Justice writes "
Grandview city council is debating
allowing chickens to be cooped in back yards, and although the issue
itself has no great importance, the way the debate will be conducted
is going to expose an ugly side of Grandview.
The editors of local papers are
salivating over the headlines they will be writing. So far the TVN
has written the heading “Opinions fly on chickens”, but the
possibilities are endless and predictable. If there are letters
written opposing the birds it will be “residents call fowl”,
“neighbors mad at council's chicken dance”, and if defeated, “Hen
housing plans has wings clipped”, etc., ad
The possibility of poultry in Grandview
spreading Avian Flu is the source of worry for those who have been
following pandemic warnings from Asian cases (the TWG mentioned this
issue). According to the CDC, at this point there is little danger.
Influenza A (H5N1) has been transmitted
to people who are in close contact with infected birds. The virus has
not spread to the US. If it was loose in this country there would be
massive programs to limit the spread by killing flocks. If the virus
was in Columbus, the few chickens that Grandview residents owned
would be eradicated quickly (possibly by worried neighbors carrying
The doomsday scenarios of a high
fatality pandemic depends on the H5N1 virus mutating to a form that
transmits easily between humans, no birds needed. The chickens in the
back yard would have nothing to do with this scenario. Maybe they
would be pecking the corpses of dead Grandview owners.
Arguments from ignorance
So far I haven't seen letters in the
papers from outraged Grandview residents, but it's just a matter of
time. Complaints about smells, noise, and general anti-animal
prejudices are expected, and all will be written from ignorance –
nobody in G.H. lives anywhere near chickens.
I personally don't have a strong
opinion on the issue, and this is coming from a person who grew up on
a farm. Maybe it has something to do with the summer I worked on a
chicken ranch with thousands of birds and had my fill of trucking
tankfulls of chicken waste (a hood is required when you are pelted
with manure in the process of spreading it on the fields).
The pro-chicken arguments I have read
so far are focused on home raised eggs as a healthy food. A stronger
case can be made for giving the children in G.H. a learning
experience that teaches eggs are not produced in a Styrofoam factory.
Arguments about chicken smells and
noises are valid, while lacking in experience. Inevitably another
argument will be brought up - that Grandview should not become more
like a rural community, that we will be attracting Cletus and his kin
if chickens are allowed.
It's not PC to talk about Irish and
drunks, or Blacks and watermelons. But invariably when rural
residents are mentioned by city folks, the prejudices will be on full
display. The stereotypes of rednecked ignoramuses in rusting
pickups, living in shacks with inbred families (or conducting love
affairs with the livestock) are commonly used and instead of being
discouraged, these opinions are met with approving laughter.
The TV show Hee Haw was the equivalent
of the Minstrel show, and while you don't see people wearing
blackface any more, the attitude about rural residents that show
generated are still acceptable. It's perfectly fine for G.H. kids to
call the students of Millersport “The children of the corn”.
There can be a debate about chickens in
G.H. that focuses on the facts about the birds. I don't have much
hope that will happen. Instead, it will be about how Grandview should
not be like rural areas and rural people, with the implications they
are intellectually and culturally inferior, not quite as human as us.
(later) The sponsorship of the chicken ordinance was dropped by Koelker at the Aug. 3 council meeting. Unless the supporters of the chickens come back with a better plan (and publicity) the bird will not be the word.