Saturday, 7 May 2011

Man's best friend-with-benefits

Change. That was Obama's election mantra, as he attempted to reawaken the U.S. from eight years of Bush-fuelled apathy and ignorance. It's fair to say that the great non-white hope has proven something of a damp squib since he was sworn in, but finally we're starting to see hints of the kind of progression he promised on the campaign trail.

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', a divisive legacy of the Clinton administration, has been repealed at long last, and 95% of Americans will now have medical insurance coverage thanks to healthcare reform. In the quest for a more equitable society, it's not just humans who are set to reap the rewards - there's also change afoot for the animal kingdom, in Florida at least.

After two unsuccessful attempts, the Sunshine State's legislature has finally succeeded in passing an anti-bestiality bill, banning sexual activity between humans and animals. Incensed by a number of cases involving the violation of farm animals, Senator Nan Rich has been pushing for a change to the state's laws for two years.

Now, anyone who tries to get a little over-familiar with a four-legged friend will be charged with a first-degree misdemeanour. Unless, of course, the livestock was really asking for it, in which case they'll probably be let off with a caution.

Given the enthusiasm that the southern states have shown for drafting bills to outlaw gay marriage, it's curious to see Florida dragging its flip-flops for so long over an act which many bigots happily conflate with homosexuality. Many people have expressed surprise that bestiality wasn't already a crime in the state, wondering how people managed to turn a deaf ear to all that distressed bleating for so long.

Maybe the answer lies in Orlando, home to the world's densest concentration of anthropomorphised animals. Donald Duck has appeared in court for getting a little too frisky with one Magic Kingdom visitor, and don't even get me started on Minnie's short skirt and fuck-me heels. With such a sexualised animal population, it's hardly surprising that the lawmakers were willing to look the other way while Goofy got his freak on. Just think of how many Disney Dollars the state would lose if that special brand of animal husbandry was banned?

It remains to be seen whether the new bill's protections will exclude animals that drive cars or participate in laboured slapstick routines. For now, it's Florida's goats and horses who can breathe a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that neigh means neigh. 

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