At the end of the previous post I asked the question, "What's a Primate to do?" and offered a picture of the Nigerian postage stamp portraying a bonobo "chimp." A number of people rashly accused me of racism -- quite missing my point. I've addressed this in the previous post in a comment. I've also removed the graphic lest there be any further confusion.
I want to take this opportunity to explain at greater length what I intended. I relied, I see now unwisely, on people knowing more about bonobos than apparently they do. One poster over on T19 even seems to think this was a gorilla (in spite of the fact that the stamp is clealy labled.)
Any racist comment was very far from my mind -- so far that it didn't even occur to me that someone might read it that way. Rather, my reference -- in response to the closing question "What's a primate to do?" -- was to the way in which bonobos, probably unique among primates, use sex to settle disputes in their society. You can read more about this at the Columbus Zoo website if you are not already familiar with it. Note in particular under the FAQ the comments:
What are they doing?
Bonobos engage in sexual activities of all sorts— frequently for purposes other than breeding. They use heterosexual and homosexual activities to release excitement and tension. Any erotic behavior employed by man is also used by bonobos.
How are bonobos different from chimpanzees?
Chimps resolve sex issues with power; bonobos resolve power issues with sex. Bonobos believe in "make love, not war." Chimps are known for making war...
It is also ironic that the Nigerian government would choose such an image for one of their stamps. I guess that should have clued me that not everyone knows about the tendency of bonobos to "make love, not war"!
People can learn not to take things at their worst, and to find positive and upbuilding ways to settle differences. That is what I am now trying to do with the material the Primates have placed before us: and at first glance it appears to be very much a mixed bag, and relies too much on pressure and coersion and threats. I would rather have seen a more loving approach. But this is what we will have to deal with in the coming months and years. I will reflect further on this at another time.