The animal kingdom has much to teach us, which is why people call you a “sheep” if you don’t vote the way they do. They want to establish that you are a sheep, a muncher of grass, a wooly fool, while they are lions, eaters of meat, crackers of bones.
In then Czechoslovakia, where the Iron Curtain used to be represented by three rows of electric fencing, memories linger, even among our furry buddies.
The electric fences came down 25 years ago. Still, Czech scientists report, red deer living near the former Iron Curtain won’t cross the line.
The Czechs, who are not as progressive as we are, have not yet devised an “affirmative action” program for the deer, a program which would involve carrying the deer across the former border and exposing them to all the tasty grazing on the other side.
An Associated Press story about this bit of natural history tells us that 300 deer were fitted out with GPS-equipped collars and scientists found that, perhaps driven by some ancestral memory of the electric fence, red deer will not cross the line.
“These animals are really conservative,” said professor Ludek Bartos of the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague.
And they are.
Like conservatives in our country, the deer don’t like crossing lines created centuries ago. They fear fences they can’t see. A deer generation is only about 15 years, so no deer now alive ever even saw the fence.
But their deer parents and their deer leaders told them never to cross the line or something bad would happen, and the deer believed them because they are, as the scientists say, “really conservative”.
No new experiences for the deer. No mingling with the deer on the other side of the line that isn’t there anymore. If the deer could vote, come election time, they would remember that they are “red” deer and none of them would vote for a deer that wasn’t red, a deer whose parents weren’t born on the right side of the line that doesn’t exist anymore.