Disclaimer: In the event that this somehow ends in an honor-case, I want to be clear that some of the events described below were received second hand, and I have omitted the names of questionably or tangentially involved organizations and people.  Take what I say with a grain of salt and a lump of good sense.

So now let me tell you a little story:

There’s an event at Reed College called Paideia during the week before the spring term begins. During this week there is funding available for any willing students to teach classes on any subject– it’s an alternative educational week for all of the practical and impractical subjects that aren’t covered by our conservative curriculum.  Classes in the past have included everything from underwater basket weaving, semantics, speed walking, and animal skinning/processing.

Well, this year my friend and housemate Gabe, continuing traditions of old, secured funding to teach a class on chicken slaughter and processing.  $80 or so was granted by the college to purchase a number of spent laying hens from the local organic egg co-op.  These were going to be slaughtered at our house (“the Fridge”) for the education of anyone who wanted to attend.  And just to clarify, both Gabe and I have experience slaughtering fowl at home in a humane (read: as painless as we think we can be) and sanitary way, so we were perfectly prepared to teach such a class.

Where did the trouble begin?  Perhaps when I suggested that we list the class under the title “Choking the Chicken”.  The listed description of the class was as follows:

Hey meat eaters, come take responsibility for your diet: learn how to properly slaughter, clean, and dress a chicken. And then grill and eat them! We also have a coop with 4 feathery residents if you’re interested in seeing how to keep them alive as well.

The name may have inspired the following events, though it certainly doesn’t justify the boneheaded tomfoolery that resulted.  A few days ago Gabe received an email from Reed student who will henceforth be called Sciureuse or S for short.  S expressed their concern as to whether we were qualified and prepared to present such a class, and I think that they did so is a relatively meek and respectful manner.  However, S also foolishly took it upon themselves to tip off the Portland Animal Defense League.

The Portland Animal Defense League promotes their own brand of “terrorism” (their word choice) towards ending the use of animals for food, clothing, and entertainment, with the caveat that they are “opposed To ANY action that physically endangers or harms ANY human or animal.”  They’re a cheery bunch whose supporters have been listed on the domestic terrorist watchlist. They say: “almost always, laws must be broken in order to expose hidden abuses.”

Anyways, so Gabe starts receiving emails and starts getting nasty facebook messages from members of the PADL.  “Do you know if it is legal to sacrifice four animals this sabbath day?”…Paraphrase: “You should try killing youself and eating your flesh and see how you like it”.  S, in their tipoff certainly gave them enough information to find Gabe, and may have given away his contact information.  This led to harassment and threatening messages and more.

Yesterday, Gabe and I discussed whether we should go ahead with the class.  There was talk about protesters showing up, we weren’t sure if permits were lined up properly, and he needed to work on his thesis before school resumed.  We decided that it wasn’t worth the trouble, and we got permission to spend the $80 on some whole chickens and other food from New Seasons, so that we could celebrate the wonder that is dead chicken without all of the hassle.  So beer and some roasted chicken would suffice.  Laughing at the absurdity of our situation, we went to bed for the night without giving it another though.

Fast forward 8 hours: I walk down the stairs to the kitchen in my bath robe, the morning hazy from a night’s worth of drinking and celebration.  Gabe and his girlfriend stood over some food on the table with some of my housemates.  He looked up at me as I entered the room, “They took the chickens.” “What?” “They came and took our laying hens”.  Some fools from the PADL (presumably) had come onto our property in the middle of the night, broken into the chicken coop, and taken hens that weren’t even destined for slaughter.  No doubt, they thought it an act of “liberation”.  We’re thinking about it more like trespassing and theft.  And to add insult to injury, it was later discovered that they’d also stolen the lid to our grill, so as to preclude any grilling.  Indignant and bit defeated, Gabe left to go buy some chicken.

We’re in the kitchen. We’re making pancakes, bacon, recovering from the night over fresh coffee.  I stepped out to take a shower, and when I returned downstairs, my housemate looked up at me, “The vegans are here.”  I walked into the living room and looked out the window.  Standing on our porch were twelve or so tight-jeaned, tall-booted, crusty hipster looking types with an average age of 17.5 at best.

Time writer Dan Fletcher states that "Hipsters manage to attract a loathing unique in its intensity". (Wikipedia image)

Two of my housemates walked outside and told them to “get the fuck off of our porch” and they retreated and regrouped on the sidewalk.  They approached again, one of them holding a digital camera aimed towards the door.  “Is Gabe there?” they asked.  “No”. “Why can’t we talk to Gabe? Is she afraid to come talk with us?”. In a moment of glory, clean-cut, going-to-grad school Ezra stepped forward, “Gabe’s not here because he canceled the class two weeks ago, you cocksucker”.  “Whoa” their head-woman responded, “there’s no reason for it to go there.  Look, we didn’t take your chickens.”  More words followed, the door was closed, and the skinny-legged hipsters retreated to the bus-stop across the street, smiling and high-fiving.

What comes of all this?  Well, there may be some action against S for giving out information that led to Gabe’s harassment, location of our residence, theft, and general nuisance.  We’ve lost some chickens to morons who stole the wrong ones, and I’m comforted to know that no matter how stupid things get, there are young people out there who can be trusted to lower the bar and make us all feel better about ourselves.  I often think that I spend my time pointlessly, but they’ve got me beat in spades.

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