The Shot Heard Around the World

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The Shot Heard Around the World

By  Michael Mountain on Earth in Transition

Sarah Palin shoots a caribou and starts another war...

I don’t like to admit this, but Sarah Palin has a point when she defends shooting a caribou during her TV show Sarah Palin’s Alaska.

Maureen Dowd of The New York Time, was among dozens of critics who scorned the made-for-TV scene:

Sarah checked her freezer at home before she flew 600 miles to the Arctic, trying to justify her contention that she needs to hunt to eat. Wasn’t it already stocked with those halibuts she clubbed and gutted in an earlier show?

Palin, relishing the controversy, responded simply:

Unless you’ve never worn leather shoes, sat on a leather chair, or eaten meat, save your condemnation.

To which Hollywood scriptwriter (The Social Network) Aaron Sorkin noted:

I eat meat, chicken and fish … I don’t enjoy the fact that they’re dead … I don’t watch snuff films, and you make them … You weren’t killing that animal for food, you were killing it for fun … [and] for political gain.

I haven’t watched the show itself, but I’ve look at clips of an exhilarated Palin clubbing a halibut to death on a boat as she talks animatedly to her family and the TV crew. And I agree with Sorkin that The Learning Channel “should be ashamed of itself” for putting on shows that do little more than glorify and glamorize the killing of animals.

But when you look at all this from the animals’ point of view, you might also want to consider the fact that life for that caribou was a lot better than life for most of the animals we eat. The caribou lived his life naturally in the wild and his death was swift. By comparison, most of the meat that’s eaten today comes from animals who lived a miserable life at a factory farm. Most of the chicken comes from hens who never even saw the light of day. Most of the milk and cheese and ice cream comes from cows who … well, I’ll stop there.

I’m no fan of Sarah Palin, nor of Discovery, TLC and Animal Planet for boosting their ratings by appealing to the baser instincts of their viewers.

But while Sorkin may argue that there’s a distinction between killing an animal “for food or shelter or even fashion” and “killing it for fun,” it’s one that’s largely in our own minds – a distinction without a difference. Brooke Shields strutting around in a fur coat made from animals who suffered a horrific death at a fur farm is somehow better than Sarah Palin shooting a caribou? No way! Not so.

In the final analysis, given the choice, I’d rather be a caribou in Alaska than a cow in a factory farm. I’d even rather be a prize bull raised for the bull ring. At least I’d get to spend my life on some green grass.

All in all, if we truly want to protect animals from suffering, the best thing we can do is to stop eating food that comes from factory farms, rather than just taking the bait from yet another political publicity seeker who enjoys making herself a target.