life when another dog had
savaged her. She was seriously wounded, and afterwards Booger used to take off
her socks, open the refrigerator door, take laundry out of the washing machine,
turn a key to open a door and other marvels. No wonder she loved her Booger

It was a PR triumph for would-be cloning entrepreneurs.

Until, in a sensational turn of events, the London Daily Mail
disclosed that Ms McKinney possessed what in polite circles is called "a past".
And it was even loopier than that of most Raelians. A former Miss Wyoming, she
had been the protagonist of one of the most lurid and bizarre court cases ever
to have sizzled in the pages of the Daily Mail, at least in 1978.
Journalists on British tabloids have long memories for this sort of thing and
their nostrils quivered when they heard the name McKinney. Bernann McKinney may
be more wrinkled and raddled than Joyce McKinney, but the Daily Mail is
sure that she is the woman who jumped bail 30 years ago and hid from British
authorities who wanted to prosecute her.

Guilt by association is the weakest of crimes, but this adds another black
mark to the already tarnished image of cloning. It’s back to the drawing board
for any public relations agency brave enough to take RNL Bio as a client.

PS – An American company is suing RNL Bio for patent infringement.