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A Gun To The Head – Business As Usual

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According to this VegNews article, an Oregon slaughter facility has been “shut down” after it was found that bolt guns were being used improperly, “causing cows to suffer.” VegNews has always been prone to sensationalism, and this article is no different. The slaughterhouse hasn’t been shut down, it has been “temporarily suspended.”

It was found by the USDA that employees wielding bolt-guns were not shooting and killing cows in the right place. Apparently, a shot to anywhere but the head constitutes “cruelty,” whereas a shot to the head is just dandy. Hooray for all the cows who get shot in the head, right? I mean, how would you feel about taking a bolt in the head for no good reason? Those lovely people with the bolt guns and the people demanding your death in the first place, are considering your wellbeing seriously, right? Of course not, but if you were a non-vegan reading this VegNews nonsense, you may be fooled into believing that you are doing something morally good whenever you buy an animal-product that has come from a cow who was… shot in the head. Instead of being told that all animal use constitutes “cruelty,” an article like this has reaffirmed in your mind that animals are ours to use, and that we just need to use them “properly.” If you are a welfarist or new welfarist celebrating this “temporary suspension,” you are merely perpetuating the speciesism responsible for nonhuman oppression in the first place by suggesting that there is a right way to exploit the vulnerable.

Let us not delude ourselves into thinking that this “Bartels Packing” facility has been “temporarily suspended” for animal welfare reasons. Trillions of animals are tortured and killed by humans every year because we demand that torture and death. The implication by VegNews that all other facilities using bolt guns “properly” do not engage in “cruelty,” is both speciesist and irresponsible. The only reason that Bartels Packing has been treated any differently by the USDA than any another facility, is that their conduct diminished the human benefits of animal exploitation. Employees were taking bolt guns to other areas of the cows body, which would have severe economical impacts in lessening the monetary value of the flesh. Taking a bolt gun to anywhere but the head represents an inefficient and irrational use of animal property. “Cruelty,” as defined by law, has nothing to do with the wellbeing of the animal property in question – it concerns whether or not the treatment of that animal is necessary for the use or whether that treatment represents an inefficient use of resources. The animals we exploit are subject to torture every single day, but this is not defined as “cruelty” because the suffering is deemed to be necessary suffering for that particular form of animal use. Animals are property, and so when the use in question – no matter how “cruel” – is deemed necessary in order to facilitate the use of that animal, the law does not deem that suffering and torture to be “cruel” or “inhumane” – the suffering is required in order to obtain the human benefit. The only time a body such as the USDA will deem anything to be “cruel,” is when the suffering and torture frustrates the human benefit of that exploitation. It has absolutely nothing to do with the welfare of the animals. In case VegNews hasn’t noticed, we’re inflicting suffering and death on trillions of nonhumans every single year.

People reading the VegNews article are being fooled into thinking that “animal welfare issues” actually have something to do with the wellbeing of the animals themselves. The reality is that “animal welfare issues” are only considered insofar as they increase the production efficiency of that animal property or when it increases the profits gained from their use. If Bartels Packing was – to sensationalise it like the VegNews – being “shut down” for real “cruelty” reasons, then every single slaughter facility on the planet would also be getting shut down. They’re all “cruel” as far as the animal is concerned, they’re all inflicting horrendous suffering, and denying the inherent value of nonhumans in death. They all represent heinous rights violations.

Dressing up this particular USDA “handling audit” as somehow being for the sake of animal interests, where the slaughterhouse has been “shut down” for “cruelty,” does nothing but perpetuate the idea that animals are ours to use and that you’re a great person if you buy flesh from a cow who was shot in the head “properly.” If the VegNews were reporting reality, the headline of the article would instead read – USDA suspends slaughter facility for inefficient use of resources.

We must stop perpetuating the idea that there is a right way to exploit animals. We must stop perpetuating the idea that “cruelty” is a term taken seriously with respect to animal well-being. Anything short of veganism is “cruelty” as far as the animal is concerned. Anything short of veganism is a denial of nonhuman inherent value and their right not to be used as a resource.

Go vegan, and educate others to do the same.

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