It's just not good enough for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that the White House symbolically pardons two massive turkeys on the eve of each Thanksgiving.
Now PETA wants to retire the word pardon.
At issue: Pardons are used to free crooks. And, they say, the birds are innocent victims.
"Turkeys haven't committed any crimes, so it's inaccurate to 'pardon' them. Semantics—as any movement for social change realizes—is important," says a PETA official.
Recently, terminology and titles have become a pet peeve for PETA. Also this week, PETA asked the town of Turkey, Texas, to change its name to 'Tofurky' for Thanksgiving.
PETA President Ingrid Newkirk has even penned a letter to the White House seeking a change in the terminology. Her letter, provided to Whispers, reads as follows:
Dear Mr. President:
I'm writing on behalf of PETA and our 3 million members and supporters—as well as the millions more people who have rescued turkeys or are religious or ethical vegetarians—regarding a long-standing White House tradition: the turkey 'pardon.' As I'm sure you know, 'to pardon' means 'to exempt a guilty party from punishment.' We would like to propose a more appropriate term for the event: 'spare.' The difference between 'spare' and 'pardon' may seem slight, but as you know, our language choices have a lasting influence on the way that we, as a culture, view the action described. These turkeys, as well as the millions of turkeys slated to be violently killed for the holidays, are innocent bystanders, not criminals. It would be more accurate to 'spare,' or refrain from harming, them.
Thank you for your consideration, and happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.
Very truly yours,
Ingrid E. Newkirk