Jack Ohman

Editorial cartoonist, writer and Joe King’s alter ego

Supreme Court: Don't touch my BFF DNA...

04/15/2013 6:46 PM

04/15/2013 7:59 PM

DNA is back in the news, and it's one of my favorite subjects I know next to nothing about. 

I mean, I know a little bit about it. My father was a plant pathologist, and as a child he would bring home samples from the lab he ran for the U.S. Forest Service. 

"Look, son! I brought you some penicillin!"

In a petri dish. 

What eight year old doesn't enjoy playing with penicillin? In a petri dish. You know, just in case I needed to field triage my GI JOE, I had a petri dish full of the stuff, ready to go. 

One of my early Science Son memories was of my dad raving about a book that detailed the exploits of Drs. James D. Watson and Francis Crick, the acknowledged discoverers of DNA. My dad would talk about Watson and Crick the way other dads would talk about Mantle and Koufax.

We never talked about Mantle and Koufax, although Mantle was someone who probably could use a little penicillin once in awhile. Hair of the dog that bit you and all.

My next exposure to DNA was in high school, where I learned about adenine, cytosine, thymine, and guanine, the DNA building block chemicals. We also learned about RNA, the cousin (don't write me, and I am sure they're not cousins, technically. Or genetically) that gets very little attention.


So when the Supreme Court took up the notion that one could patent a piece of DNA that a company hadn't actually developed, I was faced with more DNA thinking. Ugh. So slimy. All those complicated strings of gooey life chemicals churning together to create my neck wattle.

Can you patent neck wattle DNA? God, I hope not.

I mean, if we're going to let these mad scientists patent DNA they haven't invented, the next thing you know, you're going to need a license to own an oak tree or a delta smelt, another slimy thing with DNA. 

I can see it now. There will be DNAMO Drive Thru genetics stores, DNA Huts, DNA Kings, Del DNAs, DNA Galaxies, and McDNAs. Forget it.

I think we ought to be able to just let the DNA alone. I'm kind of a libertarian lunatic when it comes to DNA. Live DNA Free or Die. Don't Tread on my DNA. I'll let go of my DNA when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

Unless, of course, it can save me from death. 

But the thing that really disturbs me is that there are popular traits, and unpopular traits. Will we have a DNA stock exchange?

"Beautiful ab muscle DNA was up 1 1/2 in active trading, and bubble butt DNA was off 3/4."

So let your DNA Freak Flag fly.

And don't touch my DNA.

Unless I can me some of that beautiful ab muscle DNA.

The hell with free markets.

About This Blog

Jack Ohman joined The Sacramento Bee in 2013. He previously worked at the Oregonian, the Detroit Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch. His work is syndicated to more than 200 newspapers by Tribune Media Services. Jack has won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Scripps Foundation Award and the national SPJ Award, and he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and the Herblock Prize in 2013. Contact Jack at johman@sacbee.com. Twitter: @JACKOHMAN.


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