Discovering the Relevance of Words
A South Carolina couple is planning on having a dolphin-assisted birth?
I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean for that first sentence to be a question. I just find it really hard to type those words together without putting a question mark on it. Let’s try that again.
A young couple from South Carolina is planning on flying to Hawaii to give birth to their baby in the water with dolphins. For some reason they believe this will create a more harmonious and natural environment for both mother and child, I guess hearkening back to the days when man and dolphin lived together as equals and Kevin Costner sailed around Waterworld.
See? That opener sounded sarcastic.
I’ve seen a lot written about this story today, and no one can seem to do it in a serious tone.
Personally, I can’t understand why.
I’ve long been an advocate of involving more marine mammals in medical procedures of all kinds. Can you imagine a sea otter handing you a clamp during a routine appendectomy? This surgery just got adorable. You could have elephant seals all over the recovery room, bellowing for no reason and terrifying everyone. And it doesn’t have to be confined to reality! How about your favorite medical dramas? Grey’s Anatomy re-shot with actual grey whales? Where do I sign up?*
That one was just silly. But I had to get it out of my system.
You see, I am an animal lover. I have a dog that is spoiled beyond all usefulness. I love that dog, and I trust him completely. That being said, if my wife were going into labor, I would probably escort him from the room. Because he’s a dog, and I am a rational human being.
Dogs have evolved alongside humans for thousands of years. I won’t pretend to be a scientist, but I do know that the process of domestication produces physiological changes in animals that makes them more amenable to the presence of humans. A dog is not the same as a wolf that lives indoors. National Geographic recently did a great article about domestication, I’ll point you to them for specifics, but my point is that dolphins are WILD ANIMALS. They have not evolved alongside humans, at all. Ever. I don’t want to burst any bubbles here, but mermaids are not real. No matter what Animal Planet tells you.**
People like to talk about how smart dolphins are, as though that makes them more trustworthy. I submit that the opposite is true. Sure, they’re smart. You know who else was smart? Hannibal Fucking Lecter, that’s who.
Look, I don’t want to come off like I’m just attacking dolphins here. There’s plenty of stuff I could’ve brought up that I didn’t.*** I just want to drive home the point of how irrational a decision this is on the part of the young couple. They’re entering into this with an extremely idealistic fantasy of dolphins as mystical creatures with a benevolent view of humanity. This is a child’s view, and it supposes cognitive ability on the part of the animal for which there is no evidence.
I read somewhere that language was integral to rational thought. Without the ability to quantify abstract thought with language, logic is impossible. I’m no more a philosopher than I am a scientist so I might be using those words incorrectly, but what I mean is that without language, a mind lacks the ability to think things through. A dolphin can’t decide to be a part of your New Age birth ceremony, not in the way you want it to. But it can, and will, respond to stimuli.
As I wrap this up I’m wondering what these two expect to get out of this. Do they think that if their child is exposed to the undersea world in the first seconds of its life it will gain some sort of Aquamanian rapport with marine life? That it will grow up to be some sort of superhero hippy, fighting crime and doing hot yoga with all its dolphin friends?
If so, I’m listening…
*To learn more about satire, visit your local library
**Remember when Animal Planet was just Crocodile Hunter and MeerCat Manor and you could believe the shit they told you?
***Dolphins sometimes sexually assault people. Seriously. Look it up. They have to knock on doors when they move to a new neighborhood.