Easter and the Ethics of Artifice

By the Kajman ©2019 (“Konverzace v anglickém jazyce, man!“)

In our customs and traditions we tend to accept the use of the artificial to represent the actual; the fake in place of the real. How shocked we would surely be to attend a communion service and be offered anything other than the customary bread and wine. Would anybody call this unethical? Quite to the contrary. Who would be so unaccustomed to symbolism as to write a letter of complaint to their church objecting to the absence of real blood? Let’s not even go there.

Similarly we accept the prevalence at Easter of the lamb cake as a substitute for a real lamb for slaughter. If you think keeping carp on death row in the bathtub is a tricky business, imagine the complications associated with lambs innocently cavorting around in your bathroom. Let’s not even go there. Who would complain that the symbolic lamb substitute is unethical trickery? Surely nobody.

As for chocolate hens, does anyone suppose that real, live chickens will be picketing and protesting about the use of coco-chicks to their own exclusion and unemployment? Not likely. If hens were intelligent they might fear their eventual replacement by artificial intelligence, but they’re not, so they don’t. And chocolate eggs? Just one word: YUM! If you would object to that symbolic substitution, then just give me all your chocolate eggs and be happy. I will be happy.

Now here lies the unsolved problem: the customary use, by Czechs, of real live girls for being doused with water (real) and whipped with willow switches (real again!) Does nobody have the imagination and facility with the symbolic to use fake substitutes for the girls, thus ensuring the greater comfort and safety of the actual ones? Could we not whack our willows against plastic clothing mannequins? Could we not dump our water buckets over straw effigies of women while their living, breathing counterparts cheered us on from a dry distance?

This Easter can we not give thought to the ethics of our celebratory customs; can we not substitute the feminine with the plastic? Let’s demand more plastic! Oh, wait… another ethical question to solve. Time to put our logic back to work.

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