Earlier this month, in the letters to the editor section of the Findlay (Ohio) Courier, this gem ran:
Something in the "Just Ask" column (Page A3, May 29) disturbed me. According to the column, "the Ohio buckeye, Aesculus glabra, bears flowers with both male and female organs on the same tree. It is a monoecious species."
I couldn't believe this, so I did some research and, sure enough, a science website (forestry.about.com) states that "the Ohio buckeye is polygamo-monoecious, bearing both bisexual and male flowers."
The buckeye is our state tree and most of us gladly wear the nickname, "buckeyes." But it is shameful and unacceptable that a bisexual tree should represent us! We are flaunting the Holy Bible!
I urge everyone to contact their state representative and demand legislation removing the buckeye as our state tree and condemning the use of the term "buckeye" as a nickname for residents of Ohio.
Does anyone know if carnations are bisexual?
Jim Flechtner, Findlay
Jim's technically right. The Ohio buckeye does have "male," "female," and "hermaphrodite" flowers on the same tree, even if plant sexuality is more a technical matter of stamens and carpels than gender roles. But I don't see any exceptions in the Old Testament for Aesculus glabra, do you?
The letter is pitch-perfect satire. It's bizarre enough to signal that no human being could possibly get bent out of shape over a matter this insignificant and academic. Yet it's grounded just enough in the rhetoric that passes for intellectual discourse in this country to make you think, just for a minute, that maybe "Jim" isn't joking. He is, right? He has to be. God, this letters to the editor of the Findlay Courier has me more depressed than the usual letters to the editor of the Findlay Courier.