Monday, April 13, 2015

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road, Politically and Philosophically Speaking?

Humor: “the faculty of perceiving what is amusing or comical.”
Wit: “the keen perception and cleverly apt expression of those connections between ideas which awaken amusement and pleasure.”

RICHARD M. NIXON: The chicken did not cross the road. I repeat, the chicken did not cross the road. I don't know any chickens. I have never known any chickens.

RONALD REAGAN: What chicken?

HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure right from Day One that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road or not. The chicken is either against us or for us. There is no middle ground here.

COLIN POWELL/ DONALD RUMSFELD: Now to the left of the screen you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now, and will remain against it.

AL GORE: I will fight for the chickens and I will not disappoint them. Did I mention that I invented roads?

JOHN McCAIN: My friends that chicken crossed the road because she recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.

SARAH PALIN: The chicken crossed the road because, gosh-darn it, she's a maverick!

BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for change! The chicken wanted change!

KEN STARR: I intend to prove that the chicken crossed the road at the behest of the president of the United States of America in an effort to distract law enforcement officials and the American public from the criminal wrongdoing our highest elected official has been trying to cover up. As a result, the chicken is just another pawn in the president's ongoing and elaborate scheme to obstruct justice and undermine the rule of law. For that reason, my staff intends to offer the chicken unconditional immunity provided he cooperates fully with our investigation. Furthermore, the chicken will not be permitted to reach the other side of the road until our investigation and any Congressional follow-up investigations have been completed.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: I don't know why the chicken crossed the road, but I'll bet it was getting a government grant to cross the road, and I'll bet someone out there is already forming a support group to help chickens with crossing-the-road syndrome. Can you believe this? How much more of this can real Americans take?  Chickens crossing the road paid for by their tax dollars, and when I say tax dollars, I'm talking about your money, money the government took from you to build roads for chickens to cross.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal a job from a decent, hardworking American.

JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Isn't it obvious? Can't you people see the plain truth in front of your face? The chicken was going to the "other side." That's what they call it -- the other side. Yes, my friends, that Chicken is gay. And, if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like "the other side."

DONALD TRUMP: Nobody knows more about chickens than me! I'll tell you that Donald Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of chickens crossing the roads, and we're going to make America great again. Believe me: we will build a bigly wall. And in that wall we're going to have a terrific, fat door where chickens can cross the road, but they have to cross legally because there are chickens who are criminals, rapists and drug dealers. We have to be very, very vigilant about who we allow to cross our roads. Until we figure out what is going on, then we'll see what happens.

TED CRUZ: To the revolutionary understanding that all chickens are created equal, that their rights do not come from the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. That their rights come from the Creator-- they shall cross the road. However, we need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure chickens before they cross the road and become radicalized.

BERNIE SANDERS: Let me say. Let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the chickens are right about crossing the road, and that is that the chickens are sick and tired of hearing about Clinton's damn emails. 

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road or did the road move beneath the chicken?

ISAAC NEWTON: Chickens at rest tend to stay at rest. Chickens in motion tend to cross the road.

WERNER HEISENBERG: We are not sure which side of the road the chicken was on, but the chicken was moving very fast.

JEAN FOUCAULT: It didn't. The rotation of the earth made it appear to cross.

KARL GAUSS: Because of the magnetic personality of the rooster on the other side.

GUSTAV HERTZ: Lately, it’s been crossing with greater frequency.

GEORG OHM: There was more resistance on the other side of the road.

ERWIN SCHRODINGER: Since the wording of the question implies the absence of an observer (else the chicken's motivation might easily be deduced), it is evident that the chicken simultaneously did and did not cross the road. In the face of this, any speculation as to the chicken's purpose must be viewed as mere sophistry - and as such is beyond the bounds of this discussion.

RONALD FISHER: Why does it have to be a chicken? Why not a frog, turkey, or pig? We randomly try to a have chicken, frog, turkey and pig cross the road 10 times each. We then compare the mean number of times each animal crossed the road to determine if there's a difference in means.

JOHN VON NEUMANN: The chicken is distributed probabilistically on all sides of the road until you observe it on your side.

THE BIBLE: And God came down from the heavens, and He said unto the chicken, "Thou shalt cross the road." And the chicken crossed the road, and there was rejoicing.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens, living life in peace.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die. In the rain.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross roads without having their motives called into question.

GRANDPA/GRANDMA: In my day, we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Someone told us that the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough for us.

DR. SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes! The chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed, I've not been told!

Because I love reading philosophy, here are my conjectures as to why the chicken crossed the road according to:

PARMENIDES: Only a chicken can step onto the same road twice.

ZENO: It cannot be shown that an infinite number of mid-points can be crossed in a finite amount of time; therefore, the chicken cannot get to the other side of the road.

ARISTOTLE: The end toward which a chicken crosses the road is happiness.

RENÉ DESCARTES: The chicken crosses the road; therefore, it exists.

THOMAS HOBBES: The chicken crosses the road because it is motivated by self-interest and the quest for power.

GOTTFRIED LEIBNIZ: It cannot be the case that the chicken and the not-chicken exist at the same time on the same road.

JOHN LOCKE: The chicken is bestowed with certain God-given natural rights of life and liberty to cross those roads.

DAVID HUME: What makes us so certain that the chicken crossing the road today will cross the road tomorrow? Our assumptions about matters of fact are based merely upon the present testimony of our senses. Moreover, since we can only construct general principles to explain our world, can we ever know the ultimate reason or cause why the chicken crossed the road?

IMMANUEL KANT: The perception of the chicken crossing the road presupposes that the chicken and the road exist in time and space; however, space and time are not features of external reality. They are simply features of the structure of the mind.

GEORG WILHELM FRIEDRICH HEGEL: The chicken who crosses the road is what it is because the chicken knows what the chicken is not.

KARL MARX: The oppressed chicken that crosses the road loses its essence and thereby promotes a form of alienated labor. All proletarian chickens must rebel by not crossing the roads of the bourgeois society.

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE: For the chicken, everything is the manifestation of its will to cross the road.

JEREMY BENTHAM: When the chicken considers crossing the road, that chicken has analyzed the situation in terms of the pleasure it will produce.

LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN: To understand the meaning of the chicken crossing the road is to examine the meanings of the words, chicken and road, and their use in language.

ALBERT CAMUS: In a confrontation of revolt between the chicken and its own obscurity, by crossing the road and knowing it is absurd, the chicken is living the experience, a particular fate: that life will be lived all the better if it has no meaning.

JEAN-PAUL SARTRE: Because the chicken in its crisis of consciousness knew it was free to cross the road, the chicken feared it would cross the road and ultimately discover that an abyss separated it from itself.

THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT FOR THE CHICKEN CROSSING THE ROAD: It’s inconceivable to postulate an infinite regression of road-crossing chickens.

THE TELEOLOGICAL ARGUMENT FOR THE CHICKEN CROSSING THE ROAD: When we regard the spectacle of a chicken crossing the road, we must by our consistency of reasoning also acknowledge an omniscient and omnipotent Maker of the chicken that crosses the road.

THE ONTOLOGICAL ARGUMENT FOR THE CHICKEN CROSSING THE ROAD: We can conceive of a chicken as a being who possesses perfect mobility. Crossing the road reveals perfect mobility. Therefore, a chicken crosses the road.

THE ARGUMENT FROM MIRACLES FOR THE CHICKEN CROSSING THE ROAD: We can argue for the existence of a chicken crossing the road to the existence of a chicken deity as the cause.

THE ARGUMENT FROM HARD DETERMINISM FOR THE CHICKEN CROSSING THE ROAD: There is no free choice to consider for the chicken that crosses the road. There are known and unknown antecedent conditions or causes for the chicken that crosses the road.

THE ARGUMENT FROM SOFT DETERMINISM FOR THE CHICKEN CROSSING THE ROAD: A chicken crosses the road of its own volition, and it’s also determined.

ANALYTIC STATEMENT: The chicken crossing the road is merely the chicken crossing the road.

SYNTHETIC STATEMENT: The chicken crossing the road is on the road.

A POSTERIORI CLAIM: We observe the chicken crossing the road.

A PRIORI CLAIM: We know the chicken is crossing the road.

AND AS ANY SMALL CHILD WILL TELL US: To get to the other side!


  1. Union Thugs: All chickens should be allowed to join a union so that they can fight for the right to cross the road together because it is for the betterment of all chickens to get to the other side.

    The Chicken Crossed The Road Because The Difference Between Where It Was Going, And Were It Came From, Across That Road There Were No Elections Of Fools, No Liars, No Bush’s, No Obama’s, No Empire Building, No Cowards, No Democrats, No Republicans, No Kings, No War Mongers, No Greed/Avarice Over There Only Creatures Of Honor, Truth, Justus, And Godliness, All Of Which Are Missing Behind That Chicken In What Was Once America, Where After They Murdered Jack Kennedy, And Destroyed The Sacred Works Of FDR. We Were Once Camelot, We Are Now Fast Becoming The Lost Atlantis…

  3. Dear Peter,

    I'm leaning toward the analytical proposition.


  4. Love this post, Glen! I thought you might have written it in the aftermath of Hillary's announcement (her having originally been a "Goldwater gal," then a pretty liberal Dem &, next, appearing to be more of a DFER.
    LOTS of road crossing there! Anyway, that last, small child answer makes the most sense (out of the mouths of babes), but I'll leave you all w/this gem from Groucho Marx, courtesy of Krazy TA, a frequent commentator on Diane Ravitch's Blog:

    "I've got the brain of a 4-year-old. I'll bet he was glad to be rid of it."

    Oh, & love your comments, lindyloo & Prof Em. Peter B.

  5. from Jean-Marie:

    "Am I the only one here with experience with actual chickens crossing actual roads? I'll tell you why the chicken crossed the road: a coyote was chasing it." :-)


    1. Glen, I was thinking the same thing, as we see coyties daily, our home walks out into the forest preserve. But the real monsters are the critters I mentiond above.

  6. What is the difference between sensual and kinky?
    Sensual - you delicately use a feather.
    Kinky - you use the whole chicken.

    Now you know why the chicken crossed the road.

  7. Another Sarah Palin answer (ala Tina Fey): The chicken crossed the road (in front of my house) so she could see Russia.

    And to Ken P.(ala Jonathan Pelto): Wait, what?!

  8. from Mary Richie:

    DONALD TRUMP: Those scoundrels in Washington built a bridge so these chickens didn't have to cross the road. If those chickens are so stupid to not use the bridge, they deserve to get run over.

    HILLARY CLINTON: I have a kinship with each and every chicken trying to cross the road and if elected, I will see that all chickens will be safely escorted across the road. That's what government is for: guarding the rights of all chickens so they feel free to roam within our great country's borders.

  9. An important question to ask is whether the chicken crossed the road without J-walking. A rebellious or a compliant chicken?

  10. Such an erudite group here. My observations of chickens where I lived in Costa Rica is that they would avoid as much as possible crossing the road, even walking out in the open much due to the huge vultures hanging out in the trees above them. And they would carefully shield their chickies underneath their wings and hurry under a bush. Luckily those existed.

  11. from Prof. Kirill Thompson:

    PARMENIDES: Yes, but has anyone asked the chicken? I'd say it was the law of mutual attraction because there was a nubile young chick verging on henhood on the other side.

  12. Because

    It’s an echo of the question why,
    a boomerang of logic, the reason
    for punching the little girl’s arm,
    for breaking her new doll.

    And bullies say it
    with firecracker snap, owl-eyed
    and with the whack and thump
    of an eighteenth-century beheading.

    Because is all the reason they need,
    the way out of the pickle, the password
    for the storybook door, the answer
    to why the chicken crossed the road.