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CCTV Makes Killing Okay – Who Would’ve Guessed It?

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A bill was passed in France on January 12th, making video cameras in slaughterhouses mandatory from 2018. Call me crazy but, the idea that animals somehow benefit from having their unjustifiable deaths caught on camera seems so stupid as to be an insult to all things stupid. Cameras or no cameras, sentient beings who do not wish to die are subject to horrific violence and end up dead.

To state what should be the obvious – this is no “victory” for animals, despite what local French “animal rights organisation” L214 would have you believe.

Before the measure is brought to the senate in March to be debated and voted into law, it will first be implemented via “experimentation” in 263 slaughterhouses sometime between now and July 2017. Cameras will be placed where animals are “moved, held, immobilised, stunned and killed.”

“Animal protection professionals, slaughterhouse management and government officials” will have “limited access” to the footage to help them determine what the final legislation will look like. L214 seems rather put out by this development stating that “animals will continue to suffer” (no?! In a slaughterhouse? Surely not, L214…) and are angry that “only government veterinary services and management of slaughterhouses will have access to important evidence of the cruelty that animals must endure.” It seems L214 are unaware that slaughterhouses are places of torture and death. I’m not sure what they expected, but when you take sentient beings who do not want to die and put them on a killing floor, they’re going to fight and struggle till their last breath. I’m sorry to break it to you L214 (and all other animal organisations around the world wishing for cameras in slaughterhouses) but the presence of a camera does not relieve one iota of suffering from an animal who does not want to die. Their suffering – physical and psychological – is an inescapable condition of murder.

So what does the passing of this bill really do?

Well, as with the notion of CCTV in slaughterhouses as a general matter, it assumes that there is a “right” way, or a “proper” way to kill sentient beings. It promotes the idea that there is a “right” way to do the wrong thing. The reality is – cameras or no cameras – using and killing sentient beings for our purposes is morally unjustifiable. The various “animal rights” organisations campaigning for CCTV do nothing but tell people that the presence of a camera somehow makes the business of animal exploitation better in a morally relevant way. It also implies that the “suffering endured” by animals only occurs during the final stages of their lives. The reality is that the animals we exploit are subjected to what we would consider torture in the human context the entirety of their lives – not just the end. And this is by design; routine agricultural practices that put animals through immense physical pain and mental stress are “necessary” conditions of their exploitation in order to render them useable by humans.

CCTV is not for their benefit. Indeed, in the UK the Food Standards Agency (FSA) found cases of hygiene violations in British abattoirs leading to increases in the risk of food poisoning. In a recent UK study, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) found an E. coli infection in two thirds of chickens being sold in British supermarkets. There are powerful economic factors at play in the discussion surrounding the installation of CCTV with issues of human health being a top priority. Were there no human benefits to be derived from such legislation, the legislation would not exist.

As far as the animal organisations promoting these measures are concerned, it’s nothing but a gimmick to reassure the public and make them feel comfortable about continuing to exploit animals. If the groups supporting such measures were serious about doing right by animals, they would take the public outcry and the rage surrounding the “treatment” of animals, and harness it to promote the idea that there is no “right way” to exploit animals. They would promote the message that if people believe animals have moral value, and that “unnecessary suffering and death” cannot be justified, the answer isn’t to install cameras but to recognise that they are obligated to go vegan.

Anything else is just a smoke screen to ensure continued exploitation and continued profits from fundraising. It’s not activism for these big animal groups, it’s just business.

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  • Noelle Obcarskas

    Not 1 comment here in 5 days since this contempt for a law passed in France article was published. Criticising all without being specific animal rights organisations who campaigned and succeeded in this huge but small visibility audience step in legislation. Instead of saying what others should do perhaps you could explain your achievements to date towards the goals ? assuming you can state your wished for goals briefly and concisely as well a the achievements attained ? quantified ? I will return in a week to read if any response. Be specific is the general message from me…going VEGAN seems to be your goal…well showing the public what is hidden realities seems to many to be a step towards that goal. So i fail to understand why just saying GO VEGAN without some specific action plan steps i going to achieve what numbers of vegans by what methods other than articles like this that do not seem to get many comments showing not widely read by the public !

  • deninbtn

    I absolutely agree with this article.
    But then I am an abolitionist, the CCTV in slaughterhouses campaign is concerned with welfarism.

    It is quite shocking that those who claim to be AR support the campaign.
    When they do so, they are endorsing the fact that it is acceptable to take the life of an animal, as well supporting the lie that there is a ‘humane’ way to kill them. It also completely ignores the fact that animals in the meat and dairy industry suffer from the moment they are born.

    As you so rightly say Bill, wouldn’t the time, energy and money spent on this campaign be better spent promoting veganism? I think so, especially when you see the rate at which it is growing.

    Until all are free

France’s ban of faux-meat branding won’t stop veganism

I’ll take “mycoproteinous food tube” over a tube of dead pig any day.

Concerned about endangered animals? Stop eating them

Methods of animal conservation that support the exploitation of animals don’t exist for the animals, they exist for human profit.

What you can do if live exports disturb you

The outcry should go further than importation and should be directed at the fact that the animals in question were on their way to slaughter in the first place.