10A085 Pardon Me? by Jim Davies, 11/27/2010    

It seems a pleasant diversion, a nice holiday custom, this "turkey pardoning" business at Thanksgiving, and I see it began rather recently, with G H W Bush. For all that, I wish the President used a different, more productive gesture of goodwill that day - and for that matter, every day.

First, it's a serious mis-use of the English language, and while that's hardly uncommon the Prez ought to set an example. To "pardon" someone means that you "release him from liability for an offense" (dictionary.com) meaning that a wrong has been done to you, but you forgive it. Often the "offense" is trivial; you pass in front of someone in a theater so as to reach your seat, briefly blotting out her view of the stage; Pardon me. But the essential element is there; a wrong, being excused.

A gaggle of wild turkeys resides in the woods near my home, and occasionally I encounter them in my perambulations, and we have a conversation. They are dark brown or black, unlike these fine specimens, and occasionally I've seen them fly though they clearly prefer to waddle. Recently I've been advising them to keep their heads down until after November 25, and I hope they took my advice - though their reply was a bit garbled. Certainly, they have done me no harm, for which I might need to pardon them. Vice versa, possibly, for I helped eat one of their distant cousins on Thursday, but with any luck that birdy word never reached them.

Likewise "Apple" and "Cider" (was that hard, or soft?) had done Obama no harm so he had no business pardoning them, even in his alleged capacity as spokesman for someone else. As a species, Meleagris gallopavo may have a big - er - grouse against him and us, but not vice versa. Therefore, his action was 100% arrogant. But, what else is new.

They haven't done him or us any harm either, but Obama could and therefore should have pardoned instead over a million victimless "criminals" forced to celebrate thanksgiving in one of the government's prisons. People like for example Irwin Schiff, whose crime was to discover that no statute taxes earnings, and to publish the fact. Or Pete Hendrickson, caged more recently, for a similar offense. Or any of the large number of their companions whose business skills served the market in drugs which compete with those the government approves. And the fact that he has failed to lift a finger to help these folk, and that he has committed more violent actions than I have room to list in a month of ZGBlogs, means that he, himself, is the turkey in serious need of pardon.

The best snippet of news I saw this week was that alternatives to prison are now being considered, even in the heart of Establishment academia. Not for the right reasons (they just worry about cost) nor with the right premise (they're still well and truly inside the "statist box" and imagine that punishment serves some useful purpose) but at least the issue is on the table. Better late than never.

Your feedback, please!

ZGBlog is now linked to RSS! Click icon beside title at top, to see more.