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War of the Words

Crank Call


Published July 6, 2005 at 4:00 p.m.

One of the oddest things about War of the Worlds, Steven Spielberg's latest high-tech, doom-and-redemption, all-schmaltz disaster picture, which "broke box-office records" over the weekend, is that the aliens who invade from space to destroy Our Way of Life seem a tad too stupid for the job. That is, they have no notion of reality "on the ground," as it were.

"Blood-drinking monsters from outer space who haven't heard about HIV?" Peter Preston wonders in the Guardian of London. "Earth invasion plans a million years in the plotting that forgot to factor in microbe immunity? A U.S. army that never panics, but just keeps shouting, 'Move along there!' as though it were winding up a Live 8 concert? Tom Cruise singing, 'Hushabye Mountain' . . . as thousands die 50 yards away? This is tosh."

Tosh or not, I can understand the aliens' confusion about science, because, down here, we're a little confused about it ourselves. Many Americans disapprove of science altogether when it clashes with their "values," by which of course they mean their religious values. These people think science is just dandy when it keeps brain-dead women alive for 15 years after their natural expiration date, sends rockets to the moon, develops a pill to ensure penile erection or provides artificial limbs for children blown to pieces in Iraq -- but not, you know, if it goes against the Bible.

Schizophrenic? Maybe, but let's not use technical terms for people of faith. In regard to War of the Worlds, I suspect that Spielberg's multilegged aliens have no religion at all, and certainly not the "right" one, fundamentalist Christianity. Otherwise God would surely have spared them at the end of the movie and taught them to focus their murderous attack on those of us who really deserve it: "liberals," "activist judges," Darwinists, Planned Parenthood, stem-cell researchers, pharmacists who dispense birth control to shameless sluts, Jane Fonda and "Deep Throat." And, above all, "homosexuals," those bad, bad Americans who are doing everything in their power to snatch innocent babies from the cradle and turn them into perverts.

Disgusting! Now that gay marriage is about to be legalized in Canada, our sinister neighbor to the north -- which, as of last week, also stopped selling us drugs on the cheap! -- there's no telling what might happen if God's army doesn't get on the march. Gay unions have already been legalized in Spain -- Spain, of all places, former home of brave conquistadors, General Franco and the Inquisition -- as well as in Belgium and Holland. And, while all this is going on, science is telling us that sexual orientation is not "chosen," much less a "lifestyle," but genetic, as evidenced by a recent study of the sex lives of fruit flies.

I don't know how many of you saw that story, but it's really, really scary, and something needs to be done about it. A report from Austria's Academy of Sciences -- Austria, don't forget, was ruled for centuries by the Spanish branch of the Habsburg family -- last month concluded "definitively that sexual behavior in fruit flies is genetically governed." This declaration led Dr. James Dobson, Christian founder and chairman of the right-wing "Focus on the Family," to issue a press release.

"Gay Activists Twist Fruit Fly Study," Dr. Dobson proclaimed, while at the same time urgently reassuring the faithful, "Despite what you may have heard in the media, a report on the sexual genetics of fruit flies has no bearing on human experience."

Dr. Dobson is a PhD, incidentally, not a medical doctor or a scientist of any kind. But never mind: God speaks through Dobson, as He does through President Bush, who supports a bill currently before the Alabama legislature that would ban the use of state funds to purchase any books or other materials that "promote homosexuality" in public school libraries. The bill's sponsor, Montgomery Republican Gerald Allen, says, "We have to protect our young people!" And who can argue with that? Allen thinks it would "probably be OK" to keep Shakespeare on the shelves, but Alice Walker, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Edmund White and Gore Vidal have got to go.

Not a minute too soon! Science isn't through with its evil work. At a zoo in Bremerhaven, Germany, three out of five existing pairs of "endangered Humboldt penguins" -- what you might call "married" penguins -- turn out to be male.

"The zoo had been mystified as to why [the] penguins had failed to breed," according to reports, "until they realized that the males had paired off together . . . Last year, two of the male pairs spent months sitting on a stone instead of an egg."

Good heavens, what next? "The central question is, are our penguins really gay, or is it simply a lack of opportunity?" asks the zoo's director, Heike Kück. "So far the males have scarcely thrown the females a single glance. The men have had the opportunity but haven't done it." Of course, says Dr. Kück, "If the penguins really are gay, then obviously they can stay gay." But this is just what you'd expect from Germany, isn't it? Germany was once ruled by -- well, never mind that, either, but the word begins with "N."

Get it? As Gay Pride Day approaches in Vermont on Saturday, go see War of the Worlds if you want to know what red-blooded Americans are really like. It's that same "N" word, I'm afraid, but don't quote me. I have enough trouble already, looking for a fruit fly that might understand.

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