Chicken News:
The Reaction

by Laura Buchholz


This is my "cute little chicken cartoon" from the last issue of ducts. I know many of you saw it. My mom saw it, and exclaimed, "oh, we all LOVED it--it was so CUTE!" Others of you who saw it, remarked, "congratulations, Laura, we thought it was so adorable the way you aligned human egg donation with mass chicken slavery!"

Flattering, no doubt. But let me ask you this: Hypothetically, would you ever approach Martin Luther King, Jr at an hors d‚oeuvres table and, while dipping a carrot in dill dressing, open the conversation by remarking, "I liked what you had to say about freedom. It was cute."
















Would you sit with Saddam Hussein on a roller coaster if he was by himself and there was an open seat, and remark, "I thought it was adorable how you kept refusing to let UN weapons inspectors inside your factories! What a tease!"

Or would you, while serving drinks at a golf course, pinch O.J. Simpon's cheeks and, while waggling them back and forth, sputter out in babytalk, "WHO didn't do it? A buh-buh-buh-buh! It was YOU! No, you didn't do it, you BIG BOY! Who's a BIG BOY? YOU ARE!"

My point, people is that chickens are serious business, and are not to be trifled with. In fact, if we just stopped to pay attention, we would realize that chickens deal with many of the same issues that we do --their condition reflects the state of our nation, as well as the state of the world. Unimpressed? Let me illustrate my point.

Most people, even if they have hardly anything in their refrigerators, will have eggs. There are two types of eggs: White eggs, and brown eggs.

Now, by a show of hands, how many among you buy white eggs?

And how many buy brown eggs?

Exactly. You all buy white eggs. But wherefore this discrepancy? If you were blindfolded, do you think you could tell the difference between a white egg and a brown egg, just by holding it in your hand? Maybe knocking on it? Cracking it open and letting the whole thing slide down your throat? Probably not.

Let's probe deeper.

Maybe you don't like to buy brown eggs because you think they're DIRTY or IMPURE.

Maybe you feel that you just don't UNDERSTAND the brown eggs, or you think that brown eggs have NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU.

Maybe you think the chicken that produced the egg might have been on crack.

Maybe you're afraid that you will LIKE the brown eggs.

Maybe you're afraid that you will like the brown eggs TOO MUCH.

Maybe you're afraid of having to explain to your mother that you've started cooking with brown eggs. She just wouldn't understand. She would stop sending you family recipes, and would eye all of your subsequent onion souffles with suspicion.

Let's face the truth. You are AFRAID of BROWN EGGS! YOU ARE AFRAID OF BROWN EGGS!

And is that what America is about? Fear?

I see that most of you are entirely unimpressed. You hold tightly to your stereotype of the chicken as the "dumb blonde" of the animal kingdom, failing to realize that behind that cashew-sized brain lies a heart the size of a small tangerine. But the juice of that tangerine is not always sweet. No no, it is sometimes as bitter, dry, and conflicted as the soul of the chicken itself. But I digress.

What do we make of the Easter holiday, people? And what could be cuter than a pink wicker basket filled with fluffy newborn chicks to help us celebrate The Rising Of Our Lord?

Cute, perhaps, until you realize that that overflowing basket of love probably contains not ONE male chick. That is because at hatching, baby chicks are sexed by an expert, the males thrown aside, killed, or neglected, as inevitably they become too aggressive, and their meat becomes too tough to be tasty. Void of any egg-laying capacity, these males are deemed utterly unworthy of anyone's time and consideration once their unfortunate gender has been discovered. Sound familiar, gentlemen of the audience? Maybe some of you remember the days when roosters were strong and admired--crowing muscularly from the farm fence--up before anyone else--stewards and providers for the hens, admired, respected, needed. But those days are over. Respect for roosters is in steep decline, and has gone the way of the dead white male of reading lists across America's universities. Extinct. Irrelevent. Unneeded. The modern-day rooster.

"That is just a coincidence, Laura", you might be thinking. Either that, or, "shut up so we can get on with things!" I ask you to stay with me for one more brief point. My last point is one that goes straight to the heart of most young New Yorkers like myself (barring those with trust funds or jobs as consultants or investment bankers. For those of you who fit those descriptions, the following does not apply to you, and you may use this time to get on your cell phones and check the progress of your tech stocks).

To the rest of you, I ask this: How many times in the last week have you complained about your stinking job, or your ratty apartment situation? How many times have you fantasized about having a well-paid, meaningful job, and living far from the city in a large, airy farmhouse with a yard, and apple pie cooling on the windowsill? Maybe some of you wonder why you're so poor, dejected, and artistic, while there are kids out there younger than you, who, while probably "geeks" or "sell-outs", are living large, raking in stacks of cash probably made from wood pulp from receding Costa Rican rainforests? Some of you might go so far as to wish that you could live in the wild, like an oblivious beast (perhaps a chicken?), hunting and/or gathering with no worries, living the simple life. Tell that to a chicken, and it would probably laugh in your face, if it had the ability to laugh, poor thing. For the days where any beast on the planet was free from economic cruelty are far past. Not even a chicken can escape the miseries of roommates, meaningless work, and envy towards Californians.

Once raised mainly on family farms, most of the chickens of the United States are now raised in crowded industrial conditions -- often 4 to a cage -- unable to move, trapped, mechanically churning out eggs day in and out; or else fattened and devoured by "the man".

"Cozy 3-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn" and a "flexible" temp job while looking for acting gigs, anyone?

Perhaps while jostling for a seat on the subway, you dream of Silicon Valley and the riches therein, where 20-something Dot Com billionariers delegate from their mountain bikes as they whiz by acres and acres of free-range chicken farms. On these farms, scores of fulfilled and fattened hens, in the blissful absence of bothersome roosters, lay large white eggs that will be devoured by, among others, the newly hired black lesbian studies Berkeley professor who has just moved into the recently vacated Classics offices.

At this point I welcome all trust fund babies and financial types to turn off their phones and rejoin us, for, mercifully, I am finished.

You may be asking yourselves, "will she leave us with a message to take home?" And while the answer is a resounding "no", I hope that in the very least, the next time you are gnawing on a greasy drumstick, that you will do so with greater understanding and respect for chickens. Because that, after all, is what America is all about (isn't it?).


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