On Nonhuman Slavery

"We can see quite plainly that our present civilization is built on the exploitation of animals, just as past civilisations were built on the exploitation of slaves."   - Donald Watson

Happy Slaves:
An Excerpt From The Dreaded Comparison by Marjorie Spiegel

In 1832, John P. Kennedy published a widely read novel, Swallow Barn, whose narrator was supposed to be from the liberal North. The narrator visits a plantation in Virginia expecting to see all manner of horrors perpetrated upon those whom he presupposes are the miserable victims of slavery. But (and what an enlightening experience!) he finds only, in the words of Sterling Brown, “a kindly patriarchy and grateful, happy slaves.” Kennedy’s narrator croons,

I am sure they could never become a happier people than I find here…No tribe of people has ever passed from barbarism to civilization whose progress has been more secure from harm, more genial to their character, or better supplied with mild and beneficent guardianship, adapted to the actual state of their intellectual feebleness, than the Negroes of Swallow Barn. And from what I can gather, it is pretty much the same on the other estates in the region.

Similarly, a worker in an egg “factory” revealed parallel attitudes to me in the course of an interview I conducted with her. The conditions in the area where the chickens were housed were so abhorrent that I had to go outside every few minutes to breathe. Dust and ammonia filled the air, as the excrement pit beneath the rows and rows of cages holding the “laying-hens” was emptied only once every two years. The chickens were living four-to-a-cage in little larger than the size of a record album cover, and had been de-beaked, a process in which part of their upper mandibles are cut off. They lived in these conditions for two years until they were moved into trucks – their first and only experience of the outdoors – and drive to a slaughterhouse. Read the rest of this entry »

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Feeding On Fear and Despair

“When we feed on other animals’ milk and eggs, we are feeding on their fear and despair, on the violence that a patriarchal mentality systematically enforces on them. If we look deeply, we’ll see that this mentality breeds violence in our lives as well. Should we, who long for mercy, freedom, and joy, and for a more enlightened society that supports peace and respect for our earth and the sacredness of all life, be the agents of such violence?” – Will Tuttle, Ph.D., The World Peace Diet

Photo by: Mercy for Animals, Weaver Brothers Egg Farm in Versailles, Ohio

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Tom Regan on the Humane Meat Movement


“Really, to my mind, all the dust raised about ‘humane meat’ is nothing more than special pleading by people who want to eat dead flesh with a clear conscience. While these outbursts profess to address the obligation not to treat animals cruelly, they uniformly fail to address our obligation not to take their life except in exceptional circumstances (in self-defense, for example). And the plain fact is, some cow had to be killed if you’re having steak for dinner tonight. How ‘humanely’ the cow was treated is one thing; whether the cow’s right to life is violated when killed, is quite another. Every serious advocate of animal rights understands the difference, just as they abstain from flesh eating not only because of the hurt farmed animals inevitably suffer, but also because of the ultimate harm death is for them.” - Tom Regan

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An Autistic Activist Responds
To Temple Grandin


The following essay was written by autistic author, activist and co-founder of Autism Network International, Jim Sinclair. Sinclair noted that he wrote this in “response to Temple Grandin’s writing about her work in the slaughter industry, especially as described in Thinking In Pictures.”

If you love something, you don’t kill it[sic]. I didn’t need to spend time in a squeeze box to learn that. Love is not killing.

If you know what another being feels–not just how you feel when you touch it–then you know that living things want to remain alive. It doesn’t matter if they’re not afraid of death before they know what’s going to happen to them. In the moment when the killing happens, they know, and they want to stay alive. I have seen this, and I have felt death happen. I haven’t seen as much of death as someone who is obsessively drawn to slaughter factories, but I’ve seen enough to know. Life does not consent to be killed. I don’t need a Ph.D. in animal science to recognize that. Read the rest of this entry »

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I’m Vegan: Sandy

“I have been vegetarian on and off since I was 15. I always thought ‘oh well you know, I’m not eating meat and that should be enough’…When I first became vegan, I thought, ‘oh wow, I’m going to be label-reading my way through life.’ But the transition has been surprisingly smooth.”

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Why It’s Unethical To Eat Meat
By Ashley Capps

The following essay by Ashley Capps was chosen as a runner up in the Our Hen House “Why It’s Unethical to Eat Meat” contest

In any discussion concerning the ethics of eating animals, it feels important to begin by pointing out a frequently overlooked distinction: that harming and killing animals from necessity is not morally equivalent to harming and killing animals for pleasure. Just as shooting someone in self-defense is not commensurate with shooting someone to satisfy a sadistic urge — killing animals for food when we have no other choice for survival, is not morally equivalent to killing animals when we have plentiful alternatives. Violence committed in order to save a life is never analogous to violence committed for pleasure or profit.

This distinction is crucial for several reasons, the first of which is that it clarifies a serious category error, in the thinking of people who insist that meat-eating is “natural”— and therefore morally neutral — because other animals eat animals. It’s important to realize that, with a few exceptions, when humans kill other animals for food, we’re not doing what animals do in nature. When animals kill other animals for food, they do as they must, in order to survive; they have no choice in the matter. Many humans, on the other hand, do have a choice, and when people with access to non-animal food options choose to consume animals anyway, because they can, or because they like the taste, they are not killing from necessity, as animals (and some humans) do. Whether we’re talking about a lion taking down a water buffalo, or a human in some remote or impoverished location forced to hunt in order to feed her family: these are acts of necessity, and do not equate to, nor justify, wholly unnecessary harm to animals. There is no analogy to be found in nature for the massive harm we do to animals for pleasure. Read the rest of this entry »

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When I Despair

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall.” - Mahatma Gandhi

Rodeo Investigation Photo by SHARK

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Humanity Shudders

“Look, for example, at the animal before us, stolen (to begin with) from his master; the poor creature hungry, tied up for days and nights, pining for his home, is at length brought into the theatre. As his crouching and feeble form is strapped upon the table, HE LICKS THE VERY HAND THAT TIES HIM! He struggles, but in vain, and uselessly expresses his fear and suffering until a muzzle is buckled on his jaws to stifle every sound. The scalpel penetrates his quivering flesh. One effort only is now natural until his powers are exhausted—a vain, instinctive resistance to the cruel form that stands over him, the impersonation of Magendie and his class. ‘I recall to mind,’ says Dr. Latour, ‘a poor dog, the roots of whose vertebral nerves Magendie desired to lay bare to demonstrate Bell’s theory, which he claimed for his own. The dog, already mutilated and bleeding, twice escaped from under the implacable knife, and threw his front paws around Magendie’s neck, licking, as if to soften his murderer, and ask for mercy! Vivisectors may laugh, but I confess I was unable to endure that heartrending spectacle.’ But the whole thing is too horrible to dwell upon. Heaven forbid that any description of students in this country should be witness to such deeds as these! We repudiate the whole of this class of procedure. Science will refuse to recognize it as its offspring, and humanity shudders as it gazes on its face.” - From An Ethical Problem – Or, Sidelights upon Scientific Experimentation on Man and Animals by Albert Leffingwell


Photo of a beagle used in contemporary vivisection experiments at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Zagreb by Patrik Macek.

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Tho’ Nature, Red in Tooth and Claw
by Patrick J. Battuello

This essay, written by Patrick J. Battuello, comes from the Albany Animal Rights blog

Overly sentimental, too emotional, naive, given to anthropomorphism, misanthropic, ignorant. This, says the critic, is the animal advocate. The women are simply being women. And the men, well, are simply being women. In a word, we are weak, unwilling to confront nature’s harshness and blind to violent predation. There is a Darwinian imperative governing survival and a natural order, a food chain if you will, to life. And man, as the most intelligent and only rational species, peers down from the top.

But, in truth, we advocates are not unworldly and are very much aware of Charles Darwin. We do not need to be reminded that suffering (injustice, death) is part of the condition, human and animal alike. And rather than offering up our advanced intelligence as justification for subjugating other species, we embrace this distinction (which, in fact, grows less profound with each new ethological study) as a (the) reason why human beings should be held to a higher standard. In other words, unlike true predators, we have a choice. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Should I Care? by Tricia Orr

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On Facebook, my status is always ecstatic :) :)
or at least in keeping with the status quo.
Those who don’t do the same,
I hide from, like this one I hid from
a long time ago.

She’s whacked you see, but now and then
I take a peek. Man. her posts are weak.
all about the animals I eat.
How they “suffer” to become meat.

I mean, do cows really care
when their babies are taken from them?
Ok. so they moo. (I bet just for food).
And so the farmer puts the calves
in narrow crates to live out their days.
I wasn’t happy as a kid, I felt trapped, too.
So why should I care?

And why should I care about bullfights
that aren’t really fights since the bull can only wait
for the swords to be plunged into his back?
I’ve been stabbed in the back with no escape in sight too.

And why should I care about chickens
crammed in cages the size of filing cabinet drawers,
so the weakest ones end up trampled to death,
their bodies mashed against the wire floor?

I’ve been picked on shoved up against walls.
I know what it is to be the weakest,
waiting for someone, anyone to speak up
so why should……

I care.

- By Tricia Orr

(CC photo credit)

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