Cry Fowl

"Curses are like young chickens, they always come home to roost." That's a line from an 1810 potem by Robert Southey, and the first cited reference of the roosting-chicken term, although the story dates back to Chaucer.

On Tuesday morning, March 18, a little over an hour from the time of this writing, Barack Obama will be speaking in Pennsylvania on the subject of race -- and, not incidentally, the controversial statements of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, whose church Obama attended for two decades. In a clip of a September 2001 speech recently resurrected and now seen again, and again, around the world, Wright said that 9/11 showed that "America's chickens are coming home to roost."

Soon thereafter, a certain controversial then-University of Colorado professor wrote an essay about 9/11 entitled "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens," an essay that also took some time to surface, but ultimately led to the investigation that got Ward Churchill booted from CU for a variety of alleged violations, including plagiarism.

Conspiracy or coincidence? A fast Google search brings up many instances of the term being used, for a variety of sins.

But in a few hours, after Obama speaks, we may know who really rules the roost. -- Patricia Calhoun

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun