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Penguin Pride


Conservative Christians have demonstrated their ignorance once again by championing March of the Penguins as an argument for intelligent design. In the film, the penguins march over 70 miles to breed, lay eggs, and protect that nest for a long, frigid, stormy winter. "That any one of these eggs survives is a remarkable feat - and, some might suppose, a strong case for intelligent design," Andrew Coffin wrote in a Christian magazine. "It's sad that acknowledgment of a creator is absent in the examination of such strange and wonderful animals. But it's also a gap easily filled by family discussion after the film."

Why don't we also include Roy and Silo in that discussion? They're the gay penguins at the Central Park Zoo who so yearned to bring up a youngster that they took care of a stone for several weeks hoping for it to hatch. Now I'm not sure that's an argument for "intelligent" design, but it certainly proves that in the penguin world they're not all marching towards heterosexuality.

Then, of course, there were the three out of five pairs of penguins at the Bremerhaven Zoo in Germany that were found to be gay. Researchers there attempted to cure them of this, but their little "Love in Action" plan didn't work.

There were also 20 pairs of penguins in Japan discovered to be gay.

Apparently, the Christians did not do their research. While watching March of the Penguins myself a few months ago, I wondered what the gay penguins did while the straight ones performed their harrowing 70 mile journey in pursuit of wild straight penguin sex. Did they hang back and have their own little party by the coast rather than waddle for miles along barely sunlit ice floes and risk being frozen into feathery little penguin popsicles? Now that would be intelligent design. Or maybe they have their own separate Pride march?

But Columnist George Will asks the most sensible question of all: "If an Intelligent Designer designed nature, why did it decide to make breeding so tedious for those penguins?"

Something for the Kiddies [tr]

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  1. Thank you so much for bringing up Roy and Silo. A straight couple I know have a little boy Eli who is my pretend nephew. He calls me uncle Chris. I gave him the book some time ago and he adores it, it's his favorite book!

    Posted by: Chris | Sep 14, 2005 10:51:48 AM

  2. Like you, Andy, when I read that story in the Times I was thinking of the gay penguins. In a nice way, of course. No doubt the wingnuts thing Roy and Silo only turned gay after winding up in NYC.

    What was truly scary about that story, though, was that the filmmakers said they were cautious not to bring up evolution or global warming, except one brief passing remark about the penguins having been there "for millions of years" -- and even that they thought was daring. When you can't even discuss basic scientific facts for fear of setting off the biblethumpers, something's terribly wrong.

    Posted by: Glenn | Sep 14, 2005 11:49:41 AM

  3. We also have a pair of gay male South African (Jackass) penguins here at the Tulsa Zoo in the heart of Jesusland. They nest together and behave just like any normal breeding pair.

    Don't tell anyone though. We're afraid the wingnuts will serve them up deep-fried.

    Posted by: Thom | Sep 14, 2005 11:50:57 AM

  4. "If an Intelligent Designer designed nature, why did it decide to make breeding so tedious for those penguins?"

    Because sex is bad and it shouldn't be enjoyed. This prevents the penguins from turning into little sluts. :)

    Posted by: stan | Sep 14, 2005 11:57:10 AM

  5. I'm not sure I get the conflict you're inferring here, Andy, between Intelligent Design and homosexuality. Seems like you're stretching this for the sake of argument. I haven't read the Times article this post is based on, but the quote you included from Andrew Coffin doesn't connect with your point. Just an observation.

    Posted by: Kurt | Sep 14, 2005 12:01:28 PM

  6. Thom, do the Jackass penguins get drunk and do all sorts of stupid stunts when there's a camera rolling?

    Posted by: Glenn | Sep 14, 2005 12:08:06 PM

  7. But it's also a gap easily filled by family discussion after the film." Likely to be filled more easily than the gap between Mr. Coffin's ears.

    So, do gay penguins make up 10% of the peguin population? Apparently intelligent design placed gay penguins among penguin families for some intelligent reason. Maybe it's why all penguins look so sharply attired.

    Posted by: Bill | Sep 14, 2005 12:39:30 PM

  8. I saw it and thought it was great. The narration was awfully cheesy, but the scenery indescribably beautiful and the life of these animals astounding.

    I have to admit though, I was a bit saddened when the other penguins nailed one to a cross.

    Posted by: Atlanta | Sep 14, 2005 1:38:53 PM

  9. Brilliant, "Atlanta"! And, thanks for sharing the one nonreactionary, nonhomophobic, nonclassist George Will said this year. He generally manages a one or two every dozen months or so.

    Posted by: Leland | Sep 14, 2005 2:15:21 PM

  10. This is Andy at his best!

    Posted by: randy | Sep 14, 2005 3:13:06 PM

  11. George Will is now the voice of reason? What is the world coming to. But it is true that the movie is more like proof against an intelligent designer - who would design such a crazy thing? Oh yeah, the designer of male nipples and the appendix too.

    Posted by: Bob Davis | Sep 14, 2005 5:57:42 PM

  12. Rumor has it that Roy and Silo penguindom's most famous gay couple have split up. And for once Jude Law isn't involved. It's over a girl. (That little black and white home wrecking slut. )

    More information on this sad story as it become available.

    Posted by: speck | Sep 14, 2005 6:08:20 PM

  13. No one is mentioning what else is mentioned in the movie: After mating, the penguins don't stay together after the season--another way in which they're like gay men? And the kids are left to fend for themselves--family values, indeed. IT's a ridiculous argument, going right up there wtih Newt Gingrich's "Let's have orphanages because they're so nice in the movies." Ridiculous

    Posted by: Brad | Sep 14, 2005 6:32:41 PM

  14. Conservative Christians have demonstrated their ignorance once again

    Not a gross generalization. Nope. Not at all. No bigotry evident in that sentence. Not at all.

    Posted by: Patrick | Sep 14, 2005 11:41:35 PM

  15. I don't know about anyone else, but if an ID case makes it to the Supreme Court and they rule it should be taught I am DEFINETELY moving to Canada before I have kids. I hate to say that and I've oft chastised my friends for saying they'd go if the draft came back; but I find it truly horrifying to raise a kid in such a system, bah teach facts not faiths

    Posted by: MarkFromIthaca | Sep 15, 2005 12:06:26 AM

  16. The best argument against intelligent design is the existence of Christianity.

    The late Neo Platonic philosophers thought the Christians were looney because they couldn't see how you could be a lover of truth and a "person of faith" at the same time. You can't have it both ways.

    Some people just prefer fantasy to reality.

    Posted by: Alan Martinez | Sep 17, 2005 3:38:51 AM

  17. I'm just curious. All of these cases seem to be when a penguin is in captivity. I'm wondering if the percentage is much lower in nature. It would make sense just through evolution. If a penguin is gay, it can't reproduce and therefore it can't pass its genes on. Don't get me wrong I have nothing against homosexuality but do say it's common in nature would be an odd thing to say. Also that new book I'm hearing about? Gay penguin couple adopting a baby penguin? hmm interesting story but non fiction? I'm not so sure. No documentation equals no non fiction status. Same thing with the bible or any other religious text. Nice stories, but non fiction status? right x.x So seriously if anyone has info on examples in nature, I'd like to see it.

    Posted by: mercury | Mar 11, 2006 8:55:42 PM

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