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 below. 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 is progress towards the conclusion I wish to see. For that reason, I now support it.
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.
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