Acting Like An Animal

Scientific American published online an article titled: The Evolution of Prejudice, in which they report new evidence suggests human racism and prejudice is a psychological trait inherited through evolutionary means.  “Overall, the results support an evolutionary basis for prejudice”, though some researchers believe prejudice is strictly a human trait, “the behavior of the rhesus monkeys implies that our basic tendency to see the world in terms of “us” and “them” has ancient origins.”  What are the ramifications of this discovery if true?  Would those who harbor racist attitudes towards others have a valid excuse?  What about other feelings and urges which come “naturally” to us?

The reason this caught my eye is the tendency that advocates of same-sex marriage will sometimes point to some species in the animal kingdom that engage in same-sex sexual encounters.  They offer this observation in an effort to justify homosexual desires and behaviors as a natural (and therefore normal) variation in sexual identification, and thus should be not be barred from state recognized marriage.  I am not inclined to grant this rationale any credence.

We humans have unique qualities which markedly separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom.  Not the least of which is our ability to not operate solely on instinct.  We are able to recognize feelings and urges (which some may call instinct) which must be suppressed.  Human beings have something no other animals have, moral intuition.  We have the ability to recognize right from wrong.  We know lying, cheating, stealing, murder, rape, infidelity to one’s spouse, etc. are immoral behaviors, but animals commit those acts (from our perspective) on a regular basis.  Even people who commit those behaviors know they are wrong, but choose to participate regardless of their conscience informing them to the contrary. 

Most animals engage in behaviors on a regular basis which we would be quick to condemn a fellow human.  There are animals which:

  • Kill their offspring, some even cannibalize their offspring
  • Forced copulation
  • Hundreds, even thousands of sexual partners
  • Kill to acquire territory
  • Aparent racism

Should we really be looking to the animal kingdom for behavioral guidance?  I think we know better than to use animals as a guide on how we should behave.  If humans engaged in the acts above, we would never accept “it’s done in the animal kingdom” as a valid defense.  So why is same-sex sexual behavior of certain animals validation for some homosexuals to defend same-sex marriage?  Of course I’m not suggesting that same-sex marriage is the same as cannibalizing your children.  But we don’t amend our laws based on observed animal behaviors. 

Comments

  1. rautakyy says:

    John Barron Jr, you are being silly, are you not? The defence of same-sex marriage by pointing out that there are animals who engage in sexual acts with same sex, is only a response to those who oppose the same-sex marriages by claiming it is unnatural.

    Nobody is asking you to accept homosexual behaviour, because animals do it. They are just saying you can not claim it is unnatural.

    A nother as silly claim as often made is, that if homosexual marriages will be allowed, childmolesting and sex whith animals are next to be accepted. Well, if one can not see the difference, of what two adults do in their bedroom, to having sex with a child or an animal, it is better that one will not have pets or children. In fact, better yet, one does not engage in any sexual behaviour. But this should not be difficult, because people who oppose same-sex marriage seem to think it is easy to live without sex.

    Everything you John Barron Jr listed, human beings have engaged in, and I do think that in most cases they have had moral absolution from some religion.

    • Here’s the problem Rautakyy, once you can get a behavior labeled and accepted as “natural” it opens the doors to far greater unintended consequences. Not only would “natural” become equated to “normal”, it will then be required to be treated like any other “normal” thing. Marriage for example.

      Once we define something as “natural” and therefore morally benign because it is found elsewhere in the animal kingdom, you risk having other’s found-behaviors suddenly petitioning for protection. If homosexuals can use “natural” as protection for securing legal marriage, you cannot then refuse anyone their sexual desire from also being protected using the same defense: that the behavior is exhibited in the animal kindgom. That’s when the homosexuals who oppose other sexual practices which are immoral will be called bigots, and “____aphobes”. The only alternative is to then grant marriage and official government endorsement to every sexual niche who petitions for it, lest they be discriminated against.

      • While wether or not the problem you posited is real or not, the thing that as long natural means “existing in nature” then homosexuality will technically remain natural, since all the species composed only of lesbians and reproduce through parthenogenesis (which is often stimulates through homosexual intercourse) are, in fact, a part of nature. Thus preventing said problem is an impossibility; perhaps it would be better instead to divert efforts into minimizing the alleged fallout caused by the proposed problem.

        • Using such a broad definition of natural doesn’t help the LGBT argument, it actually renders it meaningless. If all anyone means by natural, is found in nature, then literally everything is natural. Synthetic material is natural because we human beings produce it. We repurpose other things in nature to fashion it. So if EVERYTHING is natural in that sense, then as I said above, using the term has no meaning.

  2. rautakyy says:

    I see your point, but I disagree. We are not discussing wether or not child molesters and people who want to have sex with animals should have the right to do so. You should understand, that it is a completely different debate. In fact, pedophilia and other such perversion is quite often found in confined religious communities, that deny sexuality as anything else than a means to procreate. This is “natural” because sexuality is such a great part of human behaviour, that denying it often only leads to secret acts to satisfy the need. Those are the same communities that are most stalwart at denying the same-sex marriage, so do not attempt to bind homosexuality to pedophilia. They are totally separate things.

    We are animals, and we are bound to our instincts, but we have the ability to raise abowe them. This is however something a society can not solely impose on us. It is something that inherently starts from the individual. Many animal species have cultural behaviour, that is defined not only by instinct, but by the desicions and traditions of individual animals and animals as a group.

    We humans set morals to define what is right and what is wrong. We should do this according to what harm may or shall befall from our choises. It is obvious what kind of harm racism causes. I do not see what harm may become from allowing homosexuals equal rights to heterosexuals in legal commitment to each other. On the contrary, it would diminsh many of the social problems faced and experienced by homosexuals today. If some religion forbids homosexuals the marriage, the homosexuals should make the obvious conclusion about the said religion, but government has no right to deny them from having normal family lives.

    You have claimed before that homosexuality is a harmful way of life, but so is religion or eating fast food. Actually much more harm in the world has resulted from religious behaviour than from homosexual. So, should religious behaviour or fast food also be denied from people?

    • If humans set and define morals, then they are free to define pedophelia and zoophelia into the spectrum of moral good. If one guage of morality is the behaviors of other animals, then you cannot avoid people petitioning to have their sexual fettish recognized by the government when they can observe it in the animal kingdom.

      Remember, 50 years ago same-sex marriage would have been just a joke in the break room. People were saying “it’ll never happen”, that is what you are saying now about other sexual niches.

      What I think you don’t see is the logical progression. You will not be able to avoid the slippery slope, legally nor by reason, due solely to the methodology used to support the benign morality of homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage.

  3. John,
    I feel like I’m picking on you now, but your comments here seem to contradict arguments you have made earlier on this blog.
    If marriage is strictly an extension of contract law, as you claim in two previous posts, how does your “slippery slope” argument stand up to scrutiny? Can a child enter into a contract with anybody legally? How about an animal? Can you please explain how your two views on gay marriage are not in direct contradiction? I believe two adults are permitted to enter into a contract; and I believe that they can be of opposite or same sex. I also believe that contract law does not permit discrimination based on sexuality.

    Every time a gay marriage opponent trots out these arguments, I am further convinced that the arguments against same-sex marriage are completely ridiculous. If that is the best argument you have, then you ought to admit that you are against gay marriage for the same reasons a KKK Grand Dragon doesn’t support interracial marriage. Though, as you point out, I can’t get an “ought” from an “is”, so I don’t expect your confession to be forthcoming…

    • It doesn’t matter if animals or children can enter into contracts. People will petition to at the very least decriminalize their behaviors and will use the same defenses homosexuals use. So then lets use mothers and sons of legal age, or fathers and daughters, or mothers and daughters, etc. What about 3 or 5 or 8 consenting adults, do we open marriage to anyone who wants to be married? Remember, the arguments homosexuals use, natural, normal, born with desires, etc. will all apply, how could you restrict any adult or number of adults? What does marriage mean?

      Race is irrelevant to the purposes of marriage the way the genders of the individuals are relevant.

  4. How is the gender of a person relevant to marriage? That is a loaded observation. Be careful how you answer that question, because I think you see my logical conclusion….
    All you are able to hide behind is convention, just as people against interracial marriage did in the past.

    • Marriages are purposed for longterm procreative family encouraging relationships which are the foundation of all societies. The genders of the individuals in marriages are fundamental to the teleology of the institution. It has nothing to do with icky or cause thats how its always been.

  5. rautakyy says:

    Morals are defined by what good or bad our actions may cause. What harm would the same-sex marriages cause?

    About a 100 years ago it was just a joke that women could vote, but children and animals have not been given the right to vote since women got theirs. Do you think we are on a “slippery slope” on that?

    No, I do not see the “logical procession”, because there is none. On moral grounds homosexuality is a completely separate issue from pedophilia or zoophilia.

    The fact that sexual behaviour between same sex is found among the animals is not the main argument on which the same-sex marriages are advocated. It is simply an adequate enough response to a silly claim (made whith most serious faces) that homosexual behaviour is not natural. Is something frequently found in the animal kingdom unnatural? The real question here is not about wether something is natural or not, is it? It is if there exist a moral reason why something is seen wrong and should be not allowed by the society. Whith pedophilia, zoophilia or marrying close relatives the negative effects are obvious, and that is propably why you are trying to link these to homosexuality, but the connection is artificial.

  6. So you would support denying marriage to women post-menopause then? How about requiring that people applying for a marriage license provide proof that they have not been “fixed”? Should we deny marriage to infertile people? Because that is the logical extension of what you are saying.

  7. In your newest post, you labelled homosexuality “unnatural.” That’s the only time that it’s relevant to point to the animal kingdom and say, “homosexuality is natural.” Why would you post that homosexuality is unnatural when you post here all the evidence that homosexuality is natural?

  8. What I am saying here is that because a certain behavior can be witnessed in nature does not in any mean it is a good or moral behavior, or by any means normative. By nature males are are sexually designed to be with females in the order of things. You are equivocating the term “natural”.

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