Holy Pigs In Taiwan
A festival in Taiwan showcasing the corpses of fattened pigs has come under fire from “animal advocates.” The “holy pig” ceremony is a Chinese New Year tradition where pigs are fattened, slaughtered, dressed in New Year decorations and paraded through the streets of Sanxia.
Whoever wins the competition of best pig is said to have luck for the next year. According to this years winner, Liu Ching-sheng, “this is a custom at our Tzu Shih Yeh temple in Sanxia. We cannot abolish this tradition.”
As usual, “animal advocates” are focusing on the treatment of the pigs prior to slaughter instead of bringing the public’s attention to the immorality of animal use as an institution itself. For example, various animal welfare groups are simply maintaining that the process of fattening pigs is “cruel.” The implication being that, were the pigs not fattened or were fattened in a different way, there wouldn’t be a moral problem with the use of the pigs.
Chen Yu-min, director of the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan, has been telling people that “obesity in animals is a disease,” just as it is with humans. The argument being that the pigs suffer restricted movement and strain on their internal organs when the pigs are fattened and that this is “inhumane.” She also maintains that the moment before the pigs are slaughtered is “actually very cruel and inhumane.” The implication? That there is somehow a right way, a humane way, to fatten pigs and slaughter them for a traditional parade.
Through focusing on treatment, animal exploitation has been further normalised by assuming that the underlying use of animals in the first place is morally sound. Aside from the fact that as property, any treatment of animals – no matter how gratuitous – will be considered “humane” or “necessary” if the treatment is economically sound or part of a traditional practice, the focus on animal treatment as opposed to use tells people that they can discharge their moral obligations to animals through consuming or engaging in supposedly “humane” animal exploitation.
As always, the mainstream movement continues its quest to ensure that the use of animals remains a legitimate and morally defensible practice.