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Occasional ramblings by an anesthesiologist/mother (and sometimes her husband).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Proper Use of a Rubber Chicken

Continuing the Monty Python theme of today, I would like to discuss the proper usage of a rubber chicken.

There was a running gag in Monty Python's Flying Circus in which a knight in a suit of armor would end a sketch by using a rubber chicken to slap someone who was asking for it for one reason or another.* We shall return to the usefulness of this practice later.

It is a sad irony that too many in our society wish to end childhood and innocence at far too early an age, while simultaneously extending adolescence well into chronological adulthood.

Part of childhood and innocence is the fun that comes from holidays. As an adult, you realize the true meaning of Christmas or Easter, or whatever. As a child, holidays mean fun, joy, and wonder.

The fall has always been my favorite time of the year. Apart from the crisp weather, fresh apples, football, bright colors of trees, etc. there are holidays. First comes Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas. You get one fun holiday after another.

Allow me to quote here C.S. Lewis, from his 1952 text "On Three Ways of Writing for Children":

Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.

In other words, to fear childhood is a trait of adolescence, not adulthood. As is the idea of taking oneself too seriously.

It is such people that the knight generally made his target. I hereby propose that this rubber chicken be used to smack any and all who seek to take any of the childish wonder and, more importantly, the fun out of any holiday.

This knight would be busiest around Christmas, of course. On one side are those who think God hates Santa Claus. On the other side are legions of professionally offended people. Not only do they get offended at the idea of someone openly celebrating a holiday that others don't, but for some reason they think that we should give a rat's backside what offends them. To them, I can only reiterate:

But more and more, it seems that the knight would be busy around halloween.

Here we have 2 stories. One is from Chicopee, MA. The other is from Des Moines, IA. Both involve nooses. Both also involve people applying their own biases & neuroses to others, expecting them to care.

The first, involves a Wiccan who is offended by a decoration of a witch on a noose. Wicca, as a religion, was first popularized in 1954 and dates back perhaps to the 1920s. It is based on folklore and guesswork about pre-christian rituals and beliefs. Some of the elements involved are essentially centuries-old pop culture. There appear to be some wiccans who think that they own everything they reference as part of their own tradition.

The idea of witchcraft spans pretty much every culture on the planet going back millennia. Not everything is about you. An ancestor of mine was burned at the stake for witchcraft sometime in the 19th century.** I'm not offended. This woman makes other wiccans, most of whom are simply decent hardworking folk like any other people of faith, look stupid. TFSU and go away. Cue the knight.

The other involves a zombie type thing on a noose. The hangman's knot is centuries old. It far predates the horrors and violence inflicted during the era of lynching. It's primary use was for execution by hanging. To some, however, it is seen as being a racial symbol. Much like the hoax about "picnic" being a racist term, this is nothing more than a ridiculous distraction. A confabulation of perceived offense which attacks the innocent, and drives attention away from real problems. There are real racial problems in this country. A zombie on a rope isn't one of them. Calling completely non-racial things "racist," however, is. Cue the knight.

Indeed, it seems the knight with the with the chicken is going to be very busy. Between Anthony Bourdain and all the people over the age of 5 who wear crocs in public, it seems he just can't get a break. This holiday season is going to be a busy one for him.

So help him out. Get a rubber chicken of your own. The next time someone gets offended by your holiday celebration, you know what to do.

* There is some controversy as to whether it was a rubber chicken, stuffed chicken, or real chicken. It differed from the standard rubber chicken in that it had feathers. [back]

Edited 12:52 PM for clarity and grammar

**I can neither confirm nor deny the accuracy of the charges leveled against her.[back]


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