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Nov 24

Crone’s remarks on turkey-pardoning take a patriarchy-blaming turn

Turkey, wildNo one was more surprised than I when it was discovered that misogynist celebrity self-promotion vehicle PETA and I have a peeve in common. I allude to the annual heartwarming presidential pardoning of the Thanksgiving turkeys. PETA is against it because it “makes light of the mass slaughter of some 46 million gentle, intelligent birds.” I’m against it because of the semantics.

‘Pardoning’ presupposes the commission of a transgression on the part of the pardonee. I ask you. What possible crime, other than that of having had the misfortune to be hatched turkey in a country that annually prosecutes a murderous anti-turkey rampage of unfathomable proportions, could a couple of turkeys have perpetrated? The turkeys, by virtue of their not being human, are by definition innocent, and therefore require not a pardon, but the commutation of an unjust death sentence followed by liberation.

PETA is full of shit on every level, but I can’t argue that this comic anti-turkey Presidential pantomime isn’t pretty hard to stomach every year. Factory turkeys are brutalized from the moment they are hatched, and it’s disingenuous at best to joke about it and then turn around and gorge on a turkey dinner. Which one assumes the president did, since it’s un-American not to.

However, I’m happy to report that the disgust PETA and I share on this turkey-pardoning issue is merely superficial.

PETA suggests that turkeys shouldn’t be butchered because they’re “gentle” and “intelligent.” These are dumb reasons not to butcher an animal.

I won’t argue that turkeys are not intelligent, because any 40-pound bird that can live cheek by jowl among the denizens of Dreadful Acres, yet only be glimpsed a few times a year, has got to have something going on upstairs. On the subject of their “gentleness,” however, I will tell you this: turkeys are vicious. They’re no vegetarians, either. I have seen, with my own keen crone’s eye, a turkey pluck a grasshopper right out of the weeds with its bare beak and eat it alive. Turkeys also have ginormous spurs and will claw the fuck out of each other in turf wars. They’ll do it to people, too, apparently. Did you see that PBS turkey-dude documentary? Dude lives among wild turkeys for a year, developing a cosmic spiritual bond with one of them such that they become “turkey brothers.” His turkey brother ultimately turns on him and carnages him, forcing the dude to bash his avian sibling with a pine branch, thus bringing their bromance to a tragic (and not very gentle) end.

What I’m getting at is this: whether a sentient being should be factory-farmed, tortured, and butchered for the fleeting pleasure of a nation of entitled hedonists should not hinge on its gentleness or intelligence. Either an act is wrong or it isn’t; the degree to which a species appears sympathetic to human conceits is irrelevant to the question of whether it deserves humane treatment. The ‘see how nice/cute/moral they are?’ argument reminds me of the infuriating, bogus arguments for gay marriage or abortion rights.

What arguments are those, you ask?

The case is often made by gay marriage advocates that gays should have the right to marry because they share the family values of faithfulness and monogamy and are capable of maintaining long-term relationships, just like those arbiters of moral deportment, the straights. No doubt some do, but so what? If straight people aren’t required to pass a morality exam before getting married, neither should gays. Even the lying, cheating, fuck-anything-that-moves gays should be able to get married, and they should be able to do it on a drunken whim, just like anybody else (note: this should not be misconstrued as an endorsement of marriage; it is merely an endorsement of equal rights to asinine behavior).

Likewise, one often hears pro-choice narratives depicting women who elect to have abortions as “struggling” with the painful decision, which decision, one is told, should be between the woman, her doctor, her rabbi, and her husband. Well, lookit. A woman should have unrestricted access to abortion, period, whether she “struggles” with the decision or not, and she should not have to convene a team of patriarchs to sanction the procedure. Women for whom the decision is not particularly agonizing should not be marginalized by all this touchy-feely crap about how “normal” women — the ones who are gentle and intelligent, like turkeys — are torn to pieces by the heart-wrenching dilemma, with their $150-per-visit healthcare professionals and baby-daddys guiding them. Either a woman’s uterus belongs to her or it belongs to the state.

Thus I assert that any turkey should, like the ones here at Dreadful Acres, be afforded the right to disappear into the woods at its discretion, and not be factory-farmed to celebrate a feast commemorating the commencement of a genocide, and not be forced to cede ownership of its internal organs to the state, and not have to demonstrate that it conforms to the values of the culture of domination in order to maintain its personal sovereignty.

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  1. emmjay

    You can take the spinster aunt outta the patriachty blamin’, but you can’t take the patriarchy blamin’ outta the spinster aunt. Gladly.

  2. quixote

    “all this touchy-feely crap about how “normal” women — the ones who are gentle and intelligent, like turkeys”

    Bwahahahahahahoohoohoohooharharharharheeheehee-ee–hoo-hahaha.

    I love you, keen-eyed Crone.

  3. Comradde PhysioProffe

    Dude lives among wild turkeys for a year, developing a cosmic spiritual bond with one of them such that they become “turkey brothers.” His turkey brother ultimately turns on him and carnages him, forcing the dude to bash his avian sibling with a pine branch, thus bringing their bromance to a tragic (and not very gentle) end.

    Holy fuckenoly!

  4. JK

    Some piece of my soul that was missing has returned to me with this post.

  5. TwissB

    The Turkey Brother scenario, like the Grizzly Bear Brother scenario, reminds me of Ann Jones’s fine book “Women Who Kill.”

    Let me take advantage of this opportunity to mention that I’d like to hear from anyone out there with skill at counteracting Wikipedia’s smug tolerance for anti-feminist troll-work. W’s trick is to make its editorial change-back conventions so exceedingly abstruse that only very practiced users and monomaniac dudes can exploit them.

  6. ew_nc

    Wild animals are both wild and animals. For a human to think that they can project their needs and emotions on to them is complete folly. They have no need for us.

    Tests for a kinder, gentler uterus may be the next big thing for the patriarchal medical complex.

  7. tinfoil hattie

    A similar test is required of women who are raped: Was she a kind and intelligent virgin nun, raped by a slavering, savage man of color (preferably black, of course) on her way to delivering food and medicine to orphaned children?

    If yes, she passes the “Turkey Test” and now may ask the patriarchy to pardon her for having been raped.

  8. Carpenter

    Fear not, as all have seen this year Thanksgiving as we know it will soon be replaced by the ever receding in time Black FriThurWeTues-Day Shopping Holiday TM. Turkey dinner will be replaced by plasma screens. Strained dinner conversation will be replaced by strained comment threads of shopping haul themed YouTube videos.

  9. Imp

    I watched the video you mentioned. So much painful anthropomorphizing in it. I guess the dude’s off cavorting with mule deer in Montana, or somesuch, now. yiff.

  10. M.K. Hajdin

    “…whether a sentient being should be factory-farmed, tortured, and butchered for the fleeting pleasure of a nation of entitled hedonists should not hinge on its gentleness or intelligence. Either an act is wrong or it isn’t; the degree to which a species appears sympathetic to human conceits is irrelevant to the question of whether it deserves humane treatment.”

    I aver that because “sentient” is defined by humans as having traits similar to humans, this definition is speciesist. As is the idea that we should reward creatures who we perceive as similar to us by making a vociferous point of not eating them, yet consider the lives of “non-sentient” creatures such as plants and trees fair game for every kind of exploitation.

    Those of us whose lives depend on animal products such as insulin don’t much appreciate being considered “entitled hedonists” for wanting to, you know, not die.

    Before you even say, “I didn’t mean YOU”, consider this: if the attempt to persuade most of the people in the world to become vegans were successful, the supply of animal products available to those of us who don’t have sufficient economic or able-bodied privilege to deny ourselves food on ethical grounds would diminish to the point that at least some of us would die: namely, the poorest.

    Since I’m one of those very poor people who can barely afford to live as it is, I can’t help seeing the proposed scarcity (and skyrocketing price) of meat products as a threat to my existence. Both the PETAloons and the more reputable vegan activists seem to either not believe in the existence of human beings who can’t adapt to a vegan diet, or to value the lives of animals above the lives of those humans. I find this attitude incompatible with social justice.

  11. Hippolyta

    Due to our society’s need to label and define most all aspects of life, we experience pressure to always know where we are and what we are doing. Few people have escaped such meddlesome questions as “what are you doing after high school” “do you plan to have children” “is this a patriarchy blaming blog or a crone in the wilds blog?” A dear friend of mine once offered that when feeling stumped by such questions a good response is, “I am in transition.” This has the benefits of always being true, making one sound thoughtful and philosophical, and almost always satisfying one’s questioner. Of course, in my imagination capable spinster aunt crones are impervious to such social demands.

    Like many domesticated animals, turkeys have had the intelligence bred out of them, though I agree with your premise that the qualities an animal may or may not possess should not effect the morality of killing it. To my dismay PETA’s general obnoxiousness does not prevent them from occasionally being right.

  12. Lidon

    Damn fuckin straight. Beautiful shot, btw.

    MK, I didn’t take this article to say that everyone should be vegan. That doesn’t mean we have to stuff our faces with burgers etc. every day either. As someone who has relied on food banks in the past, once again, meat is more expensive than *basic* nutritious, vegetarian items. Ughh please can we not go there again. It’s a straw argument to say that criticizing Thanksgiving is saying that everyone should be vegan.

  13. Friend of Snakes

    No way would I waste my time watching a turkey-dude doc. Then I read a few of the comments on the PBS site. Like:

    One scene shows a snake eating a young bird. This would mean that they would have purposely fed a chick to a snake to get that shot. I understand animals have to eat, but this mean that they would have had to basically kill an animal for a shot, on purpose? Is that even legal?

    Needless to say, I was hooked. Between the time I watched the video and went back to read more funny snake comments, PBS had removed one which asked why they hadn’t just “killed all the frigging snakes” so the turkeys wouldn’t risk harm. I don’t think that commenter understood the concept of recreating for the cameras an event which had taken place 20 years previously.

    The narrator (the real-life turkey dude) sounded disturbingly like Jimmy Carter. I didn’t realize until the end that the turkey dude was being played by an actor. Even the wild snakes were being played by captive snakes. Cool photography kind of made up for appalling anthropomorphizing.

  14. Ruby Lou

    It’s a relief to get news of weird patriarchal practices from the Crone of Cottonmouth County instead of say, Fox News. ‘Pardoning’ a turkey? Before you waltz in and eat one. No wonder they eschew our company. I lived for a while in a suburban neighborhood where turkeys lived with such intelligent stealth that it was rare to see one, though they passed daily from roost to feeding grounds through residential streets. Where their deadliest predators lounged in their living rooms, watching Fox News.

  15. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    At my house we eat a loaf-shaped thing made of many hard-to-find ingredients that is a royal pain in the tukis to prepare. But it is yummy and non-meat, so everyone’s content. My sister Mary Lou lives in a more rural area populated by wild turkeys. They are cunning, warlike, and capable of avoiding/fending off their natural enemies – coyotes, bears and such. Her eldest cat perches on a windowsill and makes gack-gack noises at them (he is simulating “the killing bite” that cats deliver to hapless birds prefatory to dining on them.) He would be in a world of hurt had he the bad luck to actually get hold of one. He does the same thing at raccoons the size of German Shepherd puppies and smelly groundhogs. Rich pickings in my sister’s hood.

    Another Niebieszczanski tradition is Buy Nothing Day. It is observed by lounging around on one’s fat boo-takka clad in Ye Olde Flannelle Nightgowne, hovering over heating vents in a manner similar to the Hindenburg before the explosion, and munching down on leftover gingersnaps and such. Good times, good times.

  16. ChariD

    Ecstatic to see blaming has returned, as I lurve me some Twisty. Also and too, I lurve me some Antoinette-isms. I’m off to Hindenburg over some heating vents.

  17. The Crone of Cottonmouth County

    Another Niebieszczanski tradition is Buy Nothing Day. It is observed by lounging around on one’s fat boo-takka clad in Ye Olde Flannelle Nightgowne, hovering over heating vents in a manner similar to the Hindenburg before the explosion, and munching down on leftover gingersnaps and such. Good times, good times.

    Ha!

  18. Ron Sullivan

    I have it on good authority and from a trusted eyewitness source that a chicken will kill and eat a mouse. I don’t remember which chicken, but she’s one of a small flock we’re intermittently chickensitting, so I’ll tellya I personally keep a weather eye on this bunch when they come strolling up on the porch looking for Cheerios.

    The farm cats are afraid of these chickens. They try not to let on, but when a hen gets within ten feet of a lounging cat, the cat just coincidentally remembers he left something somewhere else and needs to see to it right now. The cats are employed to kill rats, and they routinely do the job on sizeable individuals, so these aren’t yer Fluffykins timid little pet housecat either.

    Respect the Chicken!

  19. wondering

    Ah yes, chickens. I have two small flocks (6 each) that I am trying to get to live together in peace and harmony. Yeah. It’ll be a week tomorrow, and the old-timers (the ones I raised from chicks) are still very annoyed at the invasion of the new hens. The oldsters fiercely dislike the newbies and as a result the oldsters frequently get stuck in detention to keep the newbies from getting too stressed out. (They’re all about the same age, so it’s not a case of irritable oldsters set in their ways being told to accommodate those kids and their loud music. This was supposed to make it easier.)

  20. Bushfire

    Alright! Patriarchy blaming!

  1. Crone keeps hanging out on Savage Death Island » Dreadful Acres

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