armchair cultural observation since 1995

What’s so funny about a governor, a turkey and slaughtering?


By Matthew Ralph

Since you have an Internet connection, you’ve probably seen the YouTube video where a turkey is being slaughtered in the background of an interview Gov. Sarah Palin gave after pardoning one of the unfortunate turkey’s kin.

It’s a PR mishap for sure, considering Palin’s appearance at the turkey farm was supposed to be a light and fluffy piece of earned media.

But after a half dozen views of the three minute video, I’m still trying to find the humor in what one Achorage Daily News comment forum poster called the funniest thing he has ever seen.

I get that Sarah Palin is a celebrity obsession now and that she did a lot of populist tongue-twisting/mean-spirited mud-slinging on the campaign trail to attract a legion of adoring fans on the right and a horde of haters from all other political walks of life. I also get that no good deed goes unpunished when you are a celebrity, but haven’t we had enough already?

The way some of the bloggers I read described it before I clicked play for the first time, I was expecting to see blood splattering and turkey heads flying in the background. What the video actually shows is what looks to me like a goofy guy showing off for the camera. I don’t really see how it’s any different than a kid giving Gov. Palin bunny ears in the background except that the bunny ear gag might actually be funny.

Fortunately, we never actually see much slaughtering going on. Just the dude turning back at the camera with a grin on his face as he holds the turkey down by its legs in a metal cone.

The only humor I could find in the video – sorry, but turkey death doesn’t exactly make me laugh – is the irony in Palin’s words when she says:

“Certainly we’ll probably invite criticism for even doing this too but at least this is fun.”

Criticism for what I ask? Because she went to a turkey farm where (gasp!) turkeys are slaughtered? PETA has a right to be upset I guess, but it’s not like Gov. Palin was the one doing the slaughtering.

Gov. Palin has done and said plenty of things in the last three months that deserve honest criticism and scrutiny.

This turkey incident isn’t one of those things.

If anything, this unfortunate PR nightmare for the governor’s office brings attention to a reality many of us who eat meat on occasion often like to forget when we are stuffing our faces on Thanksgiving or any other meal built around a slab of meat.

Meat doesn’t grow on trees. It grows on the bones of slaughtered animals.

If you choose to eat meat you need to accept that fact and not get all bent of out shape when you see a turkey about to die a bloody death.

Pretending to be offended or using this non-incident as more fuel for a junior high style hate-fest is about as reasonable as pitching a fit because your kid saw Janet Jackson’s nipple during a Super Bowl half-time show or, I don’t know, saying a candidate is unfit to be president because he sucks at bowling.

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