Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lay Off the Dogs and Chimps

Today the American Spectator's Ben Stein very properly takes out after the folks piling on the accused rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund. Writes Ben:

In this country, we have the presumption of innocence for the accused. Yet there's my old pal from the Ron Ziegler/ Richard Nixon days, Diane Sawyer, anchor of the ABC Nightly News, assuming that Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty.

Quite right, Ben. But here's what troubles me. We've heard a lot of people talking about "crazed chimpanzees" in connection with DSK, put like we heard a lot about "sex poodles" when former Vice-President Al Gore was accused of getting aggressive in a San Francisco hotel one night. Isn't it about time we stopped pretending that animal sexual behavior is somehow more violent than human sex?

I'm a little disappointed that Ben Stein, a noted dog-lover, and owner of "Puppy-wuppy," didn't raise this issue.

Is it really the case that chimpanzee sex is comparable with human rape? Or that the behavior of Al Gore towards a hotel masseuse made him into a "sex poodle?"

Now it is true that chimpanzee sex is highly hierarchical. The alpha chimp male gets most of the sex, from accounts that I've read, to the extent that about 25 percent of the chimplets born into a troop of chimps get to be fathered by him. It is the low-status males that have to grab a piece of the action while nobody is looking. But hey, the alpha chimp doesn't get his access to females by brutalizing them. He gets it by brutalizing the other male chimps.

And what is it about poodles and sex? Are we talking about toy poodles barking up someone's leg? We cannot, surely, be talking about standard poodles. Standard poodles are French hunting dogs, adapted for swimming in cold French water in winter. They are friendly chaps and full of life and vigor, canine athletes, and have nothing in common with ageing male politicians getting aggressive with the hotel help.

It's time to lay off the dogs and the chimps, and create a new entry in the American Psychological Association's upcoming DSM-5. How about Luxury Hotel Aggression Syndrome?

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