One of my favorite sights in Gainesville is the chicken statue next to IHOP. Other cultures have built monuments to kings and priests: Gainesville chose a yard bird instead.
You can learn a lot about Gainesville from that statue, maybe more than you can learn from Old Joe. Much of our economy and culture depends on these feathered, genetically modified chunks of protein.
More importantly for Mark Pettitt, you can read your future by which side of the chicken you were born on.
If you come out of IHOP and head toward where the chickens are processed by people our politicians love to despise — the working poor, immigrants with or without papers, and minorities — you will find a country built on law and order. There you won't ever make it to two DUIs, because a broken taillight will send you back to El Salvador, poverty and violence. Law And order is for black people, immigrants and the poor.
Mr. Pettitt and I have this in common. Neither of us was born on the borderline, on the edges of our community where the money is made ugly, where people work hours with their fingers frozen to the bone to make somebody else rich. We actually get to work to make ourselves rich if we choose to. And when we walk down the street, hundreds of years of assumptions mark us safe because of our skin tone and our accent.
So while Mr. Pettitt is calling his well-heeled donors to ask for political redemption, he should also thank our American god, the god politicians like to use like a baton on the outcast, that he was born on the sunny side of the chicken, where personal redemption before the law and economy is a guarantee.
He should also thank that angry, suburban god that he works on rather than for the school board — otherwise he would have to follow ethical and moral guidelines at the risk of losing his job. You know — like a teacher.
And while we are saying thanks, can we spare a thought for people who are in jail or deported for the same offense as Mr. Pettitt? And can people like me — also born on the correct side of that chicken — work together so that all of our neighbors, immigrants and minorities, can have the same shot at personal redemption as me or Mark Pettitt?
Joshua B McCall