"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Monday, October 22, 2012

Discrimination Against Chickens Is Disgraceful!

Uncle Guido is very happy to see that finally chickens are at center stage, deposing Romney and Obama, and highlighting issues ignored by the campaign.  The New York Times gives the community infighting over chickens prominence today (10.22.12).  Apparently some Brooklyn residents simply cannot abide chickens in their presence:

The month-old dispute that has turned neighbor against neighbor in Brooklyn has spawned petitions, door-to-door campaigns and reams of fliers. There have been shouting matches, and even an intervention from a city councilman.

I don’t particularly like the use of the word ‘spawned’ here, suggesting a disgusting stream of cloudy fish sperm, but I get the drift, so to speak.  The author misses the point, however, and turns what is essentially a chickens’ rights issue to, predictably, a human one.

The human issue is that some residents put a chicken residence (I reject the word ‘coop’ which is as much a symbol of slavery, incarceration, abuse, and deprivation as ‘lock-up’ or slave quarters, just as I reject ‘pen’ for other animals, redolent as it is of penitentiary crowded cells, and of course capital punishment) in a community garden.  This introduction of one of the world’s most important species and one of the most integral to human society since they first started hunting and pecking corn kernels out of shit is completely natural.  Brooklyn’s garden will replicate nature’s larger world similar to classic Japanese formal gardens which in their miniaturized, tonsured trees and plants, quietly running brooks, and elegant landscaping, mimic the larger world around them. 

Ms. Smith and members of her family dominated a rancorous and sometimes profane meeting on Sunday over the chickens’ future. It was frequently conducted at top volume, prompted much muttering and head-shaking on the sidelines, and featured eloquent speeches about the meaning of community alongside detailed discussions of rat history, coop wiring and composting. (A city rat consultant, whom garden members had invited to inspect the garden, was also on hand to proclaim the chickens rat-free.)

The author obviously has a good sense of humor, describing the deliberations (“muttering and head-shaking”) in chicken-like (clucking and pecking); but also accurately characterizes the ridiculous degrees people will go to debunk chickens (actually ‘de-roost’ would be a far more appropriate term). 

The community heaped abuse after calumny on the chickens. By calling in a rat consultant (btw, who ever knew there were such people, let alone hired at the taxpayers’ expense.  A rat exterminator is all we need to know) they have conceded the possibility that chickens are infested by rats.  How could that be?  For all their dignity and historical perseverance, chickens are stupid, weak, and defenseless and would get eaten by rats, if in fact they existed, in minutes. So, chickens = no rats = no need for a rat consultant.

Now comes the worst part:

The anti-chicken faction, which has gathered about 160 signatures on a petition protesting the hens, charged that they would bring stink, vermin, flies, lead poisoning and possibly even avian flu into the neighborhood.

Can you imagine if these malicious, odious, and totally libelous statements were leveled at a human minority?  Can you imagine the public outcry?  Free speech is one thing, but uncalled-for diatribes and invectives are totally out of place.

There was one and only one voice of reason and moderation in an otherwise rancorous debate:

“Community gardening is really just as much about the community as the gardening, and chickens can sometimes point out ways in which that’s the case,” said Siena Chrisman, a garden member.

Chickens can of course point out the way.  Even in ancient Roman times emperors consulted chicken entrails to foresee the future.  The understood that the giblets, tripe, and guts were the repository of a chicken’s life experience.  Yes, the chickens made their observations without any intelligence, but the goal of Hindu life is to achieve a trance-like state where you assimilate the world without cognition, and the fact that chickens have no cognition at all make them almost holy. 

“I want to get along with my neighbors,” said Ibon Muhammad, who has lived on Warren Street since 1980. “I don’t want a chicken to get between me and my neighbor.”

Well said, Mr. Muhammad, who rumor has it runs a halal butchery and wants to be sure that chickens get into his neighbors not between them.  Commercial interests aside, Mr. Muhammad has obliquely but correctly referred to the rightful place of chickens among us. The introduction of chickens into community is but one small step towards residential chicken quarters, and then finally full integration into the home. According to the Times article, the chickens “normally live on Governors Island but winter in various foster homes around the city”, the Brooklyn Community Garden being one.  New York and its residents are clearly more enlightened than the rest of us who simply eat Chicken McNuggets without a second thought.  Actually that would be two more than a chicken ever had in his short, happy, life, but that is a digression.

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