Thursday, September 30, 2010
The truth about penguins
Continuing our recognition of Banned Books Week, we consider a particular favorite of banners, the picture book And Tango Makes Three, about a gay penguin couple that raises an adopted chick.
As I've mentioned before on this occasion, the usual objection to this book is that it is a positive portrayal of homosexuality. But the real objection should be that it is a positive portrayal of penguin family life.
The fairy-tale relationship between the adults portrayed in "Tango" bears little resemblance to reality. Divorce rates in various species of penguins are close to fifty percent, and promiscuous behavior is rampant. In one species, one-third to one-half of heterosexual activity is adulterous, and nearly half of the gay sex involves married men getting it on the side. And in case that's not enough, they also pleasure themselves by using tufts of grass as sex aids.
We've seen before on this blog that penguin family life is less idyllic than the heartwarming situation depicted in this book. We've noted research that shows that penguins won't work harder to help a handicapped spouse; we've also seen the story of a female penguin that broke up a gay couple that had raised a chick together - just like the one in the book.
There is no excuse for banning books, but still, there are some things that impressionable children should not be exposed to. If they read propaganda like this, they're going to grow up to have the same unrealistic notions about animals as today's adults: that dolphins are mystical geniuses instead of gang rapists and cross-species sexual harassers and more; that lions are noble royalty instead of lazy babykillers; and perhaps most dangerous of all, that dogs are our best friends.
We owe the youth of America better than this. We owe them the truth, and this blog will continue to provide it.
Penguin facts thanks to Biological Exuberance by Bruce Bagemihl; penguin photo by friend of the blog MisterQueue.