- In “Meat and Milk Factories”, Peter Singer and Jim Mason discuss the methods used on
- farms. The authors also explain the living conditions used with cows, and the relation it has to
- human psychology. Midway through the essay, the following question was presented.
- "Is it part of the gulf we draw between ourselves and other animals that leads farmers to
- talk of animals as 'farrowing' rather than 'giving birth,' 'feeding' rather than 'eating,' and
- 'gestating' rather than 'being pregnant'?"
- This seems like a simple question, and to me, it is. However, the explanation is a bit
- deeper, like the question itself. The short answer is an obvious “yes.”
- We, as human beings, feel the need to place a barrier between the human race and
- anything else considered an animal. In fact, it goes deeper than that. Humans often separate
- themselves from other humans, in the form of racial barriers, sexist barriers, and the ever-heated
- debate of “straight versus gay” couples. As for the topic on hand, people will always deem it
- necessary to separate humans from other animals. The main reason I see behind this is simple.
- Humans want to stay on top of the food chain, and want it to become clear.
- To elaborate on this, let’s use an example. A hunter will be the target for this scenario.
- A hunter’s job is simple: He hunts and sells what he catches for money, whether it’s fur,
- skin, ivory, or a live animal. Since he will be killing animals most of the time, he can’t
- afford to think of whether or not an animal’s family is alive. He can’t waste time wondering
- about the semantics behind it. He has a job, and he’ll do it, regardless of the target. Why is this?
- He views the target as an animal. It’s a creature, not a person. It doesn’t have feelings, as far as
- he’s concerned.
- Now, imagine animals could talk. The hunter can hear the animals he hunts crying and
- pleading as he goes after them. Does that get into your head? For the most part, it should. The
- second you can understand someone or something talking, it instantly becomes harder to harm it,
- wouldn’t you agree? Of course, that depends on the person you ask, but I’d still imagine hearing
- something crying like that would make an impact, regardless. Technically speaking, all humans
- are mammals, and all mammals are animals. Note how we feel the need to separate ourselves
- from everything else.
- Next is the subject of why cows aren’t “giving birth”, but “farrowing”. Imagine, if you
- will, a pregnant woman. Before we even know the sex of the baby, we know one thing. The
- woman in question is going to be bringing a new life into the world. As such, you don’t want her
- to suffer any kind of harm, physical or otherwise, right? So why is it that when a cow is
- pregnant, or any other animal for that matter, we are not nearly as sympathetic to her injuries? It
- is because the cow is not a person. Now, that probably sounds like a REALLY stupid statement,
- “Of course the cow isn’t a person, because it’s a cow!”
- Obvious statements aside, let me explain what I mean. In the human’s mind, anything
- that isn’t a human (and possibly, other humans he happens not to like) are beneath him. Cows
- aren’t “on the same level” with humans. Due to the ensuing thoughts, this makes cow a good
- source for food and nutrition. Of course, if they’re allowed to run wild, it’d be hard to find them.
- To resolve this, people place them in fenced-off areas. They can’t escape now. To show
- similarities, let’s picture this. Take a free man and place him in a jail cell. He’ll begin to panic
- within the first ten minutes, guaranteed. After that, he’ll begin to plead. He’ll stop thinking
- logically, and become more and more desperate. Before long, he would’ve been reduced to
- begging on his hands and knees for freedom. A cow is unable to convey all these emotions so
- easily, and is therefore reduced to making motions with his/her head, chewing on bars, etc.
- Going back to the pregnant woman argument, have you ever wondered why we call a baby cow a
- calf? To me, the answer is simple. If we called a baby cow a baby, or even called a pregnant
- cow “pregnant”, the guilt would leave us unable to eat the cow so easily. After all, nobody
- wants to eat a baby, right? In a similar trend, who would be able to bear seeing a pregnant
- woman in a tiny cage, such as the ones the “farrowing” cows are placed in? Simply put, you
- wouldn’t, and you couldn’t. I’m sure anyone who reads this knows a would-be mother who
- suffered a miscarriage. Maybe you know a friend who does, instead. The pain that comes from
- a miscarriage is terrible. Now, some of these cows are pregnant their whole lives. When they
- finally give birth, their babies are simply taken from them, and are most likely never seen again.
- When that mother finally “expends her usefulness”, she’s sentenced to death via the
- slaughterhouse. Can you imagine a life of being pregnant, never to see the light of day? To make
- it worse, when you finally have your child, it simply disappears from your life forever. You’re
- sentenced to a life of this, and when you’re finally free of it, you die.
- I personally cringe at the thought of this, and I’d imagine most people would also hate the
- thought of that kind of life. So this raises the question: Why don’t we care when we inflict this
- life upon cows? It’s the same most people don’t care that they’re mass-slaughtered, kept in
- pathetically cages, and never allowed freedom- They’re below humans. Humans are obsessed
- with rank and ensuring they remain on top of the pyramid. Killing a dog is not equivalent to
- killing a human, and I doubt it ever will be.
- In closing, the reason we distinguish ourselves from animals like we do is equal parts
- natural and unnatural. I believe it’s some part of a person’s sub-conscious to believe they are
- better at something, and it’s incredibly easy for that to come out against an animal like that. It
- could also be self-justification, one of the mind’s self-defense tricks. To lessen the shock of
- seeing cows in this kind of living condition, our mind cushions the shock with “reasoning”, such
- as: “Oh, it’s just a cow, there’s tons of them. It’s not like a person’s dying or something. This
- happens everyday.” The ironic part about this is that at this point, there’s probably more people
- than cows, even if you take the slaughterhouse out of the equation. To summarize, this position
- people have will probably always remain, even if the terms used for cows are changed. It’s far
- too late for people to start caring enough for that to change, and the majority won’t care enough
- to try changing it, anyway. For a species obsessed with self-growth and maintaining a dominant
- position, this is the only option we have in front of us, like it or not.
a guest Feb 26th, 2012 151 Never
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