Thursday, January 13, 2011

Poisoning the Well

In the February issue of the Readers Digest, a book review from the New York Review of Books was quoted. The topic had nothing to do with animal rights, and in fact, I have no idea what H.L. Mencken's book Prejudices is about, but part of the quote was insightful. The reviewer was explaining the difference between honest and calculated vitriol. "In today's jargon, Mencken, by eloquently proclaiming views certain to offend so many, would be called a polarizing figure. Whereas today's polarizers, however, are professional well- poisoners who spend vast sums for opinion polls to determine how to best inflame the masses for political advantage." Sounds to me like what we have going on with animal agriculture these days.
The animal rights crowd has come up with a group of terms that allow for no debate or consumer education. What reasonable person wouldn't be against extreme confinement, gestation stalls, veal crates, battery cages, puppy mills or animals being force fed antibiotics to keep them alive? I mean really.
But these terms aren't truthful when it comes to the debate, because it shuts off the debate. It's like asking someone if they are in favor of stricter laws against domestic violence. You have to say you are, or you are a horrible human being. You simply can't ask the question, "Are the laws on the books today inadequate?", without looking heartless.You are nearly forced to answer in the affirmative.  
A recent quote from an animal rights site said it this way, "99% of the public are for humane treatment of animals." I guess that would have to include animal agriculture, because we care for animals, but the impression left is that the 1% are those raising the animals, and they don't care.
So it falls to all of us to tell those out there who don't know about raising livestock, how things are really done. That means it is the responsibility of EACH of us. Have you taken that opportunity to tell someone how a farm works. Some friends and I have been working with a Facebook page called The Truth about Agriculture. Discussions have ranged from alternative farming methods, to gestation stalls to horse slaughter. Great views and diverse opinions. It's usually respectful, I've only had to apologize once.