I Dream of Geney

By Bill Maher

Genetic scientists have finally mapped the DNA of a primate cousin of the chimpanzee known as the bonobo. And I just thought you should know that. Actually, the genetically-ingrained personality traits of the bonobo versus those of the chimp may tell us something about humans and human nature.

You see, bonobos, chimps and man all shared a common ancestor about six million years ago – Abe Vigoda. But then, as happens with evolution, man went off on his own genetic direction and the bonobo and the chimp shared the same common ancestor up until about a million years ago. Then the Congo River formed and the ape ancestors on one side of the river evolved differently than the ape ancestors on the other. Eventually, we got two different species – the chimpanzee and the bonobo – who share about 99.6% of their genomes. As opposed to humans, who have about 98.7% of the same genetic blueprint as both bonobos and chimpanzees. I swear I’m going somewhere with this.

Just as a common ancestor came to an evolutionary crossroads where two distinct genetic cousins – the bonobo and chimp – were formed, perhaps man has come to a genetic crossroads where we’re evolving into two slightly-genetically-different species: liberal man and conservative man. Only the thing that’s prompting this split into two separate species isn’t a physical division; it’s a political one. Our Congo River is American politics.

Consider this: genetically, the bonobo is the liberal ape. It’s kinder and gentler than the chimp. Where chimps have been documented to be more prone to violence and to actually make war, bonobos share food with total strangers and are more nurturing. The bonobos are also more tolerant and social than chimps and they’re far more sexual. They are much more likely to release tension through the act of having sex than the way chimps release tension, by fighting.

Sound familiar? If these apes could vote, the chimps would be the sexually repressed balls of angst who want gun rights and a stronger military and the bonobo would be all for welfare spending and teaching sex-ed in schools. Only they couldn’t do that condom demonstration because they’d keep eating the banana.

Is the gulf becoming too wide? Are liberals and conservatives evolving into two separate, distinct types of humans?