The Lord of Misrule and our Feast of Fools*

Fall                                                                                 Healing Moon

misrule3I remember MLK: “You can’t legislate feelings, but you can legislate behavior.” It was an admission that changing people’s hearts is work outside the realm of government, but within the public sphere, government’s appropriate responsibility, we can decide what behaviors we will tolerate and which we will not.

In place of humane restraint on our baser impulses we are now witnesses to American democracy as a long lasting Feast of Fools. Instead of a real president we elected a Lord of Misrule, an orange topped peasant (no, scratch that as unfair to peasants), let’s say an orange topped lout who now presides over an American public space dominated by greed, fear, anger, chauvinism, racism, homophobia and misogyny.

misrule2In its original manifestation the Feast of Fools served to highlight the norms governing public life by mocking them within a predetermined period of time. Leadership of the chaos went to one obviously unsuited, his actions expected to be unpredictable, coarse, even blasphemous. When the party ended, all went back to normal. The king was in charge, louts were not. And, the difference between the two had been made visible. Rule by louts harms everyone.

My one positive spin on the Orange Oval Lout is that his behavior, like the Lord of Misrule, or, should I say, as a Lord of Misrule, will serve as a similar norm revealing feast of fools. We are not a nation that shoots up synagogues, solves our problems with pipe bombs, deploys Proud Boys to beat up people of color, those with gender and sexual preferences different from our own.

When I say we are not a nation that does these things, I do not mean they will never happen. Hardly. I mean we recognize them for what they are, behavior not tolerated. We need to push these people back into their Klan Klosets, push them back into places from which they can grumble, but not rumble.

I don’t know whether this is fascism or authoritarianism or oligarchic over reach and I don’t care. I see it for what it truly is, unacceptable. Inhuman. Evil. It’s time to stop this Feast of Fools, to put that lout masquerading as a legitimate leader back in the penthouse and out of the White House. I don’t really care what happens to him. Impeach him. Defeat him. Just get him the hell away from our government. And have him take his feast of fools cronies with him.



*In England, the Lord of Misrule – known in Scotland as the Abbot of Unreason and in France as the Prince des Sots – was an officer appointed by lot during Christmastide to preside over the Feast of Fools. The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant or sub-deacon appointed to be in charge of Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild partying.  wiki

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