The Turkey Pardon: Legalized Hunger Games


“Some animals are more equal than others”; President Biden and his fellow humans taunt an already shattered turkey with a sham ceremony and lavish, derisive pomp.

Cedric Bruges

The life of a turkey is not easy. At birth, they catch their first and only glimpse of light—the teasing, golden sun they will never fully see through the dust-covered windows of Barn 1173. Mechanically packed into massive pens with feces-stained hay and the shells of other turkeys, they then await their expiration date. They are raised for one sole purpose; pressed so close to each other, they become one thick collection of matter and mind-numbing, brain-melting heat—they eat together, they think together, they live together, they will die together. In a godless covenant, they will offer up their supple flesh; in exchange, ravenous humans, with saliva pooling in their mouths, will proceed to half-heartedly mention their sacrifice, their lifeless corpse. All this for an obligatory saying of thanks? November and the sweet release of the blood stained, systematic murder machines seem favorable to another day in the dank, suffocating methane-stuffed barn. No one will notice one turkey missing from 46 million; the turkeys with whom it spent every hour of its existence surely do not have enough energy or will to worry about such trivial problems.

And yet, the White House has the gall to taunt all turkeys everywhere with a sumptuous ceremony every Thanksgiving. For desperate turkeys living within their dystopian nightmare, the Pardon is the shining light, the infinitesimal chance of salvation, the hope that keeps them going every day. Yet in reality, it is an elaborate and cutthroat tournament, catered to the elites and the President as a legalized, state-sanctioned form of the Hunger Games in which turkeys vie for their lives. Potential candidates are mockingly given new names based on food, such as “Peanut Butter,” to remind them of their sole purpose—to be consumed. They lose all previous morality and identity; they will do what they must to obtain the Pardon, even if that means throwing their once-friends in the oven. Heartbreak, betrayal, fratricide—the ends justify the means in this cruel game. 

The turkeys that remain at the end have survived the impossible, but their fate is not much better; those who have seen and participated in the horrors are arguably more of a husk than their counterparts in the barns. They will never be the same. Upon their victory, euphoria turns to unadulterated terror and helplessness as they stare past the colorful confetti and clapping humans, locked onto the defeated eyes of the losers being whisked away, having already accepted their fate and the cool steel hatchet. While other turkeys may lose their lives, these ones have lost their souls; those pardoned are forced to suffer ten of the lifetimes of their friends, staring barbaric irony in its face. Until their final breath, they will relive their unspeakable crimes and the blood-curdling screams of turkeys, the joyous whistling of the blade and the faint gurgle as they are silenced.

The official celebration is the wicked topping on the cake, or more fittingly, the stuffing in the turkey. The President and his advisors look upon unknowing crowds with smug grins; they use their figurehead of a turkey to display false benevolence and humorous pleasantries. This year, President Biden, a seasoned veteran with eight previous ceremonies, threw scathing quips at the pardoned turkeys, dubbed Peanut Butter and Jelly; having already been reduced to food paste, they now had to simply accept the spit in their face, and on the soon to be roasted and seasoned corpses of their friends. Openly mocking the turkeys and their names, the little identity they had left, Biden added, “I have to admit to you, my wife doesn’t like me to admit it—that’s what I like for lunch.”

For more than 50 years, we have been hoodwinked and bamboozled by the elite into allowing this injustice to slide in the Land of the Free. It’s time to wake up, America, and end the “gracious” turkey pardon.