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Posted: April 24, 2009 12:01 a.m.

Chicken dance is not animal cruelty

 I love animals and hate to see them mistreated.

 I remember Willie B., the late famed gorilla of the zoo in Atlanta. When I was a kid, Willie was behind a glass in a tiled room with a tires swing and a TV. This was before cable and there were only three commercial and one educational channel.

 I’m not sure which was more abusive, locking him up inside or having to watch some of the stuff on TV. Shows like "My Mother the Car," which was about a guy who buys an antique car and finds his dead mother speaks to him through the car radio.

 You might have to send your gorilla to therapy after that.

 Eventually, they turned the old Grant Park Zoo into Zoo Atlanta and built Willie a nice habitat. He watched enough TV to learn about the birds and bees and left a few offspring before he went to that great tire swing in the sky.

 But this isn’t really about gorillas. It’s about chickens.

 The organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has never liked anything to do with the poultry industry.

 Before I launch into my opinion, I need to make a few disclaimers. First, I live in Gainesville — the Poultry Capital of the Entire Universe. We used to say the Poultry Capital of the World, but all of the little space exploration vehicles they have sent throughout the solar system has not turned up a single chicken from Mercury to Pluto, except on Earth.

 Some of you are saying at this point that Pluto is not a planet. I am a supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Pluto and we can take this fight out into the parking lot, if you like.

 Back to Earth for a moment.

 Somebody came up with the grand idea of having a contest at this week’s big NASCAR race in Talladega, Ala. The contest is an attempt to set a world record for the number of people doing the chicken dance.

 The chicken dance is an annoying thing where you open and close your hands like a chicken’s beak, flap your arms as if they were wings, shake your backside while squatting down and then clap three times. It is not a pretty thing. You will not see it on "Dancing With The Stars."

 The attempt at record breaking is being sponsored by Kentucky Fried Chicken, a company that stays in the crosshairs of PETA.

 The PETA folks say KFC creates needless suffering for chickens and as a result, the Guiness Book of World Records should ignore the chicken dance contest.

 These are not real chickens doing the chicken dance. It is being performed by people, some of whom will have had too much to drink. If this was being protested by People for the Ethical Treatment of Beer, I might give it a second thought.

 The Alabama protest is being lodged by the same organization that has suggested that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal turn a poultry processing plant that is closing into a "Chicken Empathy Museum."

 I would say something really profound here, but I’m late for lunch at my favorite chicken place.

Harris Blackwood is a native of Social Circle. He is the community editor of The
Gainesville Times.

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