It's OK to get friendly
Yee-haw! The entertainment potential of
family reunions just erected itself to a whole new height. You no longer
need to look outside your clan for a
marriage partner, and your new in-laws
can be as familiar to you as your aunt and uncle. Hell, they can actually
be your aunt and uncle!
Visiting the relatives just became a whole
lot more fun since this month's Journal of Genetic Counseling informs us
that breeding with cousins is a
perfectly harmless thing to do.
That's right. According to a research paper
published in this scholarly-sounding periodical, the risks are negligible
that a monstrously deformed
offspring would be the result of indulging
those funny (but pleasant) feelings you get whenever certain relatives
are near. Mate with a first cousin, and
there's only a 1.7 percent to 2.8 percent
greater chance that the product of your familial passions will be any more
of a biological reject than if you
procreate with a complete stranger.
Like those odds? Of course you do. Your
dating world just opened up exponentially (especially if you come from
a big family). What's not to like? Think
about it — science just gave you permission
to mate with people you've known all your life but have never been able
to touch. It's like some big "No
Trespassing" sign was removed from a section
of Six Flags that you've never been able to visit before, or the breeding
version of the Alaskan National
Wildlife Refuge just got approved for
What's going to be the result of this data
going public? Will the fine art of "cousin-on-cousin action" reach epidemic
proportions in America? Probably
not. Did you know that certain states
have laws to tell you just how you can interact with your family?
Personally, I was unaware that some states
could put you in a cage for trying to procreate with certain family members,
but it doesn't really surprise me
that more than 30 states outlaw the cousin-sponsored
creation of children. And just in case you were wondering, yes, it's perfectly
legal to cuddle up
with a cousin in Texas (a distinction
our great state shares with other respected centers of Southern culture
like Mississippi and Alabama).
Oddly enough, we domesticated apes in America
seem to be in the minority as far as our species' views on mating with
close relatives go. Our
anti-cousin prudery would be entirely
out of place in parts of the Middle East, Africa and Asia. When not dodging
American-made weaponry, between 20
percent and 60 percent of the people in
these places are busy mating with someone they first met at a family picnic.
Not saying that everyone overseas gets
"friendly" with their cousins, just enough of 'em to where chaps like Jerry
Lee Lewis or Edgar Allan Poe
wouldn't be too out of place. And while
your average European may not be a big practitioner of family bed-sharing,
forcing that precise form of sexual
morality on everyone within firing range
isn't as popular a sport over there as it is here.
So, if you think your genes are so great
that you don't want to dilute 'em with the blood of outsiders, no one from
the continent's gonna say otherwise.
The million-dollar question, of course,
is whether the new data about the relative safety of breeding cousins will
change anything. Will the states that
currently outlaw cousin-to-cousin mating
alter their narrow-minded ways?
Maybe, but I wouldn't bet any crucial internal
organs on it. General public mores are even harder to change than scientifically
unsound laws. Your
average citizens, having been taught all
their lives to feel disgust at the thought of sex with their relatives,
are not about to run out immediately and
reproduce with the first cousin they meet.
I'm certainly not. I mean, talk about disgusting
— I'm holding out for my aunts.