Sunday, July 31, 2005

Satire: Do the French exist?

Recently, the NY Times had a story about a new study of sexual orientation conducted by a group of researchers in Chicago and Toronto. The most startling finding is that bisexuals may not exist. Only twenty-two self-declared bisexuals were included in the study: all seemed to be shamming. They were "really" gay or straight. This conclusion was reached by attaching a kind of peter meter to their genitals. Lack of engorgement was supposed to demonstrate absence of erotic interest. Later I will comment on the study more fully.

Some observers explain this presumed nonexistence of bisexuals, by claiming that a "true bisexual" has to be 50/50. That is to say, the person must maintain equal receptivity to both genders at all times. While I am not bisexual, in talking to such people and reading the literature it has become clear that this is not generally the way the matter works. Bisexuals are attracted to the sexes for different reasons. At different times they may be more attracted to one or the other. It is unreasonable to demand that they always adhere to the Woody Allen standard—being bisexual doubles your chance of a date on Saturday night.

There is reason to believe that those who maintain this restrictive definition of bisexuals do not like them. Insisting on the rigid 50/50 criterion was, I thought, a way of defining bisexuals out of existence. A neat trick, but one that will not work. To expose the fallacy of this methodology, I wrote the following satire "from a comparative point of view."

The French: Do They Exist?

The name of France derives from medieval Francia. In turn, this word derives from the Franks, a Germanic tribe that settled in Roman Gaul in the fifth century CE. The Franks were powerful but few, and they dominated the country from their country estates. In time they came to form a rural aristocracy. This point has been established by one of their descendents, the Count de Gobineau (1816-1882). The Count is also known for his more general theories of racism, diffused by Richard Wagner (not French). At all events, this core group claiming pure Frankish lineage constitutes the only body of individuals who can be termed truly French.

The French Revolution especially targeted the decadent aristocrats of Frankish descent. Those that did not emigrate were hunted down and executed. Today this group survives in such small numbers that it may be reasonably said not to exist.

This point has now been conclusively established by a team of researchers, based in New Zealand and Patagonia, who have found no less than twenty-two subjects who claim, improbably enough, to be French. The subjects were recruited from ads in Gourmet Magazine. These claims were assessed through an infallible tool, the sensor known as the Francometer, which is attached to the tongue, the seat, or so they claim, of the gastronomic prowess of these imposters.

None of the subjects passed the Francometer test. This finding replicates those of numerous previous studies—though, curiously enough, no one has been able to cite them.

This is truly good news. As everyone knows, the French are hateful people. Or they would be--if they actually existed.


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