Dear friends and readers,
Do you know we have a new group of terrorists to fear: “eco-terrorists.” This is a term thought up by ALEC, a “think-tank” invented by multi-millionaires like the Koch brothers who brought us anti-voting legislation and for a number of years has been in the business of writing model bills which work to eliminate and undermine democracy, any and all kinds of social legislation and put the most reactionary people into Congress.
ALEC have been at work again, and with the help of lobbyists and state legislators have passed laws and mean to pass more such that if you gather evidence to demonstrate cruelty to farm animals in companies in the business of providing healthy animals to kill and use for meat and other products, in an increasing number of states, the people who have committed these inhumane act are not imprisoned, you are. This story is not brought to you by a non mainstream publication, but rather the New York Times: “Taping of Farm Cruelty has become the crime.”
Before going any further, I must point out that one, those who are concerned with cruelty to farm animals are not necessarily vegetarians. I eat meat as I believe does Temple Grandin; one of the myths spread by not only those involved in the supposed care of animals and large food corporations (General Foods is one of those ALEC supports) is people concerned over the way farm animals are treated are vegetarians and want all people to become vegetarians. Rubbish. See this debate.
The second is the implication that corporations and companies must behave (shall we say) less than kindly to animals in order to make a profit. Not so, says (why I referred to her), Temple Grandin. Unfortunately her book, Animals in Translation has been sold by a piquant reference to autism: it takes an autistic mind to understand animals. She is (famously) autistic, but her insight into animal minds is not what her books is about. The argument of her book is that often treating animals with more decency (like giving cattle that much more space in their stalls) costs nothing more, and often adds to the health of the animal and in fact may bring in more profit. Watch this:
My review on Sylvia I.
It’s important not to think that the egregious cruelty you can see on the YouTube I link in below is at all necessary. The film includes obvious moments of sadism (kicking animals), but the one where the animal’s mouth is locked into a painful steel gadget so if it moves at all suddenly it will have to endure agony, is not necessary. Andrew Stepanian who was jailed for animals rights activism, including going to public media and telling his story (against the law apparently) does say that the companies think they improve their margin of profit if say they treat chickens like little factories and give them no space or quiet (and beat them too), but Temple Grandin (and others) argue the profit margin is tiny. At any rate, bear in mind, reader, you as consumer are not going to get your portios of meat any cheaper because a young man has burnt the ankles of walking horses with chemicals or flung piglets into the air.
On what grounds has this legislation been passed? Tellingly, the same private property principle that the supreme court was willing to ignore in a recent decision which allowed Indian textbooks to be sold inside the US (and thus possibly hurt the book business in the US more) is here trotted out to trump first amendment rights of citizens and journalists. As the Times says the acts are framed to define those working for animal rights as “terrorists.” Mercy for Animals rightly says such legislation has a chilling effect on helping animals. These bills also threaten labor rights: to get a job working in such places, you have to disclose various kinds of private information about yourself; and if you are discovered not to have, you face criminal charges.
This it is to live in a country where unions have been so weakened as to have less than 10% of workers in their organizations. A weakening by the way ALEC also works at — they help pass Right to Work laws where-ever they can.
But I digress. Here I do think the YouTube of what Andrew Stepanian experienced is centrally pertinent: Former Animal Rights Prisoner on Ag-Gag Laws, Secretive Prison Units and the Detention of Daniel McGowan.
It is true that some of these animal activists have resorted to arson; when they do that, they hurt their cause, even if it helps call attention to it. Most do not, but if people well-known in the movement can be accused of this — or destruction of property, they are subject to “terror enhancement techniques” to force them to tell of other people who are working to expose how animals are regularly treated in some of these plants: Government’s Treatment of Activists as Terrorists.
As Stepanian says, the animals activists are often thrown in with Muslims to detention units meant for the very violent or those involved with Arab groups. They are subject to solitary confinement for the initial long period — which apparently is routine nowadays.
Unfortunately I can’t find a story I came across some months ago about a young white man who was demonstrating in front of a facility in Georgia. He ended up spending two years in prison, was treated badly at times, very badly, and when he was interviewed on DemocracyNow.org spoke of how shaken he was and how he would not work again for any causes. Pehaps it’s no longer on line.
I like to include photos of my cats in this blog — and also other comical pictures of cats but my love for this pair and sense that animals live a life as valuable to them as ours to us is not limited to them. I close on my December 2011 blog on an important video by Frederick Wiseman called Primates. Do read the description of what this video shows you about experiments with animals in the US.
And then to to Jane Goodall in the Peta Files. When I was teaching and we did a unit where we read Goodall, or Sy Montgomery, Walking with Apes, and read about animal experimentation it was clear most of it is unnecessary, used by people to get tenure, to produce cosmetics, and done on the extreme cheap by people who pay themselves large salaries.