Why I Am Against CCTV For Slaughterhouses

Animal Aid, PETA and the RSPCA are just a few of the groups that are campaigning for CCTV to be mandatory in animal slaughterhouses in the UK. The obligatory e-petition has over 23,000 signatures, and the Facebook page has a similar number of followers. Being an advocate of animal rights, you would expect that I would support such a movement, but it is precisely because I am an advocate of animal rights, that I do not.

Almost my entire life I ate meat, and that is practically all I did eat. Vegetables were non-existent to me, and I had very few meals whereby a slab of flesh was not on the plate. As I grew older, and more aware of things, I knew that the lifestyle choice I had made was unethical. Perhaps a few hundred years ago meat would need to be eaten in order to sustain human life, but in the year 2014, it most certainly doesn’t.

I have been a hypocrite my entire life for advocating animal rights whilst chewing on bacon sandwiches. Presenting an argument not to harm animals on one hand, whilst playing a leading role in the ending of their lives on the other. Throughout my time in University I become more and more aware of this hypocrisy, and my desire to be a better person was held back due to the fact I was a consumer of meat.

With the encouragement of a loved one, and with a few years experience of introducing more vegetables into my diet, I took the plunge and went cold turkey. Pardon the pun. One day seven months ago I simply stopped eating meat and fish, and since then I have not looked back.

With my belief that animals do not need to die for my survival, and my belief that animals do not need to suffer for any reason, this CCTV in slaughterhouses movement strikes me as hypocritical, and selfish.

The following sentence is the opening phrase from the RSPCA website and concerns the slaughter of animals, it states: “We are concerned that the way in which many farm animals are handled and killed is not good enough in terms of animal welfare.” As you can see, it is utterly ludicrous and contradictory. In one sentence the RSPCA says it is concerned about animal welfare, whilst at the same time acknowledging that animals get killed. I am not sure how bringing premature death to a creature can be considered “welfare”.

By looking at that RSPCA sentence we can conclude that “animal welfare” involves the treatment of the animal right up until the moment it’s life is ended and it is slaughtered. At that point, welfare does not seem to exist. It is the exact same argument that people make when they argue for just war. “No Israel, you cannot use white phosphorus to kill Palestinians. Oh you weren’t? You were just using shells and missiles? Oh, well then that is fine”. “No America, you cannot use napalm to kill those Vietnamese. Oh you weren’t? You were just using mortars and flamethrowers? Oh, well carry on. Apologies for interrupting”.

By definition to conduct war is to kill, and therefore to murder. War itself goes against all principles of humane and ethical treatment, and this is the exact same case with slaughterhouses. How on earth can you make a slaughterhouse humane and ethical when its entire purpose is to slaughter animals? Its sheer existence is unethical, and no matter how hard you try and sugar-coat it, no matter how many layers of yellow paint are added, and how sweetly the air smells, it will always remain that way.

Returning to the RSPCA website, they go on to say that: “All farm animals deserve a quiet, humane end to their lives, and we’re working in a number of different ways to try to ensure this.” I can only assume that by “different ways” they are referring to electrocution, snapping necks, slitting throats, bolts to the head, the cracking of skulls and other methods to bring about a “quiet, humane end” to animals life.

Call me soft, or old fashioned, but I would have thought that a “quiet, humane end” to a life would be dying naturally of old age, surrounded by your farmyard pals in Farmer John’s barn. Imagine your parents saying to you that poor old General Fluffles is getting on a bit, and so it would be best if he had a “quiet, humane end” to his life. Imagine them saying that and then taking General Fluffles out into the garden electrocuting him and then cutting his throat. There isn’t that better? He didn’t suffer at all.

I am surprised to see that PETA have lent their support to the campaign because PETA have a history of being fairly hardline on issues of animal welfare. CCTV in slaughterhouses seems like a minor issue in comparison to other movements and programmes that they support. It is as if they know that fighting against slaughterhouses in general would not be successful, and so they have shifted their focus away from the main objective and on to the treatment of animals within the slaughterhouses. Even if a “victory” were to be achieved on this issue, the end result would be the same. Billions of animals would be killed each year.

I state that it would be a “victory” were CCTV to be installed because in truth, it wouldn’t be. As much as the people behind the movement would parade it as progress, and as an achievement, it would not save any animals lives. And if you are campaigning for animal welfare, and the end result is that no animals had been saved, I am not sure there would be much to celebrate. The animals certainly won’t be feeling victorious.

This is why I believe it is a contradictory and illogical project. If it were to be implemented those that supported it could claim they have done something to benefit animals, but the animals they would claim to have helped would still get slaughtered. It seems the topic is being looked at from a human perspective, rather than an animal one. We are fully aware of the torture animals go through before they are murdered, and we feel guilty because of that, so in order to ease our own pain and guilt we put some cameras in the slaughterhouses.

The CCTV ultimately do very little. They do not save lives, they do not free animals, and they do not lower the amount of meat that is consumed in the country. They are put in place to ease our conscience, to soothe our ego, and to give us the false sense that we are helping other creatures on this planet. Above the wailing screams and shrieks of animals in distress and pain, there would be a voice whispering in our ear, “it’s all right, the cameras are watching, you have done your bit to care for the animals, well done”.

Many actions are conducted, and policies pursued as a means to an end. CCTV in slaughterhouses, though, seems to be nothing more than a means to a means, for the end result is no different. Nothing changes except for the fact that there is now a chance to partake in some sick voyeurism of helpless animals being led down the bloody corridors. CCTV’s in slaughterhouses are not going to stop the depraved torture of animals, they will simply record them, just like CCTV’s in shops do not stop thefts, they record them.

John Lennon once said: “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian”, but the truth is that they do have glass walls. These glass walls are called the internet. People are just choosing not to look.

The greatest things you can do to benefit the welfare of animals is to stop watching them perform, stop visiting places where they are enslaved, stop buying products that are tested on them, stop wearing their dead carcasses, and stop eating them. CCTV’s will not mean less animals die, eating less animals means less animals will die.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go to visit an inmate on death row to make sure that he is being treated humanely before he is murdered by the state.

Update: 07/03/2015
Though I believe the words that I wrote are still valid, and that to talk of “animal welfare” whilst still discussing slaughterhouses is completely nonsensical, I have decided to change my stance on the issue highlighted above. After reading Peter Singer’s excellent Animal Liberation, and after thinking logically and pragmatically about the issue, I understand that though CCTVs are not the end point that I wish to see, they are a step in the right direction, no matter how small it may be. If we are able to introduce legislation, methods of practice, technological advances, that limit or decrease the suffering of animals, then we should do that. If we were to follow my argument and not introduce CCTV, then more animals would suffer needlessly. As I said, it is not the final conclusion on the issue of animal welfare, but it progress towards the conclusion I wish to see. For that reason, I now support it.

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6 thoughts on “Why I Am Against CCTV For Slaughterhouses

  1. An animal “dying naturally of old age” isn’t as pleasant an image as you seem to think.
    An old animals immune system is weak so they are more susceptible to disease/ infection and said disease/ infection is more likely to be fatal. That is NOT a nice way to die.
    Old animals loose their teeth therefore can’t digest their food as well as they should. Basically they die over a period of months, slowly starving to search or succumbing to pneumonia etc because of their weakened immune system. That is NOT a nice way to die.
    I had a cow with a bad infection in her foot. Should I wait for her to die “naturally”? That would be me withholding drugs and painkillers and her struggling along in agony for as long as it takes the infection to kill her (weeks/ months) or until she just decided to stop living? Or should I give her drugs and keep giving them to her. The infection not healing but the drugs not allowing it to progress. How long then before she died “naturally.. Surrounded by animal friends” trust me. The cattle you see as her friends have a strict pecking order with the one at the bottom last for food/ bullied in the corner etc why else is a horrible woman a ‘cow’??
    Or do I do my best for that cow, but if she doesn’t respond to treatment make the humane decision to put her to sleep. If she has been on penicillin or something similar there is a short withdrawal period, she can go for slaughter and recoup a bit of money. As farming is a business (and it IS possible to farm with compassion) this is not an unreasonable suggestion.

    It’s the same for animals killed for meat. I am very happy and proud to give my animals the best life I can. Never hungry and all their needs met. How many children can have the same said about that?
    It is absolutely very important to me that animals are killed humanely. Dying of old age is not pleasant and is far more cruel than a pain free death. Animals do not fear death, you would know this if you spent any time with some. Halal slaughter (no/ low stun) is inhumane and shouldn’t be allowed. But to say we should all become veggies is very short sighted. In Wales there are millions of acres of poor upland mountains where the only things that grow are undigestable by humans (grass). We need animals to concert that grass into easily digested protein for humans. The worlds population is growing and food production isn’t keeping up. It’s a stupid idea to want to take out millions of acres worth of food producing land. Open your eyes and your mind.

    1. Firstly, thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.

      You paint a very vivid picture of animals dying naturally, and you are correct when you say it is not some mystical, painless process where they simply slip away in their sleep. It would be naive and romantic to suggest that was the case.

      Putting an animal to sleep out of compassion is perfectly fine. It minimises suffering to an animal already in pain. I see that as both ethical and humane.
      But you are not doing it out of compassion, you are doing it to “recoup a bit of money”. It is not the animals well-being that is the driving force here, but your desire to get some money for the carcass.

      And whilst we are on the topic of compassionate killing, I assume you support euthanasia then? and assisted dying? If you do not, then that is proof of your hypocritical nature, and the fact that the process of putting animals out of their misery, is not because of the animal, but as I said, because of your desire for money.

      I don’t see what children have to do with how you treat your animals… How many children can have the same said? Well, how many children are slaughtered and then have their dead bodies sold?

      Animals do fear death. I think you are being delusional if you think otherwise. If an animal did not fear death, by evolutionary logic and science, it would very quickly die out as a species. The fear of death is what keeps animals alive and continues the breeding cycle. You put a gazelle in an enclosure with a pride of lions, and see if that gazelle does not fear its imminent demise.

      Your last few sentences are complete and utter nonsense I am afraid. You are saying we need animals to eat all the grass, because humans don’t eat grass? Brilliant.
      Perhaps then instead of grasslands we should plant wheat, or vegetables or raise chickens (humanely) for their eggs. The grazing of cattle is one of the worlds largest problems right now, look at the methane that is produced and goes into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change, and look also at the effects of having to have hundreds of acres of grazing area has. The Amazon is a perfect example of this.

      The worlds population is growing, but it is also slowing. It is likely that in the next few generations human population will peak. In Europe it is already decelerating.
      And to state that there is not enough food is utterly preposterous. Go to a supermarket or a shop at the end of the day and look at the waste. Go to landfill sites and see what gets dumped in there.

      My eyes are open. Look at the facts.

      1. Killing an animal out of compassion and killing an animal to eat are the same. The animal dies. There should be no problem with one if the other is ok. It is you who is the hypocrite.
        Absolutely both the animal being PTS by a vet/ professional and the one being killed in an abbatior should have the same ‘experience’. Hence the importance of cameras.
        If I had a horse who broke its leg according to you I would be ok to kill it but where do you then stand on allowing that animal to feed another? (Hounds or animals in a zoo)?? Surely if it’s ok for animals to eat animals then we (as mammals) can also eat animals?

        Unfortunately for you my last few sentances are not rubbish or even untruths. On a barren, rugged mountain with maybe 1cm of topsoil you have just proven your total ignorance of the complexity of the subject by suggesting that wheat could be planted or maybe free range chickens…

        Talking of free range chickens, you are obviously ok with eating their eggs but what do you propose to do with the millions of birds who, once they are a couple of years old, stop laying? Put them to sleep out if compassion and chick them in mass graves? Incinerate them? Or do as we do now and eat them? If they were turned into bonemeal you would be eating them through whatever vegetables/ fruits were fertilized with their remains.

        You are obviously happy to eat/ unse animal by- products but while you drink your milk and eat your cheese do you spare a thought for the bull calves the dairy industry produces? If you aren’t going to eat them then they will have a short life- hours not years. To provide those calves with a good life for 3 years is far more humane to me than killing them at an hour old, even if they were killed at home, surrounded by animal friends and not in an abbatior.

        Your main point is that animals fear death. Unless you come spend a month (at least) on a farm/ animal park I don’t think you will ever believe me, let alone understand.

        Animals DO NOT fear death. They fear the unknown.

        My dog died and it was hugely important to show her body to our other dog. She understood death but doesn’t fear it- or she would never cross the road where her friend got killed (which she does, naughtily, from time to time).

        If animals feared death a monkey would never climb a tree and a bird would never fly.

  2. and a fish would never swim in the sea…

    I am afraid your semi-valid points have now evaporated in light of the megaton of idiocy that you have dropped with your last sentence.

    I feel a genuine debate and conversation is not going to occur so I won’t be replying.

    A few of your points I have taken on board, but a lot of what you are saying is pretty nonsensical I am afraid.

    1. But of course a fish would swim in the sea. It’s all they can do. Ok, say I’ve lost you at monkeys in trees, let’s say a squirrel. They would never climb as high as they do if they feared death.

      I am fully open to discussion and debate. You have not come back with a single valid arguement against what I have said, only mocked it.

      It’s a shame but there you go. As the saying goes “you can’t educate pork” every pun intended… ;)

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