Aug 30 2011

To the United States Marine Corps — re: Farting in Afghanistan

It has come to my attention that one of the most basic rights of our brave Marines serving in Afghanistan is in serious jeopardy. It was reported last week by the Military Times that Marines are no longer allowed to fart in Afghanistan, as this is considered very offensive by the Afghan people. This is outrageous! How can the U.S. military claim to be protecting the rights of Americans while taking those rights away from the very service members who are protecting them?

There is nothing in the Constitution saying that Americans can’t fart. This is just more historical revisionism by the left. What’s next? No farting in schools? No farting in courthouses? No farting at Christmas? U.S. service members have been able to freely fart since 1775. Even George Washington himself farted!

The founding fathers were very clear on the issue of farting. It’s right there in the original documents. But you won’t find this in your children’s textbooks! The left has taken care of that, with their elitist manners and all that politically correct fear of offending people. We need to go back to the original writings of the founders!

Here is what Benjamin Franklin, a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, wrote to the Royal Academy of Brussels about farting:

“Permit me then humbly to propose one of that sort for your consideration, and through you, if you approve it, for the serious Enquiry of learned Physicians, Chemists, etc. of this enlightened Age.

“It is universally well known, That in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Creatures, a great Quantity of Wind.

“That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it.

“That all well-bred People therefore, to avoid giving such Offence, forcibly restrain the Efforts of Nature to discharge that Wind.

“That so retained contrary to Nature, it not only gives frequently great present Pain, but occasions future Disease, such as habitual Cholics, Ruptures, Tympanies, &c., often destructive of the Constitution, & sometimes of Life itself.

“Were it not for the odiously Offensive smell accompanying such Escapes, polite People would probably be under no more Restraint in discharging such Wind in Company, than they are spitting, or in blowing their Noses.

“My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome and not disagreeable, to be mixed with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the Natural Discharges, of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreeable as Perfumes.

“That this is not a chimerical Project, and altogether impossible, may appear from these Considerations. That we already have some Knowledge of Means capable of Varying that Smell. He that dines on stale Flesh, especially with much addition of Onions, shall be able to afford a Stink that no Company can tolerate; while he that has lived for some Time on Vegetables only, shall have that Breath so pure as to be insensible to the most delicate Noses; and if he can manage so as to avoid the Report, he may any where give Vent to his Griefs, unnoticed. But as there are many to whom an entire Vegetable Diet would be inconvenient, and as a little Quick-Lime thrown into a Jakes will correct the amazing Quantity of fetid air arising from the vast mass of putrid Matter contained in such Places, and render it rather pleasing to the Smell, who knows but that a little Powder of Lime (or some other thing equivalent) taken in our Food, or perhaps a Glass of Limewater drank at Dinner, may have the same Effect on the Air produced in and issuing from our Bowels? This is worth the Experiment.

“Certain it is also that we have the Power of changing by slight Means the Smell of another Discharge, that of our Water. A few Stems of Asparagus eaten, shall give our Urine a disagreeable Odour; and a Pill of Turpentine no bigger than a Pea, shall bestow on it the pleasing Smell of Violets. And why should it be thought more impossible in Nature, to find Means of making a Perfume of our Wind than of our Water?

“For the Encouragement of this Enquiry (from the immortal Honour to be reasonably expected by the Inventor), let it be reasonably considered of how small Importance of Mankind, or to how small a Part of Mankind have been useful those Discoveries in Science that have heretofore made Philosophers famous. Are there twenty Men in Europe at this Day, the happier, or even the easier, for any Knowledge they have picked out of Aristotle? What comfort can the Vortices of Descartes give to a Man who has Whirlwinds in his Bowels? The Knowledge of Newton’s Mutual Attraction of the Particles of Matter, can it afford Ease to him who is racked by their mutual Repulsion, and the cruel Distensions it occasions? The Pleasure arising to a few Philosophers, from seeing, a few Times in their Life, the Threads of Light untwisted, and separated by the Newtonian Prism into seven Colours, can it be compared with the Ease and Comfort every Man living might feel seven times a Day, by discharging freely the Wind from his Bowels? Especially if it be converted into a Perfume: For the Pleasures of one Sense being little inferior to those of another, instead of pleasing the Sight he might delight the Smell of those about him, & make Numbers happy, which to a benevolent Mind must afford infinite Satisfaction. The generous Soul, who now endeavours to find out whether the Friends he entertains like best Claret or Burgundy, Champagne or Madeira, would then enquire also whether they chose Musk or Lilly, Rose or Bergamot, and provide accordingly. And surely such a Liberty of Expressing one’s Scent-iments , and pleasing one another, is of infinitely more Importance to human Happiness than that Liberty of the Press, or of abusing one another, which the English are so ready to fight & die for.

“In short, this Invention, if compleated, would be, as Bacon expresses it, bringing Philosophy home to Men’s Business and Bosoms. And I cannot but conclude, that in Comparison therewith, for universal and continual Utility, the Science of the Philosophers abovementioned, even with the Addition, Gentlemen, of your “Figure quelconque” and the Figures inscribed in it, are, all together, scarcely worth a FARThing.”



Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Ed Brayton

    I’m sure now that MRFF has gotten wind of it, they’ll be going to the big cheese to cut through the redtape and fix the problem.

  2. 2
    Chris Rodda

    Oh, that was bad, Ed ;-)

  3. 3
    The Lorax

    If it was something like… I dunno… I betray my lack of cultural knowledge by potentially pulling out an incorrect example, but since many religious cultures disallow eating a meat du jour, lets say, for the sake of argument, it’s cuttlefish. So you’re not allowed to eat cuttlefish in Afghanistan. And yet, here you have a whole hoard of beefy, tough, rough-n-tumble American soldiers who just love their deep-fried cuttlefish-on-a-stick. Whatever do you do?

    Well, it’s pretty simple: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. If they find it offensive, don’t do it! It’s just cuttlefish. Switch it over to squid or something.

    Of course, that’s that. This is this. Farting is not a cuttlefish. Farting is a natural human action. It’s very difficult to prevent farting. It’s like trying to prevent coughing, hiccuping, clicking your tongue, drooling, dribbling, salivating, snorting, snoring, sneezing, shitting, having sex, giving birth, walking, talking, balking, and any other number of things that George Carlin (RIP!) would do a better job at coming up with. Sorry guys and gals, you can’t make a law against those things. Culture, religion, and opinion can’t prevent a human body from doing what it does best: Turning Twinkies into poo.

    You might as well say that your culture would be offended if I spoke about other equally valid and inescapable ideas, like evolution or equal rights for women and homosexuals.

    … Oh.

  4. 4
    Non-Biblical Paul

    Benjamin Franklin got all that out of farting?

    I can picture him pacing his home, ripping one and then conjecturing, conjecturing again and then ripping another, until he finally got it right. Could there possibly have been anyone at the Royal Academy of Brussels who kept a straight face, after someone in his audience inevitably ripped one during his speech?

    I learned a lot about history today, but respectfully, I think you’ve got a lot to learn about the Marine Corps. Do you know how many basic rights you sign away to become a Marine?

  5. 5

    Chris, where do you find these things?

    I love these examples that prove that our forebears were not a bunch of prudish Elizabethans, but were products of the Enlightenment. That they actually gave thought to such mundanities as public farting.

    Similarly, I wish that we had this level of sophisticated rhetoric these days. Hitchens is the only person I can think of in modern times who could possibly wax so poetic about passing gas.

  6. 6

    The ban on farting may seem like a piece from the Onion, but there are reasons for it. One year ago, Ann Jones wrote at TomDispatch.com:

    On the base, I heard incessant talk about COIN, the “new” doctrine resurrected from the disaster of Vietnam in the irrational hope that it will work this time. From my experience at the FOB, however, it’s clear enough that the hearts-and-minds part of COIN is already dead in the water, and one widespread practice in the military that’s gone unreported by other embedded journalists helps explain why. So here’s a TomDispatch exclusive, courtesy of Afghan-American men serving as interpreters for the soldiers. They were embarrassed to the point of agony when mentioning this habit, but desperate to put a stop to it. COIN calls for the military to meet and make friends with village elders, drink tea, plan “development,” and captivate their hearts and minds. Several interpreters told me, however, that every meeting includes some young American soldiers whose locker-room-style male bonding features bouts of hilarious farting.

    To Afghan men, nothing is more shameful. A fart is proof that a man cannot control any of his apparatus below the belt. The man who farts is thus not a man at all. He cannot be taken seriously, nor can any of his ideas or promises or plans.

  7. 7

    Not being american I’m not familiar with your constitution, does the first amendment promise freedom of SPEECH or of EXPRESSION? If the latter, surely there’s a case to be made for farting being a form of protected expression, you can fart tunes, its practically an artform

  8. 8

    Had you actually READ the article, you would have foundthat the anti-farting issue applies to Marines OUTSIDE of their BASE CAMPS IN AFGHANISTAN, as in OUT ON PATROL with AFGANIS.

    WHAT has happened to good, solid, investigative reporting? Anymore it’s just blog after blog of quasi-journalists ranting without a cause?

    Semper Fidelis,
    Gregory Romeu – USMC

  9. 9
    Chris Rodda

    Gregory … I think you need to crack open a dictionary and look up the word “satire.” This post obviously isn’t supposed to be real reporting. It’s a satire aimed at the people who keep coming out with alarmist “news” stories about their religious freedom being taken away, and invoking the founding fathers. I also posted it on the COMEDY page at HuffPost. Got that? The COMEDY page. (I can’t believe I’m having to explain this.)

  10. 10

    Chris, I grew up in the Air Farce, and knew a lot of jarheads (and seebees and grunts, even a few delta force guys) that wouldn’t know humor if it landed on them right out of a mortar….so to speak.

    So don’t be surprised. A lot of jarheads take themselves way too seriously to get humor. A lot of good marines, on the other hand, probably got a good chuckle out of this.

    [We should be able to tell by how many don't get jarhead/marine distinction.]

  11. 11
    Pierce R. Butler

    Am I the only lucky reader to be treated to a perfume ad immediately below the post?

  12. 12

    Thanks for that one, Chris. Ben Franklin was already my favorite Founding Father, but I had no idea what an incredible writer and humorist he now appears to have been. Gotta go… I have to clean the coffee off of my keyboard…

  13. 13

    And gregory demonstrates why a famous Marine chant that explains what a Marine is goes, “Muscles Are Required, Intelligence Not Essential, Sir!”

  14. 14
    Mike Morrison

    This is a really old post, but I admit. This went over my head as well. :D

Leave a Reply