Sunday, December 3, 2006

Today I received the book And Tango Makes Two in the mail. I ordered it as soon as I read about the bull shit controversy surrounding it. There’s nothing I love to hate more than stupid, inane controversy. And virtual book burning.

The basis for the book, which is a children’s book, is the true story of two male penguins who tried to hatch a rock together at a zoo. The zookeepers gave the couple a rejected egg that was being kept in an incubator and the male penguins successfully nurtured to a healthy baby penguin, "Tango".
Obviously, parents are “upset” and “outraged”. (Please tell me when white, Protestant middle class parents in this country aren’t) They're outraged because it’s targeting children and it ‘subtextually’ condones homosexuality.

One such parent wrote in his blog that his daughter was “unnerved” by gay animals being able to adopt children (as if it weren’t bad enough the perverts were adopting human children! Now we have gay penguins wanting rights? Obviously a Christian coalition monitoring the morality of the entire mammalian class is needed. Volunteers, anyone?) He goes onto say that the book is “normalizing” something that is “clearly abnormal.”

This, unfortunately, gets into the "issue" of homosexuality in general. I like to approach this idiotically and emotionally argued topic from a more grounded scientific perspective, and the gay penguins give a perfect example: The number of animal species known to practice homosexuality varies from 450 to 1500 to “every species observed”, depending on the source. Even beatles have been known to experiment. Particularly liberal with their sexuality are primates, our closest kin. Most notable are bonobo chimps who are practically 100% bisexual.

If homosexuality were “unnatural”, it wouldn’t be found pervasively in nature. This seems like such an obvious thing. People still go on pretending Santa Claus is real and that homosexuality it is a moral choice, catagorically defining it as “right” or “wrong”. Really, it simply is with the same biological neutrality that boys have penises and girls have vaginas. And it certainly prevails regardless of social conditioning.
Of course, this book really isn’t about the biology of homosexuality. This is about homosexuality's place is our society. This is about teaching homosexuality as being acceptable to children. Do I believe children should be taught to accept homosexuality? Of course I do—just as soon as they are old enough to recognize the differences between boys and girls. I think this book is a very healthy way to do it, as it presents it the context of love/companionship without involving sexual issues. Children live in the same society we do, where men love men and women love women. Gay couples have families and perhaps my children will encounter their children as peers. I would certainly want my children to be prepared to handle it maturely when the time comes to them to be aware of such things, just like any reality of the adult world. I would want them to be the kind of people to treat all people with rational tolerance and kindness… not with fearful hate, ignorance and the baggage of their parents. Accepting religious, cultural and lifestyle choices of different people is important to raising children to be adults with humanity and without the self-righteous, separatist bull shit that seems to be directly responsible for most of the problems in our world. Ignorant children grow up to be ignorant adults.


I bought this book because I hope that by the time I have a child and he or she reads this book, teaching your children how to handle and prepare for the realities of life, rather than a Disney movie, is not a radical or questionable practice.