WEEKEND BRIEFINGThe Moron's Weekend Briefing
Jan. 24 - January 25 is Burns Night in Scotland. The "Burns Supper" is eaten all across Scotland each year on the anniversary of the national poet's birth. It consists of haggis and whiskey. It is customary for the host to read Burns's Ode to a Haggis at the dinner table, presumably as a diversionary tactic.
The haggis are a gentle breed of playful mammals indigenous to the Scottish highlands. They have never survived attempts at transplantation. They have been popular cuisine for as long as the British isles have been populated. Julius Caesar reflects in his memoirs that he tried to bring several thousand haggis back to Rome for breeding after his conquest of Brittania--a controversial decision that eventually led to civil war in the Roman Empire.
The ancient Picts of Ireland invaded and eventually settled Scotland in no small part because of their affinity for haggis. The ancient Celts migrated in the opposite direction to avoid it.
Haggis were traditionally trapped, killed, and prepared like most other small mammals. Toward the end of the eighteenth century, however, it became fashionable to drop living haggis, like lobster, into pots of boiling water.
This is because after boiling for half an hour the pelt peels off easily and can then be dried and used for in textiles. Haggis fur is especially popular in Scottish gloves, coats, and seat covers.
Each year I have tried to bring some attention to the terrible plight of the delicate and sweet-tempered Haggis, whose inoffensive lives are too often ended by being boiled alive at the hands of a boozy Scot.
In today's frigid atmosphere of political correctness, it is considered unfair to condemn the Scots for their grotesque maltreatment of these affectionate animals. To deplore their treatment of the haggis is to criticize their culture, and cultural criticism is an obscenity.
But Scottish culture? We're all grateful for whiskey, but is it enough to justify bagpipes and men in skirts? Has any other culture cried out so eloquently for condemnation?
Try looking into the trusting brown eyes of a haggis and explaining that it must be boiled alive and ceremonially dismembered for the sake of Scottish culture.
According to People against the Indefensible Treatment of Haggis, more than eight million haggis were "ranched" for this year's festivities. Over six million of these ranch-bred haggis, beside whom veal calves might well be considered pampered, were sold to Scots who will take them home, boiled them alive, then skin and dismember them. The nearly two million not sold will be tossed alive into commercial blenders, mixed with fresh cream, frozen, and later sold as the popular Scottish summer treat, Haggis Ice.
This holocaust must end. To help bring it home to Americans, I ask my American readers to take a moment to reflect on our own Groundhog's Day. Each February 2, we honor the prognosticative skills of that curious little creature in a vast national celebration of pagan superstition. How many groundhogs die for this celebration? None. How many groundhog mothers are separated from their groundhog children in order to satisfy our national groundhog needs? None. How many grandfathers stand at the heads of their dinner tables, proudly presiding over the dismemberment of a steaming groundhog carcass?
The Scots could learn a thing or two about ethical animal treatment from us. We could probably also teach them a thing or two about trousers.
Stop the holocaust now. Sent your outraged emails to the presiding officer of Scottish Parliament.
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January 24 is the birthday of Mary Lou Retton (1968), Nastassia Kinski (1960), Yakov Smirnoff (1951), John Belushi (1949), Neil Diamond (1941), Ernest Borgnine (1917), Edith Wharton (1862), and Pierre de Beaumarchais (1732).
January 25 is the birthday of Corazon Aquino (1933), Dean Jones (1931), Virginia Woolf (1882), and that father of mammalian genocide, Robert Burns (1759).
January 26 is the birthday of Wayne Gretzky (1961), Ellen DeGeneres (1958), Eddie Van Halen (1955), Jack Youngblood (1950), Gene Siskel (1946), Bob Uecker (1935), Jules Feiffer (1929), Eartha Kitt (1928), Paul Newman (1925), and Douglas MacArthur (1880).
January 25 is Flag Day in South Korea. January 26 is Australia Day in Australia (go figure), Republic Day in India, and, of course, Ritualized Haggis Abuse Day in Scotland.
© 2002, The Moron's Almanac