Monday, June 8, 2009

Odds 'N Ends

1) Same-Sex Parenting In Animals

In News of the Cute, a pair of male penguins in a German zoo have hatched an egg, and are now raising a chick, that was abandoned by its biological parents. From the article:

"In the case of Z and Vielpunkt, two penguins at the zoo in Bremerhaven, the pair had been observed attempting to hatch a stone. When a male-female pair of penguins at the zoo rejected their own egg, keepers gave it to Z and Vielpunkt, who tended and hatched the egg and now, a month after its hatching, continue to care for the chick.

The BBC article noted that four years ago the same zoo, which houses three pairs of male penguins exhibiting mating and bonding behavior, tried to coax the males into a heterosexual relationship by introducing four female penguins. The zoo made this attempt because the particular species of penguin in question is endangered.

However, those attempts were suspended when the male penguins showed no interest in the females. Meantime, GLBT activists protested that the zoo’s strategy constituted an attempt to force the birds into relationships they would not naturally have entered into on their own.

The article included a snippet from a statement made by the zoo. 'Z and Vielpunkt, both males, gladly accepted their ’Easter gift’ and got straight down to raising it.'

Added the statement, 'Since the chick arrived, they have been behaving just as you would expect a heterosexual couple to do.

'The two happy fathers spend their days attentively protecting, caring for and feeding their adopted offspring.'"

Even though this story is true, I have no doubt that the many parents who believe homosexuality to be unnatural and less-than heterosexuality will not want their children to learn about it. Unfortunately, many parents want to censor the reality-based world from their children and try to ensure that their kids grow up sporting the appropriate ideological filter. It's understandable. When animals engage in same-sex pair-bonding and parenting, it's sort of a real-life rebuttal of the argument that homosexuality is a human invention and "choice." It's probably better if kids don't know that homosexuality exists at all. I heard that strategy works really well in Iran.

2) More Fun With the Non-Apology Apology

I really think many people today just don't know how to render a real apology. As a case in point, Rob Williams and Arnie States of Condoning Violence Against Transgender Children notoriety, issued a... statement, to use the more apt word, with respect to their recent radio show:

"I’m sorry that you might find it funny — or I’m sorry that you might not find it funny that some people laugh when Arnie — who does not have a child — talks about throwing a shoe at his non-existent son. You know what? Some people do laugh and they know we’re not serious, that Arnie’s not serious and we don’t advocate for it."

I strongly believe that people who (a) are not sincere and (b) fail to believe they did anything wrong should not render apologies. The apology is rarely the point. When people seek apologies, what they are really seeking is some sort of acknowledgment that the person understands that she or he has hurt someone and that she or he regrets doing so. People who don't feel guilt for having hurt someone should not "fake it." It comes off as them transparently caring more about uttering insincere "apologies" out of a sense of face-saving duty than caring about the fact that they've hurt people. And, perhaps the worst kind of apology is the one that, like an abuser's tactic, blames the victims for the pain they've caused and completely dismiss people's valid reactions to pain. Instead of taking responsibility for their actions, they accuse those who have been hurt of being too sensitive or too humorless to not be hurt.

In a nutshell, that's why "I'm sorry that you might not find it funny [that I said something really fucking mean]" isn't a real apology. As Ellen DeGeneres would say, well, then you don't know how to kid properly. Because we should both be laughing.

Also, for the record, it's not a violation of "Will and Arnie's" free speech, as some have suggested, to criticize what they've said. Freedom to say whatever you want, does not mean freedom to say whatever you want without anyone ever criticizing what you say.

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