The Presidential Turkey Pardon Is Gross and Weird

The White House wants you to decide which turkey President Obama will "pardon" on Wednesday. Maybe the one whose favorite song is one by Beyonce? Um, what are we doing here?

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Here's a fun thing from the White House website: decide which turkey President Obama will "pardon" on Wednesday so that it is not killed and eaten. Will it be "Caramel," who likes soybean meal? Or will it be "Popcorn," whose favorite song is one by Beyonce?

What the Hell is this, exactly? What are we doing here?

By now, the standard critique of Obama in the context of the turkey pardon is that he has pardoned far fewer convicted criminals than nearly any of his predecessors. National Journal's Ron Fournier makes this case: by the end of the day on Wednesday, Obama will have pardoned four humans for every one turkey that's received his blessing. Which is unusual and discomfiting. But even if Obama pardoned 14 people a day every day of his presidency, it doesn't make the turkey pardon ritual any less weird.

This is actually what happens. Right now, two grossly obese birds are in a fancy hotel room in Washington, D.C., as seen at right. Tomorrow, they will be taken to the White House, where a large crowd of people will surround them and camera flashes will go off and people will smack their hands together and scare them. Or: one of them will. While both turkeys are spared from being eaten on Thursday, only one — you choose! — will actually be "pardoned." Then, both will go back to some farm, and then they'll die in a few months anyway. National Journal:

In fact, they are so fat that without human intervention, the domesticated turkey would go extinct. That's because turkeys "have been bred for such heavy body weight that they are physically incapable of mating, necessitating artificial insemination via tube or syringe."

Murdering them would actually probably be more humane. But instead, these animals are being pardoned from death despite being convicted of the crime of "being a food people eat." It's a "fun" thing for a president to do, this pardoning, just a light-hearted way of easing into the holiday season by pretending that a turkey bred to be eaten is a criminal for having been so bred and then declaring to applause that we will not eat him, instead letting him die in a few months without even being useful as a participant in the food chain. But enjoy that unsettling and unusual hotel room, turkeys, because once you get back to the farm, it's back the same horrible scratching existence you've always known.

Oh, and if you're worried that the criminal turkeys are getting off scot-free, the picture at the White House website appears to show that they have been debeaked. So that's nice.

Anyway, there's still time to vote! And the White House, adept at #socialmedia, is making the whole thing so fun. Which team are you on, America! Remember: This decision largely comes down to who you prefer, Lady Gaga or Beyonce. The turkey that likes Gaga, in our opinion deserves to be murdered and cooked and devoured; no punishment is too much for such a horrible opinion.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.