The AP Gets a Note From a Relative
Scientists have decoded roughly 3 billion blocks in the DNA composition of the chimpanzee, the closest living relative to mankind. The detailed genetic comparison shows that 96 percent of the DNA sequence is identical in the two species…
Associated Press, August 2005
To: The Associated Press
Dear Sirs and Madams, or as humans say, “Yo”:
I read with interest and a modicum of amusement your recent press release regarding the similarity of DNA in humans and my fellow chimpanzees. NB: I suggest, in your continued quest for political correctness, the term “chimps” be expunged from your lexicon.
Chimpanzees fully realize the press release is probably a pawn in people’s polemic over evolution versus creationism. We remain neutral on this matter. Oh, we know; we just aren’t telling. Frankly, there are more productive activities than being drawn into that thicket of blogs, emotion, and misinformation.
Rather, we wish to clarify, amplify, and set straight the record relative to the aforementioned news item. While a high quotient of DNA overlap may exist, there are substantive differences between us primates and, how do you say it, y’all. To wit:
I defy you to find a single chimpanzee sporting a nose, lip, tongue, or belly-button ring, tattoo, or multi-colored, spiked hair.
In all the records of the Justice Department or SEC (that’s the Securities and Exchange Commission, not the football conference), there is no instance of a chimpanzee issuing fraudulent financial statements, bilking investors in a Ponzi scheme, or embezzling others’ retirement savings.
Forgive me if I beat my chest, but no chimpanzee has ever robbed a gas station, bank, or liquor store, come home drunk, lost his livelihood at the track (horse, dog, or car), spent hours watching redundant reality shows on TV, talked loudly on a cell phone in a restaurant or movie theatre, nor spoken the f-word.
I could go on ad nauseam, but you get the picture. DNA overlap – my opposable thumb! We (or w’all, if you prefer) are not Homo sapiens – and we’re proud of it!
This brings me to another complaint that just drives us “human” (as we apes say) – namely, a plethora of pithy colloquialisms that have crept into your conversation. Let me start with “monkey business” and “to monkey around.” Both connote behavior less than fully ethical or, worse, tawdry. As Dr. Jane Goodall has noted, we live in small, stable groups and attentively care for our offspring. We groom and tend to the needs of each other and will loudly call to our neighbors when an abundance of food to share is available. Such is frequently not the case, guys and gals, on your shallow side of the DNA pool. Perhaps a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black? And, if you want to push back on our objection to “monkey business,” read my lips: Gary Hart, Bill Clinton, Hugh Grant, and Jude Law. Shall I go on? We can certainly name names if you want to play that game!
Next, what about “monkey see, monkey do”? Citing Dr. Goodall again, chimpanzees live in a tightly integrated society with members performing specialized and differentiating tasks and roles. Doesn’t sound like lemmings to us. But, this does: people’s pursuit of Internet stocks in the late 1990s, the current buying frenzy in real estate markets, the silly sameness in fashion trends, or the rush to purchase the latest golf equipment just because of the Tiger craze.
Further, you refer to a “monkey wrench in the works” as interjecting an obstacle or obfuscation into a situation. Have you observed the gridlock in your U. S. Congress lately? Hello! I don’t mean to make a mortal out of you, but wake up and smell the bananas.
Finally, I won’t even dignify “I’m a monkey’s uncle” with a retort, except to say my nieces and nephews are on their way to your offices to deliver their response in primate.
In conclusion, while your scientists celebrate similarities, we chimpanzees dare to denote the differences. Yet, we hold out hope for you. Our dream is that humans will one day augment the skill to walk upright by also getting their heads and ball caps screwed on straight. If we may provide any assistance or mentoring, you need only call.
Alpha Male, Chimpanzee Nation