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And now, a word from penguins
Seattle Times staff columnist
To the humans: Forgive us, but we're going to be as blunt as one of those clubs you folks use to beat the seals.
Enough with your penguin worship already. We penguins may not know much. Truth is, we don't know a thing, because we're flightless seabirds with brains the size of ice cubes.
But even we can tell when a species is in trouble. What else can we conclude about you when you are driven to fabricate an image of us — as devoted, dutiful simpletons — and then embrace it as everything you wish you could be?
It recently drifted to us on Antarctic winds that radio host Michael Medved of Mercer Island is going around saying that the movie "March of the Penguins" is the second coming of "The Passion of the Christ."
The movie "most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing," Medved told The New York Times.
Seems watching us rut and trudge about the ice has made people see God, or intelligent design, or an argument against abortion. The "stirring depiction of the mating ordeals of emperor penguins," the paper intoned, has become an "unexpected battle anthem in the culture wars."
Excuse us while we hack up our partly digested squid.
The truth about us penguins is far more interesting than the hagiographic nonsense in that movie. We have an 80 percent divorce rate. We select mates in part by who shows up when. If last year's spouse isn't there when you get to the breeding ground, it's cool, you get busy scoring another one.
Nobody gets all moralistic about it, even after we "pair up." Genetic analysis has shown that about a tenth of our kids couldn't have been produced by the apparent Mom and Dad — meaning some of us paragons of monogamy are getting it on the sly.
Biologists call this "extra-pair copulating." We call it "rocking the rookery."
Gay parent penguins. How PC. Only the book omits the rest of the story — that Roy dumped Silo to shack up with a female named, you guessed it, Tequila. When Roy and Tequila didn't work out, Roy started hitting on underage chicks!
Whatever. This is standard fare in the penguin world. So is ditching our young because we're hungry. Do you really want to model after us?
More to the point, how pathetic has your species become that you're looking to penguins for moral guidance?
Take it from us, who were here before you and will be here after you're gone. You need to get over yourselves. Everything doesn't have to be fodder for your cultural and political wars, which are killing you.
Maybe we are simpletons. But sometimes it's best when a penguin story is just a story about penguins.
Danny Westneat's column appears Wednesday and Friday. Reach him at 206-464-2086 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company