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have not yet seen the Penguin documentary movie but conservatives are now championing penguins as the faithful Christians! Too funny as animals do not act from altruism but because natural selection evolves that way in their environment. A funny NY Times column on the subject:
September 18, 2005
Penguin Family Values
The news that emperor penguins are exemplars of self-sacrifice, marital fidelity and steadfast parenting has brought joy to many religious conservatives, who see the brave birds in the documentary "March of the Penguins" as little Christian beacons of family and faith.
But it could just as easily cause those of us who like to brood on human weakness to let our shoulders sag with doubt and self-reproach. If idiot penguins stay true to each other and their children through months of starvation and the endless Antarctic night, what hope is there for us, who can become flirty and stupid after just one office party?
It may be fun to find a moral lesson in that enthralling penguin movie, but anthropomorphism, like after-shave, is best used sparingly. After all, when The Times reported last week that Christian conservatives had embraced emperor penguins as their own, bloggers quickly recalled another article in this paper last year about gay chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo - a same-sex couple named Roy and Silo who raised a chick together. If emperor penguins are sending us a message about heterosexual marriage, then what are Roy and Silo doing?
Those who start looking outside the human family for old-fashioned values, in fact, will need to quickly narrow their search terms. They will surely want to ignore practices observed in animals like dolphins (gang ), chimpanzees (exhibitionism), bonobo apes (group sex) and Warner Brothers cartoon rabbits (cross-dressing). Casting a wide net for chaste and saintly creatures, the mind flails, then comes up mostly empty. Yowling tomcats? Lazy, sexist lions? Preening peacocks? Better stick with the penguins. Or maybe Mom and Dad.
Perhaps, though, there is one decent reason for making moral comparisons across the animal kingdom: not to hold other creatures up, ridiculously, as paragons of goodness, but to let our tarnished selves off the hook. As awful as we are, our human burden of sinfulness and guilt has its advantages, as the poet Wislawa Szymborska pointed out in "In Praise of Feeling Bad About Yourself":
A jackal doesn't understand remorse.
Lions and lice don't waver in their course.
Why should they, when they know they're right?
On this third planet of the sun,
among the signs of bestiality
A clear conscience is Number One.