The Victorian Aboriginal Education Association said instructing girls on how to play the [didgeridoo] was an extreme cultural indiscretion and has called for the book to be pulped.
OK, I can believe that it might be a “cultural indiscretion”, whatever that means. No reason not to do it, of course – and no reason to pulp the book. I bump into cultural indiscretions all the time, most recently from the RNC in MSP.
But then it gets really silly. According to the association’s general manager Mark Rose:
“We know very clearly that there’s a range of consequences for a female touching a didgeridoo — infertility would be the start of it, ranging to other consequences,” he said, adding: “I won’t even let my daughter touch one.”
Someone should ask Mr. Rose to explain exactly what he means. Infertility is pretty well understood: which parts of a female’s reproductive functioning would be affected by touching a didgeridoo, and how? What would the causal mechanism be? How would the “consequences” be manifested – would they show up on an X-ray or ultrasound, for instance, or would it be necessary to test hormone levels?
Rose describes it as “cultural ignorance”. It seems that the real ignorance shown here is his own superstitious ignorance of science and medicine. And I refuse to play the patronizing multicultural game of assuming that Aboriginals are incapable of living in a scientifically informed culture, and that their mythologies are so fragile that we must all pretend that they correspond to reality.