William Saletan, the national affairs correspondent for Slate, has an interesting article in which he compares our current system of factory farming to slavery and the subjugation of women: a practice whose time is past. I personally, meat-eater that I am, haven’t been able to shake this issue since I started thinking about it a few years ago after I read Fast Food Nation. I keep wondering: How can one justify keeping pigs, creatures as intelligent as dogs, in conditions where they cannot even lie down or turn around, for months or years, until they are killed? They often, understandably, go mad from stress and distress. My dog would. Wouldn’t yours? I haven’t been able to find a respectable answer. Right now where I think I come out is that I want any animal that I eat to be treated decently before it dies for me.
The secrecy of the meat industry — slaughterhouses closed to reporters; producers that clam up, as it were, as soon as questions about the conditions of their animals start to be asked (try it and see), adds to my sense that something is awry in our carniverous Denmark.
I wonder where the Governor and LG candidates stand on animal welfare at the farms and slaughterhouses of the Commonwealth. Do they want to encourage it? Do they support alternative organic farms? What? I couldn’t find a mention of this issue on any candidate websites although the environment, health care, and guns and violence, among other issues, are discussed in impressive detail on Patrick’s website, Tom Reilly features a picture of a chap propped up on a hay bale, and Chris Gabrieli has answers for a wide variety of issue-based questions.
This issue is deep in our history. In 1641, just 20 years after the landing at Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims included in their Body of Liberties safeguards to protect all living creatures. Our MSPCA is the second-oldest humane society in the USA. George Thorndike Angell founded the organization in 1868 after two horses — each carrying two riders over 40 miles of rough roads — were raced until they both dropped dead, according to the Society. As the inscription at the base of the statue in his honor in Post Office Square explains, an important reason to treat animals well is because the way we treat them has a direct impact on the way we treat each other.
In any event, Saletan writes: