<$BlogRSDUrl$> The Cyberactivist

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.

Sunday, December 14, 2003

Stifling Free Speech  

I have spoken here before about the new legislation the factory farming industry has been pouring money into lobbying to get passed. I am sure that most people know exactly what I am referring to - the stiffening of penalties for the brave activists willing to take risks to expose the industry for the cruelties it perpetrates.

They have obviously got absolutely no way to be able to refute all the many videos obtained around the world in virtually all the major factory farming countries showing the inhumane treatment of the innocent animals that occurs due to the greed of the industry. Therefore, they have just tried to use scare tactics and propaganda to push through legislation trampling our caring citizens' most important civil right - the right to free speech. Of all the rights that we have here in this country, I believe that is the most important of all. And that right is being sold out by this administration to the factory farming industry.

Another problem I have is the way they are going about it. Like we are actually supposed to believe that they are doing it because they are worried about starting an epidemic. Ha! Well, if that was the real truth and they cared so much about the health and safety of the American people, they wouldn't be cramming thousands of animals into one building and keeping them there in their own filth, forcing antibiotics down their throats, breeding super-germs that will eventually kill a whole lot more people than they already do every year. It's getting close to being true, anyway, and it has nothing to do with any activists. In fact, this is one of the things that us activists are trying to stop - indeed one of the big points that we have made over and over again.

I read another article just this morning that mentions this very thing. Here are just a couple of points made in the article:

New strains of the flu virus, and so potential pandemics, get their start in rural Asia, where the various strains that infect chickens and other birds, pigs and humans can mingle. That gives them a chance to swap genetic information as well as mutate on their own.

The potential spark for a pandemic occurs when that environment produces a new virus that infects people and bears surface proteins that people's bodies have never seen before. That means people have no natural defense against it.

The world has had some close calls in the past few years...In 1997, a bird flu in Hong Kong jumped to people, killing six. But the virus never developed the ability to pass easily from person to person, Webby said. Hong Kong authorities slaughtered 1.4 million chickens to end the threat.

Just this year, authorities became alarmed when a father and son in Hong Kong were hospitalized because of a bird flu virus, and when flu virus infected some workers in the Netherlands who had slaughtered infected chickens. The Netherlands outbreak was contained by anti-flu drugs and fast vaccination, and slaughter of the poultry...

Scientists have been noticing a lot of flu virus in chickens and pigs globally, and a lot of variety in the strains, which is worrisome...It's impractical to develop vaccines against all the animal strains in case they jump to humans, and there's no reliable way to identify the most hazardous ones...

When the next pandemic shows up, experts say, it will find a population with many more vulnerable people like the elderly, infirm and those with weakened natural defenses than were living 35 years ago. It will also find a trimmed-down hospital system with fewer beds to handle a surge of patients. And while today's anti-flu drugs will probably attack the new strain, that's not yet clear. Supplies of the drugs and vaccines would be strained.

But still, with the improvements in health care since the last pandemic, might the next one be less serious?

"I want to believe that," Poland said, "but we won't know until it happens."

Funny, they don't mention one thing about activists having anything to do with the potential spread of such a thing. Hmm. From the way it reads to me, it looks like it is the practice of keeping these animals in filthy conditions and counting on (to use their own terminology) "a genetic roll of the dice" to keep us safe. Ooh. I feel better already.

Let me give you something interesting from the article I found on the law looking to punish those higher-minded individuals that are the most likely to document the conditions responsible for breeding such a threat to the American people.

The law proposed by state Sen. Charles Poochigian, R-Fresno, will make trespassing on lands where animals are raised for human consumption a misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Currently, someone who trespasses faces a citation and a $10 fine.

The law goes into effect Jan. 1.

This year, seven states considered bills to make so-called animal and ecological terrorism subject to stiffer penalties, said Sandy Liddy Bourne of the American Legislative Exchange Council. The bills are based on a model legislation called "The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act" developed by the Washington-based group.

"This legislation takes more than 'a bite out of crime,' it jails and penalizes animal and eco-terrorists and their sympathetic financial agents for what they are - domestic terrorists," Bourne said in a statement.

Poochigian introduced the California law in February to prevent the potential spread of disease between animal farms and to curb increasing acts of violence by animal rights activists...

Several animal rights groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, have opposed Poochigian's bill, arguing that its real purpose is to stymie attempts to document inhumane conditions at farms.

Exactly the same conclusion that any thinking person would come to. It is obvious that these companies go to great lengths to keep people from knowing what happens behind closed doors. They know it's ugly and don't care. They don't intend to change a thing that makes them more and more money. Just look at what great lengths these corporate giants go to to get their way. My case is a perfect example.

But, of course, the industry would have you believe that the very people that care more about the welfare of all living creatures would be the ones to be responsible for starting such a thing.

"We can't afford anyone to trespass on a ranch," said Bill Mattos of the California Poultry Federation, which supports Poochigian's proposal. "It's a matter of providing a clean and wholesome environment for consumers."

Yeah, I have seen the consumers lining up outside these places to see this "clean and wholesome environment." How dumb do they think the American people really are? Everyone knows that any factory farm operation is neither "clean" nor "wholesome." That's quite obvious to anyone even just driving by. You don't even have to get very close to one of these houses to smell the odor stinking up the whole area up to high heaven.

Maybe they should not have fought the COOL legislation that was proposed to track meat by clearly labeling the country (ideally, it should be the exact farm) from which contaminated meat may come, even though it didn't include poultry (wonder how much that cost Tyson to pay to lobby for). No, that kind of regulation was too expensive and such a terrible burden on them. That would certainly have been a much more effective piece of legislation to regulate the safety of the food supply.

I think they need to take a more careful look at their own "standard industry practices" they tout as being so wonderful, though admittedly not perfect (as they hang their heads in shame, shaking them back and forth). Even they admit that there is a small percentage that is tortured. I believe they refer to that number as being "negligible."

I believe I have seen the number 1-2% repeated around by these official statements. (Feel free to correct me if I am wrong. I know someone will. LOL!) So, for the sake of argument, let's just use that number. Let's see: If we do a little considering of this, using an easy conservative number of 8,000,000,000 [eight billion!!] birds killed per year just here in this country. (There's actually a lot more than that, but we're just making a point here and my calculator doesn't handle that many digits, so bear with me.) Wait a minute, that's easy enough for even a dummy to do their own math.

That's still a WHOLE LOTTA TORTURED BIRDS! All falling under "standard industry practice." They say that they just can't help it. That they couldn't make money if they had to change things and adhere to a lot of pesky regulations on safety and humane handling. Well, duh! Isn't that what I have been saying, too???

Hmmm.....Looks like they have a problem that they don't like being shown all over the world, beaming into people's TV sets and computer screens. If my company were responsible for torture would I want it plastered everywhere, making people just a bit squeamish about consuming what I was telling them was a healthy, humanely killed "product?" I don't think so.

So, instead they pass this law. Oh, and another ironic thing I noticed in this article. It really isn't the activists posing a problem you know. It is their practices. Just look at this little fact:

Agriculture Department officials believe farm workers spread Exotic Newcastle to egg farms through their clothing and shoes. The quarantine for the disease cost more than $160 million.

Hmmm....That is a lot of money and a lot of chickens' lives. Seems I read somewhere that the activists that made these undercover videos and rescued these poor tortured animals from their lives of hell always were very careful about disinfecting their shoes and clothes and not passing stuff like that from house to house. I don't recall ever reading about any activists causing things like this to happen. Perhaps the industry should listen a little more to how the activists handle the problem instead of relying on their own obviously unsafe, costly, and cruel practices.

Thank goodness that the brave individuals that expose these greedy torturers and killers, exploiters of everything natural, pure, and innocent, will not let this stop them from their important missions.

Bryan Pease, one of the activists involved in the Sonoma foie gras expose, was also quoted in the article:

"It isn't a major concern for us when one weighs the incredible suffering of the animals," he said. "It's a risk we're willing to take."

More power to you, dude. The animals are what is most important. I can't resort to such actions, being so high profile, and don't need to because I was there completely legally for years on end. They aren't going to admit it or change things on their own. And it is obvious that the government is walking hand-in-hand with them. So, it is up to the public to force change by screaming loudly for it.

The industry has made it quite obvious that they are willing to do whatever it takes to keep this "business as usual." I have to wonder at what point it gets more expensive for them to keep fighting the inevitable, covering up messes, bribing officials, passing unconstitutional legislation and labeling compassionate people terrorists, etc. before they finally give in and clean up their act.

What I wonder at more is how much more are we as citizens going to allow to happen regarding the current administration's repeated attacks on the civil rights of Americans. It seems that they are cracking down on just about any kind of protest lately, trying to browbeat anyone that doesn't agree with them. Look what happened in Miami to the anti-war protesters. This is getting out of control.

And corporate America, including the factory farming industry now, is just wringing their hands in glee as they reap their profits. Wake up people!
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