|Winter/Spring 1998 Poultry Press|
"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?