Independence Day is the time of year where we seem to get a very good survey of America’s founding, but what’s often lost on us is some of the more amusing anecdotes of American history. This week’s trek off the path takes us to one of America’s Founders, and a matter which is as timeless and egalitarian as its originator is.
The person is Ben Franklin and the subject is flatulence.
Yes, you read right – Ben Franklin once became involved in a dialogue (likely satirical) to improve the smell of human farts. The man who loved French women as much as they loved his yarns about capturing lightning with a kite was not only a party animal, he actually attempted to find a way to improve one of the most obnoxious of side effects of said debauching lifestyle. His 1781 letter to the Royal Academy of Brussels what may go down as the funniest piece of correspondence ever by an American dignitary to foreign academic body.
“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?”
Quick translation: wouldn’t it be great if we could feel free to break wind without making everyone in the room gag?
In honor of Mr. Franklin’s contribution to international relations, Off Path History is proposing that July 4th should be a Fart Amnesty Day. Yes, we Americans, to honor Ben Franklin’s contributions to American life and its founding, should grant our fellow citizens a blanket Right to Fart, free of all the righteous indignation which comes from those who choose not to engage in said biological activity. Rather than the painful “hold it” moves or myriad moments of social awkwardness which most engage in, we should give our fellow Americans a free path to flatulence.
Of course, there will be protesters. Environmentalists will complain the massive release of methane-loaded emissions will do significant damage to the ozone and contribute to climate change but, in reality, the effect will be not much difference from the average emission total from the planetary bovine population. Those who advocate for immigration and undocumented aliens will ask if their constituents will be forced to “hold it in” as part of the path to citizenship. Economists will be concerned about the sudden decline of pharmaceuticals used to reduce and prevent such gaseous emissions, and let’s not forget safety experts, who will be concerned that a sudden, ill-aimed blast of flatulence could come in contact with an exposed flame, hot coal or spark from a hot grill, setting a chain of events into motion which could result in more than just the rockets red glare, if you catch my meaning.
Nonetheless, I encourage every American to set aside their differences, be those of race, region, religion or sexual orientation, and come together in our common biological thread. We are a free people, and we still have something we can share in as a people, something which offers a direct, historical connection to one of our more illustrious founders; a man who really was, in so many unique ways, the definitively timeless American.
Mr. Franklin is probably smiling as I write this, but as the song from the movie Frozen goes, “let it go, let it go, don’t hold it back anymore.” We are Americans, this is our holiday, and farting is our real national pastime. Let’s embrace it, and enjoy it!
And pass the beans, please.
FYI: Fart Proudly: Writings of Benjamin Franklin You Never Read in School is a book available on Barnes & Noble. Seriously!