Apologize to Chimps Too!

Today, publisher Rupert Murdoch apologized for the recent New York Post cartoon that some viewed as racially offensive in its attribution of Congress’ stimulus bill to a chimp. “Today I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted,” Murdoch, said. “I can assure you — without a doubt — that the only intent of that cartoon was to mock a badly written piece of legislation.”

Let’s not let chimps get stuck with a reputation for making bad laws.

As Jane Goodall and Frans de Waal have documented chimpanzees are highly social creatures. Among other things, chimps have long-lasting familial ties and they live in communities governed by complex social norms. Chimps cooperate in hunting and maintain social order through sophisticated forms of communication. They adopt orphaned siblings. They use tools for a variety of purposes. They mourn death. They have phenomenal memories. They can learn to complete complex tasks. They have highly individualized personalities. They engage in diplomacy and other political behavior. They patrol the boundaries of their communities (and sometimes they engage in warfare with outsiders).

Chimp law works quite well.

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8 Responses

  1. Ah, but this was a particular insane individual chimp, not a generic chimp.

  2. A.W. says:

    I found the whole NY Post/chimp controversy to be utterly shameful. There was nothing wrong with the cartoon. Has it occurred to anyone that a whole generation is growing up that is so colorblin that they literally have zero association between chimps and black people?

    Its frankly alot like the episode of South Park where there was a controversy over the flag of south park, which depicted 4 white guys lynching a black man. Chef got very angry at Stan and Kyle for defending it until they got up and explained that they don’t get it, it’s violent and so what? And it suddenly dawns on Chef that the kid’s didn’t even notice the lynched guy was black and thought all the fuss was about the violence only.

    And to punish a cartoonist, to denounce him and call him a racist, because he DIDN’T associate chimps with black people, is downright perverse.

  3. A.W. says:

    And i will add, I know this is all trying to be cute, but Chimps are wild and dangerous animals as the incident we were talking about proved. You shouldn’t necessarily hunt them to extinction, but you should stay the hell away from them and never, ever keep them as pets. i put this mauling incident in the same category as the guy who wanted to make a documentary about bears and ended up as pieces in a bear’s stomach. click on the url for a wikipedia article on it, with all the usual caveats that apply to wikipedia.

    A woman is, last i heard, in critical condition because someone failed to understand how dangerous chimps are.

  4. BV says:

    There was a similar reaction to that of Seth and AW by callers on NPR’s Talk of the Nation when the cartoon was discussed. The first three callers just did not get the racial connection at all, and genuinely did not understand the racial reference. The 4th caller thought the cartoon was terrible because it was cruel toward the grieving woman whose chimp had been killed. Here, associating the President of the United States with a chimpanzee on account of his race is deemed the “sensitive” response, while “not getting it” is insensitive — or perhaps post-racial.

  5. krs says:

    I agree with A.W.–I find it kind of depressing that the cartoonist and the publisher are being criticized for not having a black people = monkeys association at the front of their minds.

  6. Xanthippas says:

    All of that is reason why people should not own chimpanzees. It irritates me that this point is completely lost in the “debate” over this ridiculous cartoon.

    As for the cartoonist; I don’t think the cartoon is racist, but neither do I think it’s funny or all that coherent, and the cartoonist should’ve known better. Next time draw a funny comic that people can understand.

  7. Let me note I was responding to the part in the post about “Let’s not let chimps get stuck with a reputation for making bad laws” – i.e. it wasn’t “chimps”, but “a specific insane chimp”.

    The racial aspect is more complicated – it’s entirely possible to have done something without racist intent, but has a widely perceived racist implication. It’s also possible to do something with racist intent, and deny that intent. This fuels controversy, to say the least.

  8. Lyn says:

    No no more apologies Murdoch’s apology was already one too many.

    It was a political cartoon about Obama and the Democrats uncontrolled spending. That’s it. To the whackos who found the cartoon racist – get a life. Get a real life not just the one Al Sharpton has in mind for you.

    Mr. Murdoch does not have anything to apologise for. As for chimps in the wild I don’t care if they’re endangered. Humans displace a lot of creatures.