Is Farting A Crime Or A Basic Human Right?

We were gobsmacked to learn earlier in the week that the government of Malawi has made farting a criminal offence.

Boggart Blog has always considered freedom to fart as a basic human right and a civil liberty.

In the past farting was seen as an art form and a popular entertainment. A French Vaudeville artiste Josef Pujol (Le Petomane or The Fartist) was for several years one of the most successful performers on the French Music Hall circuit until one night, stressed by continual abuse his sphincter failed him and as the world fell out of his bottom, the bottom fell out of his world.

Eighteenth century writer Charles James Fox even waxed lyrical on the topic. His work The Benefit Of Farting, Essay Upon Wind began with this disclaimer:

“I think I hear the Curious Reader exclaim, ‘Heavens! That the brain of man should be set to work upon such cursed nonsense – such damned low stuff as farting; he ought to be ashamed of straining his dull faculties to such a nasty absurd subject.'”

And where are the Politically Correct Thought Police Stupid Health Warnings dept.) on this one. Are they not aware that being too twee to fart is a serious health risk. There was a case of a Roman Emperor who farted himself to death. So long did he suppress his flatulence that when the gas build up finally overcame his sphincter the rapid release of pressure on his heart brought on a cardiac arrest.

Also we would have expected uproar from the people who are always banging on about human right is Africa. Only a couple of weeks ago they were up in arms about two gay Ugandans being punished for holding hands in public but we have not heard a squeak out of them about this latest human rights outrage in an African tyranny. Apparently it is fine for Ugandans to blow each other but not for Mallawians to blow gas.

Anyone who has ever done standup will tell you the brain of man remains as fascinated with the subject today as it was in Fox’s or Pujol’s time. That cannot ever have been a comedian who did not quickly learn a fart joke is the most reliable way to rescue an act that is dying. Farts are funny. Even my grandson who is only four months old giggles at the sounds made by my favourite toy, Uncle Windy the Farting Gnome. Clearly the humour of farting is embedded deep in the human psyche. Fart lighting videos are one of the staples of You Tube and to judge by the number of hits which internet items on Malawi’s supposed ban on farting have attracted the mainstream are more concerned about the right to fart than the right to marry someone of the same gender.

I say “supposed” because the Malawian justice minister is now trying to claim he was speaking in jest when he said a provision to criminalise farting was included in a new law. He may have ben trying the distraction technique to cover up his own embarrassing bottom burp noises. What better that a burst of jeering and ribald laughter to drown out the ripping sound of a shirt flapper.

Distraction is one of the many techniques used to distract attention in such a situation. The most common is to blame the dog. Another is to look pointedly at another person, sometimes combining this with a batting motion of the hands. However, farting etiquette hardly ends there. If you are in audience with a royal person who breaks wind, for example, the subject apologises, not the prince.

The only situation in which one can safely fart in company of the haughtiest particularity is while involed in equine pursuits. Horses are always farting and in the general chorus of rasps, burbles and squitters it is hard to pinpoint the exact source of one sound or smell.

Great thinkers differ widely in their view of farting. The Greek mathemtaician and philosopher Pythagoras never ate beans because he was convinced eery time one farts a little of one’s soul escapes. Satirist Jonathan Swift, the author of Gullivers Travels believed suppressing farts, leads to congestion of the brain, adding: “If in open Air it fires, In harmless Smoke its Force expires.”

Malawi ministers, take note. They might wish to follow the line western governments have taken on smoking and ban farting in public buildings and offices while tolerating it in private. But they mess with people’s right to fart at their peril. On the other hand if this anti – farting movement spreads liberatarians and classical liberals will have yet another will have another stick with which to beat the progressive of The Politically Correct Thought Police.

13 thoughts on “Is Farting A Crime Or A Basic Human Right?

  1. Great post, Ian. We should allow Billy Conolly and the Germans to complain more vociferously about this terrible injustice. Both have an irrepressibly anal sense of humour.That might bring about the winds of change in Malawi.
    From one old fart to another….


    • I love German fart jokes. And having been brought up in Shropshire where ‘countryside’ smells are never far away I don’t find smelly farts particularly offensive…

      … apart from one a guy standing in front of me at a Rugby match about 35 years ago dropped. It was so bad I’ve remembered it all these years.


  2. I cannot fart at will but there are times when the odd one comes in hand. I buy lots of motoring magazines and I hate the scroungers who read magazines freely in WH Smith and block me from getting my issue of Car. If I’m lucky a cloud of gaseous vapours is emitted silently and seems to clear the crowd quite quickly. I grab my copy and smile as the crowd drifts back slowly, sniffing the air.


    • I wish I could confine it to these more original and better though out posts and skip the thowaways but Google punished inactivity so hard we have to post and add links almost every day.

      Still, I am working on the Best Of Boggart Blog e-books



    Fifth Amendment Rights on Self Incrimination

    How many times have you heard “If he didn’t do anything, then he’s got nothing to hide!” or “She’s ‘taking the fifth’ so she must be guilty.” Each time I hear statements like these I cringe, and we appear to be bombarded with this nonsense on a regular basis from as far away as Hollywood, to as close as a local radio talk show program, its host, regular callers and those pesky yet loyal FTLT’ers. The reality is, the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution may well be the most powerful defense a person has available and there is absolutely no shame in flexing that muscle.

    Our Fifth Amendment, along with nine other amendments, collectively, the Bill of Rights was ratified on December 15, 1791. Its roots run deep, finding connections with the Magna Carter, signed in 1215.

    Specifically with regard to our right to keep silent it states that no one “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself…” and believe it or not, the right was designed to protect INNOCENT people. Justice Robert Jackson, a former prosecutor, General Counsel for the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Assistant US Attorney General and he was even the chief prosecutor for the Nuremburg Trials, said while sitting as a Justice of the United States Supreme Court “any lawyer worth his salt will tell a suspect in no uncertain terms to make no statements to the police under any circumstances.”

    The truth is, we have no way of knowing whether any statement made to the police might at some point be looked upon by a prosecutor as relevant in some other proceeding. Further to the point, it is my experience that clients tend to get somewhat exuberant in professing their innocence to the police and that such exuberance leads to flat out lying. That’s dangerous. Just ask Jeffrey Scott Hornoff. As you know he was a Warwick, RI police officer who was found guilty of murder. He spent six years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Had it not been for the murderer’s guilty conscience, Mr. Hornoff might still be in prison. The point is that Mr. Hornoff lied to the police during their investigation of a murder making it likely that he was convicted based upon his lie rather than the evidence. Had he just remained silent, the prosecution could not have damaged his credibility with his own contradictory statements. After all, if he lied about his relationship with the victim, then the jury surely could have seen him capable of lying about committing murder!

    Moreover, our Constitution makes it difficult to convict someone of a crime. It should! We live in a free society and we value our freedom so much that we’ve developed a system that places 100% of the burden on the prosecution when the state tries to take away that freedom. Why make it easy? In any event, prosecuting someone takes time. Why rush into an admission by speaking with the police? There’s plenty of time for that. That time also provides the accused with the opportunity to speak with counsel. Only then, should a person make an admission and certainly only in the event that the evidence makes a conviction likely.

    Remember if you’ve been arrested remain silent! You may find it difficult to do so because the police are very good at cajoling suspects into making statements, and quite frankly the innocent suspect will undoubtedly want to convince the police out of making an arrest or filing charges. When was the last time you heard of someone who was able to convince the police not to arrest the suspect based solely on the suspect’s own protestations. Never.

    I hope this essay has been helpful. ”


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