If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Animal Cruelty

Following on from the previous post, a question occurred to me.

You depart this life, and come back as a bird. You have two choices:

1. You are born in a safe pen in a quiet area of woodland, in a nest with your mother and siblings, and protected from predators. When you are older, you are released to live in the woods. You can perch in trees and forage on the ground, exactly as your instincts tell you. You live a normal life: you eat natural food, you interact with your siblings, you mate, you grow into an adult bird. You are able to behave as you wish, in a way that is natural for you. Inasmuch as a bird can know it, you are happy. One crisp autumn morning, you hear noises in the woods. You panic and fly to the edge of the treeline. You launch yourself into the air and aim for the next patch of tree cover. As you do so, you hear a bang below you and you know no more. What remains of you is taken home by someone - usually the originator of the bang - and you are plucked and cooked to feed a family.

2. You are born in a shed under the full glare of artificial light. You are crowded into a space with thousands of others. As soon as you are partly grown, you are put in a cage with two other birds. Your beak and claws have been clipped off to prevent you from harming the other two. You cannot flap your wings, as there is no room. You cannot perch, as there is nothing to perch on. Your feet are sore and damaged from standing on wire mesh. You crane your neck out through a gap in the cage and peck from a line of artificial pellets that go by you on a conveyor. At the other end, your shit falls through the mesh of the cage to be collected. The stink is appalling. There is bright light on 24 hours to make sure that you lay an egg every day, even when your system needs to rest. Inasmuch as a bird can know it, you are in abject misery for the whole of your life. When you are old and useless, you are taken from your cage and turned upside down by a man who has no concern for your welfare, and your sore feet are clipped into metal hooks. You are taken in a long line, upside-down with your comrades, and a rotating blade slices through your neck. You bleed to death. Later, your flesh is wrapped in plastic, with all signs that you were once a living, breathing being removed. Your corpse is chilled and you are delivered to a supermarket.

Which is it going to be?

According to our elders and betters, one of these is an account of horrendous cruelty to a sentient creature and an example of man's ability to treat the natural world with selfish disdain. The other is acceptable, as long as we don't think about it too much.

I abhor animal cruelty, but I dislike rank hypocrisy even more.


  1. "I abhor animal cruelty, but I dislike rank hypocrisy even more."

    Sadly, we don't seem to have a shortage of either... :(

  2. 1, but I would walk not fly

  3. Nikos, when the pheasants get to hear of your strategy, game shooting is over. Masterly.


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