By Robert Cohen -
Today's column is about a Missouri state congressman
named Ken Legan. This week, Ken's unique bill flavored with conflicts of
interest passed the Missouri House.
When you learn the nature of Legan's new law, you may
laugh. You may cry. You will certainly find great irony in the unethical
acts that men with power and connections often commit.
Ken is a cattle farmer. He is also a member of the
Missouri Farm Bureau and Missouri Cattlemen's Association. I learned
these juicy tidbits after speaking to one of Ken Legan's aides late
Friday afternoon, May 17th, 2002, (573-751-3819).
Missouri's aggressive nickname is traced to a speech
made in 1899 by Congressman William Vandiver:
"I come from a country that raises corn,
cotton, cockleburrs (a weed with 2 inch
long burrs), and Democrats. I'm from
Missouri, and you've got to show me."
Missouri may be known as the "Show Me" state, but the
very last thing the people of Missouri want to show you is what goes on
behind the closed doors of their dairy barns.
There are about 5 human Missourians who share their
territory with 8 million cattle and 8 million chickens.
This week, the Missouri House passed Ken's law making it
illegal for anybody to show me the dirty secrets of animal abuse in
Take a photograph of filth and abuse, and you can now be
sentenced to a year in prison and receive a $1000 fine.
That Missouri justice is designed to "show me" that it
is imprudent to reveal the secrets of agricultural slavery.
Speaking of slavery, an influx of white settlers to
Missouri drove out the native Americans in the 1830s. They sure showed
Speaking of slavery, Missouri entered the Union in 1821
as a slave state. They sure showed those blacks a thing or two.
The "Don't Show Me" bill was sponsored by State
Congressman Ken Legan, who rationalized that he doesn't approve of
photographers on a mission to expose the supposed evils of what goes on
in his own business. Legan said:
"They'd like to come in and take pictures and say
how bad it is when in actuality (the animals)
have never had it so good."
I would like to know at which point in their lives the
animals have it so good. Would the honorable Congressman be kind enough
to show me the inside of the Missouri slaughterhouses which his farm
animals are sent to?
Missouri does not want to show you the filth that exists
on their dairy farms. During 2001, the average liter of Missouri cow
milk contained 437 million pus cells. At that rate, all of their milk
would be banned in Europe and Canada. Anybody care to wager whether or
not congressman Legan knows how dirty Missouri's milk is?
Would the Congressman allow me to see how many chickens
can be crammed into a cage, and how their feet curl around the wire so
that they have to be painfully chopped off before being taken to
Would the Congressman show me how the sensitive beaks of
laying hens are unceremoniously cut off with a heat gun?
Perhaps he can show me the confinement crate of a veal
calf, an animal who has no room to turn or sit, an anemic creature who
lives a very short life, crying for his mother. A gentle child whose
life ends with a stunned blow to the head, and a throat slashed with a
Would the Congressman allow me to visit and photograph
the pained faces of three million pigs who live in a closed urea-filled
building, the likes of which creates a smell that brings grown men to
their knees and results in a majority of animals catching pneumonia, so
that slaughter brings their only relief.
I cannot take the picture and show you, for I would now
go directly to jail in the show me state.
You get the picture. I am told that one Missouri picture
would tell a thousand words. I have a blackboard and chalk for
Congressman Legan. My challenge: Write the words "Show Me" 500 times.
Missouri has a state motto:
"Salus Poluli Suprema Lex Esto."
"The welfare of the people shall be the
It says nothing about animals. There are laws even more
supreme than those passed by men.
In 1821, Missouri sure showed those blacks.
In 1836, Missouri sure showed those Indians.
In 2002, Missouri sure showed those animals.
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