Winter/Spring 1998 Poultry Press
Protest "Poultry Slam"
"Chickens and turkeys more than any other animal are mirrors of ourselves. When we talk about modern poultry we're talking about ourselves." --Ira Glass,
"Poultry Slam '97", This American Life 12/5/97, WBEZ Chicago
The "Annual Poultry Slam" is a heartless, insipid, unfunny radio show that needs to be cancelled. Aired nationally on NPR in 1996 and 1997 as part of a weekly series called This American Life, the "Poultry Slam," produced and hosted by Ira Glass, uses the Thanksgiving-Christmas holidays to bash birds from various viewpoints ranging from Glass himself to poultry farmers to puppet theater directors. If the poultry slam is a mirror of ourselves, we need a new reflection.

The message: Humans are clever, neat and superior; chickens and turkeys are dirty, stupid, and pathetic. They deserve our abuse and it's fun to abuse them physically and verbally.

"Chickens are actually very dirty birds . . . They have no individual personality" . . . "They don't know the things they're laying are eggs" . . . "They brought out the bully in a 10-year old boy" . . . I'd kick them out of the way" . . . "Turkeys are that stupid" . . . "Nothing about a turkey except a meal . . . just basically a living dinner". . . "Chickens can't even meet the 'standard of perfection' . . . We dominate every aspect of their life and they're still lacking". . . "They're inhuman, on a continuum with plants and insects we have no remorse about killing."

[This story about a South African "good luck ceremony" is supposed to be funny. ]You take a chicken to a mountain, you dig a hole, you poke out the chicken's eyes with a sewing needle, you bury the chicken in the hole. You leave the blinded bird to suffocate in the hole.

A speaker recalls his farmboy days. You cut off the chicken's head. The chicken starts to "explode and spaz out." The headless chickens would do evasive maneuvers, as if they could tell you were there. We'd throw the headless birds into a 5 gallon drum. They'd bang around inside. When my father swung a chicken around his head to kill it he got a line of chicken shit across his glasses. [You're supposed to laugh.] Hen-pecked chickens brought out the bully in me. I'd kick them out of the way. Those poor, dumb chickens. ["Remorse" is part of the joke. ]

What Can I Do?

What Can I Do?

What Can I Do?

  • Contact This American Life, National Public Radio, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which funded this show in 1996 and 1997, and tell them to drop the "Poultry Slam." It stinks, it never should have run, and it's run its course. If possible, send Ira Glass a brief, positive story about your personal experience with a chicken, turkey, or duck and request a show featuring your voice. Request a written reply.

    • Ira Glass, Producer
      This American Life
      848 Grand Avenue
      Chicago, IL 60611
      Ph: 312-832-9150, X412
      Fax: 312-832-3100

    • Richard Madden
      Director of Radio
      Corporation for Public Broadcasting
      901 E Street, NW
      Washington, DC 20004-2037
      Ph: 202-879-9600
      Fax: 202-783-1019

    • Delano Lewis, President
      National Public Radio
      635 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
      Washington, DC 20001-3753
      Ph: 202-414-2010
      Fax: 202-414-3049
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