Wednesday 17 June 2009

A paradise of wildernesses

AIDS is not just God's punishment for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.
(Jerry Falwell: 1933-2007)

Catching up with the news is hard, limitlessly depressing work. I keep on opting-out, allowing myself to become distracted by things which have pleased me in the past. And one of those things was the news that 90% of the sexual relations enjoyed by male giraffes are homosexual. This is very old news, apparently, but I only found out in February (from a book called Biological Exuberance). That's a lot of gay giraffing. Good grief.

And if it's true, well heavens, then it just becomes a question of sitting back and waiting for all those suspiciously insecure men to make laddish jokes about not bending over to pick up the soap whilst taking a shower with a giraffe. Nudge nudge ad nauseam, for sure. Hoot. Fneek. I don't know, but it's a little strange, really, that they never stop to explain why it is that they see themselves taking a shower with a giraffe in the first place. Maybe male giraffes do team sports? We may never care.

But 90%? I'm happy enough to believe this, of course, although I struggle to see how such things can be verified satisfactorily. Exit polls?

Researcher: I can't help noticing that you look entirely dishevelled, Sir. Would you mind terribly revealing the nature of the sexual relations you've just had?
Giraffe: Don't be so impertinent, you vulgar little man.

No, giraffes have far too much class and would never cheapen themselves in such a manner. Giraffes are Old Money. So that probably leaves extrapolation, a method which has never entirely convinced me. However, as this statistic delights me so much, I'm choosing to believe it wholeheartedly.

Asserted and assorted facts like these are often so beautifully skewering, as well. Slavering fundamentalists will be wheeching through their self-help holy books, urgently trying to find something – anything – that affords them license to shout at giraffes as they go about their weekend shopping. Although, with another 449 species apparently engaged in quite flagrant acts of homosexuality, they're going to struggle to make it clear why they view this as an affront to nature and the natural order. This is nature, you silly biscuit, in all of its glorious madness, why on earth are you so disgusted and scared?

And those wretchedly smug evolutionists (me! me!), so needlessly scathing towards all of those people (not just the maniacally prescriptive religious fundamentalists, a group richly deserving of both challenge and obligingly returned contempt) who, for whatever reason, feel the need to opt out of the new orthodoxy.....well, they'll be looking at giraffes and going “bugger, that doesn't look like a reproductive strategy, that just looks like sex. What do we say about this lot again? We say what? But I thought we were supposed to be the good guys? Somebody fetch Joan Roughgarden.”

Ho hum. No, but with their loveless inability to engage each other with anything approaching tenderness, both sides give every impression of being evolutionarily maladaptive. And when they die out, as we may fairly hope that they do, the rest of us might finally have a chance to live our lives in peace; entirely comfortable with our seeming hypocrisies and outright intellectual contradictions, never once feeling the need to senselessly deny ourselves the perpetual possibilities of the permanently inexplicable - and just as happy and proud as loons that science continues attempting to go about the honourable business of enriching, explaining and prolonging our lives. In the hands of the rational and sane, I'm not sure that these things need ever be mutually exclusive.

And giraffes – only momentarily miffed, perhaps, that god didn't seem to rate them highly enough to bother zapping them quite dead with the plague - will continue to resolutely ignore the lot of us as they get jiggy beneath their stars.

Irish Blogs
Copyright © 2006-2012 TPE. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. Sorry about that. (All comments © the individual authors.)