The 7 deadly questions

Have you heard any of these?

1. Chickens stink.
2. Chickens are noisy.
3. Chickens are dirty.
4. Chickens attract vermin.
5. Chickens carry disease.
6. Chicken coops are visual blight.
7. Chickens will cost taxpayers money.

If you live in Brookfield, Wis., you are hearing them now from your City Council. It seems that every community that contemplates allowing people to keep chickens has to answer the same questions. The objections are not obviously insincere, but a few minutes research on the Internet or a couple of phone calls to municipalities like Milwaukee or Madison that have allowed chickens for years would quickly prove the concerns to be unfounded.

All of which leads us to conclude that they aren’t genuine objections at all, but stand-ins for the real objection, which is a fear of the new or unusual, especially if it involves the messy, unpredictable natural world.

Consider the objections raised in Brookfield, as reported by Bridget Shanahan for WTMJ4: "Some of the concerns are odor, noise and disease," said Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto. Ponto is also worried about the kinds of animals the chickens and their feed might attract. "I have concerns that it's in conflict with our emphasis on openness on minimizing outbuildings," Ponto said. Besides, he added, "any kind of violation of an ordinance in this regard puts an additional burden on the city government."

Nonetheless, Brookfield probably will ask for citizen input on the chicken question over the next few months, according to the report. So, if you want to keep chickens in Brookfield, be prepared to answer the seven deadly questions that every governmental body since the Roman Senate has asked. Chickens are common in hundreds of cities across the USA. There are plenty of answers if people want to hear them.