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Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The Pardoner's Tale
Presumably, all the millions of non-pardoned turkeys who get eaten on Thanksgiving are being punished instead for the crime of being... what exactly? I agree that the White House has upped the ghoulishness ante of the spectacle of the Presidential Pardon this year with the whole vote for the weirdly personalized turkey you want to get slaughtered website. I guess it might be a useful provocation to some kind of awareness around horrific issues of factory-farmed corpse-production in the US, maybe, kinda, sorta? But I can't say the pardoning ritual has ever seemed anything but insane to me, certainly not the least bit "innocent" or "cute," and uniquely American in a way that doesn't inspire confidence. Is the pardoned turkey an inverse scapegoat of some kind, a ritual non-sacrifice expiating American guilt over its gross mass-corpse consumption habit, so conspicuous in mass-mediated framings of the traditional feast that inaugurates the ugly joyless shopping orgy of the Holiday Season, or perhaps guilt over the genocidal historical realities attending the customary imagery of the First Thanksgiving fable as prelude to the bloodyminded bulldozer of manifest destiny? I can't say that America seems to me either particularly aware or ashamed of these debased and debasing realities otherwise. At this point, I've been a vegetarian for so long I can no longer remember when this turkey pardon ceremonial didn't seem utterly alien and endlessly puzzling. I'm not sure it didn't seem rather awful to me even before I became a vegetarian, when it comes to that. And by the way, by way of conclusion, since we're talking turkey, it is worth noting that there a thousands upon thousands of undocumented workers and non-violent drug offenders and conscientious activists who could use a Presidential Pardon right about now if the White House has enough to go around to indulge in frivolous ones.