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Monday, March 19, 2012

Becoming Politically Involved and Proofing Books

When I first moved to this area in 2001, I was waiting for Bow to be born, so we could begin Project Bow. Some local ladies asked me to become involved in local politics, and I declined. They were Democrats, but I would have turned down the Republicans as well. I had a two year old child and no babysitter. I was expecting to take custody of a newborn chimpanzee. And though I had been involved in politics in the past, this was not the right time for me. I wanted to concentrate on my domestic and productive life, and all I asked of the outer world is that they leave us alone in peace.

At that time, I was not even trying to publicize Project Bow. I wanted to first of all have a chance to raise Sword and Bow together, quietly and without anybody remarking constantly on the difference between them, so that they could have a level playing field, and their experiences would be as similar as possible. That way, any differences in their way of interacting with me and with their world would be based on their own internal requirements and not on anybody's preconception about them.

Sometimes we went places, and when Bow was an infant, nobody even noticed he was a chimp. I would take them both to McDonald's, Sword holding my hand and Bow slumbering in his infant seat, but I kept him covered in a blanket. People sometimes asked casually how old my baby was, but if they didn't look too closely, they didn't see anything unexpected.

Those days are long past. The differences between Sword and Bow have gotten too great not to notice, and I do treat them quite differently, each as their own behavior requires. And no, it is no longer possible to deny that I have a chimpanzee. Just at this time, the political forces that are overwhelming the entire country are threatening also to snuff out our way of life. So the time to lie low has ended, and the time to be active has begun.

On Saturday, I participated in the local Republican caucus, and I worked in concert with a very fine group of Ron Paul supporters. While we did not win the day, our candidate came in second, and the slate of delegates elected are bound to vote for Ron Paul, if the person in the number one position drops out of the race. Why Ron Paul? Because he is the only candidate who promises to keep the government out of people's lives. All the other candidates want to impose their views on how to live on other people. Ron Paul believes in "live and let live."

After the caucus, Bow and I proofed books. We have to try to make a living in a way that has nothing to do with ape language experiments directly, because the road to an established position in academia is permanently blocked. Bow would really have benefited from the opportunity to merge into an existing program, where he could make friends of his own kind, as well as keeping his human family. But since we cannot hope for that at the moment, we fall back on the skills we have, which in our case is literacy. We can read and write. So we publish books.

Somebody who recently saw me posting a picture of Bow proofing a book on Facebook asked me if Bow could read. Yes, he can. I posted a link to the old article about Bow and Literacy from 2007. There are many well-wishers of Bow's today, I think, who have almost lost sight of his intellectual achievements, so intent are all of us on keeping Bow safe and our family intact.

Tomorrow, Lawrence will come in to stay with Bow, and I will make a trip to Jefferson City to plead our case before the state senate. There is a time to be quiet and lie low, and there is a time to speak up. For me and Bow, the time to be quiet is over.


  1. Glad you are standing up for Bow, and getting the word out there. I still cannot understand why academia would not support Bow living with a human family since it would add a new dimension to research.

  2. Thanks, Julia. The situation is complicated in the academic world, as far as chimpanzees are concerned. It is not all the direct fault of the academicians, as there are also laws and regulations and campus-wide policies all of which conspire to restrict or outlaw the kind of research I am doing.

    Chimpanzees are no longer welcome on most campuses. That was not always so. There are rules about how to care for chimpanzees, exactly what sorts of facilities they can be kept in, and Federal laws are in effect to cut the funding of any institution that does not go along with these rules. Committees are set up to oversee this, and there is majority rule on the committees, where the researchers are outnumbered by regulators.

    I was told by one academician who actually wanted to collaborate with me that her entire university would lose its funding if she did so.

    It's not that all the academicians are of one mind on this. But to the extent that most of them support Federal funding for their research, they are all complicit in the outcome.

    I hope the state legislature will listen to me and not pass SB 666. That will allow us to continue our quiet life of seclusion.

    But for Bow to be allowed on campus at a reputable university, it will take a Ron Paul presidency, one that will repeal the legislation that we don't need and that will take away both the Federal funding and the strings that are attached to that funding.

    Then academicians will stop acting like Robert Stadler and start taking responsibility for their own actions.

  3. I met with Senator Purgason and gave him a copy of "When Sword Met Bow" and the 2005 Project Bow DVD. I told him that Bow was born in Missouri, that I came to this state to start Project Bow because there were no such laws as SB 666 in this state, that I will have to leave if the law passes, that there will be an economic impact on the state from the passage of this legislation, because people will stop coming here to see chimpanzees and to contribute to projects such as mine. He told me that he was the only one who voted against the bill in committee. He looked at the pictures in the book. He asked his assistants about the status of the bill. (It was on the calendar for perfection, but was so far down the list it would not be heard that day.)

    And that was about it. I didn't stay to watch the senate in session, because I had to get back to Bow. Senator Purgason did not make me any promises, but he appears to be on our side. I may have been lobbying the wrong guy. But I hope that the material I gave him will help him to convince other senators to vote against the bill.