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19 May 2002
The DON'T SHOW ME State

By Robert Cohen - notmilk@earthlink.net

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 Missouri barns.

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 them Indians!

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 slaughter?

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 sharp knife.

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 translation:

"The welfare of the people shall be the
supreme law."

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.

Robert Cohen
http://www.notmilk.com

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