6 Million Broiler Chickens

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A touring photo display sponsored by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals argues that treating people like cattle is no worse than treating cattle like cattle. PETA explains that "the display, which consists of eight 60-square-foot panels, each showing photos of factory farm and slaughterhouse scenes side by side with photos from Nazi death camps, graphically depicts the point made by Yiddish writer and Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, who wrote, 'In relation to [animals], all people are Nazis.' "

Singer is not around to endorse the display, but PETA does have other Jews on board. According to the Associated Press, "PETA member Matt Prescott, the creator of the campaign, said he is Jewish and his family lost several members in Nazi concentration camps. He said the campaign was funded by a Jewish philanthropist who wishes to remain anonymous."

Some Jews are less supportive. The Anti-Defamation League, for instance, called the show "outrageous, offensive," and "abhorrent." Well, you know how touchy they are.

[Thanks to Joshua David.]

NEXT: Human Nature?

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  1. In Nazi Germany, Jews were treated as animals. Factory-farms treat… animals that way.

    Where’s the problem?

  2. I love animals….barbequed, fried, baked, “fwicaseed”. You get my point.

    PETA’s premise is the problem here. Animals are not people. A pig is NOT a dog is NOT a boy. If you don’t want to eat animals, that’s great. Have a ball. But “don’t try to push your version of morality on me”, thank you very much.

    (And y’all know what I think of self-righteous bastards, right?)

  3. Now that I think of it, the next time I’m accosted by these people, I’ll ask them if they’ve surrendered to Jesus yet.

  4. All my years of treating people like animals has taught me something; vegetarians taste better.

  5. In Soviet Russia, animals eat you!!

  6. Animals eat other animals…
    Humans are animals…

    From my perspective at the top of the food chain, it all makes perfect sense.

  7. PETA treats animals better than they treat people. Talk about a twisted ethical code… The sick bastards.

  8. Steve:

    Don’t forget to ask them if they’re interested in a political magazine subscription. j.k.

    All:

    You know what cows do in holding pens?:
    STAND THERE…
    You know what cows do in the open fields?:
    STAND THERE…

  9. Matt…

    I too have been exposed to unsettling treatment of animals in the scientific community. One example was drawing blood from rats via their eyes – supposedly because it was the best way to establish a good blood flow. Of course, the rat was now blind in one eye. Another method of drawing blood was by severing the tail. Sounds like a children’s nursery rhyme with all of the blind mice and tail cutting, doesn’t it?

    To me this is cruel treatment. To the researchers, it is cancer research. Of course, this noble goal helps the researchers to rationalize such treatment.

    Poultry farms are a different matter however. Research has found that disease free birds who get plenty of fresh air and nutritious food grow up to produce high quality meat that is in demand the world over. Interestingly most American poultry is consumed in the form of low fat breast meat – much of the dark meat is exported.

    I guess I’m just wondering what the problem is with poultry farming in terms of animal cruelty.

    The suggestion seems to be that overcrowding is the problem – but the birds don’t really seem to mind – at least not in my observation.

    To me the more worrisome aspects of modern meat production are pollution (chicken manure), heavy antibiotic use (farms literally hose down the birds with antibiotic sprays), and breeding policies that reduce genetic diversity and could open the door to diseases that might spread rapidly, kill millions of chickens, and hurt our economy and environment.

    On the bright side though, chickens are a very efficient means of converting feed to meat. If I recall correctly, a chicken only requires 1 square foot of space and 2 lbs. of chicken feed can result in 1 lb. of chicken meat. Surely American poultry technology could benefit the protein deficient masses of the world. If I could just get poultry that hadn’t been hosed down with antibiotics, I think I’d be fine with it.

    Also, no part of the chicken is wasted. The manure is sold, and even the feathers and blood are collected and used (in cattle feed of all things).

    I am aware of some inhumanities in the poultry industry though. One is the concept of the “Chicken Sexer”. This is a person who looks at the peeping chicks and determines their sex. Females live and go on to be raised for meat production or to become laying hens (a cushy job) while males are chucked into a hopper to be killed (I think I read that they are ground up). Some males are saved for reproductive purposes.

    Finally, a few summers ago, a major egg farm in my state was hit by a tornado. Many chickens lay dying, trapped, and starving in the wreckage. Many animal rights activists supposedly rescued the millions of surviving chickens. I’m not sure where they all went – perhaps they are now shacking up with some crazy woman with 57 cats.

  10. Steve – I like the idea of asking them if they’ve found Jesus.

    I personally suspect they totally knew it would be, er, provocative, and that it would elicit outrage from a lot of people, and that they went ahead with this little stunt figuring, “hey, it’s all the more publicity for us.”

    That doesn’t make it any less ill-advised, though, and I think it’s only going to backfire on them in a major way if it hasn’t already.

  11. Of course, if you want a Singer to endorse the display, I am sure Peter Singer (of “All Animals are Equal” fame and a Prof at Princeton, I believe) would be happy to do so.

    I have to admit, this display is amongst the most ridiculous I have ever seen, and how PETA thinks this will work to their advantage is beyond me.

  12. I’m terribly concerned about the conditions at the farms where they raise the boneless chickens.

  13. Neb-

    Its hard to argue that these animals are healthy because they are happy when, as you point out, they are hosed down with antibiotics. Don’t get me wrong, I eat meat and like to hunt. However, I find it increasingly difficult to feel OK about where my food is coming from when I’m not the one who killed it. It would be nice to think that farm profit is directly related to the ethical treatment of the farmed animals. The free market would then ensure this treatment. I’m just doubtfull this is the case.

  14. Farm animals grow best and are most profitable when they are happy and healthy. If you read poultry trade publications, you’ll find that most of the technologies discussed are about improving the health and safety of chickens.

    Activists cite “overcrowding”, but studies have shown that chickens grow just as well given little space as when they are free range. Of course no foxes chasing down and eating the chickens in captivity. And hawks aren’t swooping from the sky thinning the flock.

    Birds seem to thrive in crowded environments (safety in numbers?) in the wild. I’ve seen pigeons densely crowded in their roost. So it could be that chickens really don’t mind being in a highly social environment.

    It is important to see the distinction that chickens are not killed for religious/political beliefs – or out of hatred for the chicken “race”. It may seem odd, but our treatment of poultry is quite good in a Darwinian sense. As long as humans survive, domesticated animals will be kept to support us.

    In a sense humans are trying to breed a “master race” of farm animals. So maybe we are a bit like Nazis in that sense.

    To say that the Jews were treated like livestock is naive. They were treated much worse.

  15. My father in law (now ex-) raised hogs in Texas. They were pretty much “free-range”. The problem with that was coyotes. So, PETA…was it better to give them all that room so they could be a meal for predators or should they have been put in a safe indoor location? Oh, that’s right….they shouldn’t even exist. We should be converted to the PETA religion.

    KMA.

  16. Neb-

    I don’t think it is appropriate to link the size a farm animal may attain with how humanely it is treated. As a chemist I have seen healthy well fed animals, mostly rats, subjected to horrific experiments. Other than the disability directly related to the procedure these animals were fine. I also have colleagues that have participated in similar treatment of dogs. When the animal is no longer usefull they are then adopted out as pets. And, as far as I know, they are no more problem than the average pet. The free market will treat animals as humanely as is financially profitable. I have doubts this is producing conditions most would find ethical.

  17. Oh, my goodness. Sixteen comments on a thread and not one mindlessly dogmatic remark. 🙂

    I thought for sure that this would flush out at least one “animals have the same rights as humans” proponent.

    Matt, a couple of months ago one of the semi-regulars at NRO wrote an article about real hunters, “thrill” hunters (for lack of a better word), and treating animals as humanely as possible. Pretty good stuff; fairly well balanced, I thought. Go to nationreview.com and do a search on hunting, that should flush it out.

  18. OK Jacob, so factory farms aren’t as bad as the Nazis. When exactly did “not as bad as the Nazis” become our moral foundation?

    Animals don’t have human rights. They have animal rights, which those of us who are able to recognize morality and rights are bound to respect. The form of these rights is determined by the characteristics of the animal. Chickens don’t have a right to life, because they don’t understand life and death. But chickens do understand agony and entrapment, and they have the right not to suffer those things needlessly. Or, perhaps a better way to phrase it, we have a duty not to impose those things on them needlessly.

    This display reminds us of our failings. I don’t mind if it’s sensationalized if it makes people think about these things.

  19. Being from the Norfolk VA area (home to PETA), we are used to their rediculous antics. We refer to them as People Embarrassing the Tidewater Area!

  20. Matt-

    My experience with chickens is that it is hard to tell when they are happy. I don’t think I ever said I thought they were.

    I guess PETA is just championing poultry mental health?

  21. So let me get this straight–in PETA’s version of history, the Nazi’s were fattening the Jews up to eat them? All I can say is “Soylent Green is people!!!”

  22. Russ,

    Humans aren’t neccessarily at the top of the food chain. Sometimes they get eaten by bears and such.

  23. Great comments so far. The debate between Matt and Nebb is very interesting. Loved the “fattening up” joke. Ultimately Johny Rocket says what I think: it’s a PETA publicity stunt and it’s working. But he confuses being provocative with being controversial. I think PETA’s comparing chicken factories to Nazi concentration camps is certainly controversial, but not very provocative.

    PETA is such a fringe group and they self-marginalize by publicity stunts like this.

    Whenever I buy flesh from my grocer, I am far removed from the inevitable brutality involved with converting a living and breathing animal into cellophane wrapped food. Nothing wrong with PETA trying to remind people where the ground beef and chicken tenders come from. I think there is a market for pain-free or more humane agriculture. PETA could devise a “seal of approval” concept where producers that treat the animals humanely by their criteria get the seal, perhaps. I have seen “farm raised” eggs at the store and I believe the premise is the chickens were not kept in small pens, but were free range.

    Of course, meat eaters might reject any mention of PETA on their packages, so the whole idea might be faulty, but what do you all think?

  24. I have always thought that PETA was a front for the worst aspects of the animal product industry.

  25. I like the idea that animals are tortured before I eat them. Lets em know whose in charge.

  26. Way to put Peta to good use.

    1, Round up every PETA member

    2, Put them into an undground holding chamber

    3, Create a company called Soylent Foods and sell a new Food stuff called SOYLENT GREEN.

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