Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our Responsibility in Killing Animals

Lemieux points us to this moronic Aaron Sorkin piece attacking Sarah Palin for killing animals on her show. It's tempting to damn the Huffington Post for hosting editorials like this, but I'll leave my distaste for that site alone here.

Rather, it's worth mentioning because Sorkin represents the massive disconnect consumers of animal products have from their production.

"Unless you've never worn leather shoes, sat upon a leather chair or eaten meat, save your condemnation."

You're right, Sarah, we'll all just go fuck ourselves now.

The snotty quote was posted by Sarah Palin on (like all the great frontier women who've come before her) her Facebook page to respond to the criticism she knew and hoped would be coming after she hunted, killed and carved up a Caribou during a segment of her truly awful reality show, Sarah Palin's Alaska, broadcast on The-Now-Hilariously-Titled Learning Channel.

I eat meat, chicken and fish, have shoes and furniture made of leather, and PETA is not ever going to put me on the cover of their brochure and for these reasons Palin thinks it's hypocritical of me to find what she did heart-stoppingly disgusting. I don't think it is, and here's why.

Like 95% of the people I know, I don't have a visceral (look it up) problem eating meat or wearing a belt. But like absolutely everybody I know, I don't relish the idea of torturing animals. I don't enjoy the fact that they're dead and I certainly don't want to volunteer to be the one to kill them and if I were picked to be the one to kill them in some kind of of Lottery-from-Hell, I wouldn't do a little dance of joy while I was slicing the animal apart.

The problems with this are legion, but I'll stick to the disconnect between production and consumption. Palin's show is disgusting. Watching her kill a halibut by bashing its face in with a bat is not something I ever want to watch.  But halibut are killed this way. And we eat halibut. As a consumer, you are partially responsible for the production methods of the product. In this case, if you don't want to see halibut bashed in the face with a bat, don't eat halibut.

Moreover, Sorkin's claim he doesn't like to torture animals may be true enough, but hardly exonerates him from the charge of some responsibility for doing so. There are libraries full of information on factory farms and slaughterhouses discussing the inhuman ways cows are killed, how chickens live in cages no bigger than bodies, etc. This is all animal torture too. You eat factory farmed meat, you have a measure of responsibility.

The difference is that Palin shows the torture of animal production for political reasons. Her animal snuff films/reality show are loathsome. But the response from Sorkin and many others says a lot about the blissful ignorance most of us remain in when it comes to our animal products.