Friday, February 20, 2009

What, No Fruits and Vegetables

She served him filet mignon, lobster tails, and chocolate. In return, he ripped off her best friend's face. Will mysteries never cease.

Of course, I am talking about Travis, the celebrity chimp and his owner Sandra Herold.

When I first heard this story, I thought it was yet another instance of life imitating art. Surely, the event echoes Edgar Allan Poe's "Murders in the Rue Morgue."

Yet, the mauling of Charla Nash is not a whodunit. For Sandra Herold the mystery is: how could he have done it?

Is Herold overcome by the discovery that a chimpanzee is not a social construct? Or that treating a chimp like a child does not make him a child? Or that you can take the chimp out of the jungle but you can't take the jungle out of the chimp?

Was Herold roused from her postmodern delirium by the discovery that her chimp suffered from what Ann Althouse correctly called: chimpanzeeness? Link here. As Freud might have put it, sometimes a chimpanzee is just a chimpanzee.

The words of the befuddled Sandra Herold are frightening and pathetic. She brought him up from the time he was a baby; he sat at the dinner table; he drank wine from wine glasses; he could drive a car and use a computer; he rode shotgun in her Corvette; he slept in her bed.

She treated him so well. How could he have done this?

Perhaps it is not that mysterious. Filet mignon, lobster tails, chocolate, and wine are not chimp food. Chimps eat bananas in the jungle. They do not sit at the dinner table. Could it be that Travis mistook the blond Charla Nash for a banana and tried to peel her.

Last night, on The O'Reilly Factor, I saw pictures of Travis the chimp and Sandra in happier times. Travis was sitting next to Sandra on the stoop, his left arm affectionately draped around her shoulder. They were like boyfriend and girlfriend. In the next picture Sandra and Travis were kissing each other on the mouth.

Where did anyone ever get the idea that if only we are sufficiently humane to animals they will naturally return our love. Perhaps it repeats the way some people think of evil human actors.

Remember convicted murderer Jack Henry Abbott. An inmate in a Utah prison Abbott convinced the New York literati that he was a talented writer. Led by Norman Mailer they banded together and got him released on parole. After all, if he could write coherent sentences that meant that he was rehabilitated.

Six weeks later Abbott stabbed a man to death on a street in New York. Sometimes a murderer is just a murderer.

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