In the summer of 2006, a European Brown Bear identified by scientists as Bear JJ1, was observed in the German Alps. Bear JJ1 was, by any measure, the first European Brown Bear observed in Germany for 170 years. Scientists studied Bear JJ1 as he wandered around the German and Austrian Alps feeding over the course of the summer. The media dubbed Bear JJ1 “Bruno” and printed regular updates of the exploits of Bruno the Bear.
During his travels, Bruno the Bear killed more than 30 sheep, goats, chickens, and domesticated rabbits, breaking into several livestock pens and injuring many more animals that had to be put down. Bruno engaged in a predatory behavior known as surplus killing, in which an alpha predator kills far more than prey than it can eat. This behavior is considered, in human terms, killing for fun. The carnage that Bruno wrought on Bavarian farms, and the proximity of Bruno’s killing to humans caused the German government to call Bruno a “problem bear.” It was feared that Bruno would become a danger to humans. The German government attempted to have Bruno darted and captured, but Bruno proved to be somewhat elusive. Finally the decision was made to have Bruno killed. A group of professional Finnish bear hunters tracked him down and shot him. His body was then put on display in the Munich Museum of Man and Nature.
For most people this story is pretty straight forward:
- An endangered European Brown Bear is spotted in the Bavarian Alps
- Bear is followed by scientists
- Bear does what bears do and has several bad interactions with people and property
- Government tries to capture and relocate bear
- That fails, bear is deemed to dangerous and is killed, despite endangered status, to protect the local population.
For a few people, there is a little more to the story of Bear JJ1, than that. Enter the social sciences:
Queer Beasts: Ursine Punctures in Domesticity. Environmental Communication, Vol. 8, Issue 1, 2014.
“In 2006, Bruno the bear wandered onto German soil—the first brown bear in 170 years—where he was shot, killed, taxidermied, and put on display (his presence recently resurfaced due to the 2010 Wikileaks). Bruno served as a queer beast in the anthropogenic landscape where he challenged boundaries of what is permissible, and normal. By refusing to honor borders and cultural norms, he disrupted our human sense of control of the landscape. In response to Bruno’s unruly presence, humans in turn appropriated him, fixed him as a cipher to fill with their own constructs of wildness and animality, and then deployed those cultural articulations. Performing a critical visual analysis, this paper explores how the anxiety Bruno evoked fixed his queer, hirsute frame as a taxidermied cipher representing discipline, fetishization, and a critique of power. Bruno became an imaginary wild whose presence rhetorically queered the geographical and political landscape.”
I read that. The first sentence made sense. After that… What. The. F**K!?!
My wife (who was an English Education major) looked over my shoulder while I was writing this and asked “how did they know the bear was gay?”
Because I like to also gawk at car crashes and train wrecks, I decided to read the whole paper. I know what all the individual words in the article mean. Put together in the order that the author did, I have no idea what the thought was that she was trying to convey. The Germans killed Bear JJ1 because racism and homophobia?
The author acknowledges that the bear was killing livestock. Then says about this:
“Once queered, the landscape can never be made completely straight.”
I’m confused. I thought the bear just killed and ate the sheep? What is going on here?
*On a side note. What is with Social Justice types and the use of the term bodies? This paper uses that phrase several times. “Animal bodies performed (and still perform) for humans in circuses…” “When animal bodies leap from the stars or off the pages of a fairytale…” “Disciplining unruly bodies.” Etc. This was something I notices often in the #BLM campaign. Activists never talked about people but bodies. “[Guarantee football games] only continue a history, literally and symbolically, of exploiting black bodies for the benefit of the wealthy and powerful while increasing the potential for legal liability among the colleges least able to afford it.“
The implication is that the body or bodies in question have no agency. They are not aware or in control of their own actions. Reading the article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, it seems the author doesn’t believe that football doesn’t exploit black people because black athletes aren’t people with the ability to think or rationalize for themselves, but are just inanimate objects to be used by white administrators. This of course is about as offensive to black athletes as a statement can be. And it is coming from someone who is supposed to be arguing on their behalf. There are of course many more examples of this that seems to imply that black people are not cognizant of their own lives. It is Social Justice that is dehumanizing minorities.
But back to Bruno. This word compost (word salad plus bullshit) was so egregious that by the time I got to the end I wasn’t sure that I wasn’t being taken by another Sokal affair. There was no way a human being with enough firing neurons to have that substantive a vocabulary could come up with something so illogical. I double checked my sources… and it turns out this is a legitimate paper, written by a Dr. Natasha Seegert, an assistant professor at the University of Utah. All of her work is like this. I pity the poor Utah students who have to sit through her classes getting dumber by the word.
George Orwell once said “some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.” Dr. Seedert seems to have proven Orwell right then proceeded to jump his shark with rocket powered ski’s like Wil-E-Coyote. This woman managed to take a (somewhat tragic) story of an endangerd animal being culled to protect people and livestock and turn it into a nonsensical diatribe about racism and homophobia in Western Civilization and gay circus animals. (Yes, I just typed those words; yes, I feel bad about it.)
In 1997, Congress used the power of the purse to restrict the ability of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for funding and performing studies on gun violence. This act of Congress has been a thorn in liberal sides since then, particularly due to the influence the NRA had in the decision by Congress. Left-wing griping about the lack of CDC research into gun violence has reached histrionic levels, with just a dash of conspiracy theory thrown in for flavor.
President Obama’s Surgeon General wants the CDC to study gun control. I want Social Justice types like Dr. Seedert and her ilk to be the people responsible for this type of hard hitting sociological research. Yes, I know that it would be a waste of taxpayer money, but it’s money that is going to get wasted anyway. I just think any anything they produce will be so bat-shit-off-the-wall illogical, that anybody who hears a quote from that study – and who is not already a SocJus true believer – will dismiss it for being unintelligibly nuts.
This is will, in effect, poison the left with their own medicine.
4 thoughts on “Reality vs. Academia”
Ha! As soon as I read the excerpt, I thought “Sounds like a Poe recreating the ‘Sokal Affair'” and there you went and thought the same! 😀
Granted I didn’t read the whole paper but my interpretation of queer from the snippets provided and my studies of current political and moral philosophy lead me to believe queer is not being used in the homosexual sense but in the different or wierd sense. Or more like weird because different and outside of the socially excepted and expected norm.
Re the usage of bodies, my interpretation is it is an attempt to remove the idea of personhoid and a physical body and identify them as different. That a perhaps any body at all and at the ver least the construction of a body is immaterial and unnecessary to a concept of personhood.
There was a CDC study not even three years ago. Here’s a link to a blog that mentioned it:
Here’s the actual study, if you want to skip the summarized thoughts (and admittedly biased opinion):
The first snippet makes more sense if you assume they are using queer to mean strange, different, or unusual. Of course there’s the second snippet about making the land straight again, so who the hell knows. It’s not like we actually expect them to make sense or be consistent.
Though speaking of making the land straight again, I thought that was funny because it’s humans who have HOMOgenized the land through agriculture and the sort. So if they’re going with the homo definition the bear actually de-queered the land.
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