<$BlogRSDUrl$> 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.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Tortured by Tyson - Again! Part Two, an Update 

Imagine the one thing in your life that you were the most ashamed of.

Then imagine turning around and watching that in a video over and over again.

That's what I did today.

I was extremely surprised by the way I reacted to seeing the video that the PETA investigator got out of that Tyson slaughterhouse in Heflin, Alabama. I think it actually affected me even more than it did Laura. She spent some time preparing herself for actually seeing what it was I did. She had read a lot about it, and had even seen some pictures,but had never actually seen it in full that way. It deeply upset her, of course, but what it did to me was extreme and made me feel worse than awful, wondering how I could have dome such a horrifying thing for so many years. The guilt and shame just came rushing back to me in such an unexpected way. It literally brought tears to my eyes. Anyone that knows me knows that I am not the type to cry at anything. That's how powerfully it upset me. I thought I would have to comfort Laura after her seeing that, but it turned out the other way around. She came to hug me, and I just clung to her, feeling so very ashamed and guilty for my participation in such horror and something that I knew was wrong even way back then.

I couldn't even begin to describe all of the horrible memories that it brought back.

God only knows how many nights I stood there and did that very same job.

It seems like a different person did that, certainly not the one I am today, I guess that's true in a way. I could certainly never treat any living being that way again. I have had more than enough of violence and killing, certainly more than my share. Even as I work to atone for my actions, it still affects me, and it seems like it affects me even more than I ever realized. Viewing that video brought it all back to me in a rush, just like I was standing there on that line again. I might as well have been in the way that I felt. It is hard to describe in words on this site, but that's the best I can do to convey to you the effect it had on me. I guess it will just continue to haunt me to the end of my days. I wish I could take it all back, but then, as I have said before, if I had not done that work and experienced what I did, I certainly could not be doing what I do today.

It was the heartlessness, the callousness, that I saw when I watched the person shown that was having to pull the heads off of those birds and just throw them on the floor like trash. It reminded me of our utility doing the same thing when he stood behind me when I missed some that the killing machine had missed when I couldn't kill them all.

You would think that I would have been more prepared for what I was about to see when I put that video into the machine to watch it. I thought I was more prepared than what I was. But I think that I have been so caught up in doing something about it that I had somehow managed to suppress the horror of what I was trying to do something about.

I was clearly reminded of that today.

You see, I wrote my last post before seeing that video. I tried over and over again to see it online, but again my slow dial-up connection prevented me from being able to see it. I also wrote that post before talking to the investigator that filmed it. I did that yesterday while I waited for the video to be shipped to me from PETA so that I could see it and confirm what I had only suspected had happened after viewing the photos that I did manage to get and put up in my groups and on my photo page. I thought that it was necessary to talk to the investigator who was actually there to have my thoughts on the matter confirmed, just as I thought that it was necessary to view that horrible video to be absolutely sure that what I was assuming and writing was accurate. I try very hard to make sure that what I say is totally accurate when I write here and in my groups so that the information I send out is correct and informative. This was especially important in this case because of the lame and completely unbelievable lies and denials I had read in the many articles I read that showed what Tyson had to say on the matter in their lame and completely untrue response. Who do they really think they are fooling? Not me, for sure. And certainly not the increasing number of the people finding out the truth of what really goes on behind those doors that they have managed to keep quiet about for so many years. The truth is getting out, and there is nothing they can do to stop it. Even meat-eaters do not want the animals they eat tortured and abused before they are killed. And a majority of them are even willing to pay a little more to make sure that they are treated as humanely as possible, even in a farming state like Ohio, where I read these excerpts in an article:
(If this link happens to die before you read this article - it is still good now - you can also read it where I posted it to our group here)

A recent Ohio State University survey found that 92% percent of Ohioans say they agreed or strongly agreed that it is important for farm animals to be well cared for. Eighty-five percent said the quality of life for farm animals is important even when they are used for meat.
In addition, 81% agreed that "the well-being of farm animals is just as important as the well-being of pets," and 75% agreed with the statement that "farm animals should be protected from feeling physical pain."
A recent Ohio State University survey found that 92% percent of Ohioans say they agreed or strongly agreed that it is important for farm animals to be well cared for. Eighty-five percent said the quality of life for farm animals is important even when they are used for meat.
In addition, 81% agreed that "the well-being of farm animals is just as important as the well-being of pets," and 75% agreed with the statement that "farm animals should be protected from feeling physical pain."
In addition, Sharp said that a majority (54%) of Ohioans said they were very concerned about the genetic modification of animals.
Okay, back to the subject at hand:

Well, after talking to the man that bravely went in there and got this undercover footage (and I don't know who he is and told him not to tell me his name - I only spoke to him on the phone.) I can say that not only what I posted was accurate, but that what he wrote in his log was totally accurate as well. It was dead-on chicken plant USA. I also want to mention that this man did a very good job, and I can't imagine how heart-wrenching it was to be a part of that horror and be able to do nothing to really help stop the suffering of those birds and still get that all-important footage when you care so much. It was hard for me to do so when I was used to doing it and before I got so involved in this movement. He truly did stand in a killer's shoes, just as I did, and just as many others do and are doing even as you read this. Only he had the guts to do something about it. For that, I wish to commend him not only a job well-done, but on the ability and bravery to put it all on the line and endure the horror to bring this situation to light for the public to see. It really takes a very special and dedicated person to be able to do what he did. I'm sure that he will never get those images, sounds, and the sheer horror of that nightmare out of his mind and will be forever marked by it, just as I am. Kudos to you, dude, whoever you are. I respect your caring, bravery, and dedication. And I am one of the few who truly understands what it is like to stand there and helplessly watch as a poor baby hen is scalded to death, unable to stop it and listen to her flop around as she dies in a violent and extremely horrible manner. I will never forget that as long as I live, and I doubt you will either..

What he said and what I saw on that video could have been in any plant anywhere in this country, and possibly, if not probably in other countries as well. Some are probably even worse than ours are, actually. These incidents are anything but isolated. As most of you can see, any plant that an investigator walks into and films in, finds the same situation. I challenge any of you that have not read my early posts to go back and read them and try to find differences in what I reported and what has been revealed through the various undercover investigations that have come to light recently since I came forward and started revealing the depth of the cruelty in these hellholes. About the only difference you will find is that my accounts are more lengthy and tell much more simply because I was there for so long, and these investigators were only there for a relatively short time.

What I reported happened in various Tyson plants in Arkansas, though mostly in Grannis. Then there was a similar damning report in a Pilgrim's Pride plant in W. VA. Now this one in Heflin, AL. This should show even the most skeptical person that these kinds of events are not isolated or anywhere limited in scope. They happen everywhere. All the time. right now as you are reading this. Yep, there went yet another baby hen peeping frantically as she was dumped into scalding hot water to drown, unable to get way. Yet another redbird, as the industry calls them, contaminating the water that the rest go into. A fecal soup, so to speak, caused by birds being scalded alive, spewing fecal matter, and inhaling it down deep into the tissues and organs. And you wonder why so many are contaminated and so many people get so sick. That, and running sick birds. That happens a lot, too, as you may remember me discussing. The industry doesn't care about the consumers any more than they care about the chickens or the workers. Your dollars are all they care about. As long as you keep handing them over to them, nothing will change..

When I viewed that video it was obvious to me that there were problems with that killing machine that could have been fixed simply by resetting it. The video even had an employee confirming that. I would say that a good deal of the suffering was poor maintenance, just as we experienced down at Grannis. And the other major problem, also confirmed by my talk with the investigator, was just as I suspected - a lot of one-leggers. He said that there were quite a few of them. But then, that was obvious to me by looking at the photos of the kinds of injuries I saw. I saw far too many of those to suspect anything else. The line speeds are just too fast for the workers to be able to keep up. He also confirmed something else I had noticed - birds with their heads hung in their with their legs. I don't care how good you are or how experienced you are (and most workers are not, as these plants have a very high turnover rate, as you might expect), you just can't keep up with that kind of line speed and do a proper job. You just can't, especially not all night long, and especially when the equipment is malfunctioning. Even with all the years I spent working that job, I couldn't even do it all the time. So, you can't blame just the workers, either. Place the blame where it belongs - all the way at the top where they are lining their pockets at the expense of everyone else.

It was obvious to me, and should have been even to the untrained eye, that quite a few of those birds entered the scalding tank fully conscious and feeling extreme suffering. I could even hear them peeping just before they went under. You have to remember that even though these bird look full-grown due to industry manipulation to get them to grow faster, they are still babies., They don't cluck yet - they still peep like babies do. That water is anywhere from 140 to 160 degrees, and actually bubbles like a pot of beans cooking on the stove. They are scalding innocent baby birds alive and fully conscious and feeling every bit of the pain. You know how bad it hurts when you splash even a small amount of cooking food on your hand. Now just imagine what it would be like to have your entire body dunked in water that hot. It happens every day and night in every plant.

I saw the part on that video where the supervisor confirmed that they officially allowed this to happen to 40 birds a day. He said that they used to only restrict it to 15, but then upped the number to 40. What kind of company sees nothing wrong with allowing at least (if not more than, as the investigator reported) 40 babies to be dumped into scalding hot water and sees nothing wrong with it? How can they possibly find that acceptable? Do you??????

I had already talked in my last post about what would happen to a line worker that stopped the line because one single chicken was about to be scalded alive, as Tyson was reported as saying that the investigator should have done. Now, how does that square with their official position (recorded on that tape, no less!) that it is acceptable to allow that to happen to 40 with no problem? Liars!!!!!!!!

Again, as important as it is to add poultry to the Humane Slaughter Act, as long as these sorts of things are seen as "acceptable business practices," there is little that will help these birds simply by getting them covered under it, though it is still worthwhile to have a law to actually use against the worst abusers, like Tyson. It is a good start and definitely should be done, but there is still no substitute for implementing controlled atmosphere killing.

You know, it would only take a moment of your time to express your feelings on this matter. Below, in my last post, I gave you the information om how to contact John Tyson and Ed Nicholson. Well, just today I came across one more way of doing that via UPC (thanks Karen).

You can also email John Tyson at mailto:John.Tyson@Tyson.com.

If you want to take it a step further and contact Tyson's suppliers to send them a copy of the correspondence you send to Tyson, asking them to implement CAK, then here is also the contact info for them as well (also courtesy of UPC):

James A. Skinner, CEO
McDonald's Corporation
McDonald's Plaza
Oak Park, IL 60523
Call: 630-623-3000
Fax: 630-623-5004

David Novak, CEO
KFC-Yum! Brands
1441 Gardiner Lane
Louisville, KY 40213
Call: 502-874-8300
Fax: 502-874-9291
Hotline: 800-225-5532

George Watts, CEO
National Chicken Council
1015 15 th St. NW, Suite 930
Washington DC 20005
Call: 202-296-2622
Fax: 202-293-4005
Email: mailto:Gwatts@ChickenUSA.org
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