Probably everyone reading this knows the feeling of going to the computer each day, clicking on email, and experiencing that knot of dread as the messages unfold with their sad and terrible stories about animals, the horrible and endlessly ingenious ways and reasons that our species has for making animals suffer and die, which includes stripping them of their dignity.
If it's bad enough knowing what the institutions and entities that we expect to hurt animals are doing to them, there is added despair involved in knowing what is being done to animals by organizations calling themselves "humane," "anti-cruelty" and the like. It is monstrous seeing our language of care and respect degraded into completely opposite meanings. A perfect example of this is from the Humane Society of the United States in response to their sponsorship of this year's Hoofin' It: Respect Your Dinner meat week in Colorado:
"We support farmers and ranchers who give proper care to their animals, and act in accordance with the basic ethic of compassion to sentient creatures."
Most people know enough by now about the realities of animal farming, regardless of scale or label, to envision at least some of the details of what farmers and ranchers actually do to animals, versus verbalizations about "proper care" and "basic ethic of compassion."
What these abstractions express and perpetuate in this context is alienation from actual animals. What they demonstrate is lack of respect for animals, indeed mockery of the very idea of "respecting" them. No one who truly respects animals, respects their dignity, feels with and for them, and wishes them joy in life supports "farming" them, because animal farming is about degrading animals meanly to the level of their genitals and their genes, mutilating their body parts, destroying their family life, controlling every aspect of their lives including culling (killing) them as one pleases when they are deemed not "productive" enough to keep feeding, and ultimately murdering them.
How can anyone claiming to respect animals promote a view of them as "dinner"?
Will a call to "Respect Your Dinner" advance your empathy and respect for animals as they lie slaughtered on your plate in barbecue sauce? Maybe the code word here is "basic." Basic ethic of compassion = lowest possible level. In any case, compassion has nothing to do with the business and consumption of animal products. Its purpose is to gain customers and subvert consciences, to the extent that a conscience exists toward animals made into meals and blessed over in this condition even by their, uh, advocates. Like "humane," the word compassion in this context is a mockery of both the animals and the meaning of words, including the word advocacy. It is the final gut punch to those we're supposed to be advocating for.
by Karen Davis, PhD, President of United Poultry Concerns