The Fate of the Pardoned Turkeys

Freedom's just another word for...



As Barack Obama prepares to pardon the presidential turkey—CNN is counting down the hours as I type—it's a good day to read Magnus Fiskejö's account of what happens to the bird after it receives its freedom:

The birds are then, in proverbial fashion, said to live happily ever after. In reality, however, they are usually killed within a year and stand-in turkeys are supplied. This goes on year after year. The chosen birds are killed because they have been engineered and packed with hormones* to the point that they are unfit for any other purpose than their own slaughter and consumption.

So the purportedly free birds are actually incapable of self-sustained life. Thanksgiving rituals: not just a link to the American past, but a glimpse of the dystopian America to come!

Bonus link: What happens to the turkeys after they die? They're buried at Mount Vernon. Say…didja ever get the feeling that this isn't the real reality, and that we actually live in a heavy-handed metaphor?

(* A reader notes that Fiskejö has this wrong: The modern farm-bred turkey's debilitating size—so big that most cannot mate without human intervention—is now engineered without hormonal assistance.)

NEXT: Evan McMullin's Troop-less War Against Donald Trump's GOP

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  1. I prefer ham for Thanksgiving. There is much to be thankful for in that threadnought.

    1. I realize that it may take about a year to follow that link, so I have archived an archive that loads faster.

      1. OK, so I thought, why go to an archive when you can just search for the article on reason, and I just searched for the article on…..mmy-and-sw

        But that’s only got the first paragraph, and you can’t see the picture or access the comments.

        What happened to the reason archive? Do they strip down the articles that are older than a certain cutoff date?

        And if so, why? I can’t imagine that storing the complete, original article with comments takes up that much space.

        Anybody know what’s going on with that?

        1. They specifically gutted that post because the comment thread threatened the very fabric of reality itself.

          1. Anybody remember thoreau?

            1. Some people are trying to forget.

            2. Is he the quebecois version of Thor?

                1. Who refused to research the link between high fructose corn syrup and the U.S. air force shooting down Flight 93 on 9/11.

      2. I like the commentary on the comments by Highnumber.

        1. He never did finish. And the Viking Moose is still believed to be lost, in the ether that is all that remains of that thread.

          1. I did see the sad trail of comments the moose left at the end.

            I did not try to follow.

          2. Looks like you are most senior commenter that is still active. I will now refer to you as Great Esteemed Elder. Or would you prefer Old One?

            1. “Active” may be the wrong word, as I’ve been away for a while. And I think there are those who predate me; they just changed handles.

              1. It would be interesting to see that sort of history – including a list of an account’s handles (like Steam does) since changing them is very much a discontinuity.

                I’ve been here since 98/99ish if you can believe that.

                1. I was here around then. Not sure when I started posting.

        2. I like the little tidbits of HyR history:

          Vermont Gun Owner | 4.6.11 @ 9:21PM|#
          So guys, what do you think of a handle that’s some variation of “Goldtinted stealth monocle”?

          Pro Libertate | 4.7.11 @ 5:28PM|#
          Demonocle. Or even Demonocles, if you want to sound Greek.
          Auric Demononcles would be Gold Demon Monocles in English.

          Auric Demonocles | 4.9.11 @ 4:12PM|#
          This is why I came to get some input.

          1. That was as inspired moment.

    2. We’re doing game hens.

      1. But do you glaze them with salty tears? There are plenty available this season.

        1. No, that’s the brining medium.

        2. Glaze? With the surplus of salty prog tears I have, the game hens have been soaking in oak tear barrels for a week now!

        3. And by ‘doing’, what am I to assume, chicken-fucker?

      2. I also bought bacon. I don’t know why, but it’s bacon!

      3. How does your presentation work on that?

        Do you still put on an apron and carve for the whole table?

      4. If you had said “we’re doing game cocks,” I would have known who is having you over for Thanksgiving.

        1. Ping pong with your hard-on?

    3. reason circa 2006 was even more hideous than the current ugliness.

      Do they not spend any of the donation dollars on a web designer? Or do they just override their recommendations?

      1. How about a web server? I think they’re paying someone’s 10 year old $5 a week to maintain the site and are running it on a Dell Pentium 2 laptop with 500mb of system RAM. I don’t care about the design, but web hosting with reliable support from people who actually know what they’re doing, is dirt cheap these days.

        1. A glance at this comment made me think it was spam and I was about to ignore it completely. There’s something about the length and use of numbers throughout (including a dollar sign).

          Are you getting infected by the spammers, Hyperion?

          1. No, but the squirrels are wreaking havoc on my posting productivity.

        2. You should boycott the comments section until your demands are met.

      2. Do they not spend any of the donation dollars on a web designer?

        They did once.

        I’m pretty sure that’s how we picked up the shreeeeeek.

        1. What is this shreek everyone keeps referring to?

          1. A commenter who used to go by shrike and now goes by Palin’s Buttplug. He lost a bet to Playa Manhattan and hasn’t shown that he’s paid his debt, thus my handle.

            Some commenters think he goes by AddictionMyth/dajjal now but I’m not convinced.

    4. Rereading this is my favorite holiday tradition.

  2. …they are unfit for any other purpose than their own slaughter and consumption.

    They kill and eat each other? Welcome to Trump’s America, I guess.

    1. Turkeys, with or without “hormones”, wild or domesticated,really have no other purpose than to be eaten by something/someone. It may as well be me rather than the coyotes.

  3. I think they should waterboard them instead.


    1. Slipping into the country on the next gravy boat.

        1. A reducto ad Switzerum sauce, I see.

          1. Reduced Swiss Rum Sauce?

            Other than rum, what ingredients are there?

            1. A little cola and some ice?

              1. Served in a narrowed glass.

              2. Nah it’s swiss…. use Rivella!

  4. Timmy, we took Rover out to a nice farm in the country where he can run and play and be free…

    1. ^This. I constantly see this with adults who encounter injured wildlife – they seem to think that wildlife rehab centers are like ERs. While those centers may provide some medical care to some individual animals, mostly they are given a quiet place to die.

      1. My wife almost pulled over once to save a fucking turtle walking across the road. And where we live there is lots of roadkill (raccoons, skunks, deer etc) I try to tell her that the world isn’t running out of any of the kinds of animals you find on the side of the road.

        1. When I was stationed a Ft Irwin, a guy rescued a tortoise crossing the road, and went to keep it.

          There was a $20K fine involved.

        2. Well, turtles might be an exception to that rule. I have, on occasion, stopped to help a turtle cross the road. Not that I make a habit of it or consider it a moral obligation or something. But turtles are neat and don’t reproduce too quickly.

          1. Yep, same here. There are some animals I swerve to try to hit, but I swerve to miss most so that I don’t have to hose off my undercarriage when I get home.

        3. I can tell that Black Bears are no longer endangered in New Jersey – judging by the number of dead ones on the side of the road and the fact that the carnage no longer phases commuters.

        1. Interview with the two tourists. They were fined $235 and had to pay $500 to the Yellowstone Park Foundation Wildlife Protection Fund.

  5. What? Nothing proves more than this fact that we’re ruled by lizard people.

    1. I suspect that actual lizard people would simply eat the turkey. Amirite, Mr. Lizard?

      1. Please place a tungsten-foil hat on your head before proceeding. [Pause.] Actually, lizard people are allergic to turkey.

  6. I’m on a special diet. I only eat endangered species.

    1. How will we know how they taste if we don’t consume them before they’re gone?

    2. +1 Spatchcocked Eagle!

    3. So this guy’s caught shooting Spotted Owls and from what’s in his freezer, it’s obvious he’s eaten quite a few.
      Hauled before the judge, he’s convicted and given a long sentence, but the judge calls him to the bench:
      ‘Son, I’ll give you a break if you tell me what they taste like’
      Poacher: ‘Real similar to Bald Eagles’.

  7. TF*;DR


  8. Oh, this dumb bullshit.

    I think that instead of this idiocy, the president should kill the turkey himself and then gut it and pluck it on live TV each year. For extra points, he could eat it’s still beating heart.

    1. Having the President slaughter an animal, clean it, and cook it would make them far more likable in my eyes.

    2. If Trump did it, Huffington Post would cover it live.

      1. And he’s win flyover country in a landslide in 2020.

    3. “I took an ax to that bird myself. The thing barely put up a fight, what a loser. Sad!”

    4. you’ll recall the freakout when Sarah Palin pardoned a turkey, while someone was actively slaughtering others in the background.

      1. Vaguely.

        But it’s good for people. They need to stop being suck pussies. We kill animals and eat them. That’s a good thing.

        1. Yeah, as someone mentioned in the Alicia Silverstone shaving subthread (among others), there’d be a lot less animals otherwise.

        2. My brother was blessed with 4 daughters. He raises them to understand this. They got themselves a piglet, named it, and had fun raising it. Come Christmas time he took all the girls out to the pen and shot and butchered it. My other brother (pussy) was aghast. Anyway, my 6-year old niece is telling me all about how they had this pig and how much fun it was and that they named him Borris, yada, yada. I asked her whatever happened to Borris? With a big smile on her face she says, ‘We ate him. He was delicious.’

          1. I know several men who were raised on ranches. There was always a male calf, who became a steer, who became steaks and ground beef. His name was something like Chuck or Phil A. Mignon. For the pig, he was something like Sir Francis Bacon, or Hamlet. The important thing was that everyone understood from a young age that this was the food animal, so they were to be fed, protected, and then killed and eaten.

            1. Oh, so you met my childhood cows TBone, Hamburger, and Daisy?

              We had a mobile butcher come out to kill and prep the carcass when it was time to refill the fridge/freezer. I wanted them to save the tongue so I could cook it. Guy says ok, go get a pan. Come back and he cuts it out, cleans it and sets in the pan for me to take back inside. Still warm.

              I have no illusions about where my food comes from. Also, steak is on the menu tomorrow.

            2. My Aunt and Uncle had 3 meat rabbits named Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Their daughters were well aware of what went into the rabbit stew they had that winter.

      2. A pardon with teeth.

  9. Wait until the drone food bird poaching gets going.

  10. Not only should Trump discontinue this stupid tradition, he should create a new one: a turkey is set free on the White House lawn and the president then drone bombs it himself.

    A tradition for this new American century if there ever was one.

  11. They’re buried at Mount Vernon.

    That’s ridiculous. They could at least feed them to the tigers (or whatever) at the National Zoo.

    1. We cooked the tigers, those are animatronic recreations. They can’t eat turkey.

  12. Is Obama going to stick his nose up in the air and give the turkey some type of medal before the pardon? Or did he give the last one to some Hollywood turkey?

    1. His nobel peace prize – the turkey did more to earn it than he did.

    2. Pretty much… Ellen Degeneres

  13. “The chosen birds are killed because they have been engineered and packed with hormones to the point that they are unfit for any other purpose than their own slaughter and consumption.”

    Actually, they aren’t packed with hormones. Not even a little bit. It’s poultry, not cattle.

    But bonus points for trying to earn credibility with the snobby “I never eat at McDonalds” crowd.

    1. You forgot to accuse him of collaborating with the MSM/JournoList. Do you even Trump bro

      1. Seen my “coexist” bumper sticker yet?

    2. In fact, all meat poultry are cage-free and hormone-free. Only egg-laying poultry is caged and that’s for easier collection of eggs (and no hormones are used on them either).

      And I’m prettier sure they’re not “engineered” either? poultry size is purely the result of selective breeding.

      1. They’re only Frankenchickens if the people doing the breeding wear white lab coats or work for a corporashunz.

      2. The real crime is vegetarian eggs. Chickens are vicious little omnivores who turn insectile pests into tasty yolk.

    3. Maybe they were thinking of antibiotics.

      The story with turkeys is supposedly that they are bred to have such ridiculously large breast muscles that they can barely function. Not sure how true that is exactly. Nor do I care. More efficient meat production is good.

      I’d think the president would get some kind of fancy heirloom turkey or something, though rather than the genetic freaks that are raised commercially.

      1. Maybe they were thinking of antibiotics.

        He may have been thinking of diethylstilbestrol, which (I just learned) used to be given to turkeys before its health effects were known. In any event, I’ve updated the post to note Fiskej?’s error.

        And I’m prettier sure they’re not “engineered” either? poultry size is purely the result of selective breeding.

        Which is a form of engineering.

        1. Which is a form of engineering.


          1. How is “breeding turkeys so they’ll be larger” not a form of “engineering larger turkeys”?

            1. How are biology and zoology different than bio-engineering? We’re not taking about designing replacement hips for birds.

              Genetic engineering (inserting genes where they can’t get without direct manipulation) straddles the line.

              I don’t see basic livestock management as being engineering.

              1. Sorry, but selective breeding to reinforce desired traits seems to fall well within the understood definition of engineering and the impact is well within the biological realm… IE: it seems to be the textbook definition of bio-engineering.

                Now note- if you have a degree in a closely related field, these words may have industry specific meanings to you and others, just as app means a lot more to IT people than it does to most others.

                Even if that’s true though, we’re talking here in a more broad sense, and bio-engineering fits well here. Just as of talking publicly about apps, you’d assume most people won’t read the word apps as IT people, don’t assume any here all others read bio-engineering exactly as biology majors would.


                  Engineering is the application of mathematics and scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge in order to invent, innovate, design, build, maintain, research, and improve structures, machines, tools, systems, components, materials, processes and organizations.

                  I disagree. Engineers do not design or make living, breathing things. I believe that genetic engineering is an abuse of the word “engineering”.

                  1. All engineering is applied science.

                    Not every applied science is engineering.

                  2. Animals are structures, systems, tools and processes.

                    Maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but I don’t think it’s so easy to separate.

                    1. Animals are structures, systems, tools and processes.

                      So what, English is a second language for you?

                    2. selective breeding modifies the structures and systems and processes that all living organisms are composed of.

                      You are a series of machines constructed of smaller machines, constructed of smaller machines, all working together.

                    3. Well, how are they not those things? A horse pulling a plow isn’t a tool? Biological structures and systems aren’t really structures and systems?

              2. Huh, I’m usually the one who argues that there is a meaningful distinction between conventionally bred and GMO crops. But I think that a deliberate and focused breeding program to develop specific traits could probably be fairly described as “engineering”.

                Anyway, this is a pointless argument. Turkeys as we know them didn’t happen without a lot of help from people.

              3. Basic livestock management is engineering. Its just using the already existing and incredibly shitty engineering mechanisms that exist ‘in nature’ rather than the refined and targeted mechanisms involved in ‘genetic engineering’ (its all genetic engineering, the only difference is the level of control you can exert).

                A mutation is a mutation, whatever its source – you think that bombarding plant seeds with radiation from an ‘artificial’ source is any different than being bombarded with radiation from living on the surface of a planet? Selection is selection whether its by culling (the ‘natural’ way) or controlling access to reproduction (the farming way).

        2. And I’m prettier sure they’re not “engineered” either? poultry size is purely the result of selective breeding.

          Which is a form of engineering.

          While it may be technically correct, I don’t think Fiskej?’s word choice is helpful since people may read it and think evil kkkorporationz have been genetically modifying turkeys in labs for more meat rather than farmers allowing turkeys with desirable traits to breed and not allowing turkeys with undesirable traits to breed or hatch.

          I’ve seen this loose-and-fast usage of “engineering” confusing people to the point where they think a hybrid is GMO.

          Which the organic food producers probably like since it profits them…

          1. I don’t think Fiskej?’s word choice is helpful since people may read it and think evil kkkorporationz have been genetically modifying turkeys in labs for more meat

            Maybe. I don’t share the popular aversion to GMOs, so I don’t see a big moral distinction there that other people might see.

          2. I’ve seen people on here, numerous times, arguing that there is absolutely no rational distinction to be made between conventionally bred crops and GMO crops. I’m often the only one to argue the other side (not because GMOs are a bad thing, but because they have the potential to be a much more effective thing than conventional selective breeding).

      2. It is true that commercially farmed turkeys are too big/misproportioned to breed the old fashioned way, so they have to be artificially harvested/inseminated.

        Food has gotten much better since God died.

        1. “And they said those proportions were unrealistic.”

        2. So what’s your job?

          — I’m the cloaca stroker at the turkey farm.

      3. The story with turkeys is supposedly that they are bred to have such ridiculously large breast muscles that they can barely function. Not sure how true that is exactly.

        You take the turkeys with larger breasts and allow them to breed (or their eggs to hatch) before eating them and you take the turkeys with smaller breasts and eat them before they breed or eat their eggs.

    4. I never eat at McDonalds.

  14. How about instead of pardoning some birds that are just gonna get eaten anyway, the President starts a new tradition of pardoning some human beings who are unjustly rotting away in America’s overflowing prison system?

    1. Because then they’d end up killed and eaten.

      1. I guess that also explains his failure to close Guantanamo Bay.

    2. Cut the guy some slack! Between this, and giving out medals to daytime talkshow hosts, he just doesn’t have any room in his schedule for the unimportant stuff!

  15. “Turkey learns fate”

    “Learns”? Is that really the correct word?

    We have regular commenters here who are incapable of learning.

    1. New tradition – all the Tulpas are gathered in one thread, then the president decides which Tulpa is pardoned?

      1. This thread is as good as any other.

        “I’m the one true Tulpa. You shall place no other Tulpae before me!”

        1. The speaker was promptly drowned in a sea of sock puppetry.

      2. The Traveler had wanted to put various questions to the Officer, but at the sight of the Condemned Tulpa, asked only, “Does he know his judgment?” “No,” said the Officer, about to continue his explanation. But the Traveler broke in, “He doesn’t know his own judgment?” “No!” the Officer repeated, pausing for an instant, as if demanding a more detailed explanation of the question. The Officer then said, “It would be no use informing him — he’s going to experience it on his body, anyway.”

    2. It’s a fun way to spin the story for children.

      But it’s CNN at noon on a Wednesday. Children aren’t watching, so it is stupid and insulting.

  16. I constantly see this with adults who encounter injured wildlife – they seem to think that wildlife rehab centers are like ERs. While those centers may provide some medical care to some individual animals, mostly they are given a quiet place to die.

    Lots of people around here have a gun in the car; not because they fear highwaymen, but because they might be called upon to euthanize some stupid fucking animal on the side of the road.

    Somebody was telling me a story a while back about coming upon a car full of turistas who had hit a deer. The thing was flailing around on the side of the road with one or more broken legs. He was in his wife’s car, so he didn’t have a gun with him, but sdomebody else who stopped did. BLAM! No more pain, no more suffering.. The turistas were horrified. They apparently thought the deer ambulance was en route.

    1. Whitetail deer are vermin.

      1. Agreed. No matter how much corn they have to eat, they still choose to eat your shrubberies. The only good deer is a dead one.

        1. I’m rather surprised that there hasn’t been zombie deer horror film. No eating brains or anything like that, just zombie deer acting like deer, but undead.

          1. That might have enough interest for a skit, but you need more plot to make a movie out of it.

            1. Well, I’d have posted the script but for the comment limits.

          2. So, what? Waiting by the side of the road to jump in front of your car, but slower?

            1. No, just like regular deer, only they don’t stay dead.

      2. Tasty vermin, though.

    2. Eh, everyone knows that it’s not legal to hunt from the road in most places. Everyone also knows that it still happens.

      The euthanization cover is about as thin a gauze as anyone can place over it. Gotta keep the slickers from figuring it all out.

    3. Better not do that in this next of the woods (Taxachusetts), I’m fairly certain that unless you’re a certified wildlife helper outer, you’ll wind up with some hellacious fine for doing the humane thing.

    4. Saw exactly this happen when I was newly 16 in a friend’s car going from his house to mine. Someone had called the cops so we stayed after they lady who hit the deer and the guy who put it down left — she had called the cops, but both claimed to have warrants. The DPS guys show up (Texas) and the coversation goes:
      Cop: Do you want the deer?
      Us: No thanks.
      Cop: One of you grab the front legs, the other the back and carry it back to the woods where it’ll get eaten.
      [We do that, cops open the trunk of the cruiser and hand us the biowipes from the first aid kit]
      Cop: Okay, now we’ll search your car for beer and pot…
      [IIRC there was some beer in the car]
      Cop:… just kidding. Have a good night, guys.

  17. What happened to the glorious tradition of releasing them from helicopters?

    1. Trump should do this. Chuck the whole lot over DC and whichever turkey lives, gets a pardon.

    2. So…..Jennifer or Bailey ?

      1. Both, at the same time.

        While Les has to watch.

        1. *furiously starts laying out tape on floor so Les can’t watch*

          1. It’s a Trump admin, so now Les is finally gonna get that wall, and make Herb pay for it.

  18. Thanks to Obama, the tradition of Presidential pardons for actual human beings has been revived.

    Now maybe it’s time to abolish the faux tradition of pardoning birds.

    Time some of the Presidential pardons for the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, that should keep an element of tradition.

  19. IIRC it was a little girl who phoned “7 Sec. Delay” yrs. ago to explain to Ken & Andy that their effort to get a turkey (Superfresh) adopted as a pet (which it was explained they’re not good for) instead of butchered would just mean another turkey would be butchered in its place.

  20. Say…didja ever get the feeling that this isn’t the real reality, and that we actually live in a heavy-handed metaphor?

    Every. God. Damned. Day.

    Sometimes I wonder if maybe the world really did end on 12/21/2012 and this is actually hell and we’re just not aware of it.

    Is this the real life?
    Is this just fantasy?

  21. The Fate of the Pardoned Turkeys

    Can’t we just stop with the Hillary stories?

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