samedi 21 juin 2008

A Premature Death: The Animal Rights Movement

In her best-selling "Ministry of Healing," Ellen G. White wrote: "What man with a human heart, who has ever cared for domestic animals, could look into their eyes, so full of confidence and affection, and willingly give them over to the butcher's knife? How could he devour their flesh as a sweet morsel?"

Many activists describe themselves as animal rights supporters. How they continue to promote compassionate animal slaughter is beyond my understanding. When King Kong lay bleeding on the streets of New York, having been shot off the Empire State building by 1933 fighter pilots, one of the most famous lines in all of moviedom was used to describe the tragic love story between an 80-foot ape and Fay Wray: "It was beauty killed the beast."

Many years from now, some future anthropologist writing a doctoral dissertation will discover the identical reason for the death of the animal rights (AR) movement: Beauty (compassionate animal slaughter) killed the beast (the AR movement). Throughout history, as long as laws were passed to make human slavery more compassionate, the horror of slavery continued. Anti-slavery advocates danced and celebrated passage of such laws, which were celebrated by liberals and free thinkers, but not by the slaves. To be enslaved is to know and not accept any form of injustice. Similar laws are being passed today to make animal suffering more tolerable on factory farms.

The promotion of animal slaughter in any form worsens the betrayal to animals. Compassionate slaughter laws act merely to deceive human meat eaters. Many animal rights advocates raise money to lobby Congress to enact laws making slaughter more compassionate, as if there can ever be justice by sanitizing murder.

This summer thousands of animal rights activists will meet at dozens of conferences to support each other and a movement that in reality, no longer exists. They have lost sight of the fact that the real animal rights movement has died. Compassionate slaughter does not save animals. Compassionate slaughter relieves the consciences of those people who eat animals. Why is it that per capita chicken and beef consumption continue to increase?

There was a time when animal rights supporters believed that animals deserved ethical treatment from people. The promotion of compassionate slaughter laws has ended the real animal rights movement. Meat eaters have been relieved of any guilt of animal suffering. They donate to animal rights groups who claim victory each time the floor space of a chicken's cage is increased by three or four square inches. It feels good to believe that doomed animals have no pain. They who should feel guilt now consume more chicken, guilt-free.

More animals will die, and they do not do so compassionately. Compassionate slaughter has became the new ethic of the animal rights movement. Sixty-six years ago, a string quartet performed Paganini and Mozart while doomed Jews marched neatly in line to their final solution in Treblinka's efficient human slaughterhouse. For these victims, slaughter was made more compassionate by adding gentle classical music to their death march. There are still some who suppose that there is no more deviant a notion than the abstraction dubbed "compassionate slaughter." These eccentrics have become the outcasts of the animal rights movement.

The Humane Slaughter Act was passed so that farm animals would be "humanely killed" by compassionate killers with sharp knives, rather then by sadistic fiends taking pleasure in causing pain to defenseless creatures. Oh well, little seems to have changed regarding man's inhumanity to his fellow earthlings.

"Fallaces sunt rerum species." (The appearance of things are deceptive.) Seneca (c4 B.C.-A.D.65)

There is always a home for a cute pure bred dog. The mixed breeds will die. The sheltered pit bulls will be euthanized. The unloved strays will wag their tails and bark greetings of welcome to shelter visitors. Visit your local animal shelter today, and walk down the aisles as I recently did, saying hello and goodbye to living spirits seeking love. To animals who will forever be orphans, until death do they part from the cruelty of their existence.

The rats from animal experiments, when no longer needed, are thrown together into a bucket and doused with ether, or injected with sodium pentabarbitol, en masse, to die huddled together, body to body, in their final resting place. The baby male chicks are given no painkillers before the life is crushed out of them in efficient killing machines. The furs that humans wear are skin peeled from once-feeling animals who have been anally electrocuted so that skin remains unscarred. The horses that lose race after race get no pills to calm them before being stunned more than once, for one blow rarely brings them to their knees, before being hoisted by chains so that a man's knife can end memories of racing around oval tracks to cheering humans. The chickens and turkeys, one by one, throats slit, hung upside down to squawk their dying words in gurgling blood tones. The elephants prodded with sharp-hooked tools, made to stand awkwardly on small stools while children applaud with glee. The castrated dancing bears bring delight to naive circus patrons who have no awareness of their pain, before and after the performance. The rodeo calves and animals who run in terror as galloping cowboys lasso ropes around their necks and then bind their legs, giving confused animals the opportunity to ask why.

There is no rescue. There is no real sanctuary. There are just illusions. There is only truth. A few years ago, I listened to Ingrid Newkirk of PETA deliver the most passionate and well-informed talk I had ever heard. Nearly one thousand people rose to their feet for a long and powerful ovation after she had finished. I had the very interesting perspective of sitting right next to Dan Murphy who is the editor of a pro-meat magazine. I love to play poker. I'm a good card player because I watch people carefully, and over the course of an evening's play, I watch tells, I watch faces, I watch eyes, I watch fingers, I watch tapping on the table, and blinking, and by the end of that evening, I know with pretty good certainty the strength of my opponent's cards.

I observed this man very carefully during Newkirk's talk. When he applauded, his two friends applauded. He was the leader of the group. When he smiled, they smiled. But what disturbed me was this man gave her a standing ovation too, along with the AR activists. He stood and applauded with enthusiasm.

It was then and there that I understood why. Americans are eating more meat as a result of our impotent efforts. Compassionate slaughter? I reject the concept of compassionate slaughter. I hate the oxymoronic compassionate slaughter laws. If the animals could talk, they would be able to tell you why they reject such laws too. If they were the judges at the trials of Nuremberg, we who pathetically fail to change things and make them worse would be on trial for crimes against these innocent farmed creatures.

I want all people to see death. I want people to see un-compassionate slaughter. I want them to see what it's really like. That's our responsibility. Our responsibility is to accept our failures. More people are eating meat, and what we're doing isn't working. These animals are dying, partially, because of our misdirected efforts. We've got to reject all animal slaughter, even compassionate animal slaughter, making the effort to insist that no animal deserves to die. Philosophers sometimes lack a touch of the practical.

Animal rights philosophers rarely follow the evolution of the animal rights movement to its logical conclusion. We cannot provide sanctuary for every farm animal. Despite the wonderful feel-good work of the good people who run sanctuaries and solicit millions in funding, these rescued animals should not have been born to this earth. The logical conclusion of our so-called animal rights movement is that these sentient creatures should never be born to suffer.

The creatures living out their lives at farm sanctuaries are mere ambassadors representing ten billion other animals who will die this year to feed Americans. Twenty-seven million animals each day having their throats cut. During the time that it will take you to read this paragraph, over fifteen thousand animals will die. Read the preceding sentence aloud. Fifteen hundred chickens have had their throats slashed, and lay flapping atop each other, choking on their own blood.

Should not every American have the opportunity to view that same horrible carnage that we know all to well, over and over again? Does it really matter that each chicken spends her life in a confinement cage containing 3 additional square inches? Save these animals? For what, one might ask? Farm turkeys and pigs can no longer copulate. Males are too large to mount females. Farm "units" have been bred for high protein yield and low bone density. They live lives of pain because their skeletons cannot adequately support their own weight.

The compassionate among us would recognize that ending their pain is the ultimate conclusion for all who truly care about suffering. These artificial creatures should never have been engineered nor born. Today, the animal rights movement is misdirected. We delude ourselves by promoting compassionate slaughter. We make it easy for these animals to live their lives to their own painful and tortured conclusions. We make it easy for meat consumers to veil their collective consciousness. Have you taken note of the fact that meat eating is increasing? Our misguided efforts are partially responsible. We in the movement have made the journey of transition more challenging for meat eaters. We have arrived where we now are, vegans all, by recognizing the horror of slaughter.

Groups like the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, Humane Society, and Farm Sanctuary lobby Congress to change laws making it easier for animals to die. Their laws make it easier for farmed freaks to live longer lives of pain, with the same ultimate conclusion. Their laws relieve the consciences of carnivores. We on this side of the fence should make it our priority to show the meat-eating public exactly what slaughterhouses produce. The blood. The eyes showing fear, and then pain.

Our strategy to relieve suffering relieves a universal conscience. The same strategy that brought us to understand death through violence should be intensified, not lessened. If all animals must die, then all animal eaters must take responsibility for their own participation in the slaughter. Our current strategy is to deny them their path to truth. In doing so, we provide a rationale for increased meat consumption. If the animals do not suffer, meat eaters reason, then there is no reason not to eat them.

It is not for us to spend millions of dollars to lobby members of a judicial body to enact compassionate slaughter laws. It is for us to lobby the hearts and minds of people who still have the ability to see.

Robert Cohen

1 commentaire:

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