Crushing Cruelty, Seen and Unseen

From all-creatures.org
Animal Rights Articles

Moo-ving people toward compassionate living

Visit our Home Page
Write us with your comments

Crushing Cruelty, Seen and Unseen

From Animals and Society Institute (ASI) 
December 2010

The animals who suffer in the name of food vastly outnumber those who suffer in the name of fetishes. The difference is that animals killed for crush videos are seen (by virtue of the activity itself), and animals killed for food are largely unseen (by virtue of consumer ignorance or avoidance).

It’s not a matter of dictating diets to other people – it’s a matter of collectively addressing the very real humane, economic and public health factors that relate to how we as a nation produce food of any sort.

There is welcome news about two recently passed bills in the U.S. Congress, one regarding “crush” videos and the other regarding food safety. The former regards one of the most egregious forms of animal cruelty out there, the killing of small animals for perverse sexual purposes. The latter has mostly indirect implications for farmed animals, focusing primarily on the issue of food recalls as they relate to public health.

President Obama has signed into law H.R. 5566, the Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010. This new version of an earlier bill that was struck down by the Supreme Court on First Amendment grounds specifically exempts video depictions of hunting, trapping and fishing. It’s OK to crush an animal to death in a Conibear trap, just not with a stiletto heel. Torture by traditional methods remains safely protected – God bless America.

Meanwhile, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act must be voted on again by the Senate to resolve some minor differences with the version passed by the House. The bill has now been linked with passage of the government spending bill, so it’s expected to be finalized soon. The bill gives the Food and Drug Administration the authority to mandate food recalls, requires facilities to implement food safety plans, and holds imported foods to the same standards as those produced here.

What the food safety bill doesn’t address is any of the circumstances that lead to contamination in the first place, which in many cases can be traced to the practice of factory farming: overcrowding, manure runoff and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The animals who suffer in the name of food vastly outnumber those who suffer in the name of fetishes. The difference is that animals killed for crush videos are seen (by virtue of the activity itself), and animals killed for food are largely unseen (by virtue of consumer ignorance or avoidance).

It’s easy for a majority of citizens and legislators to put the kibosh on the crush. But it’s nearly the opposite when trying to get humane reforms for farmed animals. Although incremental measures have been made in a few states, most recently in Ohio and California, our nation as a whole has yet to comprehensively address the conditions under which billions of animals on farms live and die each year.

Factory farming has huge consequences related to human health, environmental pollution (including climate change) and most obviously, animal cruelty. I find little solace knowing that the government can now order the recall of thousands or millions of contaminated eggs. What I, and I suspect other consumers like me (vegan or not) truly want is a vastly reformed system that prevents cruelty, contamination and pollution in the first place.

It’s not a matter of dictating diets to other people – it’s a matter of collectively addressing the very real humane, economic and public health factors that relate to how we as a nation produce food of any sort.

There is growing public awareness about exactly where our food comes from, thanks to recent documentaries like “Food, Inc.” and books such as Eating Animals. But the true test of our national commitment to stopping animal cruelty isn’t in banning an activity that only a twisted few enjoy; it’s in coming to terms with the everyday eating habits of the majority that ultimately will prove whether our society truly wants to crush cruelty in all its forms.