Thursday, July 26, 2007

Animals must be eaten and not heard.....

Many humans (myself included) have profoundly hypocritical views of animals and this is reflected in our law. We profess to love animals, keep some of them as pets, and generally fawn over the furry cute ones, yet most of us have no problem in letting them be killed and slaughtered and then eating them.

We also eat the very same animals that our law forbids us to have sex with.

It might be that some animals prefer being eaten than being made love to, but we would not know because we cannot ask them. Those animals we already had killed (cowardly by workers at an abattoir) and are now busy cooking for dinner are uniquely incapable of letting us know how they feel.

I was reminded of this when I read in the newspaper yesterday that:

Animal lovers are reeling with shock after a man who decapitated his four-month-old husky with a chain saw got off with a slap on the wrist.

Phillip Matthysen was yesterday fined R10,000 or one year in prison, suspended for five years, for animal cruelty.

He took a petrol-driven chain saw to the puppy’s neck at his Mpumalanga smallholding in February after the dog had killed his parrot.
Mr. Matthysen's love for his parrot was obviously rather extreme and his actions distasteful (no pun intended). But if we follow the logic of our culture the problem is not that he cut off the puppy's head, but that he did not proceed to slaughter the puppy and prepare it for dinner.

Some would argue that I am being facetious and that there is a huge difference between the puppy, which was kept as a pet, and lambs and calves and pigs which are slaughtered at an abattoir. I would imagine the only difference is that the puppy seems more worthy of protection because it is our puppy, while we never really came to know the calf or the pig or the chicken we are eating. Now, if the pig happened to be the main character from that movie Babe, we would never even think of eating it.

I, for one, would never kill and/or eat Babe, but I have no problem killing an ant or a mosquito and I really have no problem with eating a pig as long as I do not know the pig personally. Most humans would agree with me.

Some would say that we demean ourselves as humans if we mistreat animals and that those pigs and chickens and calves sent to the abattoir are killed "humanely" and they are therefore not comparable to the poor puppy who had his head chopped off by the one person he thought he could trust.

I would say, sure, we demean ourselves if we mistreat animals but please let us not kid ourselves and pretend that animals killed at abattoirs before they are put in neat little plastic packages and sold at Pick & Pay are not mistreated. Apart from the mistreatment involved in the actual killing, most animals raised on commercial farms are disgustingly maltreated. The only reason why we think their raising and killing is not demeaning to us, is because we make sure we never have to know about it or see it.

We make ourselves feel better (I know I do) by looking at that evil Mr. Matthyssen and thinking that we would never do such an evil thing. What we do not dare admit to ourselves, is that we do not have to do it because we pay other people to kill the animals we would like to eat.

That is why the outrage at the sentence handed down against Mr. Matthysen smells like rank hypocrisy to me. By showing how cross we are with him, we do not have to take responsibility for our own complicity in the mass slaughter of sentient beings while making ourselves feel good about ourselves.

My solution is not elegant, but at least it has the virtue of being fairly honest: I will always try to treat pets (if not rodents, mosquito's and flees) with respect and love but will never complain about other people mistreating animals. I will eat meat but will try and remember that another human being had killed the animal I am eating. And lastly, I won't have sex with animals - I would not want to spoil them for the pot.


Anonymous said...

The culture of killing animals ('beasts') to eat is widespread all over Mother Earth. A few years ago, my family and I had the opportunity to visit Tibet, that Bhudist stronghold and dissident province of the Peoples Republic of China. A curious discovery that we've made, is that Bhudists, at least Tibetan ones, are not vegetarians. They eat meat (and fat - though they call it 'butter'), especially the meat (and fat) of Yaks, as long as they do not themselves kill them. Curious to find out how so many Yaks (and sheep) are then being slaughtered, so that the restaurants are full of (very tough, one may add) Yak steaks and mutton chops), I made the following gruesome discovery after speaking to some people (some high-ranking Chinese military officials) our guide introduced us to. So-called 'hit-men' (usually atheists or children that can still walk the long road to salvation)are hired (against payment with meat, usually offal), to pull a plastic bag over a Yak's head. The Bhudist monks would then pretend to walk by, see this spectacle, and mutter, "Shame, look at that poor animal. If it doesn't get the bag off its head soon, it would surely die." After a while, the animal then dies. Then they say: "Well, it is dead. We did not kill it. Now we can slaughter and eat it." That explains why the meat is so tough in Tibet - all that adrenaline! And don't try the biltong, it is prepared without salt or spices and Yakchy! Thought I'd share this - and it is not a joke - visit Tibet and see for yourselves. We had to pass through Sichuan Province to get to Tibet. There, especially in Chengdu, the rats grow as big as cats and they are a real menace. Why? Because in that particular province, the Chinese eat cats. In others, so I've heard, they eat dogs, and monkeys, and snakes, and ... In Biblical times, David and his men is reported to have cut the heel tendons of horses the did not want after winning a battle. This is the way in which some African cultures kill cattle to be slaughtered - or so it was recently reported in the press. And, we know, bestiality is still a crime in our law because some people like to have sex with animals, much to the outrage of the rest of (sane?) society. Culture, which is a behavioural manifestation, sure holds nasty suprises for those of other cultures that witness them, and I'm sure it is not just in the klling of animals, but also in other fields, as we have seen here and in the blog-post below, also where sexual preferences are concerned. Is this civilization?

protocolinpractice said...

I have a profile on a group called Care2 and it is full of "activists" mostly American animal rights activists and I get endless petitions and notices in bold colors in 24pt about evil cruelty to dogs and cats etc etc. When I made a very similar argument to yours - this was about Chinese people eating Rats, and oh some prankster who put up a website offering kitty and puppy meat for sale - they were lobbying to call in the FBI and DOJ. I said well just close down Mc Donalds and the cattle ranchers as well.

I was called ignorant, a "so called " journalist" and every bad name under the sun although I explained that I am a Hindu and whether you eat a chicken or a kitty cat, it is the same for me - it's your karma you're messing with.

I don't eat anything that had parents, but I don't mind at all if people eat meat, I just hate hypocrisy and closed minds