Humans should only be eating animals raised under humane conditions. Sounds perfectly innocent doesn’t it? After all who wants to think of animals suffering just so that he/she can have a cheap burger or chicken patty? This is essentially the argument cleverly proffered by Pete Letheby in the article “Farmers team up with the Humane Society on behalf of animals” published in the Fall 2015 edition (p. 24) of Ag in Action by the Lewistown News-Argus (Lewistown, MT).
The problem with this article is that it doesn’t define what humane treatment of animals actually involves nor does it clearly describe the world that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) wants to achieve. I find that rather troubling, if not deceptive. One of the cardinal rules in propaganda making is to use terms that evoke a positive response in your audience but mean something different than what the speaker actually means. Abortion rights activists do this repeatedly when they continue to claim that anti-abortion activists endanger women’s health. What the abortion rights activists don’t tell you is that health in their view doesn’t just mean the life of the mother, it means the mental health of the mother too. In other words, they support abortion if the mother can’t handle the pregnancy on an emotional level even though the mother’s physical health and that of the unborn child is perfectly fine.
I suggest that the HSUS uses language in a similar way. It says it wants to oppose cruelty and encourage humane treatment of animals. The problem is that the organization’s view of cruelty and humane treatment is fundamentally different than what most people believe. I suggest that a quick review of the quotes from HSUS leadership will reveal that to their understanding of humane treatment of animals is to not eat them at all (See http://www.humanewatch.org/hsus_quotes/). I contend that the HSUS crusade for humane treatment of farm animals is simply a political stratagem to get them one step closer to their goal of ending human consumption of animals.
If my belief is correct, and the HSUS has never engaged my willingness to dialogue despite my publishing and speaking record, then the HSUS effort is nothing less than splendid political tactics. All good politicians know that radical change is difficult and likely to be rebuffed. Small change is easier to accomplish. Defeat your opponent, in this case animal agriculture, not with one swift blow, but by a million small cuts. A little regulation here, a little political action there, a public protest here and voila, you make it harder for a rancher to make a living and he/she has to switch to another business.
Chances are many readers will refuse to believe that the HSUS has a not-so-hidden agenda to end human consumption of animal flesh. Then let me give you several questions to consider.
- Does the HSUS affirm the moral rightness of humans eating animals? This question really cuts to the heart of the issue. We can argue back and forth about whether chickens need 2 square feet or 12 square feet of cage space to be raised humanely. But if the killing of said chicken, regardless of how well it was raised, is wrong, then debates over its treatment are really red herrings because the real issue is the death of the animal.
- If humane treatment of animals is the issue, then will the HSUS commit to ending its campaign against ranching (for example) when its goals are instituted in law? If the HSUS can’t say that, readers should ask why? Is it because humaneness is a moving target? That what is humane today will be cruel tomorrow? If so, then the only end point would be the elimination of animal agriculture.
You may wonder why I am so concerned about the topic of animal protection. The answer is quite simple. The animal protectionist movement seeks to diminish humanity’s rightful place over the animal kingdom. It does this from an ideology that denies the unique dignity and position of humanity. In other words, most animal protectionists believe that humans have no right to use or eat animals because we are an animal ourselves. I don’t believe humans are animals. But if you do, then I will ask another question. If humans are just animals, then why can’t we act like one? Just as other animals eat other animals, why should humans stop?
My point is simply this. Beware of the HSUS. Their ultimate goal may be something you didn’t bargain for.