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The presidential turkey pardon has always been dumb, but it's really sad in the age of Trump

Everything that’s wrong with the annual White House turkey-pardoning ceremony (and it’s particularly stupid now that the pardoner is demonstrably less evolved than the pardonee):

  • Turkeys are innocent. To pretend otherwise (even for the purposes of a joke) perpetuates the cruel idea that we have some sort of claim on their lives and a God-given right to govern their well-being.

  • We don’t need more reminders of Trump's selective and self-serving “compassion.” From tax reform to health care to immigration policy, the administration makes a show of aiding cherry-picked and even theoretical citizens in order to provide cover for its plans to screw over millions. While two turkeys will get to live on a sanctuary in Virginia, 46 million are killed each year for Thanksgiving alone. During their short lives, they’re kept in crowded conditions, with as many as 10,000 birds squeezed into a single building. A Mercy for Animals investigation of Butterball turkey farms in North Carolina uncovered rampant abuse of turkeys, including “workers kicking and stomping on birds, dragging them by their fragile wings and necks, and maliciously throwing turkeys onto the ground or on top of other birds" and “birds suffering from serious untreated illnesses and injuries, including open sores, infections, and broken bones.” Given Trump’s horrible record on animal rights, his pardoning a turkey as a “joke” is too obscene for many of us to bear.

  • Even the pardoned turkeys’ nicknames this year — Drumstick and Wishbone — suggest that these kind and gentle animals exist not for their own sake but rather exclusively for ours. And though no turkeys will be insulted by this cruel charade, compassionate Americans are. It would be like pardoning two death-row inmates while insisting on calling them Zappy and Hangy.

  • Trump’s pardon authority is something to be feared, not joked about. He’s already showed contempt for the rule of law by pardoning Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and most of us fear a dictatorial abuse of power if and when Robert Mueller’s probe starts to seriously threaten Trump or his family.

  • Finally, it’s stupid and corny, not at all cute, and an embarrassment to anyone with a functioning sense of humor and/or decency. Poor Barron, the only truly blameless Trump, looks like he wants to be executed in Drumstick’s place:

“This holiday season, I am thankful that the sun is dying and slowly expanding toward the orbit of the Earth.”

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