Monkey Business | News | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Monkey Business 

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Like all forms of bigotry, antisimianism is a learned trait, as evidenced by the fact it appears exclusively in adults. At age 12, most of us formulate elaborate five-year plans for acquiring pet chimps–plans involving paper routes, savings accounts, and feats of such verbal eloquence that even the most firm parental objections must be overcome.

Monkeys have all kinds of good points: They’re fun, intelligent and furry. Best of all, they look like little, wizened people! They make funny expressions with their weirdly expressive lips.

At some point, though, we learn that liking monkeys is childish. As we mature, it becomes necessary to focus on monkeys’ more unsavory attributes: They scratch themselves in embarrassing places, they behave inappropriately in public, they refuse to be housetrained, and when angered they’re liable to launch objects across the room.

None of these activities is confined exclusively to the apes. Humans do most of those things in early life. In fact, monkeys and children share so many common traits, it would be difficult to tell them apart if it weren’t for tails. This might explain why kids like monkeys so much: They recognize something of themselves in their simian counterparts.

Unlike monkeys, humans eventually grow out of it'as we get older, we become inhibited. We learn to conduct our most monkey-like behavior in private. Although this is a very good thing generally, it is unfortunate that in becoming civilized adults, we feel we must distance ourselves so violently from monkeys. If we were truly secure in our own humanity, we might choose to get along with monkeys. Of course, we don’t do this. Instead, we confine them to cages, ridicule them and use them for experiments. We don’t want to see any part of ourselves in such irrepressible and free-spirited creatures. We’re mean to the monkeys, even though it’s not their fault we’re insecure.

If the reason adults hate monkeys is for their lack of inhibition, then we would expect that the most inhibited among us are the worst monkey haters. It would be difficult to get funding for a study to test this hypothesis, so we are fortunate that current events have prompted antisimianists to speak up and publicly identify themselves. This gives us the opportunity to observe whether any correlation exists between monkey-hating and excessive inhibition.

Now, if we were to draw up a list ranking the most inhibited individuals in Utah, Sen. Chris Buttars and Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka would probably appear near the top. Sure enough, these two are the ones spouting the most anti-monkey rhetoric.

According to Ruzicka, schoolchildren should feel insulted'not flattered'to learn that humans are related to monkeys. Buttars is so shocked that evolution is taught in Utah schools that he recommends schools stop teaching science altogether and instead teach something called “divine design.

What’s a monkey to do? Here we have two respected leaders of the inhibited community saying there’s something so vile about monkeys that even the barest mention of evolutionary theory will traumatize children.

Please. If there’s anything that’ll make those kids sit up and pay attention in school, it’s more monkeys, not fewer.

The apes can’t speak for themselves'except for maybe Koko the gorilla, and she just wants a cookie'so we must speak for them. The next time someone stands up in a PTA meeting and starts shrieking, “What about the children?” interrupt her with a much more appropriate question: “What about the monkeys?

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More by Brandon Burt

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