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Kitten’s horrid tale contains conundrum

November 7, 2010

From New Haven Register
By Joel Marks

A news story that was both horrible and heartwarming appeared on Saturday’s front page: “Woman saves kitten tossed from car.” Somebody threw a kitten out of a moving car, injuring her severely.

No fewer than four other drivers stopped to render assistance, with one of them whisking the kitten off to a nearby animal hospital. Apparently, the kitten will survive and then thrive under the loving care of an adoptive owner.

But the witnesses and the folks at the hospital remain traumatized and outraged by what they saw. Sample quotations include: “The person has to be sick. Anybody who would do this is a dangerous person. There should be a police investigation;” “so sick to my stomach I could have thrown up;” and “I can’t believe someone would do that.”

The reporter referred to the “cruelty” to which the kitten had been subjected. And isn’t that the word that best sums up our natural human feelings toward the abusive treatment of other animals? One of the largest animal organizations has that word in its very name.

Both our emotions and our pocketbooks are wide open when it comes to cruel treatment of cats and dogs, and even pet gerbils and chicks, but shut tight when it comes to their animal cousins in factory farms and slaughterhouses…Mental eyes closed, physical mouth open.

Yet, there is something distinctly odd about how we apply, and especially how we do not apply, the word “cruelty” to other animals. Look at some numbers.

According to one survey, there are approximately 68 million dogs and 73 million cats owned in the United States. Let’s suppose that every one of them is treated cruelly: That’s 141 million animals.

Of course, the actual number is a fraction of this. But even if we assumed the higher number, it would be only a fraction of the number of animals we eat in the United States: 10 billion, and that does not include marine animals. That is every year. So, if you consider the average life expectancy of a cat or a dog to be, say, 10 years, then the true comparison is between 141 million pets versus 100 billion food animals.

Now consider two other facts: The animals we eat are no less sentient, intelligent or even adorable than our pets. The standard treatment of animals we eat would be considered cruel, indeed criminal, if done to pets. It includes the manner in which they are housed, the actual things done to them and killing them at a young age even though healthy.

The conclusion would seem to be that our attitude toward the cruel treatment of other animals is contradictory. Both our emotions and our pocketbooks are wide open when it comes to cruel treatment of cats and dogs, and even pet gerbils and chicks, but shut tight when it comes to their animal cousins in factory farms and slaughterhouses.

Out of sight, out of mind. Or more precisely, since we do see the slab of meat in front of us: Mental eyes closed, physical mouth open.

This attitude applies not only to meat eating, but to the eating of animal products, including milk, cheese and eggs. Thus, 50 percent of newborn chicks are thrown live into meat grinders because males are not wanted in the production of laying hens. Male calves meet a similar fate in the production of dairy cows, being taken from their mothers and confined to crates for their entire short lives before being killed for veal.

The animals we eat are no less sentient, intelligent or even adorable than our pets. The standard treatment of animals we eat would be considered cruel, indeed criminal, if done to pets. It includes the manner in which they are housed, the actual things done to them and killing them at a young age…

The official position of the American Dietetic Association is that “appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.” These include “heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.”

It continues: “Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence and for athletes.”

How, then, can human beings be so saddened and angered by the tossing of a kitten out of a car window, and yet condone the production of food made of animals? Are not both activities equally cruel and unnecessary?

Joel Marks is professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of New Haven. He maintains a website on how to become vegan at www.TheEasyVegan.com. He can be reached via his e-mail: jmarks@newhaven.edu.

 

Related, Vegan Society’s Making the Connection: Chapter 1 Food

 

 

Read More …

 

there is a need to educate
there is a need to learn
that all the creatures
on this planet
deserve to have their turn
at lives lived in
peace and security
unmolested, in safe futurity
man is not the only one
he is only a part of many
and without this heartfelt
compassion
his life is not worth
a penny

Karen Lyons Kalmenson

4 Comments leave one →
  1. karen lyons kalmenson permalink
    November 7, 2010 11:56 am

    there is a need to educate
    there is a need to learn
    that all the creatures
    on this planet
    deserve to have their turn
    at lives lived in
    peace and security
    unmolested, in safe futurity
    man is not the only one
    he is only a part of many
    and without this heartfelt
    compassion
    his life is not worth
    a penny

    Like

  2. November 7, 2010 12:38 pm

    Because we are a species that has lost its way. Yes, both activities are equally cruel and unnecessary. We lie to ourselves to avoid the knowledge that humans behave viciously and cruelly as a matter of routine. Our inflated opinion of ourselves rests on an ocean of lies and deliberate ignorances and misrepresentations. In deed compassion is the exception, not the rule, cruelty is the rule, not the exception. And we continue to lie and torture and kill for no good reason.

    Like

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