How different the world would be today if at least Christian
churches would have followed the Augustinian/Franciscan School
of thought: We are ALL brothers and sisters under God's
Fatherhood. But sadly the world at large prefers the Aristotelian/
Thomistic view: Animals are here for our pleasure -they have
no purpose of their own. Recently, I read about two people of
influence blatantly advancing this uncaring view re animals.
COMMUNICATION DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL PORK
This week the HSUS revealed the good news that some companies
are moving to end the cruel pig gestation crates confinement,
but that Big Pork is dragging its heels. The communication
director of the National Pork Producers Council even said
something which I think you will agree was very unfeeling re
the use of confining gestation crates: "So our animals
can't turn a round for the 2.5 YEARS that they are in the stalls
producing piglets. I don't know who asked the sow if she wanted
to turn around."
Unbelievable. Unbelievable, that we have people like this in
the farm animal industry, and indeed it is an industry and not
a place where our farm animals are considered our neighbors, a
concept some compassionate people have written about and I allude
to near the end of this post. That he can't imagine himself in
these terribly confining crates reveals a huge lack of compassion.
I, like so many others, love and respect Dr. Martin Luther King,
Jr. Some of you may not know that he believed in compassion
for animals as well as for people. One of his beautiful quotes
in this regard: "Never, never be afraid to do what is right,
especially if the well-being of a person or an animal is at stake."
The Communication Director of the National Pork Producers Council
is obviously completely unaware of this great man's thoughts or
has dismissed them outright. I would like to ask him why he doesn't
care about the well- being of millions and millions of suffering
sows, but I think I already know the answer. Of course it is money-
millions and millions of dollars each year which keep these poor
sows in such brutal confinement. And aren't those of us who keep
on buying pork products complicit in the suffering of these sows?
If there were a national boycott by caring buyers, I'm sure those
gestation crates would disappear.
Yes, of course they will tell us that pork will now cost more.
I for one would be willing to pay more, except that I'm a vegan
and don't use any animal products at all.
REPRESENTATIVE STEVE KING (R-IA)
I think I was in shock when I read a recent HSUS post re one of
our Congressmen. Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, a fringe
lawmaker, has a track record of anti-animal positions. He
recently added a provision to the House version of the Farm Bill
that intended to wipe out numerous farm animal protection laws
along with other laws relating to environmental protection and
I can't believe that we even have ONE such legislator in the US
Congress. Who is this representative anyway? When I looked up
his biographical information on the internet, I was shocked to
find out that he is a Roman Catholic and a staunch defender of
Right to Life. This doesn't square with me. If you believe in
God and are Right to Life, in my opinion, the LEAST you can do
for the animals is be concerned that they are cared for kindly
HSUS asked us to support H.R. 3798 which would set up a national
standard for the protection of 280 million egg-laying hens and to
OPPOSE the King amendments.
But this is not all that Rep.King is doing to thwart animal
concerns. He is spearheading a campaign to BLOCK pending federal
legislation to crack down on dogfighting. He doesn't agree with
the legislation which would make it a crime for an adult to
attend or to bring a child to a staged fight between animals.
Instead, he said "... that there's something wrong with passing
legislation to keep children away from animal fights when it's not
a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting." He
added, "...there's something wrong with Wayne Pacelle and the HSUS'
way of thinking like that."
I'll side with Wayne Pacelle and the HSUS on this one and all
their other compassionate stances. There is a lot wrong with taking
innocent animals and training them to be vicious and fight. Given
a choice, they probably would not do it. I know that most pit bulls
are kind and gentle if brought up in an atmosphere of love.
There is also something terribly wrong when people find watching
animals fight to the death, and then even think that bringing
youngsters to watch this blood fight is good. Good for what- to
probably scar them in some way - perhaps for life? Good to teach
them that violence is a way of life that works?
But King should follow the lead of saner and wiser people. More
than 30 Iowa country sheriffs and city police chiefs have endorsed
the federal anti-animal fighting measure as well as 205 bipartisan
co-sponsrs in the House of Representatives. Also, the US Senate and
a majority of the House Agriculture Committee members favor the
anti-fighting amendment. Thank God, but why doesn't he?
His views don't get any better. He is a believer in states'
rights and the author of an amendment ADOPTED during the recent
House Agriculture Committee consideration of the farm bill that
seeks to nullify a raft of statewide laws which protect animals.
He seeks to nullify these as well as laws on environmental
protection, worker rights, food safety, and other issues.
I think Wayne Pacelle's concluding remarks deserve quoting: "Rep.
King wants to be sure that there are no federal or state standards
governing the treatment of laying hens. He opposes the FEDERAL
HEN BILL backed by the egg industry and animal protection groups.
King wants to make sure that if a farmer crams a laying hen into
a 48-inch space, and it happens to be legal in Iowa, other states
must accept eggs from that type of unethical farmer. I am no
constitutional scholar, but I am pretty sure there is nothing about
federally compelled commerce in the 10th amendment, or anywhere
else in the constitution."
Pacelle's last remark - "Dog fighting, extreme confinement of
laying hens, and attack on states' rights. What a guy."
Agreed. I would also like to ask this Catholic a question. How
does he think Jesus views hen confinement and dog fighting?
"My" Jesus deplores any cruelty to his animal creation. What
ARE ANIMALS OUR NEIGHBORS?
At about the same time that I read the HSUS post on Rep. King,
I came across an article Jim Grant suggested I read last
September. Almost a year later Jim, but I finally have. In the
Friends Journal was an article writen by Gracia Fay Ellwood
entitled "Are Animals Our Neighbors?"
The first page showed a mother cow and her calf peacefully
standing together at Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York. How
lucky were these two, but it reminded me of another mother and
her calf who weren't so lucky.
Angel had been recently rescued by Gentle Barn and this Saturday
morning she was in great pain because she was trying to deliver
her calf. The birth was difficult because the calf was breach.
It was even too painful for Angel to push. The vet was called
and told them that in order to get the baby turned around Angel
had to stand up. But because of her former abusive life, this
seemingly simple posture was too difficult for her, Also, having
been malnourished when rescued, she didn't have the strength
to get up. This day -Angel and her baby could not overcome the
past and they both died.
Someone at Gentle Barn noted: "Angel's short life and tragic death
is normal in the dairy industry. As you read this, other cows like
Angel are dying in childbirth and baby cows are being ripped from
their mothers. Right now a baby cow is crying for her mother, but
her cries will go unanswered."
Philosoper Mark Rowlands asks us to imagine that we didn't know
what our species was. Would we be in favor of some species being
killed and eaten by others?
Putting oneself in another's place and imagining her/his thoughts
and feelings is not really all that novel. Confucious is reported
to have said "What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to
others." Jesus said "Whatever you wish that others would do to
you, do so to them." And from the Torah: You shall love your
neighbor as yourself.
It doesn't seem that the Communication Director of the National Pork
Producers or Rep. Steve King care to follow the dictums of either
Jesus, Confucious, or the Torah.