Turkeys and Shit
With Thursday being Thanksgiving and all, I figured I should, you know, mention it. I also figured I should mention that Thanksgiving is sort of a shitty holiday considering the stories we were told about the Pilgrims and the Indians gettin’ all friendly over a gigantic meal is just a happy, fuzzy, version of the truth: that European immigrants and explorers stormed onto someone else’s continent and decimated the population out of love for
religious freedom imperialism.
But hell, you know all that shit already. So I thought in honor of the holiday I’d educate you folks on what I find to be one of the more ridiculous aspects of this fine holiday season.
**Editor’s note: Angora was out of town, and is totally publishing this late. Thanks. Yeah. Sorry.
Possibly America’s Dumbest Tradition
Every year I see photos of the big turkey pardoning ceremony and I wonder what it’s all about. This year I decided to do something about my lack of understanding about the tradition and do a little google search to find some answers. That’s right, dear reader, I investigated so you don’t have to. Sadly, I didn’t come up with a whole lot. It took me a while to wade through pointless news articles about this years pardoned turkeys, May and Flower. After 10 minutes (which seemed like an eternity) I was ready to give up when I found this rather dull page of information on the history of the ceremony. I had hoped to find some fascinating tidbit that would lead me to think perhaps the turkey pardoning was more than just an annoying, feel-good photo-op. I was wrong.
It’s possible that Truman was the first President to pardon a turkey before Thanksgiving, but there is no evidence to confirm that. The best origin account I could find turns out to be a rumor. It could’ve been Truman, it could’ve been someone else. There’s also a silly story about Lincoln pardoning his son Tad’s turkey before Thanksgiving. Since Lincoln is the President who deemed Thanksgiving to be a national holiday, I suppose it makes sense that he started the turkey pardoning too.
I also learned that there’s a National Turkey Federation and that there are specific rules for how the national Thanksgiving turkey should be fed. You’d think perhaps they get special treatment, yes? Not so much. The turkeys are raised like all commercial turkeys except that they are occasionally hand-fed–not because they’re special, because they want the turkeys to get used to people so they don’t freak out while on camera. While there’s technically only one national turkey chosen each year, they pick an alternate too just in case the first turkey gets sick or seems to be in a bad mood. Both the turkeys get pardoned even though only one of them is actually the national turkey. From 1989-2004 the turkeys were taken to a place called Frying Pan Park in Virginia to live out the rest of their lives. Where the turkeys went before 1989, I don’t know. They probably got eaten despite the pardon. Someone decided Frying Pan Park wasn’t good enough for these super-special American symbols, so they found a better place. What place, you ask? Disneyland. They fucking go to Disneyland.
For the last five years the White House website has held an on-line poll to choose the names of the two turkeys. I only think this is relevant because the names are truly ridiculous. I’m amazed that people actually give two shits about the ceremony in the first place, but apparently, not only do they care, they care enough to choose cutesy names. So for the last five years, the American people (well, some of them at least) have spoken. As I noted above, this year’s turkeys were May and Flower. There predecessors were Flyer and Fryer in 2006, Marshmallow and Yam in 2005, Biscuits and Gravy in 2004, and Stars and Stripes in 2003.
I present this information to you as evidence that our country is seriously fucked up…and more than a little silly.
Sit in a Car with Your Ex-Boyfriend–Get 200 Lashings, Missy
Last week, a Saudi woman who had been raped multiple times by a gang of 7 men was sentenced to 6 months in jail and 200 lashings for being alone in a car with a man who was not related to her. She was in court appealing her original sentence of 90 lashings when the judge decided to double that and add jail time. He also, incidentally, lowered the sentences of her rapists. In addition to this horrible travesty, her lawyer’s license to practice law was revoked for helping his client. The reasoning of the court? She had the guts to publicize the unjust sentence given to her by the first judge. The media picked up on the story and the appeals judge decided to make an example of this 21-year old woman.
Naturally, television pundits like Glenn Beck heard about this woman’s plight and threw a temper tantrum about the treatment of women in the middle east. Is that a valid response? Sure, I was totally upset when I heard that a victim of a violent crime would be punished for something as trivial as sitting in a car with a man. However, Beck was way off base when he decided to accuse feminists of not giving a flying fuck about women in fundamentalist Muslim countries. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We care. We just don’t want you using sexism as an excuse to start more wars.
This is a perfect example of the old neo-con bait and switch. You see, they publicize the story to show the atrocities committed under Sharia law. They go on and on about how oppressive the laws are and how they violate basic human rights. It’s true. Those laws are absolutely a violation of human rights. The problem is, before you know it, this woman’s desperate situation is used to blabber on about how we should stop the fundamentalist Muslim rulers…you know, make women’s issues a part of the war on terror. Then, they just sit back and watch the nation erupt into fear-based war-mongering, all the while hoping that no one notices that the country in which this particular atrocity was committed happens to be our ally.
Just in Case You Actually Think about What You’re Thankful For on Thanksgiving….
… be thankful that you don’t live in Bangladesh. Last Thursday, Cyclone Sidr hit the southern coast of Bangladesh causing so much damage that this one disaster is the equivalent of about 5 Hurricane Katrinas. Yup. It’s that bad. 3,100 people have been declared dead so far and the death count is expected to rise, with some predicting as many as 10,000 deaths as a result of the cyclone. The storm brought winds up to 150 mph in addition to a huge storm surge.
Sadly, the huge number of deaths isn’t the only concern. The people who are still alive are starving. According to the BBC, in some areas 95% of the rice crops were washed away. The storm destroyed homes, farms, and businesses while knocking over trees and power lines that have made it difficult for rescue workers to search for survivors.
So, even if America has stupid t.v. personalities, and stupid turkey pardoning ceremonies and stupid
politicians who lead us into stupid wars, I’m thankful that I still have a home and a job and food to eat. Natural disasters always have a way of putting things into perspective, eh?
Happy Money-Driven Slaughter of Indigenous Peoples day, folks. Hope you have a good one.