Whoopi Goldberg was Right. . . Sort Of!


If you believe in evolution, there is nothing wrong with rape. In fact, you can’t really call it rape. Whoopi Goldberg dismissed Roman Polanski’s rape conviction by declaring that it “wasn’t rape-rape” (see her comments on The View.) As a firm believer in evolution, she should have said, “There’s nothing wrong with rape or sexual aggression. That’s how we all got here!” Here’s the premise: Whatever animals do in nature is natural. What’s natural is normal. What’s normal is moral. So if penguins engage in homosexual behavior, then that behavior must be natural, normal, and moral. How can we mere mortals impose our rules of sexual behavior on what’s natural in the animal kingdom? Homosexuals extrapolate that what animals do naturally in nature applies to what higher “animals” can do naturally without any moral judgments attached.

Consider the case of Timothy Treadwell depicted in the movie Grizzly Man (2005). He lived among bears for 13 years and thought of them as his friends. In 2003, Treadwell and his companion, Amie Huguenard, were mauled and mostly eaten by one of the Alaskan grizzly bears. While he thought of the bears as his brothers and sisters, the bears thought of him as lunch. “Nature, red in tooth and claw,” as Alfred Lord Tennyson put it.  Then there’s the case of Armin Meiwes who killed and ate 43-year-old Bernd-Jurgen Brandes.[1] What did Mr. Meiwes do that was wrong given the premise that animal behavior is a normative model for human behavior?[2] If the bears that ate Treadwell were only doing what came naturally, then how can the cannibal nature of Meiwes be judged as abnormal given evolutionary assumptions? Whoopi missed a great opportunity to extol the virtues of the evolutionary religion of the intelligentsia by pointing out these examples of evolution in action.

A few years ago, I saw an advertisement for a television special on Turner Network Television—“The Trials of Life.” The full-page advertisement showed a composite picture of six animals, one of which was the bald eagle, with the following caption: “Discover how similar the face of nature is to yours. The way you love, the way you fight, the way you grow, all have their roots in the kingdom we all live in: the animal kingdom.” The implication here is obvious: Humans are only an evolutionary step away from other animals.

While channel surfing, I came across the second installment of the six-part series. I soon learned what Benjamin Franklin meant when he described the eagle as a bird of “bad moral character.” With two eaglets in the nest and not enough food to go around, mamma allows the weakest eaglet to die. She then cannibalizes the dead eaglet and feeds it to the survivor. Was this natural or unnatural? Is this moral animal behavior that we should emulate? How do we know? Should we follow the example of the eagles or just the homosexual penguins?

If animal behavior is a template for human behavior, then why can’t a similar case be made for rape among human animals? As hard as it might be to imagine, the connection has been made. Randy Thornhill, a biologist who teaches at the University of New Mexico, and Craig T. Palmer, an anthropologist who teaches at the University of Missouri-Columbia, attempt to demonstrate in their book A Natural History of Rape[3] (MIT Press) that evolutionary principles explain rape as a “genetically developed strategy sustained over generations of human life because it is a kind of sexual selection—a successful reproductive strategy.” They go on to claim, however, that even though rape can be explained genetically in evolutionary terms, this does not make the behavior morally right. Of course, given Darwinian assumptions, there is no way to condemn rape on moral grounds. If we are truly the products of evolution, then there can be no moral judgments about anything. So then, if homosexuals want to use penguins as their moral model, then they need to take all animal behavior into consideration when they build their moral worldview. If we should follow the animal world regarding homosexual penguins and thereby regard human homosexual behavior as normal, then we must be consistent and follow the animal world regarding rape, eating our young, and eating our neighbors and decriminalize these behaviors as well. Whoopi just needed some help in framing the issue a little better.


[1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3286721.stm
Theodore Dalrymple, “The Case for Cannibalism” (January 5, 2005): http://www.city-journal.org/html/eon_01_05_04td.html
Randy Thornhill, and Craig T. Palmer, A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000).

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