The Case for Morality by Kenneth Poyner

The relentless urge to mate has nothing to do with the ever present need to mate. Not in dumbstruck individuals blindly following the awkwardly overwhelming species elemental imperative. You would think they could resist? This is not their planet. This is not their way. Our atmosphere does not calm their unapproachable skin. Let them be.

If it were two of our own, two day laborers uncaring of the common dialectic, two of the peasantry allowing their biology to outsmart them, I could understand the outrage. The season is not right. The Olomong have not yet begun their migration; there are yet some unready Daptha fruit listlessly singing from the trees. No productive couple of our species would consider pecking at the back of each other’s heads, weaving full throttle courtship dances, cantilevering their restraining cloaks.

But these two outland specimens are not of our refined blood. Who are we to judge the passions of a so recklessly alien biology? Their body salts tide with another planet, a planet mundanely orbiting third in a weary eight part series around an ordinary star stuck in an abandoned arm of the galaxy that not even package tourists care to visit these days. The law should not hold these two to our advanced cardinal standards.

Consider the act: it is not the same as what we do. It is similar only in outcome. The imprecision, the heat, the ebb of control works all at different angles, flows in different directions; it has its own unintelligible, otherworldly geometry. It is a scream to our precise whisper, a panic to our cautious searching.

Theirs is not the grand ritual we enjoy; theirs is not the mechanics of regular selection. They are driven animals, consumed with personal success, not built for practical waiting. We mark our decency by weather patterns, seasonal regimentation. We can tell when our time is optimized for our subtle procreation, when we have no delaying excuses left: the whole of it is compactly and evenly grasped within the rational parts of our brains.

Not they, a species unable to fly, covered in spates of uneven hair, eyes limited to seeing only what passes in front of them. As individuals they are as insubstantial as feathers lost in the molt. Why should we expect a judicious moral refinement, a haunting deference to decency in them as fastidious as our own?

Let the biologists have them. Let them make their cubicle nest and provide a public education. Their termination would only deprive us of the interesting. And their coming nestling, bound in one belly and precociously tapping already at the shell for freedom: what crime has it committed; who speaks of its innocence?

Fellow members of the flock, I am as wax throated with outrage as you. If there is no convention, there is no law. And I put it to you: one atrocity should not beget another. They heed the dictates of their surface bound world, not ours. Let us prove temperate, hold our violence of the righteous, and see what develops.


Ken Poyner recently has appeared in “Fleeting”, “The Legendary”, “Silver Blade”, “Emprise Review”, “Poet Lore”, and a few dozen other places.  He also acts as the eye candy in attendance when his wife competes in power lifting matches.  His last chapbook, “Sciences, Social”, showcased his poetry, but with twenty or thirty published stories out there now, he may have to try to make sense with a fiction collection soon.

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