Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Leave the penguins alone


(NOTE: The following is a guest post from Charles Davidson, republished from Rowland's Office)

First the right wingers glommed onto South Park as a lonely conservative voice in the hopelessly liberal wilds of popular entertainment. Never mind that the South Park guys reliably rip any pompous or absurd celebrity – spanning the political spectrum from Mel Gibson to Michael Moore.

Now, the conservative religious types are hoisting the documentary "March of the Penguins" as emblematic of family values and self reliance and the view that there is no such thing as science, according to a story in The New York Times. I wonder if they know the movie was made by godless Frenchmen.

The conservatives – social conservatives, that is, who idolize politicos who spend, spend, spend as long as enough of it goes to Fortune 500 energy companies and road pavers in the right districts -- trumpet the monogamy of the emperor penguins featured in the film, which is a great movie.

The waddling, irresistible birds are monogamous alright – for a year at a time. Come the next year, they find a different mate. Actually, switching mates regularly is common to such famously monogamous conservatives as Newt “divorced her on her death bed” Gingrich and Ann Coulter.

Maybe penguins are conservative because they all look alike, in their cute tuxedo feathers, and they walk in lock step, one after another in an endless procession. Sure, that could describe plenty of suburban Republicans, headed off to the pancake house for the party breakfast to hear the local DA say he’d just as soon put all the convicts in a big hole in North Georgia. (I actually heard the Gwinnett County, Ga. Republican DA say exactly that in the late 1980s.)

But lots of liberals dress alike too, and they fall in line just as readily behind their own windbags.

Maybe, like our gay-baiting drunken sailors in Congress, the penguins just spent what the right-leaning and sensible Economist magazine calls “$24 billion worth of pure pork” in the transportation bill.

Are there other ways penguins are like human conservatives?

Did anyone see a lobbyist lurking around the edges of the tundra? No, it's Tom DeLay, the allegedly human conservative, who has sold his party to the lobbyists willing to write the biggest checks. Come to think of it, I don't recall the penguins being flown to their birthing grounds, or to Scotland to play golf, by energy companies or right-wing think tanks. I do remember the penguins huddling together against the brutal cold, rotating in and out of the warmest place at the center of the crowd so that each could get equal heat. You know, just like the Republicans are big on sharing and spreading wealth around to the whole population.

I didn’t see a penguin driving a gas-coiffing SUV, unlike the conservative religious yahoo Jerry Falwell, who has advocated driving not one but multiple gas hogs. You will recall how Jesus was big on the "I got mine" philosophy. Thinking about another famous fundamentalist demagogue, there came no call from a single penguin to assassinate another critter.

I didn’t find the penguins particularly like today’s liberals either. No ridiculous wailing about Bush being worse than Hitler or bleating about … well, nothing, really. A Democratic politician with something to say is about as common these days as a talking penguin.

Let these beautiful birds be birds. They don’t have opinions on politics or morals. They have enough trouble as it is, what with walking 70 miles to have sex in sub-zero temperatures and fasting for weeks on end, then getting chased by killer sea lions when it finally is dinner time. Don’t taint them with comparisons to political animals.

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