PERSPECTIVE IS EVERYTHING
I grew up on a farm, we had a mink ranch, we killed mink, it was the way we made money. My Dad was once at an auction and witnessed a man beating a horse; he physically intervened to stop the cruelty. There was no contradiction for him in these two events, one instance was the humane dispatch of mink for fur and one was the inhumane treatment of an animal. So that is the “cultural” back drop by which I judge the use of animals, it is incumbent on “us” to seek reasonable measures to avoid inflicting pain that the animal can perceive, having done that, they can be utilized for work, food and shelter.
The stewardship and use of animals for food has distasteful aspects, it is the effectiveness of the “industry” in keeping these aspects from view that has opened up the avenue for animal rights groups to move public opinion against the use of animals. That is to say, people having been sheltered from or detached from food at its source have no concept of how to mentally process the distasteful aspects of food production and can be influenced by graphic representations of animal processing.
I am aware of a school teacher, who, in an effort to show kids where food came from took his class on a tour of a slaughter facility. He use to ask the kids before going in the facility, how many had ever killed something – in 1970 over half the class would put their hands, by 1990 one or two would. People, like me, who saw firsthand what killing animals met in the context of “the farm” or hunting, understand and have come to grips with morality required to function in this space – there simply is no moral continuity between animals and people. This is a moral construct that is consistent with the generalized Christian narrative that shaped most of us.
A widespread separation from animal harvest and use by society at large has effected a circumstance where efforts by animal rights groups gain sympathy. The language used in the animal rights movement is highly charged, there is a religiosity in the more extreme elements. The sensitivity associated with the topic emanates from the anthropomorphic inclinations of many in the movement. There is often strong rebuke of big factory farms, as though scale is a determinate of animal welfare. As I like to say, cows are unable to count, they have no means to judge whether their herd is 10 or 10 million, what they do know is whether they are dry, warm or cool and healthy. A cow loaded on a truck to be taken to slaughter has no knowledge of what is to come, no perception of the time it will take. Yet, when you examine the language that is used in various forums on the subject, you find constant reference to the number of cattle in a dairy herd etc. … constant reference to things that would concern you or I, but farm animals have no perception of.
The challenge I am facing now is, the animal rights movement is unwilling to let me live as I want. My daughter inherited a mink stole my mother had, I am concerned about the violent people who seem to have no bounds on their activities related to the issue, painting fur coats in airports and the like. I like to hunt, the animal rights movement want us to stop that. I like to go to a rodeo, the animal rights movement wants us to stop that. I like horse sports, animal rights movement want us to stop that. I view animal protean as a healthy part of my diet, the animal rights movement want us to stop that. I am struggling with how to find a co-existence with a group who is horrified by who I am.