“I can’t interview an orca (yet?), so now what,” I thought. My deadline for an interview was fast approaching, and I had already committed to the topic of orcas (killer whales). Freeing these intelligent mammals from places like SeaWorld is the purpose of my website. I was sure I could get a “big name” in the controversy to interview, but one by one, they dropped off my list as unavailable.
“Maybe my boyfriend knows somebody,” I mused. “How could he be a professor for over thirty years without useful contacts?” Then it occurred to me that his fields were history and the sociology of deviant behavior – not exactly an orca gold mine.
“Nope, I don’t know anyone in the field of marine mammal biology,” Dr. Johnson said, “but it sounds like your real issue is sociological, and I didn’t just fall off of the turnip truck. Why not interview me?” Now I was stuck (since I’m engaged to marry the man) with at least finding out what he had in mind.
With his first statement, he piqued my interest and gave me hope for my flailing interview: “In some ways the execs at the corporations who run water parks with orca performances are more ‘deviant’ than the guys who chained bears to poles for bear baiting in colonial times, assuming that behavior was widely accepted as normal then.”
“Wait a minute, Honey. You can’t mean it’s crueler to train orcas than to watch bears and dogs rip each other up?”
“No, it’s a classic case of the moral norms of society changing and a new group of ‘deviants’ developing. A ‘deviant’ is someone who behaves in a manner that’s considered unacceptable in a given time and place and is ‘punished’ (formally or informally) by mainstream society. Given the increasing uproar over the corporate mistreatment of these intelligent mammals, those money makers are becoming more and more sociologically deviant. And why not – they teach children to drug and bully intelligent life! Maybe in 200 years our descendents will see our orca shows the same way we see past bear baiting today.”