On Betraying Your Family

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On Betraying Your Family

By Marty Martin, PhD
August 2010

Yesterday, in the comments of An Affront to the Idea of Family, Brian wrote:

I understand your concern for those cows that were beat by that man and the unfortunate death of all the cows that died in the snow storm. As a dairy farmer I even had a hard time reading that. I love my cows and I don't anyone touch them in that manner. I am always working for the best environment and the most comfortable situation for my cows, who I consider part of my family. You say that "Family Farms do not exist and that they don't care about their animals." That is not true. I work with my mom and dad twenty other caring individuals to provide the best, most comfortable place for my family members, all 2000 of them. Please talk to us before you start to accuse us of not taking care of our cows, and making what one farmer who is not right the truth of everyone else.

It's a relief to hear that Brian disapproves. However, let's deconstruct his language:

"I love my cows . . . "
"who I consider part of my family."

His family members total 2000.

"Please talk to us before you start to accuse of of not taking care of our cows."

How, I would ask Brian, does he define "love?" Does it include ownership of individuals ("our cows")? Does he own the human members of his "family?" Does he control their reproduction, their food, when they eat, where they live, and how and when they will die? Does he really equate the cows with the human sentients in his family? Can the humans come and go as they please? Are the humans providing Brian with something he is profiting from (maybe hard work, he'd say), and when they stop he will kill them?

What does it mean to love and take care of someone and consider them part of your family? What does that look like?

Allow me to suggest an answer: It looks like Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary or Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary or Maple Farm Sanctuary or another place where animals are rescued from certain betrayal and death, often under the guise of "love" and "family."

For more on the "love" animal farmers have for "their" animals, see also On Compassionate Carnivores and Betrayal.