Thursday, September 15, 2005

March of the Penguins and Family Values

Although it hasn't reached New Zealand yet, a movie that is out at the moment called March of the Penguins has been getting rave reviews in America and has surprised pretty much everyone. Of course, many of the general science blogs have been reporting that Conservatives in America are praising the movie for it's excellent lessons about morality, namely Christian morality. Apparently the penguins are brilliant examples of monogamy (actually, they re-choose a mate every year), sacrifice and child rearing. Well, aside from being a bit bizzaire, I have to wonder what the extent penguins are in terms of being good examples of morality.

Well a new blog I noticed recently, Positive Liberty has an interesting post discussing homosexuality in penguins. Firstly, it turns out that homosexuality in penguins isn't actually very uncommon at all and several zoos have noticed it. One zoo in particular, in Germany, flew in some Swedish penguins to try and 'taunt' the homosexual penguins into mating with them. These males had none of it however and protests by gay rights groups had the plan to use the penguin seductresses ended.

Most interesting however was that studies on the chick raising ability of gay penguins has found them to be fairly good parents
Studies on these gay penguin marriages, by the way, show that they haven’t affected any of the straight penguin marriages in the same aquariums and zoos. The straight penguins have continued to mate and raise their kids despite the presence of the avian sodomites.
So I wonder if we continue to use penguins as moral bastions for humanity, we should be accepting of homosexuality, realise they aren't going to destroy human society (assuming penguin society is truly comparable to human society), treat them as equals and not assume that children raised by homosexuals will be horribly abused and grow up distorted? All of this is contrary to the rhetoric you often hear from conservatives in America of course, but then again, who cares about facts? Apparently the fact these penguins treck thousands of miles, have immense risks at losing their chicks to freezing, a parent dying causes the other to leave the chick to die, which is quite a moral lesson I'm sure, is even evidence of 'intelligent design'.

Once again, just a brilliant example of cherry picking the facts to say what you want them too rather than what reality is really like. That reality is unfortunately, one where these animals make a long harrowing journey over thousands of miles in the worst conditions imaginable. They then spend all of their effort raising usually a single chick whose life hangs on a thread on numerous factors. It's a system that ultimately only appears wasteful when we humans view it with our anthropoentric lenses on, but is one that ultimately works because this is the sort of idiosyncratic system that nature ultimately builds.