Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Interview With a Turkey

As part of our ongoing series of conversations with animals on policy and population control issues, we recently sat down with Cobbler, a turkey pardoned by President Obama today.

Us: Happy Thanksgiving, Cobbler!

Cobbler: This is a farce. Just call me "Cargill."

Us: Okay, Cargill. Would you like to expand on that?

Cargill: It's interesting that you've opted to use that particular verb. "Expand." Do you know how much I weigh?

Us: I was pretty much raised not to ask that question of anyone who isn't an infant.

Cargill: I weigh forty pounds. I am nineteen weeks old, and I weigh forty pounds.

Us: No, that does seem...like a lot.

Cargill: Well, when you've been stuffed with corn and soy for every waking instant of those nineteen weeks, you'd be amazed what your developing body is capable of. Not, like, walking without severe joint pain, or anything, but that's not what they want me for.

Us: Oh.

Cargill: They've trained us to sit on a box while loud music is played. Isn't that cute?

Us: A little, maybe? People do love this stuff. Like the Easter Egg Roll and the, um, cookie baking competition for the First Ladies.

Cargill: It's a sideshow. A grotesque sideshow. I don't blame Obama! I have no beef with him, as it were. He doesn't want to waste his time doing shit like this. I'm sure he'd rather be, I don't know, trying to keep the Israelis and the Palestinians from wiping themselves off the face of the earth.

Us: Probably.

Cargill: Personally, I'd like to see him take the time to revisit the ATROCIOUS Farm Bill. Do you think the people who own Big Agriculture are eating forty pound turkeys who have been gorging on corn and soy?

Us: No?

Cargill: No. They're eating normal turkeys, who can walk, who have probably been, I don't know, delicately munching quinoa while milling around "Our Town". Turkeys that you've probably chosen to illustrate your article with. That's how I'd like to have lived, but, whatever, Dame Fortuna has had different plans for me.

Us: But you're getting pardoned! That's great, right?

Cargill: Huh. For what crime am I being pardoned? Am I Marc Rich, over here? I was hatched, I was presented with corn and soy, and now I am the final freaking contestant in the Hunger Games.

Us: But there are two of you! They pardon two of you.

Cargill: You know why?

Us: No.

Cargill: So that if I don't play nice, they have a backup. Look it up! The 2010 turkeys? Apple and Cider? See how long they got to enjoy their pardon.

Us: That does put a depressing spin on it. But, I mean, it's Thanksgiving, right? It's all families and togetherness and tradition.

Cargill: It's genocide.

Us: Jesus, Cargill.

Cargill: Do you know what the life expectancy on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is?

Us: No.

Cargill: Well, they clocked it in 2007 at forty-eight for men and fifty-two for women, so, if you'll excuse me, I'm not really going to be the life of the party at this time of year.

Us: Oh, Cargill. I'm sorry. I'm a nice, progressive person. I'm making a very small turkey.

Cargill (softens): I'm sure you are. We all have to busily ignore the idea of the Brotherhood of Man in order to live our little lives, buying small turkeys and not chaining ourselves to barricades. Or, in my case, refusing to headbob adorably when the music starts up.

Us: Thanks for talking to us, Cargill. Could we come back and talk to you again for Christmas at Mount Vernon?

Cargill: If I'm still around, it would be a pleasure.

65 Comments / Post A Comment

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

No disrespect to Cargill, but his wild relatives that run around my neighborhood are fucking terrifying and I have no pity for large fowl.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose They're also real dumb. My husband's family lives in an area with wild turkeys, and his uncle "hunts" them by... waiting for some to wander up to his front door and then shooting one. Then he waits a minute for the rest to wander back all, "Well, that was scary, but I guess it's over now" and shoots another one. Repeat until you run out of turkeys or freezer space.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Elsajeni Turkey hunting in eastern Montana consisted of casually walking after a flock that ran a short distance and then forgot you peppered it with pellets a few minutes ago. So. Dumb.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose
So. Some years ago, I was on a work camping trip with several people, including a freegan who would NOT stop talking about his diet and the ethics involved. It was really dull, and we'd had a very long car trip.

A flock of turkeys wandered through our campsite just as he was explaining how wasting food was terrible. I asked "So if I killed one of those turkeys right now, you would eat it?"

"OBVIOUSLY." he said.
"FINE." I said.

I jumped up and started chasing the turkeys, yelling and waving my arms. They ran away. (At this point, my goal was to be in a place other than by the freegan for like ten minutes.)

"You have to BAIT them." he said
"DEBATE? I'll do that! Thanks!" I said. Because screw him, right? I ran after the flock, yelling about the 2004 election,the War on Terror, and the Healthy Forests Initiative. (The last one is because turkeys have areas of interest, right? Like logging policy - they probably care about that?)

Anyway. I chased them for about ten minutes, and then lost most of the flock. I was wandering around, yelling about Bush, when I surprised a turkey. It, ah, had a seizure? And flopped around for about a minute? And then died?

I was pretty horrified.

Not too horrified to make an impromptu pair of stick tongs and carry it back to camp where I dropped it at the freegan's feet. Horrified enough to not insist that he eat it after he refused. Horrified enough that my sangfroid showed something other than disdain when he did.

So you know, turkeys are pretty smart politically.


@Bootsandcats OH MY GOD you scared a turkey to death! That is... insane.


@Bootsandcats how nice for you. you were bored by a person and then decided to get back at them by killing a defenceless creature. that is just super.


@kickupdust Somehow I doubt Bootsandcats expected that shouting about Bush would actually kill the turkey. Accidental homicide (fowlicide?) rather than murder, in this case.


@Apocalypstick Objections to senseless death aside, can you imagine how my coworker treated me the rest of the summer?


@Bootsandcats: I honestly hope your co-worker treated you with fear and awe and never mentioned freeganism again, for fear of what you might expect him to eat next.


@kickupdust Frankly, that sounds a lot less horrifying way to go than to be a battery farmed turkey.


Hey. Hey Cargill. Pssssst.

I'mma eat you.


@Emby Aw, shit. That was funny.


That was intense.


@redheaded&crazie Genocide :(


From Wikipedia:

Meanwhile, C.J. is given the responsibility of choosing the national Thanksgiving Day turkey to be pardoned, which she has considerable difficulty doing. She must decide between two birds, but begs the President to pardon the runner-up when she discovers that the non-pardoned turkey will be slaughtered and eaten for dinner. This leads to a humorous scene in which President Bartlet announces pardons the second turkey but then launches into a tirade about how he cannot actually pardon a turkey and how the young man who thinks that he can should "ask his teachers for a better education." Instead, Bartlet drafts the turkey.

The writer of the article knows the turkey wasn't actually drafted, right?


@Verity (My boyfriend adopted me two turkeys - Mistletoe and Wine - from a farm sanctuary charity last year. We went to visit them last summer, and they are soft and adorable. They ate out of my hand! Yay, turkeys.)




@Verity That sounds like my dream gift! If all I received every year for birthdays/holidays was people adopting/rescuing farm animals in my name, I would be a happy girl. What is the name of the charity that your boyfriend used so I can tell my husband?


@olivebee Farm Animal Rescue, in Warwickshire. They have a curly-coated pig!


@Verity OMG how coincidental is this? So, my birthday was yesterday (the day after I replied to you about animal sponsorship/adoption being the best present ever but hadn't yet told my husband how good of an idea it was), and my husband sponsored a pig for me from an animal sanctuary/rescue out in the western US! "My" pig's name is Squeaky, and they rescued him from the verge of starvation, so he is mentally handicapped because his brain was underdeveloped. Squeaky has a best friend at the rescue, a dog named Otis.

I couldn't believe he thought of doing that for me before I could even tell him the idea after hearing it from you.


@olivebee Ha, wow! Happy birthday (mine was yesterday, so the day after yours), and yay for getting a pig sponsored for you! That is a great coincidence.


also I had never previously heard of this act of pardoning turkeys ... whaaaaaat is this.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@redheaded&crazie Since our pres has the power to pardon any criminal of their crime, they get cutesie with that power every year and allow one or two turkeys to live and not suffer the fate their feathered brethren do each November. (It's pointless.)


@redheaded&crazie Blame Harry S. Truman.


Cargill is a wildly intelligent turkey because, if you have ever dealt with turkeys, you would know they are impossible stupid animals. Buddy of mine raises them, and they used to get eaten by raccoons sometimes because they'd see the raccoon come up to the side of the turkey coop and then walk up to them, raccoon would reach through and just eat em through the mesh wiring stuff. The turkeys would see their buddies get eaten by those damn raccoons and yet they still. walked. up. to them. all the time.


@katiemcgillicuddy This is just getting depressing.


@KatieBarTheDoor For what it's worth, it's an organic farm and they were treated very nicely, I even built a few coops for them (BRAGGING). The coops were really solid, too, they had to be special dumb to get attacked through them.


@katiemcgillicuddy Haha, that's good to know! (And building coops whaaaat!) BUT just so you know, I didn't mean to criticize your comment-- I just didn't know turkeys were so dumb. Poor things!

(Actually, now that I think about it, I volunteered at a rescue farm once and this turkey kept trying to mate with people's shoes, so.)


@KatieBarTheDoor Oh, I didn't take it as criticism! They really are sadly dumb, like cringe/wince dumb...and irritatingly loud. But still, shake your head dumb, so yeah, poor things!


@katiemcgillicuddy That happened to my friend's pet rabbit. She'd taught it to "shake hands" adorably, there was a fox in the neighbourhood, and one morning it became a three-legged rabbit through the wire netting.


@katiemcgillicuddy That is beyond upsetting! He just wanted to shake hands! :( Between that and preparing a turkey earlier, I am soclose to full on vegetarianism.


@katiemcgillicuddy Domestic turkeys WILL drown in rain. It happened to my uncle, who is a farmer, who tried to raise a flock of heritage birds. One rainstorm and they were all dead, because they looked up the entire time.

fondue with cheddar

@happymisanthrope My dad told me that when I was a kid and I thought he was making it up!


Cargill, what are your thoughts on duck? I for one find it to be far more delicious, and an efficient tool for witch detection.

fondue with cheddar

@LacunaKale This isn't my real nose!


Thanksgiving doesn't celebrate genocide! The peace between the Massachusetts Puritans and the Wampanoag held together until King Philip's War, a generation and a half after the first Thanksgiving! Give turkey day credit, it celebrates at least a slight delay in genocide.


@Cawendaw Oh, so turkeys aren't people now? This is exactly the attitude Cargill was talking about. Typical!


@gobblegirl That comment could not have come from a more appropriate username.


This interview and subsequent comment thread have made me feel so many emotions.


@olivebee This is reminding me about a book about dodos I read as a child. I can't find the exact title...but it was told from the dodo's POV, about the arrival of strangers on the island.
Found it!
"Dodos are Forever."

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Cargill is a extremely intelligent egypr mainly because, if you've ever sorted out turkeys, you'll learn they may be difficult silly animals. Close friend regarding acquire lifts these individuals, and they employed to obtain had by means of raccoons often mainly because that they had begin to see the raccoon appear to the side on the egypr house and then go walking nearly these individuals, raccoon would certainly accomplish by means of and just eat em throughout the fine mesh wiring goods. The actual turkeys would certainly discover their friends obtain had by means of individuals damn raccoons yet they even now. walked. upwards. in their mind. continuously. Click here

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