Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Modern institutions like to euphemize their worst habits, and nowhere is this more evident than in the meat industry. Animals have been reduced from sentient individuals to material commodities that contribute to the production of capital. Hence, they are captured, caged, raised, poached, trapped, skinned, traded, or sold as “exotic” pets or for their fur, body parts, or supposed medicinal value.
The semantics of meat-industry terms is itself revealing. Such terms as “poultry”, “beef”, “pork”, and “livestock” all connote a type of material to be processed (in the most efficient manner possible, of course), rather than individual animals (turkeys, chickens, cows, pigs) to be slaughtered—thereby glossing a lethal activity. This is somewhat analogous to what anti-war protestors did in the 1960s to dehumanize policemen by calling them “pigs,” thereby justifying violence toward them. To justify treating animals as mere material, butchers de-individualize them. In ordinary language, “stock” is some non-living thing you can store on a shelf or in a warehouse—not a “live” animal that is capable of suffering. The term “meat production” itself ought instead to be called “animal slaughtering,” since that is what the industry entails. The industry prefers to hide its activity under the misnomer of “animal agriculture”—an oxymoron to be sure—and then dares to call it “humane.”
Hunters employ rhetoric that is equally dubious. They call their activity a “sport” that seeks to acquire a “trophy.” Their victims are labelled “game” animals even though they are unwilling participants, know nothing of any rules, and the “playing field” is hardly level or fair. Deer or elk, which weigh more than the shooters and are no less sentient, are commonly said to be “harvested,” though they bear no resemblance (physically, mentally, emotionally, or ethically) to crops.
A pig farm in Manitoba, Canada, recently suffering from drought and high corn feed prices, apparently decided to withhold water and feed from its animals in order to “depopulate” the herd. The animals are reduced to widgets whose value is at the mercy of the marketplace. Doug Chorney, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, said “Troubles in the pork industry mean weanlings are now essentially worthless.” So farmers are “depopulating” their barns of the young animals. Of course, “depopulate” is the current euphemism for “kill” or “let die through deprivation.”
One can only hope that the evil institutions that plague our planet will as least begin to “tell it like it is” and that the rhetorical doublespeak will cease.
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