Zoo removes parrots from view after they kept swearing at guests. Fox News
Parrots in wildlife park moved after swearing at visitors. CNN
Parrots separated at British zoo after encouraging each other to curse. CBS News
Presidential Debate: How the world’s media reacted. BBC
Like a lot of people, I watched the World Wide Wrestling debate last week at the Thanksgiving Day table in Cleveland, Ohio. Other than discovering my medicine cabinet was clean out of Advil, I learned pretty much nothing.
So you can understand why I might be more interested in foul-mouthed parrots.
For those who missed it, here is a summary of this disturbing and heated public exchange taken from the headlines.
As I understand it, several birds at a wildlife park in England were quarantined for bad language. After being donated to the park by various owners, the African grey parrots were placed on public display and vociferously ordered gawking park visitors to f*** off using the f bomb common to just about everyone who has ever responded to an aggressive car horn.
Park visitors were not amused. Well, actually, visitors with children were not amused. Because for a lot of adults, swearing parrots are actually pretty funny. I mean when a cute talking bird calls you a fat expletive it is hard not to laugh. Unless of course you are a fat expletive.
I am not really all that fat so it wouldn’t bother me that much. Which probably brands me an insensitive expletive, but I still stand by my conviction that a parrot spewing foul language is pretty amusing.
Park officials are not exactly sure how the birds came by their colorful word choices. “I don’t have a f***ing clue,” responded one official. But most seemed to think that the birds expanded their unique vocabulary during the period they spent together before being introduced to the public.
“I can only assume they were arguing among themselves,” stated the Director of Public Relations at the park. “Why else would they exhibit such inappropriate behavior?”
According to witnesses, one parrot in particular tried vainly to control the vial ear toxins by squawking repeatedly over the other feathered interlocutors. Park officials claim the bird was actually the group’s moderator.
As bad as the language was, not all of it came out in such offensive and foul terms. Park visitors who saw the birds before they were removed reported several bewildering avian vindictives that can be safely printed here.
“Begawk. You’re a bird brain, you’re a bird brain.”
“Shut it, Bozo, shut it. Bawk.”
“Squawk. Polly wanna polygraph? Polly wanna polygraph?”
“Mask? Mask? I don’t need no stinking mask. Screech.”
Said one confused visitor, “At the end of the day, they are just parrots. They only know how to repeat things over and over. I can only imagine that they spent too much time in a middle school boy’s locker room before this.”
The offensive birds were immediately taken from the wildlife park and quarantined in the hope that their language and behavior can be tempered by more well-adjusted parrots before they are allowed to return to the park for further interactions.
Assuming rehabilitation is successful, the wildlife park hopes to introduce cock fighting in the near future.
. . .
Here is the thing about parrots. They are actually quite smart. Along with other deceptive birds like crows and ravens, they actually have big brains. Or at least brain sizes that when compared to their body mass, approach that of primates and humans.
But parrots have the additional ability to mimic human speech. And some parrots, most notably the grey parrots who were kicked out of the zoo for swearing, actually have the ability to pull meaning out of words and put together simple sentences.
Like the occasional politician.
The problem is not so much when parrots behave like parrots, but when humans behave like parrots. When we mimic the words we hear from other humans. When we parrot the labels others have cast and imbue simple meaning to those labels without reflection. When we hear without listening.
Anyway, before the presidential debate the other night that is what I thought presidential debates were for. To extract some meaning from the words of the leaders who project them.
But I was wrong. All I could decipher were the childish barbs and jabs I learned years ago in grade school.
“Bgawk. Liar liar pants on fire.”
“Squawk. I know you are but what am I?”
“I’m rubber. You’re glue . . . Bawk.”
And the only real analysis I heard was utterly disrespectful to toilets and discriminating ears.
“It’s a S***t Show. It’s a S***t Show. Squawk.”
I really hope the parrots aren’t listening to this.