It is not simply that carnivores eat meat—that hardly justifies the news headline*—nor that cute bears eat meat or even (cover your children’s eyes) kill other animals for the meat that they need rather than, say, buy it by the bucketful from KFC. That is not funny enough. This is—scientists have seen warm, cuddly, innocent, anthropomorphised polar bears murdering warm, cuddly, innocent, anthropomorphised dolphins! Usually the formerly admirable and now disgraced beasts eat furry, still admirable and utterly adorable seals, but now they appear to be gnawing their way through every plush toy that Progressive parents love. Pandas may be next.
Polar bears have not been observed eating even warmer, cuddlier, more innocent and anthropomorphised baby dolphins, not yet, but you know it happens and eventually someone will videotape the carnage and slap it up on YouTube.
In terms of Reality “sticking it” to Romanticism, of Nemesis snacking on Hubris, it approaches Baloo, the animated bear in Jungle Book, concluding a dance number before straying onto another cartoon movie set, ripping Bambi’s guts out and gnawing on the twitching carcass. One Greenpeace icon slaughters another and drags us back to reality.
This gets even funnier, trust me, but first why is it funny already? Permit a short digression. Laughter is not what philosopher Henri Bergson said; who was French and they laugh at Jerry Lewis. Bergson claimed that all laughter is rooted in cruelty; to which GK Chesterton riposted that, then, a child would laugh at a cow jumping over the moon because it breaks its legs on landing. Humour, as communist-turned-libertarian polymath Max Eastman defined convincingly, lies in the unexpected; first seen when a baby reaches for something offered and laughs when it is pulled away unexpectedly. The baby laughs at its own surprise, at its own mistaken assumption of being handed a gift.
Charlie Chaplin demonstrated this when asked how one would film the tired, cinematic staple of a woman and a banana peel. First show the woman, or the banana peel, and what then? He said first film the matron striding purposefully, fat and angry and laden with packages; then the banana peel on the sidewalk, then the pompous woman and then the banana peel again—building our expectations. Then she steps right over the banana peel and disappears down an open manhole. Voila! A comic master at work. Laughter is, in a sense, how God uses surprise to teach us humility and then rewards us with giggles.
Back to our arctic entertainment and ruptured expectations, this explains Bambi vs. Godzilla, a classic and very funny animated “short” made in 1969 by the talented Mr. Marv Newland. At the time it startled audiences and nearly crippled us with laughter, although the trope has been much copied since. It mocks our conditioning by Disneyesque media, from the saccharine music to the self-glorifying credit sequence and on from there, all in ninety seconds.
So we chuckle at Bambi getting crunched by Godzilla, and the polar bear’s luncheon, not because we revel in animal slaughter, but rather because our culture anthropomorphises animals even quite unintentionally and Bambi’s satiric demise overturns our unrealistic romanticism. A culture that is less romantic about animals may not find it remotely funny. But, as I promised, it still gets funnier.
Besides laughing at our own unexpected comeuppance, we enjoy seeing it happen to others; as with Chaplin’s unfortunate matron, another education in vain expectation. In the initial step, the comic set-up, we move to The Independent; the most painfully bien pensant and politically correct of newspapers in a country with perhaps the world’s most bien pensant and politically correct ruling elite. The Guardian is further left-wing but The Independent is sniffy and outraged at virtually everything, with the frozen look of actress Margaret Dumont had Groucho Marx belched in her presence or worse. The Independent, therefore, is our stuffy matron laden with parcels and striding purposefully. The banana peel is that anthropomorphised, Disneyfied and saccharine world of Progressive make-believe. But there are several banana peels in today’s little arctic comedy.
At The Independent absolutely everything must have a message. It must be a Progressive message, opposed to the realistic, conservative message that bears eat meat. Hence (wait for it) this is another ghastly side-effect of man-made global warming. So, Bears eating the odd dolphin is your fault—I MEAN YOU, JERK! It takes the ideologues some effort to make everything fit.
Polar bears watch holes in the winter ice and nab seals that come up for air, they explain correctly so far. Now supposed global warming has allegedly made dolphins come earlier to the arctic, where they too poke their dainty snouts through the ice where the polar bears lurk. So far as we know, this is based on six sightings, and could have been lost dolphins or ones with hangovers needing an ice-pack. Think what scientists could conclude about human behaviour on the basis of six sightings of young Brits in Prague on a bachelor-party weekend. (“Two of the males vomited submissively while four others exposed their buttocks in a contest of pack domination.”).
Then they report: “After eating the dolphin, the bear seemed to cover it with ice so that it could be kept for later. Such behaviour is rare in polar bears, and could be a result of the animals not having enough to eat.” First, are we talking about one polar bear or possibly all six, in which case Frigidaire should send a salesman up there. Second, do you freeze food when you are really hungry, or eat it now? Would not a bear preserve food for later were it overfed and absolutely awash in calories? According to their theory, squirrels should gather nuts in winter. The operative word may be “nuts.”
Of course Progressive media spent five years caterwauling over how manmade global warming has melted the arctic ice flows and threatens polar bears with extinction. Now these same beasts appear to be numerous, gorging themselves—and storing the leftovers in an outdoor ‘fridge hardly lacking any ice. The Independent fails to resolve this conundrum; possibly as no Soviet mentioned that Trotsky had been airbrushed out of last year’s May Day parade photos with Stalin, not unless they wanted a scalp massage with an ice-axe as Trotsky got.
On the polar feast they continue more implausibly: “The authors of the study describe the bear as having ‘clearly visible ribs’ and being ‘very skinny’.” Okay, we may be down to just one bear instead of six, but then if it was hungry why was it freezing its food for future consumption? When the Red Cross hands out rice, do the starving Ethiopians ask for extra kitchen canisters to keep it for later, or do the poor things tuck in?
Moving in for the secular homily, when they drive home their point most brutally, they intone: “The habitat of polar bears is shrinking drastically as the Arctic warms. As such, scientists expect to be able to observe them much less in the coming years.” Right-o. So it is easier to find polar bears roaming over vast, inhospitable arctic terrain, but it will be harder to find them all jammed together in a much smaller biosphere. Something does not work here. If warmists are right, eventually polar bears will be on the last ice flow, packed tighter than fans at a rock concert. It should not be too hard to observe them then.
Their conclusion is no better: “Usually, the Svalbard fjords and coast is covered by ice. But in the winter of 2013 and 2014, when the dolphins and bears were first seen together, they were ice free.” So the polar bears buried their meat under ice on ice-free land. Where did they get it then? The ice-machine at the gas-station? (“Jeez, Ralph, you got two more quarters? I’m outa’ change and the dolphin will spoil!”).
God may well enjoy watching Progressives, so resembling Chaplin’s pompous matron and so intent at playing God, struggle and squirm to write nonsense that fits their make-believe world. You may be too young to recall the 1970s global-freezing scare, as baseless and brutally policed as the global-warming scare seems now. But God remembers, and He gets a few laughs before He grows tired and changes channels or pulls the plug, creating the equivalent of Chaplin’s open manhole down which it all drops. But in the comic manhole ending He shares the joke with His mortals, whom for reasons not quite clear He loves deeply and forever.
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*See news headline here.