Hey America...Pluck Yew!

Apparently M.I.A.'s risque gesture first appeared in 419BC when the playwright Aristophanes puns in his comedy 'The Clouds' about dactylic (finger) rhythm, with a character gesturing first with his middle finger. The Romans had their own name for it: digitus impudicus. And in 4th Century BC Athens the philosopher Diogenes told a group of visitors exactly what he thought about the orator Demosthenes by 'flipping the bird'.

My favorite story about giving the finger happened at the Wild Animal Park near Escondido, Calif. My daughter and i were riding the train around the grounds when the PA announcer warned everyone as we approached the chimp compound not to return the chimp's phallic salute as they were trying to un-train the chimps from its use.

Apparently it started when train riders started gaving the chimps the finger. The chimps musta felt the power of the gesture as they began returning it. At the time of our visit almost every chimp stopped what he/she was doing and turned towards the approaching train and gave the perfect salute to their enslavers. They held to the gesture until all the cars had passed then returned to eating or whatever different thing each was doing before the train's approach.

We went there two days in a row and rode the train each day in part becuse i wanted to see the chimps do it again. Sure enough most of them stopped and gave everybody the finger. It's hard to tell if it was the camera clicking and laughter that re-enforced the behavior or not, but of course i explained to my daughter that it was a sign of their intelligence and ability to non-verbally communicate to us, in a manner we could understand, their truei nner feelings. It was a great learning experience for us both.

M.I.A., real name Maya Arulpragasam, been praised and ridiculed for supporting the Tamii Tigers, a separatist movement that stands in violent opposition to the government of Sri Lanka. Born to Tamil parents, M.I.A. believes the Sri Lankian government to be guilty of genocide. The Tamil cause is barely understood and seldom mentioned by the American media. M.I.A.'s "fuck you” to America once again has the media missing the message. Instead of questioning the reasons behind Maya's support for groups considered by some to be terrorists the media is talking about a middle finger gesture. To bad Maya apologized.