This Statement was prepared for the April 8, 2000
Animals and Law Conference at Pace Law School on Animal Rights and Other
Social Justice Movements in the New Millennium.
From Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry
On behalf of United Poultry Concerns, I would like to
express our concern that the animal advocacy community would support
employment that constitutes animal abuse. In particular, we are
concerned that animal advocates would support making it more comfortable
for people to work for the poultry industry. While we support social
justice, we recognize that not all social justice interests are
compatible and that not all jobs can be ethically supported. The
unpleasantness of a job for a worker does not of itself entitle that job
to be benefited. Some work is not fit to do. Raising animals for
slaughter, rounding them up for slaughter, transporting, and killing
them -- the entire bundle of violent, cruel, abusive jobs that
constitute the poultry industry cannot logically be supported by animal
or peace advocates.
However underpaid, poultry industry employees are
neither legal property nor slaves, whereas the birds are both. Workers'
choices may be limited, but people with limited choices leave jobs all
the time for reasons that are far less compelling than why a person
should get out of the poultry industry instead of demanding better pay
to abuse birds for a living. Poultry industry employees are not children
but consenting adults, and while they may be victimized by Perdue and
Tyson, etc., they themselves violently and directly victimize animals.
The fact that they do not object to such work as long as they get
sufficiently paid to do it shows the insensitivity and lack of empathy
such work produces.
United Poultry Concerns opposes any alliance that animal
advocates would make with individuals or groups that support and
perpetuate animal abusing employment. Commitment to a worthwhile life
for humans and nonhuman animals means supporting morally responsible
occupations, not cruel and unconscionable ones, like working for the
poultry industry. Making it more lucrative and "dignified" for people to
mistreat animals is a misguided approach for animal advocates to take.
It is a betrayal of our mission and a betrayal of the birds and other
animals whom our species has already desolated and deprived of
everything but misery, horror, and murder. Helping people to feel and be
more comfortable in a cruel and abusive occupation does not help them.
It would be wrong for the animal advocacy community to facilitate the
illusion that it does.
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