Ew, Just Ew

As a budding marine scientist, I’ve had to see fish dismember themselves in fishing gear, dissect things that look like they crawled out of the Star Wars cantina, dispose of rapidly-thawing specimens dated from 2003 (while the wind was blowing the smell and pieces of the fish themselves back in my face), and of course for my thesis I’m actively encouraging spiny dogfish to puke into bags.  And in no way is my experience as a wanna-be marine biologist really all that unique; in fact plenty of my fellow grad students do far grosser things on a daily basis.  In marine science, you eventually start taking your strong stomach for granted.

However, sometimes something comes along that finally manages to genuinely shock you.  Something so bizarre that it becomes simultaneously hilarious and disturbing, and you find yourself forcing everyone around to pay attention to it, just so you can convince yourself that you’re not crazy.  Here’s the catch; a lot of the time it involves dolphins.

(Warning, the rest of this post will be made up of a juvenile rant about an act that is apparently legal in Florida.)

Specifically, people and dolphins.  I still haven’t managed to figure out what it is about dolphins that makes them bring out the crazy in people where other charismatic megafauna (including other whales) just don’t.  My Freshman year intro to marine biology class included one student who was double-majoring in music and marine biology so they could play therapeutic music for stranded dolphins (to say nothing of actually, you know, helping get the animals back in the water).  I know there are a lot of people out there trying to do good science with dolphins, but unfortunately they face a minefield of nutjobs claiming to “work with dolphins,” meaning they have to constantly prove that they don’t believe they can psychically communicate with their study animals.

This particular individual, one Malcolm J. Brenner, first appeared as a commenter on Miriam’s post on bad dolphin-related sci-fi over on Deep Sea News.  His first appearance generated a few shocked Twitter posts, but most online marine nerds probably dismissed him as a lone weird internet troll.  Even if, as you scroll down, he continues to defend his position against other readers. 

Then today I noticed that Brenner has reappeared, this time linked off of Underwater Times.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, this particular dolphin fan is still around, and still promoting his book.  Which is titled “Wet Goddess.” 

I also thought it was classy that they mentioned bestiality being legal in Florida.

While I don’t have any hard data to back this up, I really only see this level of insanity with dolphins.  True, cephalopod fans have to deal with the stigma of hentai, but at least in that case it doesn’t involve real animals (I hope) and both supporters and detractors acknowledge how weird it is.

Seriously, what is it about dolphins?

26 comments

  1. SouthernFriedScientist · April 8, 2010

    Good ol' MJB had a long run at this post, bombarding us with his particular brand of unstable for more than a year:

    http://www.southernfriedscience.com/?p=298

    • Malcolm J. Brenner · April 8, 2010

      Me bombarding YOU? Poor little victim! You asked why people go all ga-ga about dolphins, which I explained from my POV, and you accused me of “the moral equivalent of rape” because you don’t believe that a dolphin can give consent.
      So if I bombarded you, what are all these impact craters on my ass?

      • WhySharksMatter · April 8, 2010

        “So if I bombarded you, what are all these impact craters on my ass?”

        That may be the most ridiculous, yet awesome, sentence that I have ever read.

      • Southern Fried Scientist · April 8, 2010

        You keep putting “the moral equivalent of rape” in quotes as if I’m the one who said it. Consider this a cease-and-desist for libel.

        As for the impact craters, you should probably get those checked out.

        • Malcolm J. Brenner · April 8, 2010

          Sue me, asshole.

          • Malcolm J. Brenner · April 8, 2010

            Andrew, you wrote, regarding my sexual and affectionate relationship with a dolphin (and I quote from your old blog,) “The sexual exploitation of someone who is incapable of giving consent IS rape. This is why I said in the beginning that we have a fundamental philosophical difference that cannot be resolved.”
            You do not know, from personal experience, whether a dolphin is or is not capable of giving consent. It is an unsubstantiated and untested belief of your part, based on scientific dogma and what I suspect are your Baptist roots.
            I do happen to know, but you won’t listen to me.
            If you quit bringing me up in your blogs, I won’t have defend myself from your accusations that I raped a dolphin. Anybody who’s spent five minutes in the water with a dolphin knows how impossible, how truly, truly impossible, that is. You might as well try to rape a mountain gorilla or a Bengal tiger.

  2. Miriam · April 8, 2010

    Actually Malcolm has been around on the internets for a good 10 years. JEByrnes and I found his old webpage when we were in college – it was called (I kid you not) Dolphinsex.org. There were how-to instructions. O lordy it was horrifying.

    • Malcolm J. Brenner · April 8, 2010

      You are wrong; I never had a web page named “dolphinsex.org” and I never gave instructions over the internet to anyone about how to have sex with a dolphin. You have me confused with somebody else, lady. It does not speak well for your accuracy.

  3. Chuck · April 8, 2010

    I remember someone sending me a link to dolphinsex.org back in undergrad, and honestly thought it was meant as a parody. I didn't realize it was actually the same guy. I wonder if everyone interested in marine biology has a moment where they first discovered his "work?"

    • Malcolm J. Brenner · April 8, 2010

      It’s NOT the same guy. You are wrong too. The error is multiplying, because you didn’t check the facts. If Miriam had bothered to ask me, I would have told her straight up.
      I believe the site you are referring to was posted by somebody with a screen name like “Dragon Dolphinwolf,” or something like that. I do not post anonymously.
      I sincerely hope your work is better than this!

  4. kate The kid · April 8, 2010

    OMG! EW! yikes! guess i am glad i stuck with fish, huh? mammals were glamorous when i was a young teen, but i got over it.

  5. Pingback: You Just Can’t Trust Dolphins | Ya Like Dags?
  6. Chuck · April 8, 2010

    Well, this old post certainly seems to be getting a lot of attention all the sudden.

    So the dolphinsex website is not Malcolm’s work, we have that cleared up now. It can be tough to tell with the inherent anonymity of the internet who belongs to what handle. There are a lot of sock puppeteers out there.

    Malcolm, I think you can understand that your views on human/dolphin relations might be a little hard for most people to swallow. I also know you have a bit of a history over at Southern Fried Science. You’re welcome to keep reading and commenting as long as I don’t see evidence of blatant trolling or solicitation (note that all your comments are still there, uncensored). I’d also recommend checking out David’s post on dolphin safe tuna (http://www.southernfriedscience.com/?p=6539) to see why some of us think the amount of favoritism placed on dolphins might not be good for the ocean as a whole.

    • Malcolm J. Brenner · April 8, 2010

      You don’t know what my views ARE on human/dolphin relationships, you are getting second-hand information from a bunch of people who are implacably hostile to me and who have already defamed me by saying I’m the moral equivalent of a rapist, and I really don’t care whether SFS or his protege WSM said it. Nobody makes that kind of an accusation about me and gets away with it. Unlike SFS and WSM, I have had false allegations of child sexual abuse made against me and it is a terrifying circumstance to find oneself in. If you ACTUALLY DO WANT TO FIND OUT WHAT MY VIEWS ON DOLPHINS ARE instead of dealing with rumor, hearsay and innuendo from these character assassins and bullies, buy, or at least read, a copy of my novel. Then we can have an intelligent conversation.

      • Malcolm J. Brenner · April 8, 2010

        Oh, and no apology from Miriam or from you for confusing me with Dragonwolfe Dolfinn? Gee, thanks a lot.

        • WhySharksMatter · April 8, 2010

          Miriam has other things to do with her life. If you are in fact not the person who ran DolphinSex.org (and providing an anonymous username does not prove that), she’ll likely apologize at some point. Not apologizing within 12 hours likely means that she is busy and doing other things.

        • WhySharksMatter · April 8, 2010

          Also, you accused the Southern Fried Scientist of saying something he did not say. When he pointed that out to you, your reply was “Sue me, Asshole”, not “Gee, I’m sorry that I mis-characterized your background”. I’m not exactly sure why you think you deserve to be treated better than you treat other, but Miriam is a classy gal and she may well apologize.

  7. Southern Fried Scientist · April 8, 2010

    The funny thing is that the “moral equivalent of rape” quote came from Malcolm, and no one else. When he became abusive to my other commenters, I simply pointed out that claiming “I knew that much without having to talk to her.” (http://www.southernfriedscience.com/?p=298#comment-767) was equivalent to people justifying sexual assault by claiming they knew their victim wanted it by the way they acted (http://www.southernfriedscience.com/?p=298#comment-768). I was very careful to make it very clear that you and I have a fundamental philosophical disagreement withoutout calling you anything. Did I say anything about your morality? No.

    The irony is that it was Malcolm, and Malcolm alone who propagated that quote across the internets.

    • Malcolm J. Brenner · April 8, 2010

      You made that quote, you removed it from your old blog because you knew it was actionable.

      • Southern Fried Scientist · April 8, 2010

        That is blatantly false. The comments remain unaltered on the old blog (unless noted) and reproduced in their entirety on the new blog.

        And of course, if I had said it, it isn’t actionable.

      • WhySharksMatter · April 8, 2010

        When the facts show that you are wrong, claim that the other side is lying and hiding the real facts. An excellent strategy. Mature, thoughtful, and sure to win people over to your side.

      • Chuck · April 8, 2010

        Okay, I’ve stayed out of this as long as possible.

        Point 1 – Malcolm, I’ve made the effort to go through the internet and find information on your point of view, including your website. What I’ve found is basically this: you’ve had sex with a dolphin, and you want to tell the world that that’s apparently completely okay. This sets a very dangerous precedent. Is a dog giving consent when it humps your leg? This is a sexual behavior for a dog, and by your reasoning the person whose leg is being humped should be fully entitled to have sex with this dog. There are precedents for dolphins exhibiting sexual behavior towards humans, often much to the discomfort of the humans involved. Granted a dolphin is a much larger, stronger animal than a dog and therefore harder to fight off if the advances are unwanted, but I think the comparison is valid. Sexual advances by animals towards humans are not expressions of explicit consent, and there is no court I’m aware of that would hold up that they are. I don’t see how Andrew’s alleged comments are “actionable” simply for calling it like he sees it.

        Point 2 – I’ve also seen this same pattern repeat itself on at least two blogs now. I honestly gave you the benefit of a doubt, hoping that you’d have a sense of humor about it. But instead what I got was more of the same: you show up, start telling your story, and seem to think that everyone will just start lining up with positive comments like “that is right on, I physically love dolphins too” or “how can I psychically talk to dead dolphins?” Instead you get what I would think would be the typical reaction, because you’re basically admitting to bestiality, Malcolm. Even then, you could somewhat salvage the situation by following up with something like “yeah, I know it sounds crazy, but hear me out.” Instead, the second someone questions it, you take a turn for the shrill and start going off about how oppressed you are. Which leads me to believe one thing: that you come to these situations looking for a fight. Then you turn around and say that the only way to have a reasoned argument with you is to buy your book. Which leads me to believe a second thing: that you’re starting these little flame wars as a way of drumming up attention for your book.

        So that’s trolling and solicitation, which means now I need to pay attention to all your comments to make sure you’re not trying to use my blog as some kind of guerilla marketing platform for your book. Comments like the “mirror neurons” comment on the “You Just Can’t Trust Dolphins” post are fine, I actually thought that was pretty funny and in keeping with the tone of this blog. But keep up the kind of behavior you’re showing on this thread, and you will find yourself banned.

  8. Malcolm J. Brenner · April 8, 2010

    I am very sorry I engaged anyone on this site. Occasionally I suffer from bouts of irrational anger. It’s almost like “sham rage,” if you know that term. Obviously it doesn’t do me any good to get all worked up over your opinions, however valid you think they may be.
    Say what you will, about me or about dolphins, I won’t bother you again.