Archive for Monday, February 27, 2012

City law interpretation spares lives of chickens slated for slaughter in public display of art

February 27, 2012


A public slaughtering of chickens won’t happen inside Lawrence city limits after a local artist was warned her planned art project could subject her to a fine under the city’s animal cruelty ordinance.

Amber Hansen, the artist proposing “The Story of Chickens: A Revolution,” said Monday she will be changing her public art event in order to comply with city code.

But the project will move forward, Hansen said, and will do so in a way that draws attention to the process of slaughtering animals.

“If people choose to eat meat, it is an important process to witness and be mindful of,” Hansen said. “It is a process that takes place on a mass scale everyday, and we aren’t really allowed to see it.”

And don’t expect to see it on a Lawrence street or even on a piece of private property anytime soon. Assistant City Attorney Chad Sublet confirmed he informed Hansen a public slaughtering of chickens would be interpreted as a violation of the city’s animal cruelty code, which states it is illegal for “any person to willfully or maliciously kill any domesticated animal.”

Under the city’s code, chickens are considered domesticated fowl.

“I think one could argue there is a freedom of expression interest here, but I think under our obligations to protect the health, safety and public welfare it is an activity we can regulate,” said Sublet, who added preventing animal cruelty is a “significant public interest.”

Sublet also said the keeping of any chicken on private property would require Hansen to abide by local codes that regulate the number and manner in which chickens can be housed in the city.

Original plans called for a coop of chickens to be displayed at various locations around town, and volunteers would help care for the birds. The exhibit was slated to end with public slaughtering of the birds, which then would be served up as a meal.

Sublet reviewed the legal issues at the request of Hansen. The artist said she doesn’t plan to challenge the city’s interpretation.

“People can raise chickens and eat meat in the city limits, but this event can’t take place,” Hansen said. “So, it raises a different set of questions for me.”

Hansen on Monday said she was finalizing details of what her event would include. She said she plans to release details in the next day or so after meeting with other partners. She said she still plans to have an event at the Percolator art gallery, 913 R.I.

Hansen’s project, which was reported in the Journal-World earlier this month, has drawn concern from Lawrence’s Compassion for All Animals Group, and from a group called United Poultry Concerns.

“There has been a lot of feedback,” Hansen said of comments she has received. “There has been a lot of meaningful dialogue and discussion and that is good. The project will move forward to accommodate that discussion, but it will abide by the city’s codes.”

The fine for violating the city’s animal cruelty code can be up to $1,000 and six months in jail, Sublet said.


domino 6 years ago

I don't see any way that slaughtering chickens can be called an art project. That being said, growing up on the farm, I have helped slaughter chickens, pigs and cows. I have also helped clean and process deer, squirrel, rabbit, turtle, and any other number of animals that have been hunted and fished by my family. It is part of life on a farm and I have no problem with it or with people eating meat. I am glad that the City stopped this, as I don't think somewhere in the middle of Lawrence is the proper place to do this - and certainly not in the name of art!!

RoeDapple 6 years ago

Decapitation has been putting drumsticks on the table since time began. Animal cruelty? No, facts of life. Still not art.

Frank A Janzen 6 years ago

As my mother used to say, "....running around like a chicken with it's head chopped off." On my grandparents' farm north of Humboldt, in south-east Kansas, I saw how chickens ran -- flopped -- around with their heads chopped -- rung -- off.

gphawk89 6 years ago

Yep. I've never seen a decapitated chicken (or pheasant or duck or prairie chicken or quail) actually run. They do all flop around to some degree.

deec 6 years ago

Much art has been made throughout history to further political and/or religious goals.

Chrissy Neibarger 6 years ago

Agreed Roe, not art.

I can't see why people would want to witness that in the first place. I have chickens, mind you just for the eggs, and completely understand those that have them for meat - but really - she thinks that people will want to come to a public display of slaughtering. What year is this?

Kathy Theis-Getto 6 years ago

deec, I agree. There really is no single definition of art - it's more a description of the way something's done. I think of it as using a skill or one's imagination in order to create objects, or ENVIRONMENTS, or even EXPERIENCES. All these things can be shared with others

Kathy Theis-Getto 6 years ago

On a side note - my great-grandma was quite artistic when ringing necks - dance-like if you will.

Flap Doodle 6 years ago

Mike the headless chicken was unavailable for comment.

coloradoan 6 years ago

Um, so now known as "Mime" the headless chicken?

WilburM 6 years ago

For the Xth time, this was NOT a Spencer exhibition. It's from Rocket grants, which were decided upon independently.

And RE Mrs. Spencer, thanks so much for the late-19th Century museum, built with her money and her architect, with no natural light, constructed in 1978 and obsolete the day it opened its doors.

ST3V3N 6 years ago

Probably because Monkeys look too much like people?

giveitback 6 years ago

Something tells me the sky is about to fall!!!!

somedude20 6 years ago

Oh Amber...Amber, Amber, Amber, just get a bucket of KFC (two or 3 if you can afford it) and stop, mash, punch, kiss, or whatever you want to do to the "chicken" to get the attention that you crave

pavlovs_dog 6 years ago

Just got the wrong kind of chickens.

oldvet 6 years ago

Whack... whack! Heading for hot grease!

KSense 6 years ago

Just wondering where everybody thinks KFC gets their chicken. Fried chicken doesn't exactly grow on trees you know.

KSense 6 years ago

Really!? I sincerely hope your first sentence is dripping with sarcasm.

Jeff Kilgore 6 years ago

While "art" isn't remotely the intent, the fact that there is an attempt to suppress the public slaughter is strange as the "art" performance itself.. "Out of sight, out of mind," an American institution, seems to be the thinking here. If you don't have to see the slaughter, then it doesn't exist.

I recall an Englishman, in order to educate children about the origins of their food, wanting to show children the slaughter of chickens, which was roundly shouted down, and rightly so. But this proposition asks us to consider this: if a person is unable to kill food to eat, should this food be allowable to that person? That seems like a stubborn point, but it really is not. Both my mother and my wife's mother slaughtered chickens to eat by literally wringing their necks. A person who did that on 10th and Massachusetts would be jailed.

"Art," you know, pretty paintings on the wall that you buy at Hobby Lobby, isn't always the intent of the "artist." Sometimes it's to make us more aware of the conditions in which we live. While it's not "art" per se, and while I would vote it down, I have to laugh at the charge of "animal cruelty." Would chickens, if interviewed, care if their slaughter was due to an evening meal or an artist's "project?"

The charge in this case should not be cruelty to animals but cruelty to humans who want chicken on their plate and not on their minds.

jafs 6 years ago

I agree with much of that.

But, given the vast amount of inhumane treatment and killing of animals that occurs all of the time in this country, it would be very easy to document it without actually killing more animals to do so.

deec 6 years ago

It is getting harder to do that. Several states are working at passing laws making documenting animal abuse at ag. facilities a crime.

jafs 6 years ago

I'm very sorry to hear that.

ktbob1954 6 years ago

Are people actually this stupid everywhere??? Or is it just LAWRENCE ?? Eating animals for food is a fact of life, but making a public spectacle out of it, and calling it art, is beyond the pale. Humans are really stupid.

KSense 6 years ago

Chickens are worse! :) (the stupid part i mean)

billbodiggens 6 years ago

Lets see, I'm going to kill a bunch of chickens to prove to the world that killing chickens is objectionable. Hmmmm. I guess I should be grateful that they did not want to beat up a group of spouses to prove how awful beating on spouses is. I guess some people are just a little off centered. And others appear to be on a tilt-a-whirl 24 - 7.

texburgh 6 years ago

Keeping in mind that I did not read the original articles announcing the project, I note that in this article there is no mention of an intent to "kill a bunch of chickens to prove to the world that killing chickens is objectionable." What she said was, "If people choose to eat meat, it is an important process to witness and be mindful of. It is a process that takes place on a mass scale everyday, and we aren’t really allowed to see it.” She also intends to serve up the chickens as dinner. I don't read that she wants anyone to take away a "killing chickens is objectionable" message. Rather she hopes to connect people to the reality of where they get the meat they eat. It would be good to be more mindful of how we get our food. It might slow down the industrialization of our ag economy thus reducing the stress on the land, air, water, etc. brought on my such mass production. It makes food cheap, but does it make it good or good for us? I enjoy being an omnivore but after reading "The Omnivore's Dilemma" I have tried to become more conscious of the food chain and how the food i purchase and eat is produced. It just might be good for people to think about the choices they make and if they might want to make different choices.

billbodiggens 6 years ago

Okay, so we kill animals for food. Those that do not understand that are not going to deal with it anyway. I've seen chickens killed, done it myself. I've seen cattle butchered, and have eaten the meat. It is all part of life. I guess I do not understand what your point is. If the point of the project was to tell people that food comes from animals, I guess that is good. But, has that not already been done many many times? It would seem to be on one level a useless killing of animals just for an "art" project. That might just be obscene.

Matthew Herbert 6 years ago

glad the city has its finger on the pulse of the real issues.

Paul R Getto 6 years ago

+1 Buck Buck, ba duck.............!

gphawk89 6 years ago

So if I buy a chicken at a farmer's market I would need to take it somewhere outside the city limits, take its head off, then take it back home to prepare it? Weird...

gatekeeper 6 years ago

They don't sell live animals at the farmer's market. You can buy chickens that were slaughtered on the farm outside of city limits. It's legal to have live chickens within the city limits for eggs only. A lot of my neighbors have chickens and just think if all these people could just slaughter them in their yards whenever they want to. I live in the city for a reason. If you want chickens so you can slaughter them yourself, then go live on a farm.

purplesage 6 years ago

The "artist" evidently has a problem with those who eat poulty, meat, etc.. So, she decides to participate in the act she considers reprehensible? How does doing the very thing one objects make it art? Or sense?

Glad they called her off. Interesting that already dead chicken can be sold within the city limits but that the demise of the chikden must tke place elsewhere.

But none of that calls for making a public spectacle. Hope she enjoys her moment of fame.

Here's the text of an email forward that's germane to the subject:. It is called "My Favorite Animal." The little boy in TX is just trying his best to be truthful:

Our teacher asked what my favorite animal was, and I said, "Fried chicken." She said I wasn't funny, but she couldn't have been right, because everyone else laughed. My parents told me to always tell the truth. I did. Fried chicken is my favorite animal. I told my dad what happened, and he said my teacher was probably a member of PETA. He said they love animals very much. I do, too. Especially chicken, pork and beef. Anyway, my teacher sent me to the principal's office. I told him what happened, and he laughed, too Then he told me not to do it again.

The next day in class my teacher asked me what my favorite live animal was. I told her it was chicken. She asked me why, so I told her it was because you could make them into fried chicken.

She sent me back to the principal's office. He laughed, and told me not to do it again.

I don't understand. My parents taught me to be honest, but my teacher doesn't like it when I am.

Today, my teacher asked us to tell her what famous person we admire most. I told her, "Colonel Sanders." Guess where I am now...

gatekeeper 6 years ago

purplesage (anonymous) says…

Interesting that already dead chicken can be sold within the city limits but that the demise of the chikden must tke place elsewhere.

It's got a lot to do with the mess that would be created if people were raising livestock at home for food within the city. Do you really want to deal with the smell, noise and blood of your neighbors slaughtering chickens whenever they want a meal? Imagine coming home to your neighbor washing blood from his driveway into the street with a hose. Ahhhh, the city life. If you want to raise animals so you can slaughter them, get a farm outside city limits.

turkeyfriend 6 years ago

I am very relieved that Amber Hansen will not be carting chickens around town and slaughtering them for "art." Live animals should not be turned into "art objects." There is nothing artistic about slaughtering chickens and eating them. If it's permissible to slaughter animals for exhibition, how about amputating a live animal's limb, say a wing or a beak or a leg, to make some point or other. A truly creative artist would not even consider it. What we need is to develop compassion for the members of other species instead of trying to invent new opportunities to violate them. Anyone can do violence. There is nothing revolutionary about that. What is revolutionary is standing up for those who cannot defend themselves, no matter who they are, or what species they belong to. Karen Davis, President, United Poultry Concerns.

patkindle 6 years ago

another typical dum dum ku starving artiist , trying to create a fuss she has grant money but it aint enough , so she wants more press, woo woo who cares? she can choke her own chicken, and leave us alone

lunacydetector 6 years ago

let there be no meat......and to think there may have been a government grant involved if brownback didn't do away with these important art projects.

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