Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
There is an extraordinary story developing about a global effort to save two 11 year-old oxen from slaughter, whose bodies will serve the appetites of students at Green Mountain College (GMC), a small institution in Poultney, Vermont. Bill and Lou, affectionately named, have labored at GMC as part of the college’s Food & Farm Project for over a decade—their tasks included plowing fields and even generating electricity. According to the official college statement, Bill and Lou are “draft animals,” rescued from neglect and malnutrition to “do important work which would otherwise be performed by equipment that consumes diesel fuel.” Now their ability to do that “important work” has ended: this past July, after stepping into a woodchuck hole, Lou reinjured his left rear leg which rendered him incapable of working, and his friend Bill, while uninjured, will not likely accept a new teammate. So what to do with a pair of unworkable, elderly oxen, GMC residents who have become de facto mascots? Eat them, of course—which was the decision reached in “an open community forum” participated by both students and faculty.
Bill and Lou are still alive, for now. Although originally scheduled for slaughter by the end of October, immense public pressures – particularly on local slaughterhouses – forced a postponement. Still, GMC remains unwavering in their decision: “Eventually the animals will be processed as planned.” This in spite of a standing offer by VINE Sanctuary, and now also Farm Sanctuary, to provide permanent homes for Bill and Lou at no cost to the college, in addition to offers of tens of thousands of dollars to purchase them from GMC.
GMC’s decision to slaughter and consume two farmed animals is nothing new, since nameless millions are killed every day in factory farms—and yet the public outcry has been astonishing, overwhelming for many at GMC. Several prominent animal advocates have loudly and persistently voiced their opposition, including Bruce Friedrich, Steve Wise (check his fb for updates), Marc Bekoff, James McWilliams, as well as others. The situation is unusual in at least one respect: GMC, an institution of higher learning, and a few faculty members, have publically articulated various justifications (and non-justifications) for their decision which are transparently weak. GMC considered the decision as touching upon “complex ethical matters,” one that was “many months in the making, with members of our community carefully weighing alternatives.”
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