24 November 2012

Pardon the Turkey

A bulletin was released announcing President Obama pardoned the White House turkey. This act of compassion was made to give us the warm and fuzzy feelings required for the holiday. Among the myriad of things we are to be thankful for this holiday weekend, we may add our thanks to the President for allowing the White House turkey to strut another day. It is a symbolic gesture; a gesture to remind us once more that we should be thankful for what we have and not to complain about what we don't have. I suggest to the President that he might direct his compassion elsewhere. He has the power to pardon several million people wasting away in prison; some for life, others for years until they are too old and decrepit to do anything other than sit once they are released. This would be an act of courage for a hue and cry would ensue from the public denouncing such an act of compassion as weakness and morally reprehensible. In the mind of many it is a perfectly reasonable exercise of executive power to release the White House turkey from its death sentence but a man from his cage not so much. The mind of the public is a very fickle thing; it moves like air currents, soft and strong, from one direction to another, all within minutes. The president of the United States is in a position where he can actually effect a change in public opinion. Now that President Obama is not required to stand for reelection and say simply what people want him to say at any given moment, he might actually do something that will change the perception of the public toward this vast incarceration complex that we have built here in this home of the brave and land of the free. Rather than pardon a turkey maybe he should consider pardoning some people. They would be very thankful; their families would be thankful; their children would no longer be required to drive hundreds of mile to visit their fathers or mothers behind stone walls and razor wire. The republic would not disintegrate. If the president of the United States were simply to state that pardoning a person from prison is the thing to do, the right thing to do, and he said it often enough, to many it would indeed become the right thing to do; and, more importantly, we might accomplish something that would actually be compassionate.