Don Williams
Photo by Justin Williams

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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The eternal question hinges on who is answering it
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   12/03/1999)

Moderator: We've assembled a panel of distinguished experts, some living, some dead, to answer an age-old question that's been popping up all over the Internet. "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

George W. Bush: I leave such details to my staff. When I'm faced with a situation that requires me to know why the chicken crossed the road, I ask the experts. I can tell you there is a road, and there are chickens, and I thank God for 'em.

Gov. Sundquist: More and more chickens are crossing the road to locate nests in states that offer the advantages of an income tax. Everyday, we're losing the chickens that lay the golden eggs.

Agent Mulder: The truth is more than one has crossed that road. How many chickens have to die before we're willing to face this dark knowledge?

Bill Clinton: It depends on the meaning of the word "the." I'm aware that chickens are crossing roads, but strictly speaking, I'm not sure they're crossing "the" road.

Dr. Seuss: They did not cross it in a plane,
they did not cross it on a train.
They did not cross it here or there,
they did not cross it anywhere.
The chickens did not cross the road,
they did not cross, you silly toad.

Pat Buchannan: Those chickens should stay on their side of the road and we should stay on ours, never mind what Carlos or Ling-Ling have to say about it.

Cormac McCarthy: Now in the dusty clockless hours of the town when the streets lie black and steaming in the wake of the watertrucks and now when the drunk and the homeless have washed up in the lee of walls in alleys and cats go forth highshouldered and lean in the grim perimeters where lightware shadows make a gothic harp of cellar doors, no fowl may walk save you....

Donald Trump: Why shouldn't the chicken cross the road? If it has the money, the cars, the women, and can come up with a position paper or two, it may as well cross the road as the next bird.

Bill Gates: It's a credit to our computer graphics people that the chicken appears to cross the road. It clucks to announce you have mail. It lays a golden egg to show your books are balanced, and appears to peck around when defragging your hard drive. We've been working on the Rooster 2000 operating system for two years now. It's a whole new concept, and the consumer can get it for chicken feed.

Freud: The fact that you even ask the question betrays a basic insecurity about your sexual identity. Tell me, do you ever dream about poached eggs?

Hemingway: The road was there, and to cross it was good. Even if it meant dying, alone, beneath the sun.

Ralph Nader: There's no reason, beyond corporate greed, that chickens have to be hit by cars. For just a penny on the dollar we could make it routine for every chicken in America to cross roads safely at any speed.

Rush Limbaugh: Only an environmentalist wacko would ask such a question. Everybody knows it was Chicken Little crossing the road, clucking "The sky is falling, The sky is falling." Now, if chickens were encouraged by market incentives, they still might cross the road--stay with me here--but it would only be in order to get ahead. It's the way the system works. Chickens, even with their pea brains, know that to make it in America requires getting off their duffs. If more chickens crossed more roads, this would be a better country.

William Bennett: There is virtue in crossing roads. That's the moral of the story. The chicken crosses the road from a sense of honor. Not to cross the road would be wrong.

Hillary Clinton: I can relate to our feathered friend. She built a nest over there, so, technically speaking, she lives there and shortly will begin sleeping there, probably several nights a week. She's excited to be running, and has no intention of stopping halfway.

Jesse Ventura: The chicken hasn't crossed the road yet, because of promises it made to the people of Minne-so-o-ta. The only way it would ever cross the road would be if popular opinion demanded it. Only when the people of America cry out, would it feel obliged to cross that road, and it would cross!