by Phil Geusz
©2011 Phil Geusz
Recently someone in Coronado, California cracked the password on my Amazon account and sent himself a box of goodies at my expense. While he didnt get away with this for very long before I noticed and altered said password, enough damage was done to ensure that Ill have many hours of cleanup work to do as a result. My Amazon account was cancelled, for example. While I havent gotten started yet on the repair job, Ill have to somehow re-jigger things in order to make my Kindle and Amazon Cloud files accessible again. I also had to report the credit card involved as having been compromised; I use this card for multiple autopayments on everything from my phone bill to iTunes, so Ill have to set all that back up again, too. And so it goes, on and on and on. The thief who victimized me stole $120 or so worth of merchandise, and the good news is that Ive been informed that I wont have to pay for it. The bad news, however, is that putting everything back to rights is going to cost me far more than $120 worth of time and inconvenience.
So, who would do such a thing to a perfect stranger, anyway?
Ill probably never know the specific motives of the criminal involved in this case; my guess is that hell get away with it clean. Yet Ive had an interest in aberrant human behaviorincluding criminal behaviordating back at least to an abnormal psych class I took in 1985. While Ive hardly made a profession or formal study of the subject, its continued to interest me enough over the years that Ive read a good few books on the matter and, I think, have learned a few things. Among them is that criminal behavior is often but not always related to various psychological problems ranging from addictive behavior to outright sociopathy. To go one step further, since mental problems are often (but not always) rooted in chemical imbalances or other abnormalities in the brain, well Whoever it was that defrauded me is very likely possessed of a less-than-perfect brain. A deformed brain, one might almost say, if employing the term in the widest possible sense. A brain thats
less than fully human?
We Homo sapiens are the most highly-developed species on the planet in numerous brain-related fields of endeavor ranging from tool-using to mathematics. Were the planetary masters of socially interactive behavior as well; much of our time and energy is devoted to nothing else. Indeed, meaningful social interactions are so important to humans that theyre widely accepted as vital to good health. While Id argue that certain canines may be nearly as socially intelligent as us, I also recognize that this is a distinctly minority view. Certainly no canine or cetacean or even great ape has ever in nature been known to engage in such highly-organized social behavior as, say, an election campaign, initial public offering or formal wedding ceremony. Were easily at the top of the pyramid in the brains department, in other words. And can only be lessened by combination with other species.
Yet somehow our fandom hardly ever portrays anthros as less than human. Theres an implicit assumption that anthros must be at least as caring, as ethical and, for that matter, usually as intelligent as ourselves. Differences for the betterlike superior noses and more powerful musculatureare discussed and cherished in loving detail, but those that might tend to lessen the anthros mental and psychological level of humanity are quietly ignored. Yet, lets face facts here: Just how likely is it that a half-reptile would be capable of much in the way of empathy, given that the reptilian brain lacks the physical structures necessary to experience this emotion? Even if some remarkable individualsmore humanlike than mostdid indeed care at least somewhat about others, the vast majority probably still wouldnt. That being the case
wouldnt a culture made up of people handicapped in this way tend towards what wed call criminality, just like our own poor malformed sociopaths?
Its not just reptilestheyre an extreme example, is all. Tigers live mostly solitary lives. Its reasonable to assume their minds arent wired for a lot of sympathy or interpersonal interplayafter all, what would be the evolutionary driver? Would a humanized tiger (or a tigerized human) respect or empathize with their prey and try to save it needless pain? For that matter, how would they treat other sentients? I personally suspect that in the real world, a half-tiger who was part-animal in the mind as well as the body would, at the drop of a hat, make the bloody rampage of Clyde Barrow (of Bonnie and Clyde fame) look like that of a pikerand Barrow was an amoral homicidal maniac who thrived on violence for its own sake, even though he was fully aware that itd eventually kill him!
Other species-mergers might lessen the human psyche in other ways as well. Could anthro-packrats ever learn to understand that theft is wrong? Would some of the more sexually-driven species find it impossible to accept that rape is something to be avoided while in heat? Is it realistic to assume that a weasel-morph will always have a really cool fur coat and whiskers, but never a temperament inclined towards blind, killing rages? Why would a sentient grizzly find it wrong to murder anyone and everyone he doesnt like, if due to the inherent design-limits of his own brain hes less empathetic than Charles Manson?
How about this one: What kind of lawyer might a great white shark make? For that matter, what kind of great white shark might a certain class of lawyer make? Is this a marriage made in heaven, or what?
Im not saying that all artists should present all anthros as less than human in key areas all the timejust that theres a fertile and largely unexplored field available to those of us willing to attempt to find beauty and meaning in flawed gems. For whats more tedious than an endless universe made up of nothing but perfectly-cut and colored stones?
Me, I cant wait to go exploring for new story-ideas! Once I get my credit-card situation resolved, that is