Marines.Together We Served

Monday, May 07, 2007

Monkey Business

The phrase, “Truth is stranger than fiction,” is proven correct once more.

The other morning I was looking through the news headlines on the Internet. I read one article which I found utterly amusing for its absurdity. It referenced a letter from the folks at PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) written to Norm Goldstein, the editor of the Associated Press.

The letter was respectful, to the point, and well written. The content, on the other hand, was a hoot! Here’s the opening paragraph: “On behalf of PETA’s more than 1.6 million members and supporters worldwide, I am writing to request that you revise The Associated Press Stylebook so that its grammatical rules reflect the fact that animals are living beings rather than inanimate objects. In magazine articles, popular literature, and advertising, writers are using ‘he,’ ‘she,’ and ‘who’ to refer to animals – instead of the outdated and inaccurate ‘it’ and ‘which.’ Won’t you consider making this transition as well?”

Inanimate objects? Who in their right mind considers animals inanimate? Allow me to offer some synonyms for “inanimate”: lifeless, dead, nonliving, inert, inorganic, to mention a few. The word “animal” comes from the Latin word, animalis, "living being, being which breathes," from anima "breath, soul." Point of fact, it was the Protestant Reformation (16th Century) that brought about the change in terms used towards animals. Prior to this, animals were referred to as “beasts.”

Here’s another paragraph in the letter I found highly amusing. “The public now recognizes that whales, who sing across oceans; great apes, who share more than 98 percent of our DNA; sheep, who can recognize as many as 50 faces after not having seen them for two years; and pigs and chickens, who can learn to operate switches in order to control heat and light in factory-farm sheds, are feeling, intelligent individuals – not objects. Our language should reflect this.”

Correction! Our language is just fine, thank you. We do not need to refer to the sex/gender of animals. Who’s checking to determine gender anyway? I have a hard enough time in today’s culture figuring out if a person is male or female. Think about it! What would we do with a word like hermaphrodite, which is an animal or plant that normally possesses both male and female reproductive systems, producing both eggs and sperm?

Now, here’s the kicker. An Austrian animal rights group, known as the Association Against Animal Factories (AAAF), is arguing in a court case the need to recognize the “personhood” of chimpanzees. I kid you not! “Our main argument is that Hiasl (pronounced HEE-zul, the main chimp in this case) is a person and has basic legal rights,” said Eberhart Theuer, a lawyer leading the challenge on behalf of the AAAF. This will be fun to watch over the next several months as this case makes its way through the Austrian court system.

This all brought back to mind a song a friend of mine, Ed McGuigan, wrote many years ago. It was 1976. It’s called “Evolution Revolution.” It wonderfully highlights the absurdity of man being like monkeys. Here are some of the lines from this parody:

Well you say that the Bible is a fairy tale,
But you like Darwin’s theory really swell;
But it takes less faith to believe in hell,
Than that the ocean produced a living cell.
And the cell crawled onto the land,
And after many years became the form of a man;
And when he finally stood up on his knees,
Well he grabbed him a vine and started swinging through the trees.

God’s word says that as humans we are to take care of everything in the natural environment. “God blessed them and said to them (i.e., Adam & Eve), ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Ed’s final verse to the song goes like this:

Well he didn’t leave any place for his relatives,
But I guess it doesn’t matter anyway;
Because I’m sure someday we’re going to hear them say:
“We’re equal to man and we want our own way!”
Well I don’t believe evolution is the truth,
I do believe the opposite is true;
And if you look into the Bible your face will turn blue,
‘Cause you’ll realize they’ve tried to make a monkey out of YOU!

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