Tuesday, March 14, 2006

All You Need Is Bonobo Monkey Love

By Kate Holzmueller
The Northern Iowa

So I’m reading the newspaper the other morning, desperately trying to find a topic for this week’s column (yay for a test or paper being due in every class this week!), when I stumble across an article on the bonobo, aka the “hippie chimp.”

It was an interesting piece, but a little sad; the article discussed the rate of poaching for bonobos and how they’ll soon be brought to extinction. And so I decided to write a nice little column about the bonobo – an animal many people might not even know exists.

Bonobos (that’s beh-NO-BOz) are found in the Congo, in the heart of Africa. They’re known for – and I’m not making this up – greeting rival groups with genital handshakes and sensual body rubs. Their fights and tiffs are often quickly settled – with some French kissing and a quick round of sex.

They’re the horniest apes on earth. They have sex all the time – around three or four times a day – girls with girls, girls with guys, guys with guys. … According to one article I read, “Such loving passion, such sexual dexterity, such clever, horny playfulness is found nowhere on Earth except among certain humans.”

Bonobos not only love having sex, they use it for a variety of reasons. Sexual encounters take place to ease social tensions, to maintain friendly relationships, and as a form of commercial exchange.

Imagine if humans were like that! We’d walk around saying things like, “Hey, you’re looking cute this afternoon. Allow me to give you a hand job.” Or, “Hey, that piece of chocolate cake you’re eating sure does look yummy! I’ll go down on you if I can have a piece.”

Because bonobos engage in sex all the time, they’re not very hostile creatures. As Dr. Susan Block, a bonobo researcher, so eloquently noted, “You can’t very well fight a war while you’re having an orgasm.” Researchers have yet to find evidence of a bonobo deliberately killing a member of its own species. All of their arguments are solved with some form of good old-fashioned luvin’.

Not only are bonobos wonderfully liberated creatures, the girls have just as much power as the boys; females use their bonding to ward off any potentially threatening males. Female bonobos also initiate sex more often than any other form of great ape (including humans).

However, as was mentioned earlier, the bonobos are extremely endangered. They’re often hunted for their meat, which Congolese people find to be quite tasty. And their habitat is dying out – war, the logging industry and environmental problems are making it so they don’t really have any place to live.

Those who are interested in researching the bonobos can look online, as there is a vast array of Web sites devoted to this wonderful creature. Those who wish to help aid in the plight of the bonobo can also find ways in which to do so via the Internet.

And those who merely wish to start applying the principles of bonobo life (pleasure eases pain, good sex diffuses tension and love lessens violence) can do so as well!

After all, vacation is just around the corner. And I, for one, can’t think of anything more similar to a group of sex-loving bonobos than a group of drunk, horny college students on spring break.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Homophobic Bible-Quoting is Hypocritical

By Leonard Pitts Jr.

An open letter to Donna Reddick:

I'm writing this for Desiree. She's a student at Miami Sunset Senior High, where you teach business technology. A few days ago, she sent me an e-mail recounting an incident that happened on campus last week.

It seems that on three successive days, the morning announcements, which are televised throughout the school, featured student-produced segments on the subject of gay rights.

On the first day came comments from students who took the pro position. On the second day came remarks from a counselor who spoke of the need for students to respect one another. On the third day came you.

You and a few students, actually. One told classmates homosexuality was ''unacceptable in the eyesight of God.'' Another said gays were ``unrighteous.''

The coup de grace, though, was you invoking Sodom and Gomorrah and telling students homosexuality was ''wrong according to the Bible'' because God ordered humanity to multiply, which gay couples cannot do.

Desiree was, to put it mildly, upset. In the e-mail, she accused you of bigotry and wondered how a gay student could feel assured ever again of fair treatment in your class. I tend to agree. She also suggested that you crossed the line between church and state, an accusation about which I'm more conflicted.

It seems to me there's a difference between proselytizing for a religion and explaining how one's faith has influenced one's opinion.

You're entitled to think what you think, no matter how stupid it might be.


But I'll leave those questions for others to parse. My biggest frustration lies elsewhere. Put simply, I've had it up to here with the moral hypocrisy and intellectual constipation of Bible literalists.

By which I mean people like you, who dress their homophobia up in Scripture, insisting with sanctimonious sincerity that it's not homophobia at all, but just a pious determination to live according to what the Bible says.

And never mind that the Bible also says it is ''disgraceful'' for a woman to speak out in church (1 Corinthians 14:34-36) and that if she has any questions, she should wait till she gets home and ask her husband. Never mind that the Bible says the penalty for going to work on Sunday (Exodus 35:1-3) is death. Never mind that the Bible says the man who rapes a virgin should buy her from her father (Deuteronomy 22:28-29) and marry her.

I'm going to speculate that you don't observe or support those commands. Which says to me that yours is a literalism of convenience, a literalism that is literal only so long as it allows you to condemn what you'd be condemning anyway and takes no skin off your personal backside.

As such, your claim that God sanctions your homophobia is the moral equivalent of Flip Wilson's old claim that the devil made him do it.

You resemble many of your and my co-religionists, whose faith so often expresses itself in an obsessive focus on one or two hot-button issues -- and seemingly nowhere else.

They're so panicked at the thought that somebody accidentally might treat gay people like people. They run around Chicken Little-like, screaming, 'Th' homosex'shals is comin'! Th' homosex'shals is comin'!'' Meantime, people are ignorant in Appalachia, strung out in Miami, starving in Niger, sex slaves in India, mass-murdered in Darfur. Where is the Christian outrage about that?


Just once, I'd like to read a headline that said a Christian group was boycotting to feed the hungry. Or marching to house the homeless. Or pushing Congress to provide the poor with healthcare worthy of the name.

Instead, they fixate on keeping the gay in their place. Which makes me question their priorities. And their compassion. And their faith.

If you love me, feed my sheep.

For the record, Ms. Reddick, the Bible says that, too.