The Electric Commentary

Monday, February 07, 2005

Fat Tuesday

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras, which is French for "pretend you're Irish." Mardi Gras is strange because it is not so much a holiday as it is a reaction to a holiday. I suppose that Lent isn't really a holiday, more of a holiday period, but you get the idea. Lent is the 40 days before Easter in which Christians give up certain things in preparation for Easter.

I like Mardi Gras precisely because it illustrates a fundamental part of human nature. If you deny someone something that they want, and at some point they are given the opportunity to have that certain something, they're going to go crazy and consume as much of it as possible. Mardi Gras is simply a natural extension of that principle. In fact, I believe that over time people have attempted to ban all sorts of new activities and products during Lent just so they can do them and eat them during Mardi Gras (Like peeing in the street, for instance). How else do you explain the existence of cake filled with sugar? (you may be thinking that all cakes are filled with sugar, but I mean literally filled with sugar, as in, there are grainy bits of sugar in the cake.) What's next, beer with pure alcohol swirls? Of course these are pretty pedestrian examples of the crazy stuff that people come up with, but the work firewall prevents me from linking to anything racier. Just use your imagination. Or the Google image search engine. Whatever.

The behavior inspired by Mardi Gras should serve as a cautionary tale for anyone seeking to ban anything. (If the goal of said ban is to curb irresponsible behavior, that is.) One of the reasons that people under the age of 21 engage in "binge drinking" more frequently than old people (like me) is because every opportunity to do so is a rare treat. They live in perpetual Lent, with an occasional respite at the random houseparty. There but for the grace of a fake I.D. goes the underage drinker. The speakeasy/gangster culture of the roaring twenties also reflected this tendency.

I have nothing against Lent. At least it's voluntary, and if people want to participate in some voluntary carnal forbearance, more power to them. And as far as voluntary bans go, it's a pretty good one. After all, without it non-religious folks would never have a good excuse to get wasted on a Tuesday. We are essentially free riding on their fasting. In fact, if you're not of the church-going persuasion, and you are partaking of and enjoying Mardi Gras, you owe a debt of gratitude to all of those people giving something up for Lent, and you should also be encouraging more Lentesque periods of religious observance. Why can't we have Samedi Gras the day before Advent?

Of course I like Lent because the decreased demand for beer will make it cheaper for me.

Just remember that if you seek to deprive people of something that you consider to be "irresponsible," you may very well create reverence for the activity. Think about the festivals that would occur if the government or a major religion stated that as of next Saturday, X would be banned where X is something that you enjoy.

Pizza fest. Beer fest. Doughnut fest. Beer fest. Hmmm. Time to use the Google image search engine again.

3 Comments:

  • If you deny someone something that they want, ... they're going to go crazy and consume as much of it as possible.

    A good argument for legalizing drugs and other vices. Libertarian Girl

    By Blogger Libertarian Girl, at 10:24 AM  

  • Catholics commemorate the beginning of the Babylonian pagan rite of Lent by celebrating the Bacchanalia under its new name “Mardi Gras”, in honor of Bacchus, the Greek god of carousing, drinking and orgies.
    The Roman Catholic Church was invented by Constantine, a pagan sun god worshipper, from Mithraism.
    Easter and Christmas are pagan sun god rites. The cross is the symbol of Heylel, the sun god.

    By Blogger Loren, at 1:21 PM  

  • Plugs are $1 each.

    By Blogger RyanSimatic, at 1:22 PM  

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