Keith's View

A Really Cruel Compromise

Can you imagine a time when, in order to address the pressing issue of human rights abuse in backward countries, the likes of Amnesty International agree a compromise whereby torture techniques are refined, regulated and given their stamp of approval? Perhaps there could be a logo added to batons and pliers and handcuffs. I don’t know, say an international agreement is reached to allow certain governments, the US and China spring to mind, to inflict physical and psychological suffering on political prisoners, not electric shocks and genital mutilation but solitary confinement and maybe the use of white noise or flashing lights once a week for no more than a few hours. The pulling of no more than two finger nails, the choice of finger agreed with the victim. Perhaps food deprivation or chaining them to the bed briefly would be acceptable if it was in accordance with an internationally agreed time limit? How about an agreement between Save The Children and the kiddie porn industry to licence the material that uses unwanted children to entertain adults with these desires? Surely it would be a step in the right direction? It

wouldn’t of course be great for the children involved or for the people imprisoned for their political beliefs to be used against their will, but it might be better than it is without regulation. And the consciences of the dominant forces would be clear, the abuse regulated and more of us could join in to make these industries of abuse bigger and better, something we can all enjoy with a clear conscience.

In reality these ludicrous ideas are not something I would countenance for one minute and I will beg anyone else that cares enough to speak out against the use of exploitation and violence whoever the perpetrator is and however it’s dressed up to sound less awful. Currently we are in the middle of an intensified campaign by animal industries to sweeten up the abuse of animals and its to be expected that the cute face of animal abuse, the likes of CIWF and the RSPCA are part of this, but there are others falling into this trap. TV chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fernley-Whittinstall are also part of this process of softening up calls for animal rights with their pleas for different exploitation practices. The political party Animals Count are doing it too as they call for a reduction in the distance that infant animals are driven to the slaughterhouse to a maximum of 200 miles and to “improve animal welfare by raising farming standards”. Ask the RSPCA for a look round their ‘welfare friendly’ farms and they’ll direct you to their website and to a cartoon of some chickens playing football! You have to see this stray from reality to believe it! Alternatively take a step into reality and see what they don’t want you to see.

Aside the semantics of getting these hapless creatures to a profitable killing weight, slaughterhouses are amongst the most awful places on Earth and should not exist, period. The time has come to stop pretending there is a nice way to exploit animals and prematurely extinguish their short lives. It seems to me even more unreasonable to treat an animal well, thus gaining its confidence and trust, and then send it to an awful death in a truck full of family and friends.

It is at best naïve to think that we are doing these animals a favour by ending their short lives closer to the farm they grew up in than was the case for their parents. Naïve, cruel or stupid, giving such tacit agreement to this process means the short life is extinguished, the journey there is awful, the death throws violent, the significant environmental damage, waste of vegetable protein, excess consumption of water and so on and so forth remains the same. However, the conscience of the exploiter is somehow clear! This is the last thing in the world that any compassionate soul should be engaged in encouraging. Decent people do not do deals with the devil, not now not ever.

Our demands are being watered down deliberately by calls for refinements in animal abuse and as a result the numbers of animals going through the process of exploitation will only increase. According to one newspaper report, nine days after the launch of the “Good Veal” campaign, (RSPCA, CIWF) veal sales at one English supermarket chain rose 45 percent! Who benefits from this? The animals that are no longer here or those yet to be born? Neither. Free range eggs sound lovely once you overcome the realisation that it is the glutinous period of a hen you are eating, and that it comes from birds who have no freedom to choose and whose lives are snuffed out violently as infants. Once we have persuaded the consumer to buy only free range and organic animal body parts, then what? How do we then request a boycott of these products of cruelty that we have encouraged everyone to buy? Advocates of ‘freedom’ and ‘compassion’ in animal farming are advocates of violence and engaged in a conspiracy to commit atrocities. Ignoring for a moment the campaign to promote the killing of free-range chickens lets not forget that for the most part rabbits, cows, sheep and horses are also ‘free range’ and their short lives end as awfully as any that are destined to be eaten. Free range is not the way ahead.

It is our duty to lead the way and teach others what we have learnt, not to find ways for them to carry on the abuses with a clear conscience. We are not here to promote cruelty, obviously! Those who do are the enemy of the animals.

In a 2002 article on their Center for Media and Democracy website, authors and social activists John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton described the activities of a PR firm involved in the dismantling of movements concerned about environmental human and animal rights problems.

“Their favourite method,” wrote Stauber and Rampton, “is a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy heavily dependent on co-optation: First identify the ‘radicals’ who are unwilling to compromise (vegans in this case - ed) and who are demanding fundamental changes to redress the problem at hand. Then, identify the ‘realists’ - typically, organizations with significant budgets and staffs (see CIWF, RSPCA - added) working in the same relative area of public concern as the radicals. Then, approach these realists, often through a friendly third party, start a dialogue and eventually cut a deal, a ‘win-win’ solution that marginalizes and excludes the radicals and their demands.

“Next, go with the realists to the ‘idealists’ who have learned about the problem through the work of the radicals. Convince the idealists that a ‘win-win’ solution endorsed by the realists is best for the community as a whole. Once this has been accomplished, the ‘radicals’ can be shut out as extremists, the PR fix is in, and the deal can be touted in the media to make the corporation and its ‘moderate’ non-profit partners look heroic for solving the problem. Result: industry may have to make some small or temporary concessions, but the fundamental concerns raised by the ‘radicals’ are swept aside.” [Emphasis added.]

There is one simple answer to so many welfare, environmental and health problems and that’s the vegan option. Excuses, half measures and compromises are letting the animals down and doing nothing to stop the rot caused by human activity.

©Keith Mann August 2008

From Dusk 'til Dawn
An Insider's View of the Growth of the Animal Liberation Movement

© Keith Mann