...and read to the end, the following.
Be prepared, it is a tough read...
What If It Were A Dog?
A Sunless Hell
by Matthew Scully
Arizona voters will be asked this fall to weigh in on
a ballot measure called the Humane Treatment of Farm
Animals Act, which is now in the signature-gathering
stage but, by November, is certain to be one of our
livelier election-year debates.
The initiative, modeled on a reform passed by Florida
voters, would prohibit the factory-farming practice of
confining pigs and veal calves in crates so small that
the animals cannot even turn around or extend their
Factory farming, in general, is no one's favorite
subject, and the details here are particularly
unpleasant to think about: masses of creatures enduring
lives of unrelieved confinement and deprivation. But if
you're in need of reasons to sign the petitions and
vote for the initiative, they are easy to find, and our
discomfort with the subject is a
good place to start.
Known in the trade as "intensive confinement" or "mass
confinement," it sounds pretty rough. And as we're
seeing already, pork producers and the PR firms in
their hire do not take well to criticism of what they
regard as "standard practice."
Just this month, the industry's allies in the Arizona
Legislature proposed a constitutional amendment to bar
the public from passing any laws promoting the humane
treatment of farm animals, effective Jan. 1, 2006. Nice
to have a fallback position: Even if the humane-
farming initiative passes by vote of the people, as
industry lobbyists apparently fear it will, they plan
to nullify the law retroactively.
Basically, pork producers figured out some years ago
that if they packed the maximum number of pigs into the
minimum amount of space, if they pinned the creatures
down into fit-to-size iron crates above slatted floors
and carved out giant "lagoons" to contain the manure -
if they turned the "farm," in short, into a sunless
hell of metal and concrete - it made everything so much
more efficient. An obvious cost-saver, and from the
industry's standpoint, that should settle the matter.
Veal, by definition, is the product of a sick, anemic,
deliberately malnourished calf, a newborn dragged away
from his mother in the first hours of life. Veal calves
are dealt the harshest of punishments for the least
essential of meats. And if you think people can get too
sentimental about animals, try listening sometime to
chefs and gourmands going on about the "velvety smooth
succulence" of their favorite fare.
"Cost-saver" in industrial livestock agriculture may
usually be taken to mean "moral shortcut." For all of
its "science-based" pretensions, factory farming is
really just an elaborate, endless series of evasions
from the most elementary duties of honest animal
husbandry. Man, the rationalizing creature, can justify
just about anything when there is money in sight. It's
only easier when your victims are so completely out of
sight and unable to speak for themselves.
Over the years, one miserly deprivation led to another,
ever harsher methods were applied to force costs lower
and lower, and so on until the animals ceased to be
understood as living creatures at all. Pigs, for
example, aren't even "raised" anymore, a term that once
conveyed some human attention and care. These days, in
America's 395,000-kills-per-day pork industry, pigs are
"grown," crowded together by the hundreds in the
automated, scientifically based intensive-confinement
facilities formerly known as barns.
Unlike the old ways
To the factory farmer, in contrast to the traditional
farmer with his sense of honor and obligation, the
animals are "production units," and accorded all the
sympathy that term suggests. As conservative
commentator Fred Barnes put it in the Wall Street
Journal, "On the old family farms, pigs and cattle and
chickens were raised for food, but they were free for a
time; they mated, raised piglets, calves and chicks and
were protected by the farmers . . . . They had a life.
On industrial farms, they don't."
Among the more disreputable claims made to justify
intensive confinement is that it's actually for the
benefit of the pigs. They "prefer" confinement to
grazing outdoors. They need "protection" from each
If you know absolutely nothing about pigs, this has a
vaguely comforting ring to it - that is, until the
moment you step into a factory farm, as I have had
occasion to do. Inside, it becomes dramatically obvious
that their ceaseless, merciless confinement is the
cause of the pigs' aggression, and by no stretch a
protective measure. It turns out that when you trap
intelligent, 400- to 500-pound mammals in gestation
crates 22 inches wide and 7 feet long, when their limbs
are broken from trying to turn or escape and they are
covered in sores, blood, tumors, "pus pockets," and
their own urine and excrement, they tend to act up a
Indeed, the most notable thing is how the appearance of
any human being causes a violent panic. A mere opening
of the door brings on a horrific wave of roars, squeals
and cage-rattling from the sows. Another memorable
sight is the "cull pen," wherein each and every day,
the dead or dying bodies of the weak are placed, the
ones who expired from the sheer, unrelenting agony of
It takes a well-practiced dishonesty to insist with a
straight face that intensive confinement is "for their
own good," and almost as brazen is the libertarian case
for factory farming, which may be summed up as "mind
your own business." Along with this comes a haughty
little reminder that we're all the beneficiaries of
factory farming, and where do you think all that cheap
meat comes from, and why don't we just be grateful and
let them manage their own affairs?
The argument has a certain practical appeal, provided
you forget that factory farming is propped up by tens
of billions of dollars in annual federal subsidies,
which are very definitely our business. Much as the
immiserated animals are kept on four legs by hormones
and antibiotics, the entire enterprise is sustained by
those federal subsidies and billions more paid by
government to repair industrial farming's immense
collateral damage to land, water and air.
The illusion of consumer savings depends not only on
unscrupulous corporate farmers, but also on complaisant
citizens and blithely indifferent consumers who don't
ask too many questions - least of all moral questions.
And the industry wants to keep it that way. Just buy
the "cheap" meat, forget the damned animals, and keep
the subsidies coming.
Once the details are known, in short, it all becomes a
very tough sell for factory farmers. And so far their
quaint-sounding "Campaign for Arizona Farmers and
Ranchers" (brought to you by the National Pork
Producers Council and other agribusiness trade groups)
is not going well.
Industry lobbyist Jim Klinker, now director of the
Arizona Farm Bureau and lead spokesman against the
humane-farming initiative, started things off with a
blunt reminder that farm animals aren't pets, and so
our sympathy for them is misplaced. "These people,"
Klinker told Tucson Weekly, "want these animals raised
the same way we raise our dogs and cats. I think most
people understand that's not how food is produced."
When you want people to harden their hearts, however,
it's probably not such a good idea to invite
comparisons between farm animals and dogs or cats. How
would your dog react if you stuffed her into a crate in
which she could not even stretch or turn around, and
never let her out? No human attention or companionship
with other animals. No bedding, straw to lie on. No
single moment outdoors, ever, to feel the breeze or the
warmth of the sun.
What if it were a dog?
Your dog, a being of intelligence and emotional
capacities entirely comparable to those of a pig, would
beg and wail and whimper and finally fall silent into a
state of complete brokenness. And anyone who inflicted
such tortures on that animal, no matter what excuses
might be offered, would be guilty of a felony. If the
creatures are comparable, and the conditions identical,
and the suffering equal, how can the one be "standard
practice" and the other a crime?
Next, in an interview with Arizona Capitol Times,
Klinker tried out the "sentimentalist" line. The
initiative, he scoffed, is based on "pure emotions" -
as opposed to factory farming itself, which we are to
assume is guided at every grim stage by the light of
He followed up with a little warning that the Humane
Treatment of Farm Animals Act is all the doing of
"outsiders" anyway, by which he means various cranks,
subversives, and social misfits who apparently are
conspiring at this very moment to "impose the values of
a vegetarian society on all Arizonans."
One problem here is that if Klinker is going to be our
defender of true Arizona values against "outsiders,"
then he needs to hear from a broader range of outside
opinion. And it may surprise him to learn that the
problems of factory farming are becoming more apparent,
and more abhorrent, to people of every political stripe.
When the conservative columnist George Will, for
example, calls cruelty to animals "an intrinsic evil,"
citing the "pain-inflicting confinements and
mutilations" of factory farming, you know it can no
longer be shrugged off as the concern of a faint-
Factory farming, Mr. Will observed in Newsweek not long
ago, has become a "serious issue of public policy." And
conservatives in particular, applying that
uncompromising moral clarity on which they pride
themselves, should not be afraid to call "vicious"
things what they are.
Another conservative writer, Andrew Ferguson of
Bloomberg News, challenged the "hyper-efficient
agricultural economy" and "the cruel innovations the
modern industrial farm depends upon." And Father
Richard John Neuhaus, writing in the conservative
National Review, expressed his disgust at "the horrors
perpetuated against pigs on industrial farms," a matter
"that warrants public and governmental attention."
Neuhaus could cite, if he needed further authority,
Pope Benedict XVI, who has warned against the
"degrading of living creatures to a commodity" entailed
in factory farming. And Protestant Christians could
hear a similar message from one of their own most
respected figures, Charles Colson, the conservative
evangelist who cautions that "When it comes to animal
welfare today, Christians have allowed the secular
world to set the agenda. ... We need to get involved in
shaping laws that determine animal treatment. But first
we must make it our business to find out how the ...
cattle of the earth are treated on factory farms."
Christians especially, declared Colson, "have a duty to
prevent the needless torment of animals."
"Outsiders," all of them, but not to my knowledge
collaborators in any effort to impose "the values of a
vegetarian society" on Arizona. For Klinker and other
lobbyists for factory farming, surely the lesson is
that they should spend a little less time warning about
other people's values, and a little more time examining
It is true, as he reminds us, that other states have
far larger "herds" than in Arizona's $40 million-a-year
pork industry. But this is hardly a thought to put
one's mind at rest. The same was also true, until
recently, of Utah, now home to a sprawling network of
nightmarish "mega-farms," all of them built and run by
giant corporations like Smithfield Foods, the real
outsiders in all of this. The largest of these places,
a sort of gulag for pigs, holds 1.3 million in
confinement and produces more waste every year than
metropolitan Los Angeles.
Why, Klinker wonders, enact a law here instead of in
Iowa, North Carolina or Utah? Well, for starters, maybe
Arizonans do not want to go the way of Utah. And in
that case, now would be a good time to bar the door.
Prepare yourself to hear, in the coming months, these
arguments and similar rubbish from industry lobbyists,
their shill veterinarians, and anyone else they can
trot out to make something pernicious and contemptible
seem decent and praiseworthy. Then in the quiet of the
voting booth ask yourself why any creature of God,
however humble, should be made to endure the dark,
lonely, tortured existence of the factory farm, and
what kind of people build their fortunes upon such
The answer will send an unequivocal message, to factory
farmers here and to all concerned, that unbridled
arrogance, bad faith, and rank cruelty are not Arizona
Learn more about Matthew Scully: https://www.google.com/search?
... and the last of this challenge:
Do something,anything, EVERYTHING to make a
Choose Love. From this choice - unrelenting unwavering
courage choosing love in the face of ease or terror -
comes the power to make a difference.
Make a difference.
It is why you were born.
The Arizona ballot measure called the Humane
Treatment of Farm Animals Act passed by a substantial
There is hope!
Please let this victory be an inspiration for you to continue
to work to spark back to brilliance, the Truth which is the
essence of every beating heart.
There have been victories and heartbreaks since the last
update – the battle where the reason and only successful
weapon is love rages on. The biggest victory is one and
one and one -- for one to choose vegan. To make the
connection to the fire from your heart. This cannot be
broken. My mom used to say separation is an illusion –
meaning the bonds of love are much too grand for mere
time and distance to undo. LOVE WINS. Always. To
know the joys of the victor – take the leap. To start to
learn and reap the rewards of living from heart – go
vegan. For the animals – go vegan. One by one by one
is how the world changes. All you can truly own are your
choices. Please. Choose love.