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Defending Death

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Defending Death

[Ed. Note: November 11, 2012: Lou: RIP. Also read An Open Letter to the Students of Green Mountain College and Bill and Lou: Who lives, who dies, and why and see Action Alert - Tell Green Mountain College to honor Bill and Lou...not kill them]

From James McWilliams
October 2012

What follows is the response of one Baylee Drown, an assistant farm manager at Cerridwen Farm at Green Mountain College, to those opposing the college’s decision to kill its working oxen—Bill and Lou—rather than turn these animals over to VINE Sanctuary, which has agreed to care for them.

I’ve annotated the letter with my own brief thoughts as I read it. The response reveals, on the whole, a stunning disregard for the animals that Baylee Drown claims to care so much about. It is a sadly perfect demonstration of how much work vegan advocates have to do in order to make headway into the “sustainable” mentality, which, as you will see, currently sustains little more than moral myopia and callous disregard for the lives of farm animals. My annotations are in ALL CAPS.

- James McWilliams

Greeting Friend,

As a moral vegetarian, I am extremely sympathetic to your opinions regarding the fate of Bill and Lou. I am personally against consuming meat, but I support sustainable animal agriculture [THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS SUSTAINABLE ANIMAL AGRICULTURE], as many domesticated animals would not exist without the demand for their products [A COMMENT THAT UNDERMINES ANY CLAIM YOU MAKE TO MORAL CONSIDERATION]. Bill and Lou are a product [THEY ARE NOT A PRODUCT, THEY ARE SENTIENT BEINGS, NOT COMMERCIAL GOODS] of animal agriculture, and their fate was statistically sealed [I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT STATISTICS HAS TO DO WITH THIS MATTER, BUT IT SOUNDS HORRIFICALLY THOUGHTLESS] since birth. Bill and Lou are a by product [IN THE COURSE OF A SENTENCE, YOU'VE REDUCED BILL AND LOU FROM A PRODUCT TO A BY-PRODUCT!] of the dairy industry, their mothers were Guernsey dairy cows kept for milk production.

Most bull calves only live for a short while after birth [AND WHY IS THAT? FATE?], either being eaten as veal, or corn finished beef at 18-22 months of age. Because Bill and Lou found their way to our grass-based, diversified, 22 acre farm, they were granted an extension [OH, HOW GENEROUS OF YOU! BUT I'M WONDERING WHERE YOU DERIVED SUCH A RIGHT? WHAT PART OF YOUR MORAL SYSTEM ALLOWS HUMANS TO CHOOSE WHEN AN ANIMAL DIES?], because they were able to find another purpose other than consumption at a young age [YOU WRITE AS IT ALL THIS WERE HAPPENING ACCORDING TO SOME COSMIC LAW OF NATURE WHEN, OF COURSE, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE RAISING, KILLING, AND COMMODIFYING ANIMALS THAT DO NOT WANT TO DIE AND SUFFER IMMENSELY--IN ESSENCE, THESE ARE CHOICES. YOUR PASSIVE VOICE OBSCURES THIS POINT]. Our use of Bill and Lou has granted them a 10 year extension [YOU SPEAK OF THEM AS IF THEY WERE DEATH ROW INMATES WHEN IN FACT THEY ARE INNOCENT ANIMALS] to enjoy expressing natural behaviors and experience the pleasure and pain of existing on earth. [ACCORDING TO WHAT MORAL SYSTEM DO YOU CLAIM SUCH POWER? WHO GAVE YOU AUTHORIZATION TO GRANT, EXTEND, AND END LIFE FOR A SENTIENT BEING? HAVE YOU HEARD THE WORD "SPECIESIST"?]]

As I read many objections to Bill and Lou’s processing into meat [WOULD YOU JUST SAY IT DIRECTLY, RATHER THAN HIDE IT IN AWKARD LANGUAGE TWISTS: YOU ARE KILLING LOU AND BILL], it makes me sad to reflect that Bill and Lou, who have experienced an excellent quality of life, are the center of attention when so many bull calves are processed into veal without ever having a chance to live to maturity [WE ARE JUST AS CONCERNED WITH THEM, SO CURB YOU SADNESS, AND HOW DOES KILLING TWO OXEN SUPPORT YOUR ARGUMENT THAT ALL THE OTHER COWS DESERVE BETTER?]. I am saddened even more when I think of all of the beef and dairy cattle that are kept in feedlots or exclusively in barns. [JUST BECAUSE YOU TREATED BILL AND LOU BETTER THAN OTHER ANIMALS DOES NOT JUSTIFY YOUR CHOICE TO KILL THEM--WHY WOULD YOU THINK THAT?] Seeing Bill and Lou living outside for many years has given me great satisfaction. [ASK YOURSELF WHY. IT'S BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT PRODUCTS AND BY PRODUCTS BUT FEELING ANIMALS WITH INTRINSIC WORTH. NOW THINK ABOUT THE ETHICAL IMPLICATIONS OF KILLING THEM]. I think our farm practices animal production in the most ethical way possible [I THINK IT'S ULTIMATELY WORSE THAN A FACTORY FARM, BECAUSE ON A FACTORY FARM PRODUCERS AT LEAST NEVER RECOGNIZE THE MORAL WORTH OF THE ANIMALS. YOU, BY CONTRAST, HAVE RECOGNIZED THEIR MORAL WORTH AND ARE STILL KILLING THEM. WHICH IS FRIGHTENING].

Our students know where their food comes from [YES, IT COMES FROM UNNECESSARY SLAUGHTER, UNNEEDED SUFFERING, AND PROFOUND DISREGARD FOR AN ANIMAL'S LIFE--SO WHY NOT DO SOMETHING TRULY EDUCATIONAL AND RESPOND ACCORDINGLY? HAND THEM OVER TO VINE AND EXPLORE WHERE VEGAN FOOD COMES FROM!]. They are faced with the reality that their meat was once living and breathing- and they should be concerned with how their food was raised [THEY SHOULD BE MORE CONCERNED WITH THE FACT THAT THE ANIMALS WERE KILLED FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN HUMANS LIKE HOW THEY TASTE]. Eating meat with a name is one way we make certain consumers face the reality and seriousness of taking an animal’s life for their meat [WRONG. SO WRONG. IT'S A WAY TO PROVE THAT YOU COULD CARE LESS ABOUT THE INTRINSIC WORTH OF THE ANIMALS]. Our community feels strongly that honesty [HA! WHAT BIZARRE MORAL LOGIC. OKAY, SO I'M GOING TO DO SOMETHING TOTALLY UNETHICAL, BUT BECAUSE I'M OPEN ABOUT IT, ALL IS OKAY. MY HONESTY TRUMPS THE MORAL TRANSGRESSION OF MURDER? WHAT A WORLD WE'D HAVE IF WE APPLIED SUCH LOGIC TO OTHER AREAS OF LIFE] and connection with food is essential for decentralizing the food system and rebuilding local systems.

Bill and Lou are valuable to our community [BUT NOT IN A NOBLE WAY; ONLY IN AN INSTRUMENTAL WAY, WHICH IS NOTHING TO BRAG ABOUT]. We will continue to respect their contribution to our community as their purpose [WHO ARE YOU TO DEFINE THE PURPOSE OF ANOTHER BEING?] changes. We have the ability and resources to bring them to an Animal Welfare Approved Processing Facility [MEANINGLESS]. I will personally accompany them to the facility, ensuring their handling is appropriate and calm [YOU THINK AN OXEN WILL DIE CLAMLY? PLUS, THEIR DEATH IS AN ISSUE THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR PRESENCE OR LACK THEREOF---AGAIN, SOMETHING UNETHICAL IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN, BUT I WILL BE THERE TO WITNESS IT, SO ALL IS OKAY . . .].

I appreciate your consideration for Bill and Lou. I also urge you to consider your dietary choices, realizing that every beef animal is just as capable of experiencing pain and pleasure as Bill and Lou. [FAIR ENOUGH. EXCELLENT! THIS IS WHY I OPPOSE ALL SLAUGHTER. BUT YOUR WAY OF OPPOSING THE MASS SLAUGHTERING IS TO SLAUGHTER YOU OWN "BEEF ANIMALS." EXPLAIN YOUR LOGIC.] However, most of the beef cattle in our food system do not have the luxury of grass diets and a long life. I hope if you do choose to consume meat, you consider every life as important as Bill and Lou’s. If you do not choose to consume meat, I urge you to focus your attention on the parts of our food system that truly exploit the essence of domestic animals, rather than small, diversified farms that strive every day to uphold values of animal welfare [HOW DOES KILLING AN ANIMAL PROMOTE HIS WELFARE?]

Thank you,
Baylee Drown
Bachelors of Science in Animal Science Degree Recipient
Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems Student
Assistant Farm Manager of Cerridwen Farm at Green Mountain College