Anthropocentric

Nick Pecoraro - 12.19.2018

This video just made me sick to my stomach and broke my heart over and over. It’s not anything I haven’t seen. But I avoid watching when I can because it’s incredibly upsetting to see animals get hurt in such horrific ways. And I feel such rage at the injustices these animals endure. It hurts to know how badly disconnected humanity has become from the rest of existence. It hurts to know that everyday millions of animals go through this. And because we are so unaware as a species, we typically have difficulty comprehending that animals feel pain and have the capacity to suffer just as we do.

So let’s narrow it down: There are millions of large mammals—who are biologically quite similar to us (because I guess it’s easier to respect life based on similarity to us?)—who we are forcing to go through unimaginable suffering every single day. We collectively engage in this behavior because we believe (or at least believed until the belief became habitual behavior) it’s natural to hurt animals in these ways. Because most of the world engages in or is complicit with this type of behavior, we believe it must be normal. And because we have acquired outdated ideas about what is nutritionally necessary” for a complete diet, we believe that these mass killings are necessary. The victims in these killings have little-to-no legal protections and no representation to lobby or legislate change on their own behalf.

And let’s say, in a wild scenario, a nonhuman animal could actually press charges against a slaughterhouse or worker for abuse. They could never actually do it because they are killed shortly after (whether it’s a few seconds after a stabbing, a couple months after their beaks are burn-sliced off, or whether it’s six months after their tails are chopped off). Even if they COULD try to defend themselves by communicating to us, perhaps with sounds and head nods and fearful eyes, how someone hurt them and broke the law, they will never have the opportunity because they are killed. The Humane Slaughter Act is a joke. The Animal Welfare Act is a joke. These are protections to make humans feel better about hurting animals.

I am not asking you to switch to a plant-based diet. I am asking you to join me in watching what we literally pay for to happen, whether it’s directly by purchase of an animal product” (these individuals’ body parts sliced up and sold) or indirectly with our tax dollars in the form of subsidies and bailouts.

I want you to watch this video and ask yourself the third N from psychologist Melanie Joy’s list of justifications. Is it really necessary to hurt these animals the way we do? The answer is no, it is absolutely not. How do you know this? Because we already don’t. When we put dogs to sleep, we don’t hang them upside-down and stab them in the throats. We administer anesthesia so they don’t feel pain and don’t suffer in their last moments on earth. Why are the animals we eat not worthy of this same treatment? It is only fair.

Nothing humane happens in a slaughterhouse. When we buy into humane meat, we buy into an absolute falsehood. I am not accusing anyone of anything. I am asking us to confront a very uncomfortable reality together. We all believe ourselves to be mostly moral beings. Is it moral to treat animals the way they’re being treated in this video? The commonness of this treatment aside, it’s legal to treat animals like that not because it’s moral, but solely because it’s NOT illegal. Animals will never be able to legislate for themselves. We must protect them from humankind’s worst impulses.