This Is Totally Irrelevant

Monday, May 29, 2006

This Is Totally Irrelevant

Well, almost totally. I mean, it should be.

In a colony of 16 storks in a Dutch zoo, three homosexual pairs have been nesting this spring. Two of them (one male pair and one female pair) have hatchlings, while the remaining (male) pair is still sitting on the eggs. (I'm going with the version of the facts on the zoo's Dutch website, rather than in this English news item).

The zoo's personnel aren't sure how the male pairs got their eggs, but they think the storks may have chased off brooding females after the eggs had been laid. Presumably, the female pair used artificial insemination (note for the humor-challenged: I'm kidding).

Anyhow, this story brings to mind one of my favorite fallacies, wherein people refer to the behavior of animals, or to "nature" in general, to support arguments about how human beings ought to behave. For example, I think there are strong moral arguments for vegetarianism, but the fact that certain other primates subsist without meat is not one of them. Nor, on the other hand, is the fact that primitive humans ate meat, or that the teeth in the front of our mouths are well-adapted for meat-eating, a decent argument that eating meat is morally permissible today.

So leave these Dutch storks out of the same-sex marriage debate, if you please, as well as gay adoption, and any other gay/family-law issues. They don't belong there.


So long as some anti-gay folks defend their positions as simply reflecting what is "natural," then I suppose it is worth pointing out that their premise is wrong. But we knew that long before these storks came along, since evidence of homosexual behavior among other animals is well-known.

In other words, they only new thing here is the symbolic power: we're talking about storks, after all, the animal that's in charge of handing out human babies. I wonder if these three pairs got the idea after delivering a few Heathers to two-mommy families--humans influencing nature, rather than the other way around. (I'm kidding again).

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