If anyone has been wondering as to my whereabouts lately, I have the answer for you. I recently began writing for About My Planet as an environmental news contributor. I am greatly enjoying it but will also be trying to contribute more to my own blog as well. I have a few ranty posts planned for upcoming days here on the Verve so watch for them! But in the meantime, catch up on some environmental news over at About My Planet and look around the site. Thanks!
The following post was written by a close friend of mine, Phoebe Maestri, regarding a recent NY Time article entitled “The Joys and Pains of Being an Animal.” Anyone who feels deeply for our fellow creatures on this earth would be irked to read either the article or the book (I have not but since this is a preview I can only imagine). Phoebe has tackled this nuisance of an article/book for us and does so in a great fashion. Thanks Phoebe!
I read this article in the NY Times recently, and it simply infuriated me – as a vegan, as a human, as a animal, as a woman, as an Earthling. When asked how Temple Grandin can love animals when she designs ‘stress-free’ slaughter plants, her reply is as follows: “some people think death is the most terrible thing that can happen to an animal.” She argues that “the most important thing for an animal is the quality of its life.” First, let’s silently ruminate on the phrase, “stress-free” slaughterhouse, for a bit shall we?!
Ok, now I would have to agree on one thing – at the end of the queue the only thing that the animals can hope for is death, and a quick one at that – I mean, wouldn’t you? At that point, death is mercy. Death means the pain is gone. The pain of being captive-bolted incorrectly so you still feel everything that will come on top of dealing with the pain of just having a metal rod shoved in your brain. The pain of being slit at the throat while trussed up by the hind legs, hanging upside-down. The pain, in instances of ‘kosher’ slaughter, of being turned upside-down in a loud metal container so that the blood runs down as you lose all sense of surrounding. Death means that the torture is over. The torture of watching your inevitable fate unfold as your friends are slaughtered first – whether they exhibit this in their facial expressions or not, for us to watch through these glass walls (does anyone else see the correlation to zoos here, or is it just me? putting glass walls on slaughter houses would just be like a zoo in a horror film that you scream at – “ooh no! don’t go through that door.”). The torture endured by you and your mates at the hands of the slaughterhouse workers to get you in the queue.
She adds: “The more I observe and learn about how dogs are kept today, I am more convinced that many cattle have better lives than some of the pampered pets. Too many dogs are alone all day with no human or dog companions.” Ok, this to me says she has no idea or insight into the life of a ‘pampered’ pet. A truly pampered pet lives a very full life, I have no doubt. Even when I am home all day, all my pampered pooch does is sleep, chew on a bone, and occasionally ask me to play – not so desperate that I feel guilt when I’m not there. She’s not missing anything when I’m not there because I give her plenty of love when I am there. Who wants to be hovered around all day? Even dogs need “alone-time.” If Grandin wants to talk about pets being alone all day being the cause of their unhappy lives – let’s talk about dogs left out in freezing temperatures to suffer from exposure. Let’s talk about dogs being chained in the yard without access to their water bowl on hot summer days and suffer from dehydration and heat-exhaustion. Let’s talk about a human beating their dog for having an accident in the home without looking for underlying causes that could’ve caused the accident – the human neglecting to let them out, the human not noticing if the dog has taken ill, the human inflicting so much fear in the dog that it begins submissive urination.
“We’re lucky to have Temple Grandin” the author writes?! Lucky? Sure, she may get the message out there that no animal should be in a state of terror during it’s last conscious moments…so shouldn’t it end there. So, instead of eliminating that terror altogether, she would rather just have it on display for us to frighten our children with? “Human beings can be made to feel like cattle, especially in large cities” – or perhaps when they are actually treated like cattle! “Treated like cattle!” Have we forgotten the Holocaust? Have we forgotten slavery in the South? Have we forgotten female Homo sapiens since the dawn of ‘man’?
Sadly a cow famous for her escape from an Ohio slaughterhouse passed away recently at the NY Farm Sanctuary. The Farm Sanctuary site has a lovely and moving testimonial to Cinci’s life. I suggest that everyone to go to the site, read the story and watch the photo slide! If anyone has any doubt that cows do in fact bond and have friendships much like our own, read the following passage:
When it came time to say goodbye to Cinci, the herd gathered close around her. One of the eldest steers, Kevin, stepped forward to lick her face, while Iris, an older female, licked her back, soothing and keeping her calm up until she took her final breath. After our beautiful girl passed, every member of the herd approached to say goodbye, each one sharing with Cinci one last moment of affection. Though heartbreaking, the herd’s mourning ritual was also beautiful and comforting, as there was no doubt that Cinci not only lived, but also died knowing that she was cherished by all.
Cincinnati Freedom was an amazing cow and she will not soon be forgotten. Keep her in mind the next time you wonder if only humans have joie de vivre!
I was recommended by a friend to read The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams quite awhile back and I just finally got around to reading it. It is an excellent book that will make you re-evaluate the very basis of the way you think (or more accurately do NOT think) towards animals, regardless of whether or not you are a vegan or a corpse-eater. Adams routinely points out culturally accepted verbiage and symbolisms that enable you to avoid the “meat is murder” issue. A few examples from the book: a hamburger is not called cowmeat, nor are chicken wings considered chicken’s wings and the very word “meat” is not mentioned unless it is a local cultural abnormality to consume it, such as dogmeat (such as in the USA).
Moving on. If you are vegetarian, the obvious next step to ending animal enslavement is becoming vegan. Now if you are vegan, I urge you to evaluate the language you use daily. It is amazing the number of phrases and words one uses during the course of a normal day that somehow reflects poorly upon the other animals with which we share this earth. A couple I need to work on are: ass and son-of-a-bitch. Yeah I know, “curses”, big shocker to those who know me! If you have read the book you will see that I have no decent defense as to why I use these, except for that they are culturally accepted phrases and ingrained in my brain. But I cannot resist! My excuse is thus: I use ass as meaning a stupid or idiotic human….never thinking about donkeys (which is a sneaky aspect of our very language….) and as for son-of-a-bitch, I use it to mean, well….an ass , never a female dog or female human. An excerpt by Noreen Mola and the Blacker Family that Carol J. Adams put into her book, The Sexual Politics of Meat, just may give you the head start you need in cleaning up your animal-unfriendly verbiage!
Language is a powerful tool. The words we choose do more than name or describe things; they assign status and value. Be careful, then, how you choose words to refer to non-human animals, for you may be using expressions that maintain prejudices against them.
Referring to a non-human animal as an “it” strips him or her of dignity and perpetuates the view that other animals are objects, inferior things or property.
Referring to people who share their homes and lives with non-human animals as “owners” or “masters” connotes slavery, and we should be uncomfortable with the connotation. Friends, companions and protectors is preferable.
Avoid calling other animals “living things.” They are living beings.
Refer to non-domestic animals as free or free-roaming, not “wild” or “wildlife.”
When referring to animal suffering and death caused by human action, use painfully explicit words that reveal the true facts. “Euthanize,” “put to sleep,” “sacrifice,” and “destroy” are favorites of animal researchers (and some animal control people), while “cull,” “harvest,” “manage,” and “thin the herd” are favorites of hunters, trappers, and their ilk. These words mean kill, so say kill.
Guilty people try to cover up their horrifying cruelties against, and backward exploitation of, non-human animals with deceptive euphemisms like the ones above. Say it like it is, and correct others when they don’t, so that people will realize the true nature and full extent of the suffering we inflict on other living beings.
Watch out, too, for expressions that convey contempt for animals. “Son-of-a-bitch,” “bird-brain,” and “hare-brain” are insults at the expense of animals. Think of alternatives to calling a person a “snake,” “turkey,” “ass,” “weasel,” “chicken,” “dog” or the like.
Liberate your language, for it’s an important step in liberating all animals!
-By Noreen Mola and The Blacker Family, Animals Agenda, 6, no.8, October 1986, p. 18