Honest, Fair, “Humane”

Widget – (n.) |ˈwijit| A widget is a placeholder name for an object or, more specifically, a mechanical or other manufactured device. It is an abstract unit of production. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “An indefinite name for a gadget or mechanical contrivance, esp. a small manufactured item” and dates this use back to 1931.)

There are three main ways to kill animals for human use. All of these ways result in humans using animals as resources, even though eating animals or their secretions is clearly not necessary. Since all farm animals are eventually killed, those who produce milk or eggs are used as resources during their life, and again after their death. Domesticated animals are considered legal property, to be bought and sold, similar to an iPod, and used as resources like a head of lettuce, or copper. However, in some (non-legal) cases animals are considered persons; with names, celebrated birthdays, and Christmas stockings, and, although purchased originally, would never be thought of as property or sold, but as family. This is not limited to dogs and cats- pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese, and many other traditionally “food” animals are kept as “pets” in our society. People are charged with felony animal cruelty for committing the same acts against companion animals as we commit en masse to billions of so called “food” animals every year with little or no concern. We are clearly confused about how we ought to view and treat domestic animals.

Wild animals are usually considered as “common” resources, property of everyone, but an injured deer struck by an automobile can invoke sympathy and a sense of “personhood” from the same hunters who purposely kill deer on a regular basis. Most of us have compassion for suffering animals in our immediate presence, yet think nothing of killing, or paying someone else to kill, animals in general so we can use them merely as resources. It is only when we deem an animal as a person, for example a “pet” or companion animal, that we find a moral obligation to treat particular animals as people, not property, and choose not to eat, milk, or steal eggs from, that specific animal. If animals are property to be used as resources, why treat them different than any other resource? If animals are worthy of humane treatment, how can we treat them as resources? Could we treat a human as a resource, as property, and be humane? We are lying to ourselves if we think that there is a way to use animals as resources and be humane, regardless of the method, especially when all methods ultimately kill them in the end. It is because of our confusion about where animals lie on the property—>personhood spectrum that it is hard to know what’s honest, fair, and what’s just plain ol’ trickery when it comes to our use of animals as resources.

Factory farming is the most honest way to kill an animal for his or her flesh.

The factory farmer says simply, “You are my property. I’m going to use you as a resource, from the day I breed you, to the day I kill you. You are of economic importance to me, and that is it. I will use you as I see fit, like the property you are, and there is no reason for me to do anything but that which serves an interest of mine. And like a clock or a car, no one is to tell me how to treat my property. I will cut off your beak, gouge out your horns, mutilate your genitalia, violate you sexually, etc., with no regard for you as an individual” If we are to use animals simply as resources at all, factory farming is the most honest way to approach the use of the animals they kill- as nothing but resources. Factory farmers kill for money, and that’s all there is to it. Animals are born widgets.

Hunting is the fairest way to kill an animal for his or her flesh.

The hunter says, “If I catch up with you, I will turn you from common property into my property by killing you. I’m going to use you simply as a resource. I’m not going to imprison or torture you, just kill you. I’ll even give you a (very small) chance of escaping and surviving.” Besides the fact that many of the “wild” animals hunted are bred by wildlife authorities, the animals that are hunted at least get to live out some of their truly natural life before being stalked and killed. Also, the animals hunted are usually not slow-moving and docile like domestic cows or pigs, but agile and quick animals (for the thrill of the chase). Because of the animal’s ability to easily evade us, humans have devised tools and methods to make up for certain shortcomings of our physical abilities. The sadistically violent and inhumane methods hunters use to lure, trap, track, stalk, kill, disembowel and dismember carcasses are stunningly atrocious and not very honest or fair, but I don’t think the animal would engage in a “fair” fight even if the hunter were bold enough to challenge… Hunting is not fair, it’s just the fair-est of the three. However, the more tools one uses, the less fair it gets. The fairest hunter would leave the gun, bow, or knife at home and use his or her highly advanced physical predatory prowess to chase and catch a wild animal, tear into the animal’s jugular with his or her razor sharp human incisors in the most “humane” way possible, and rip open the tough hide with his or her extremely sharp human claws. Most hunters have access to all the slow-moving, plant-based food they could ever eat and don’t have to purposefully kill animals. Seeds cost less than bullets. While hunters might be the fairest, they still reduce the animals they hunt to being nothing but resources. Serial-killers kill for pleasure. Whether it’s the “thrill of the chase”, the taste of the flesh, or the decapitated head on the wall, hunters kill for pleasure, and that’s all there is to it. Hunters transform animals from wild to widgets.

“Humane” farming is the most fiendishly dishonest and hypocritical way to kill an animal for his or her flesh.

The “humane” farmer says, “You are my property, but I’ll treat you like a person for a short while. I’ll consider some of your basic wants and needs, and possibly even befriend you. You will come to trust me. You will trust that I will feed you and keep you safe. I will still control your breeding, violate you sexually, and mutilate your genitalia, but hopefully you won’t hold it against me. As long as it serves my superficial interests, I’m going to use you as a resource; as merely chattel property and then kill you.” “Humane” farmers recognize some moral obligation to animals, and might act on it somewhat and for a short time, until it serves their superficial interests to negate that obligation by ending the life they claim to care so much about. A better term would be “temporarily less inhumane” farmers. Sure, as a chicken, I’d choose the “temporarily less inhumane” farmer, but in the end I know I’ll die at both of their hands, so neither is really a good option. It seems as though “humane” farmers are at once friend and enemy. They are the ultimate backstabbers. They are your best-friend that fucked your wife- for years. They are the “it’s just business” talk from the company you’ve been “downsized” from after 30 years. They are the tranny from “Crying Game”. “Humane” farmers are Judases. They are the wolves in sheep’s clothing, excuse the lame pun, but it fits well. These farmers actually have themselves convinced that they are in the best interest of the animals they kill. (I don’t think the animals are buying it, but what can they do?) Some farmers even go as far to say that they are keeping the animals safe from predators. I don’t think the chicken cares who steals her eggs, or who he or she gets eaten by… and I think I’d rather take my chances on the other side of the fence, thanks. They are deceiving themselves and they are taking many otherwise intelligent people with them. “Humane” farmers treat animals slightly better than factory farmers to try and reconcile deviating from their own recognized moral obligations to the animals they kill for money, and that’s all there is to it. “Humane” farmers pretend to care about their widgets, but in the end, the animals are widget’s nonetheless.

So what is a person to do? Be honest with yourself about how you think you ought to view animals. If animals are nothing but resources, widgets, then we owe them no moral obligation, and factory farms and hunting are for you! If we do owe them some form of moral obligation, let’s not lie to ourselves and hide behind a crude facade of friendliness and humanity which ultimately amounts to slightly less torture with the same deadly end, and instead treat all animals as persons, not as resources. If we consider a dog and a cow both people, we won’t eat or wear either. If we consider a cat and a pig both merely property or resources for humans to use, we will use both however we please. But to eat one and not the other is not honest, or fair. To pretend that we have the interests of the animals at heart when our true interests lie on our plates is cruelly deviant, and we are only lying to ourselves and displaying our confusion about our relationship to animals when we differentiate between animals arbitrarily. As George Orwell wrote in Animal Farm, “Some animals are more equal than others.” Though Orwell was not [metaphorically] talking about animals in Animal Farm, this statement holds true of our relationships with animals. Most consider all humans equal, but some animals are considered people and some are considered property and used as resources. We are deceiving ourselves if we think we can continue thinking like this. Until we choose how we are to categorize animals, property/resources or persons, we will always be debating how we should be using them. Unless we choose not to use them at all, and then the debate is over.

If this seems too black-and-white, consider slavery, racism, sexism, heterosexism. Are there grey areas here? Consider the humane slavery analogy; would anyone entertain an argument from a “humane” slave owner who advocates the enslavement of some people to benefit the greater good? It is easy to see through that argument, once one recognizes our moral obligation to humans directly contradicts our use of them as resources. “Humane” slavery is an anachronism which is just as oxymoronic as “humane” farming. If one recognizes our already existing and widely accepted moral obligation to animals, no logical moral conclusion can be drawn that includes using animals as resources.

Peace is coming for you. Go vegan and speed up the process.

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