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Behind the scenes of the fight for the protection of animals and workers and the preservation of the environment - my experiences as a Tyson slaughterhouse hanger/killer turned activist. Exposing the evils of factory farming, by Virgil Butler. If you have arrived here looking for the Tyson stories, view the early archives. Some of them are now featured on the sidebar for easy searching.
Thursday, September 18, 2003
that worked for change, there have always
been those considered "extremists." This
works on both sides of every issue.
Prior to the Civil War, there were people
like John Brown, who committed violent
acts in the name of ending slavery. In the
fight for civil rights, there were the militant
Black Panthers. In the fight for animal rights,
you have direct action advocates.
However, on the other side of the fence, you
have organizations like the KKK and the type
of people who consider it their God-given
right to exploit and kill those that they feel
are beneath them and only put on the face
of this Earth for exploitation in whatever
cruel ways they decide, whether for necessity
or just because they believe it is fun (like those
evil people who set cats on fire because they
hate them, throw animals in a pit to watch
them fight, etc.).
The rest of the people fall somewhere in
between. You have some people who will
not acknowledge that animals have any rights
at all, yet they do concede that animals should
be treated in a humane manner up until the
point that they are exploited in whatever
manner - food, experimentation, fur coats.
Isn't the very idea that these animals deserve
to be treated humanely defined as a "right?"
Extremists, whether or not you agree with
their tactics, do actually have some benefit
to any cause. They make the rest of society
take a look at what is so wrong with the
status quo that a certain segment of people
feels the need to take drastic, even violent
measures to stop it.
Take the situation in San Francisco where
ALF vandals did about $60,000 worth of
damage to a business designed to specialize
in foie gras. That story made the front page
of the San Francisco Chronicle and generated
quite a bit of discussion on the issue. Before
this action, there were many people who had
no idea how foie gras was made to be on their
plates. This was rarely covered in the media.
Instead, you mostly saw articles discussing
how tasty it was and who prepared it best.
Whether or not you agree with the tactics of
this group, they did accomplish their goal of
putting the facts of this issue before the eyes
of the unsuspecting public who were ignorantly
enjoying this "delicacy." Once people were
made aware, they started complaining and
some chefs started pulling it off the menu.
Those who stood to gain from the continued
exploitation had before consistently played
down, even denied, the cruelty toward these
ducks. They had everything to gain from
misleading the public about exactly how
cruel this practice is. They would have us
believe that these tubes are just kinda put
into the ducks mouths and these ducks
are just happy gluttons swallowing it all
You cannot argue with a video, showing
barrels of dead ducks who did not survive
this kind of treatment long enough for their
livers to make it onto someone's plate. The
same goes for the ones who were barely
alive, so weak that they were unable to
defend themselves against rats that were
eating them alive.
It is very hard to argue that shoving
a tube all the way down the throat of a duck
and pumping up to 1 lb. of corn into them
is humane and the right thing to do just
because it makes their liver taste good. This
argument would also be hard to make if
people realized how many of the ducks'
throats were perforated by these long,
thick metal tubes thereby ensuring great
pain and suffering.
Never mind that activists have been telling
people about this issue for quite a long
time. People dismiss many of them as
being fanatics and will not listen. It is
said that a picture is worth a thousand
words. Obviously, a video is worth many
Industry advocates are masters at lying
and manipulating the public. People want
to hear that animals live happy, carefree
lives up until the moment they are killed
for their dinners. They want to hear that
just as much as they want to hear that
these animals are killed quickly and cleanly
so that the animals do not suffer.
Sadly, this is not the case, as many
advocates for animals have been pointing
out for years. Each side can always find
some scientist, some expert, somewhere,
that will back up their claims with a very
carefully collected bunch of statistics and
studies backing up their point of view.
But when you are seeing images of true
suffering, you cannot argue with the facts.
Even though many people call these individuals
terrorists, fanatics, and extremists, their
tactics do work to some extent.
If the public had been listening to the facts
that had been presented in a nice, rational
manner, and heeded this information, thus
stopping the practice, these people would
not have felt the need to "scream" so loudly
to wake the public up to what is going on.
I am not trying to advocate violence or
urging anyone to go bomb a building or set
a fire, even to release thousands of animals
that may wreak havoc on a community. The
point I am trying to make here is that, if
people were not so gullible, accepting the
self-serving explanations of the industry,
this group of people would not have felt the
need to expose the practice in such a dramatic
The same goes for the ad campaigns of PETA
that seem to offend so many people. These
big corporations spend millions of dollars a
year on PR and advertising to convince people
to buy their product and that they are such
good, caring community members, supplying
products and jobs to the community. Going
up against such an alliance can be quite
daunting for a small group of individuals
that advocate change. Unless they do something
dramatic to get the media's attention, the
public is unlikely to hear their message unless
they were to actively look for it. This is their
way of advertising.
How many people would actually do the
research to find out exactly what it took to
have that piece of meat arrive on their plate?
How many really want to know? This
information has been out there for
anyone to read for quite some time, but
how many had actually read it?
The same goes for the fight against KFC.
Tyson is not going to change their cruel
ways voluntarily. Why should they? It
might actually cost them some money.
It would definitely hurt their image to admit
they had been selling tortured birds to
the unsuspecting public and lying to them
about it for years.
Look how many people are upset by the
thought that the Bush administration lied
to the public about the WMDs in Iraq.
Do you think they would give Tyson or KFC
any more slack if they came clean and said,
"Okay, we have lied to you for years. We
knew there was cruelty, but we didn't care
as long as we were making money. We
were laughing at your gullibility all the way
to the bank. But we are sorry now and won't
do it anymore. Please forgive us. From now
on we pledge to do chicken right!"
I don't think so. I believe there would be a
public outcry, protests, and boycotts. The
media would be camped out on David Novak
and Don Tyon's doorsteps shoving microphones
in their faces every time they peeped out the
door, never mind what would happen to their
No, unfortunately, the public must exert a
small effort, just a few clicks of the mouse,
to find out what the truth is. Otherwise, we
will continue to see glaring headlines that
bring the public face to face with the issue.
After all, it is in our best interest to know
what we are putting on our plates and the
plates of our children, what we spend our
dollars supporting. As long as the public
is not demanding change, the industry has
no incentive to change anything.