By Karen Dawn, DawnWatch
Kristoff: I donít know myself where to draw the lines. I eat meat, so this entire column may be braised in hypocrisy. But just as we try to protect dogs and cats from undue suffering, without necessarily considering them our equals, it makes sense to minimize animal suffering more broadly when we can.
Nicholas D. Kristof's column in the Sunday, October 20, New York Times is beautiful, heartbreaking and important.
It is titled, "Are Chicks Brighter Than Babies?" and picks up where an opinion piece by Mark Bittman left off earlier in the week. Bittman questioned whether people should eat poultry given the recent salmonella outbreaks and lax standards of oversight.
Kristof discusses not only the intelligence, but also the "nobility" in character of some of the birds commonly eaten in our society.
He tells a tale (one that he shared in a previous column I DawnWatched about in July, 2008) of geese on his family's farm bravely stepping up to try to defend mates who had been caught for slaughter. He then discusses experiments that show that chickens can count better than toddlers, and informs us that "poultry watch television, and, in one experiment, learned from watching birds on TV how to find food in particular bowls."
Kristof ends with:
I donít know myself where to draw the lines. I eat meat, so this entire column may be braised in hypocrisy. But just as we try to protect dogs and cats from undue suffering, without necessarily considering them our equals, it makes sense to minimize animal suffering more broadly when we can. So even when there are no salmonella outbreaks, there are good reasons to keep away from wretched birds raised in factory farms.
For my part, whenever Iím offered goose, I think back to my childhood and see those brave birds stepping forward, gallantly trying to console their mates. Whatever we make of these animals, we neednít scorn them as 'birdbrains.'I love that he writes that he doesn't know where to draw the lines, letting us know that he is still figuring it out. Given his sensitivity around the issue I am surprised he still eats meat, and I strongly suspect he will stop one of these days. But meanwhile, I am grateful that he shares widely the information likely to lead to that transformation, a transformation many of his readers, affected by his writing but less stuck in their ways, may well beat him to.
You'll find Kristof's beautiful column on line here - Are Chicks Brighter Than Babies?Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Times instructs: "Letters should preferably be no longer than 150 words and may be shortened to fit allotted space. They must be exclusive to The Times (no prior submission to, or publication in, any other medium, including the Web). They should generally refer to an article that has appeared within the last seven days. We reserve the right to edit letters. To be considered for publication, letters MUST include the writerís name, address, current location (where you are writing from) and daytime and evening phone numbers at your current location (for verification, not for publication)."
Yours and the animals',
(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. If you forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts please leave DawnWatch in the title and include these parenthesized tag lines.
Please go to http://tinyurl.com/254ulkx to check out Karen Dawn's book, "Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way we Treat Animals," which will give you background on any issue covered by DawnWatch. When it was first published in 2008 it was chosen by the Washington Post as one of the "Best Books of The Year!")