Saturday, July 05, 2003

Chicken Law

During an otherwise tedious faculty meeting today, one of our most popular and entertaining professors, John Kidwell, analogized law to chicken. Every law school serves chicken, he said, but they use different seasonings. (Our preferences at Wisconsin run in the direction of the "law-in-action approach.")

This reminded me of a well-known and oft-cited law review article by my former dean, Jim Huffman, called Chicken Law in an Eggshell: Part III--A Dissenting Note, 16 Envtl. L. 761 (1986). In the article, he is dissenting to a symposium on anadromous fish and notes, "it is important to make it clear that the concern is for anadromous, not androgynous, fish. Although the way fish do it, they might just as well be androgynous. But let's face it--you see one salmon, you've seen them all."

He then offers a few observations about chickens and chicken law:

* "The chicken is neither androgynous nor anadromous. It mates the good old fashioned way and travels neither upstream nor downstream: it just hangs around the farmyard. But don't be deceived by its ordinary habits. You see one chicken; you want to see another."

* "Given the importance of the topic, it may surprise some readers to know that chicken law scholarship is embryonic at best. The reason is regretfully obvious. Who would have the nerve to sign his name to a discourse on chicken law? ... My hope is that future generations will think of me in relation to chicken law, the way scholars today think of Ulisse Aldrovandi in relation to the sociology of the chicken. Aldrovandi, it seems, was the first person since the Romans to write of the chicken without the prophyactic of a pseudonym. "

There's more where that came from.