The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Monday, June 21, 2004

FLATULENCE AS ENVIRONMENTAL THREAT: I realize that you may not regard burping sheep or farting cows as a major threat to the ecological balance of our planet, but they are, as evidenced by the work of some of the finest scientific minds of our time. However, if we are to solve this grave problem then we as a society should not look to science, for science can only give us mechanistic answers to the great questions, but rather to the home, where the larger issues of the day are played out, usually at very high decibels if a teenager is involved. We must ask, what has happened to etiquette and simple courtesy in this country when even barnyard animals feel free to cut the cheese and belch whenever they damn well feel like it? Sheep and cattle of an earlier and simpler generation would never have openly passed gas in public, regarding it as the act of a ignorant pig, who, then as now, distinguished themselves by acting like pigs, but now you see flocks of these animals hanging out on street corners, drinking beer, listening to loud music, and passing gas with abandon.

One wonders where all of this is going to, if it is going anywhere. The lack of civility in modern American barnyards poses a threat to the well being of the Earth, yet no one seems to care one way or the other. It is almost as if the vast majority of people simply do not care to bring up the issue. Sheep may burp and cattle may fart in public and no one is prepared to say that this behavior is unacceptable. There seems to be a general squeamishness when it comes to this question; it appears that most people, cognizant of the role sheep and cattle play in supplying the American dinner table, do not want to mention the problem for fear, in our multicultural times, of privileging one species over another. But clearly even the most ardent supporters of multiculturalism can see for themselves that deliberate rudeness of this sort tears at the civil fabric that holds our society together. What if everyone decided to burp and fart whenever and wherever they took a notion to do so? The idea that the ultimate fate of these creatures excuses their disgusting behavior is codswallop squared to the nth degree. One may similarly argue that human beings have the right to vomit in the street or to pop old ladies’ kneecaps off with a crowbar or call romaine lettuce spinach and sell it to unsuspecting passersby in the street, and that such behavior is acceptable because someday we will all have to go to the dentist.

Scientific research is a wonderful thing, but in this case science is not needed. What is needed is a return to the traditional values of the American barnyard, although whether that is possible in these days of five hundred channels and instant gratification remains to be seen. The corrupting influence of modern popular culture, in all probability, makes the traditional values seem corny and old-fashioned to the young, who will do anything to make sure they are not seen as being totally out of it. Perhaps it is possible to appeal to their sense of environmentalism, but even that seems an iffy proposition these days. It seems to me that we have arrived at a terrible state of affairs when we can no longer call upon the idealism of youth and must instead use the devices and potions provided by science to have sheep and cattle do what their parents and grandparents did without thinking about it.



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