2013-06-05 / Editorials

Alex McRae

Southerners flipping out
Alex McRae

When a Southerner says, “That ain’t right!” they are not referring to an incorrect answer on little Bubba’s math exam.

They are pointing out gross violations of social norms. Good examples of things that “ain’t right” include drinking champagne at a stock car race and attending funerals of strangers hoping to pick up women. (You know it happens).

The term “That ain’t right” is flexible enough to cover new and noteworthy displays of social dysfunction. For that reason, Adam and Heather Barrington could soon be installed in the “That Ain’t Right” Hall of Fame.

Adam and Heather have been married four years and lead a “casual” lifestyle that includes working odd jobs, sleeping in their car and traveling. The lifestyle must also include a fondness for consuming LSD, which would explain the next stop on the couple’s travel itinerary.

The Barringtons are headed to Hawaii. Not to surf… to give birth. This is newsworthy because the Barringtons intend to use dolphins as midwives. Yes, dolphins, like TV star Flipper.

They say they believe a “dolphin-assisted birth” will “bring peace, comfort and strength” to mother and child during the birthing experience.

Unless it doesn’t. Which is a distinct possibility.

Writing in “Discover,” Christie Wilcox said, “This has to be, hands down, one of the worst natural birthing ideas anyone has ever had.”

Most mothers are hard-wired to care for newborns, even those of other species. Not dolphins. Wilcox said dolphins will ‘toss, beat, and kill small porpoises or baby sharks for no apparent reason other than they enjoy it.”

Wilcox asked, “Is this an animal you want to have at your side when you’re completely vulnerable?”

Not me. I’d wager that Stacey Horstman, a bottlenosed dolphin expert with NOAA fisheries in St. Petersburg, Fla., feels the same way. Horstman said she and her staff are always careful to tell visiting nature lovers that, in the wild, “dolphins are no different than a bear, alligator or lions.”

Heather Barrington said that after learning about the not-so-sunny side of porpoise play, she may not have Flipper present while she gives birth. She may settle for spending quality time with a group of dolphins before and after the blessed event.

Besides, it’s not really about birthing a baby. It’s about something much more important and meaningful. As Heather told the Charlotte (NC) Observer, “It is about reconnecting as humans with the dolphins so we can coexist in this world together and learn from one another.”

Sorry, Heather but if a dolphin’s idea of “coexistence” is using a newborn as a beach ball, I’ll pass. Call me old-fashioned.

Wilcox isn’t the only person who thinks this is a bad idea. Marine biologist Lori Marino said, “there remains no compelling evidence that [dolphin-assisted therapy] is a legitimate therapy or that it affords any more than fleeting improvements in mood.”

Granted, even a fleeting mood improvement is a major plus during childbirth, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Why not at the entrance to Sea World?

The blessed event is to take place at the Sirius Institute in Hawaii, a group whose goal is “dolphinizing the planet.” Better a bad goal than no goal, I guess. And I’m personally thankful they’re’ not pulling this stunt at the Bass Pro Shop.

Underwater births are nothing new. They are even performed in many hospitals and birthing centers. And some women swear the experience is wonderful. I’m in no position to judge what others do, but I don’t hesitate to say that if you insist on having a dolphin in the delivery room, well…

“That ain’t right.”

Return to top