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Save the Dinosaurs
All the dinosaurs are dead. Deader than dead, in fact; they’re extinct. And yet, the scaly behemoths are everywhere, kept alive by our modern technology and culture.

I confess that, until recently, I have bought into this ghoulish resurrection. As a boy, I was transfixed by Ray Harryhausen’s The Beast from Twenty Thousand Fathoms. That monster, with its prominent (and paleontologically indefensible) canine fangs, scared me more than anything from Jurassic Park. At the end, when a young, sharpshooting Lee Van Cleef fired a radioactive isotope into a gaping wound on the Beast’s neck, I was rooting with all my heart for him to die.

The passage of time and a lot of personal reflection have changed my feelings about the Beast — and more broadly, about all dinosaurs and our abuse of them in our culture. It is the dinosaurs who are the victims here, not civilized society, not melted soldiers, not the one dude doomed to be snatched, still wriggling, from the crowd and chewed to death. No, all of this is a monstrous — literally — slander on these poor, extinct creatures, and they are powerless to defend themselves against it.

Take Barney. Does the name alone fill you with revulsion? Yes, that Barney. A purple, overweight, excruciatingly nice “dinosaur” who cavorts on TV with other such characters and a cadre of excruciatingly nice child actors. Some parents, I am told, actually pretend to like Barney simply because their kids watch the show. This, in my view, is an argument for compulsory parenting classes.

There is no doubt that such a portrayal does damage to the reputation of dinosaurs, but what can they do about it? Nothing. You may suggest at this point that no animal has the power to complain about its appropriation by our human culture, and you would be right. Animals (with apologies to Koko the gorilla) can’t speak. What they can do, however, is walk around being themselves. Elephants still act like elephants — wise, maternal, herd-oriented — despite how disreputable the modern Republican Party becomes. Cats remain cats no matter how many comic strips Garfield racks up.

Not so the fully extinct dinosaur. Its behavior, its personal style, even its color, can only be the subject of an educated guess. Who is to say that T. Rex wasn’t purple, chubby, and repellently cutesy? T. Rexes are not here to put the lie to such cultural whimsy, not here to walk around being themselves, and not here to devour Barney in the most gruesome fashion imaginable.

Save the dinosaur, I say. Stop the slander, stop the abuse, stop speaking ill of the deader-than-dead. Let them remain in museums and books of learning, where they belong. Let them rest easy in their deep graves. And from now on, always root for the Beast against his apish usurpers.

Please Note: Tim Eagan will read your comments but he is currently not publishing them.

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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon