Friday, January 25, 2008
but they can never taint you in my eyes, no, they can never touch you now:
Kriston Capps has started something he can't finish. Like everyone else today, he takes note of the Independent's vile smear job on the adorable German polar bear Knut. Now, for the uninitiated, the Flophouse has a longstanding debate over which is the greatest bear. I say polar bears; Kriston says koala bears; Matt and Catherine say panda bears; Becks says we're all faggots. Kriston, with atypical misjudgment, says we're now in a two-bear contest.

In one sense, Kriston is right. We are indeed in a two-bear contest. After all, the koala is not a bear, as sensible people worldwide understand. Considering the koala to be a bear is a strange vestige of an outmoded era. The panda and polar bears are Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The koala is Mike Gravel.

But let's not win dirty. Consider the charges the Independent presents.

Knut close up is disconcerting to say the least: he is not white but mired a filthy brownish grey colour by the mud and dirty pools of water in his enclosure. At a year old, and weighing more than 17 stone he is bigger than a man when standing on his hind legs.
Really now? We're blaming Knut for the fact that his captors keep him in unsanitary conditions? I had no idea that blaming the victim was the Kriston Capps way. Onward:
While some insist that bears born in zoos have a right to human intervention to save and secure their lives, others such as the German animal rights activist, Frank Albrecht argue that they become so dependent on man that they end up divorced from nature and turn into hyperactive, disturbed freaks.

"Knut is a problem bear who has become addicted to human beings," he said.

The German zoologist Peter Arras has described Knut as a "psychopath".

A few points. First, notice that there is no evidence presented for the proposition that there's anything wrong with Knut. If you click through the article, you see that the whole thing is predicated on the Nuremberg Zoo's fear that other polar bears raised in captivity might attack one another -- which itself is an evidence-free claim. You can see what a shoddy piece of journalism this is.

Second, there's also no evidence justifying the headline that Knut won't mate. Just none. Only one context-free quote from some animal-rights activist and another from a zoologist. And finally, explain how an "addiction" to human beings is anything but a virtue. Knut, like a good bear, wants to warm our hearts with his winning personality. He maybe wouldn't mind if we hugged him. Only a fool would consider this a character flaw.

Last thing. I notice on an email thread that when Kriston said polar bears are now out of the best-bear contest, his own special lady replied "are you kidding?" So he's put himself in the position of saying she doesn't know what she's talking about, bear-wise. What a terrible, unforced blunder. But such are the wages of dissing polar bears.

--Spencer Ackerman
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blogger Steve Gutterman | 9:57 AM

Hey,
I'm new to reading your blog. Doesn't seem like you get many comments, but here's one: I didn't realize that someone past the age of eight could be considered, by himself or others, to be something like intelligent or even hip, and use the word "faggots" in a non-ironical or non-political way.

How about tossing a clever, gratuitous "nigger" or "kike" into your prose every now and then, just to prove that there are no limits to how down with it you think you can be.

Steven Gutterman
Blogger Steve Gutterman | 12:53 PM