The Norman Transcript


April 6, 2014

The Medieval Fair as a measure of human progress

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

This upcoming weekend we are invited to “Step back in time for a day of revels at the Medieval Fair.

Enjoy mirth and merriment with kings, queens, knights and fools as the kingdom comes alive.” It’s an opportunity to experience the imagined happy and pleasurable aspects life in the European Middle Ages.

More of that time will be displayed than perhaps is intended. Human slavery, which was common during much of that era, is a practice we now view as repugnant, ugly and degrading both to the victims and the “masters.”

And yet, slavery is still alive and well and attendees will get to see slaves displayed as an elephant ride and a camel ride and a petting zoo will be among the exhibitions.

These animals, who are forced to abandon their natural behaviors to satisfy their human masters, are usually coerced into performing by cruel and abusive “training” that can include beatings, the use of bullhooks or whips and/or the witholding of food and water.

They are deprived of their freedom and isolated from others of their kind and experience the misery, fear, loneliness and despair that we can imagine human slaves experienced. Look closely at the camel and the elephant and the various small animals in the petting zoo. You will be faced with the dull eyes, the fear, the despair and the downtrodden demeanor that characterized the victims of human slavery.

Thankfully we’ve moved beyond enslaving humans but realize that the vile practice of slavery still exists.

The only thing we’ve changed is the selection of the victims. You will be able to have a close encounter with slavery and slaves and see that they are not enjoying much “mirth and merriment.” Enslaving living beings for our “entertainment” is degrading for our victims and for us. We can do better.

Glenn Lane


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