Lions and Tigers and Bears – God Damn!
The problem with the world today is that circuses don’t have animals anymore.
Back when I was in short pants, a visit to the circus was something you looked forward to all year long. The big top was home to a wide selection of nimble contortionists, motley clowns, sideshow freaks and sketchy carnies on the run from the law. It was the embodiment of the American people and as fine a representation of our culture as there ever was.
Everyone loved a three-ring circus and one of the highlights of the trip was watching a majestic African elephant dancing in a tutu – wondering all the while if this would be the day it would finally lose its mind, shed its chains and try to kill us all.
Nowadays, though, having animals in a circus is considered a damned crime. People get all up on their hind legs if anyone dares try to put a dress on an appaloosa or asks a seal to play Camptown Races on the squeak horn. They petition, they picket, they moan and scream bloody murder about animal abuse and animal rights.
Animal rights? Last time I checked, animals didn’t have any rights. That’s why we’re free to own them, eat them and hunt them to extinction. As far as I remember Joshua Q. Pachyderm didn’t put his name to the constitution and wasn’t consulted on the Bill of Rights either. And judging by the steak I ate last night, if animals do have protection under the law they’re doing a damned lousy job of enforcing it.
Not only have lion-hugging zealots removed animals from circuses – they’ve sucked the fun out of them in entirely. Nowadays, circuses are all damned Broadway productions with atmospheric sound tracks, smoke machines, laser light shows and a $200 entrance fee. Clowns don’t wear red noses or stuff themselves in tiny automobiles, no one gets shot out of cannons and I haven’t seen a decent freak since I visited Pip and Zip, the human pinheads, back at the World Circus Sideshow in 1941.
In my view, the circus has become just another national institution we’ve ruined like the moving pictures, radio serials and censorship. So do yourself damned favor and the next time the circus rolls into town, put away your placards, buy a bag of peanuts and go watch a monkey riding on an elephant’s back. It’s a fine tradition and as American as apple pie, baseball and bearded ladies.
Circuses don’t have animals anymore. That’s the problem with the world today.