Friday, November 04, 2005

at it again.


Matthew Gillum (the grad student whose editorial excusing rapists on the basis of biological studies was met with utter disbelief on the part of ... well, lots of people) is at it again, with another editorial. His underlying message is the same: that we can't escape our evil DNA.

Choice excerpt:

It may seem like a revolutionary concept in political science, but humans are primates, and an enormous body of evidence suggests they have been produced by natural selection and, therefore, have built-in psychological mechanisms designed to maximize gene transmission to future generations. Without a doubt,
this is the primary purpose of human life. Most of us aspire to have happy families and, without consciously realizing it, are slaves to adenine, guanine, thymine and cytosine.

If this is the primary purpose of human life, I side with Tolstoy: better the extermination of the human race than this abject view of life and of sex.

What about admitting that much of our culture actively seeks to exclude and oppress those who are not heterosexual males? What about taking some responsibility for our actions? What about
morality? That's a word that makes some feminists nervous, because of the way it has been used oppressively in history. But it seems that this time, we have to fight for the recognition of something beyond the body. Something that provides a sense of justice. Something that is free from the manipulation of scientists.

I'm sick of people finding excuses for sexist behavior. We are capable of more - it's intolerable to argue otherwise.

ps. Message to YDN: publishing racist and sexist columns is not the way to foster "diversity of opinion." Some views are not legitimate and do not deserve to be aired.

4 comments:

Nick Minichino said...

I don't think YDN necessarily shouldn't run letters he may write. But giving him a regular column was...unwise.

My favorite part of this one is when he claimes we can escape our biology only by recognizing that we can't escape our biology:

"Until we recognize that this idea -- which has been so instrumental in elucidating the behavior of all other organisms -- is applicable to humans and constitutes our greatest obstacle to progress, we will be stuck in a perpetual cycle of slavery to deoxyribonucleic acid's propensity to replicate."

Matthew said...

I don't read Gillum's current article as being particularly racist or sexist. I do read it as not having a point, though. He obviously enjoys showing off his first-year-grad student knowledge of molecular physiology, but he is unclear on how recognizing these forces that control us will help us overcome them, or why that is desireable (other than a program emphasizing the "pleasure" pathways" that are opened up by cooperating...)
Also, I doubt that the "huge body of evidence" he doesn't cite credibly explains the propogative benefit of enlisting to fight in a "geopolitical conflict" and be killed at 18 (or 10) rather than marrying and making babies.
He opens up a can of worms that he's severely underqualified to deal with. For starters, he's obviously operating in some moral framework that makes him care about this in the first place, but he refuses to acknowledge it or even get into explaining where it came from or why we shouldn't just accept the way our DNA makes us as the natural and right state of the world.

Adda said...

Yeah, I mean, I have to agree with Matthew (and NOT Matthew Gillum) on this one. Granted, Gillum is an asshole who is happy to chalk up all sorts of cruel human behavior to biology, but I think this article specifically is just dumb. His article about rape was unbelievably offensive and problematic, because it at least on its surface seemed to make sense and provided (albeit flawed) data to prove his point. In this latest article this guy just jumped off the deep end, and I think ruined his own credibility. It will be interesting to see where he goes, but I don't think many people would take this seriously at all. Its one thing to try to explain rape (something that happens across all cultures and seems to have a more direct link to reproduction) with biology, but war, imperialism and the struggles of the 16th century Catholic Church? Please.

sunny said...

please inform me as to why this week's herald is so ridiculous. go read it. or don't, if you want to keep your sanity.....