Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Festivus For Anyone

I'm not really a proponent of giving inmates behind bars a bunch of privileges. I'm more in favor of hard labor. Chain gangs, to be precise. I think we could get a lot of stuff done with inmate labor. If nothing else, I'm at least in favor of having them crush up big rocks into little rocks, complete with that big heavy ball chained to one leg. It'd give a nice old-timey feel to incarceration! So, given my outlook on the coddling of inmates, you can imagine that I built up a full head of steam after reading that one inmate managed to get special meals because of his religious beliefs. And before you go off telling me that they're allowed special diets for religious reasons, let me tell you that his "religious belief" was Festivus. Wait. What now?

Correct. According to my local San Jose Mercury News, a one Malcolm Alarmo King (Alarmo? Really? Is he supposed to be some sort of superhero?), currently behind bars at the Theo Lacy Jail down there in Orange County, was not a big fan of salami. (I'm merely guessing that the meals were heavy on the salami, as that's the only basis that the article gives for what transpired next.) He had originally "...asked for kosher meals at the Theo Lacy jail to maintain his healthy physique." Yep. One must be in tip-top shape to prepare for all of the drug dealing that they do when they're not behind bars, don't you know?

But, alas! His kosher meals were not to be, for simply wanting to be healthy, as "...sheriff's officials reserve kosher meals for inmates with a religious need." Now, apparently, this sort of thing has to be OK'ed be a judge. The judge that was apparently involved in this instance was a one Judge Derek G. Johnson and he "...demanded a religious reason for King to receive the meals and defense attorney Fred Thiagarajah cited his client's devotion to Festivus". Oh, for cryin' out loud!

Just in case you were living under a rock during most of the 1990s, allow me to explain Festivus to you. It derives from the TV show "Seinfeld". According to Wikipedia, it was a holiday that Frank Costanza invented "...as an alternative holiday in response to the commercialization of Christmas." Sure. That seems reasonable.

Festivus doesn't have a tree. Instead, there is simply an unadorned aluminum pole (Frank found tinsel to be distracting). According to Frank, the aluminum provides a "Very high strength-to-weight ratio", an important factor to consider when choosing any holiday centerpiece. Some Festivus traditions include "Airing of Grievances," where one lashes out at others and the world about how one has been disappointed in the past year, and the "Feats of Strength" where "...the head of the household selects one person at the Festivus celebration and challenges that person to a wrestling match." My point with all of this being is that it sounds absolutely ridiculous. It also sounds just like something that would have been made up by someone.

Unfortunately, the judge didn't seem to see it that way. Nope. He saw celebrating Festivus as a perfectly legitimate claim and granted the inmates request. This went on for two months before "...the sheriff's food services staff, who interviews those needing special diets, realized Festivus sounded phony." Good Lord. It took the food services staff to figure this farce out?! I'm not trying to belittle anyone with this next question, but what is their highest level of achieved education as compared to that of the freaking judge who gave this thing the green light?!

What was that judge thinking? Even if he hadn't heard of the Seinfeld episode, wouldn't you think that if he heard "Festivus" that he might ask something to the effect of "What the hell are you talking about?" Apparently not. And that's why an inmate got kosher meals for two months that the taxpayers footed the bill for. Now...where do I air my grievances?

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2 comments:

Juliana said...

I cannot believe this is an actual story! Wow! That judge is an idiot! I agree with you on the 'old-timey feel'! Haha!

Scott Jacobs said...

*points at Mare*

I challenge YOU to some wrasslin', and as I am a magnanimous sort, I shall let you pick...

Mud, or Jello?