Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Since Federal Judge Cebull has set the standard for what can be joked about on the Internet so low that almost anything can pass, I might as well take advantage.

I’ve had this story about bestiality floating around in my “to blog” file for quite a while:

White House press secretary Jay Carney fielded a question about bestiality during the daily press briefing:

Q: The Family Research Council and CNS News both reported a 93-to-7 U.S. Senate vote to approve a defense authorization bill that, quote, "includes a provision which not only repeals the military law on sodomy, but also repeals the military ban on sex with animals, or beastiality.[sic]" Does the commander-in-chief approve or disapprove of bestiality in our armed forces?

In short, have you soldiers stopped fucking your camels? (And don't put any beans up your nose, either.) Of course, clever PETA never fails to jump on any issue that involves animals.

In watching last night's news briefing, we were upset to note that you flippantly addressed the recently approved repeal of the military ban on bestiality. With respect, this is no laughing matter. Our office has been flooded with calls from Americans who are upset that this ban has been repealed—and for good reason. As we outlined in the attached letter sent yesterday to the secretary of defense, animal abuse does not affect animals only—it is also a matter of public safety, as people who abuse animals very often go on to abuse human beings.

Colleen O'Brien
Director of Communications

I’m amazed that so many people think that such a law has anything to do with real events. I assume they were raised to believe that a law immediately changes everyone’s behavior. What Mama says, goes. So where are the statistics about military animal rape? I’m sure there are vids on YouTube of species boundary violations, but where are the numbers? Or the theory about why such things happen? But the post-modern thinkers are as alert as HSUS. This call for papers arrived via an academic listserv about animals.

Call for papers for Carnets de GĂ©ographes

“Towards a ‘humanimal’ geography”

«Ironically, both the pleasure of bestiality for the practitioner and the horror/humor of the shocked observer rely upon this projection of humanity onto the animal. This calls for thinking of potentially other relationships to animals in which we seek not to exploit human-­‐animal difference but pleasure in exploring the breaking down of this boundary [...] Such a queering of the boundary between human-­‐animal may serve a valuable role in reconsidering our ethical relationship to animals,which has previously hinged upon human-­‐animal difference and hierarchy. This ontological certainty must be undermined to establish a nonhumanist approach to animals in particular and to otherness in general.

(Brown and Rasmussen, 2010)

I’m nearing the end of the first volume of the magisterial overview of the history of the novel by Steven Moore and have finally come to my mother’s favorite childhood novel. “The Tales of Genji,” the Japanese Sheharazade. (It’s very much a novel of adolescence, the struggle to come to terms with sexuality.) On page 551 I come to this story. A man “yearns for an unobtainable woman, so turns instead to her cat: ‘To relieve his powerful feelings the Intendant. . . called the cat and cuddled it and with its delicious small and its dear little mew it felt to him naughtily enough like its mistress herself.’”

“. . . So he had the cat at last and he got to sleep with him at night. By day he caressed it and fussed over it. Soon it was no longer shy, and it curled up in his [kimono] skirts or cuddled with him so nicely he really did become very fond of it. He was lying against a pillar near the veranda, lost in thought, when it came to him going Meow, Meow ever so sweetly. ‘My we are eager, aren’t we!’ He smiled and stroked it, then gazed into its eyes. . . .

“‘How odd of him all at once to take such a liking to a cat!’ the old women muttered. ‘He never cared about such creatures before.’

“The Heir apparent sent for the cat, but the Intendant never returned it. Instead he kept it to whisper sweet nothings to all by himself.”

Hello, kitty! Once a person is alerted to such phenomena, they are clearly everywhere, though often in diluted form and especially in history. Are we to forbid people to love their animals? Or even other people’s animals? We aren’t having much success in getting folks to love each other in any sense except entwined with violence. We are having such a hard time understanding how humans as a species are different.

When I was an animal control officer in Portland, OR, we generally got two or three bestiality complaints a year and no one ever knew quite what to do with them. One was a public event about which PPD asked for advice: a stripper had two Great Danes in her act. Was it cruelty? Resorting to French philosophy, we said it depended on the reaction of the dogs -- mutuality as a principle. Of course, it’s an open question whether any animal can give informed consent, so that would mean the act was statutory rape whether the dogs like it or not. I think the stripper simply moved to another city. Evasion can be a good law enforcement strategy.

I would recommend it to Judge Cebull, but earlier in the sequence of events. Evade friends who want to send you dirty jokes at work, esp. if they demean the very context that makes one’s work dignified. If they fail to get the hint, use your delete button. Everyone in Montana knows a lot of sheep jokes and no doubt they are problematic for sheepherders, but their jobs do not depend on social respect -- only respect from their dogs, which insist on respect from their sheep, even the black ones.

If a judge damages his own dignity and that of his position, who can trust him with their camels? Is this joke of Cebull’s not an abuse of human beings? Ruptures of social conduct are sometimes seen as the private privilege of esteemed persons, the enforcers not having to enforce the same rules on themselves. It is a major mistake, but hardly a rare or unusual one. Making a law against it cannot prevent those who enforce the law. Which implies a certain level of contempt for law. Can a contemptuous man serve the law?

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