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Baaak! Baaak!
Posted on Saturday, April 25 @ 11:22:09 EDT by Admin

News from the small city 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 nauseam.

Flu facts

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 torches).

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.

Hee Haw

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.


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