|By Robert Cohen Executive Director|
Is The Animal Rights Movement Dead?
Pick one from columns A, B, and C. COLUMN A a) The animal rights movement helps animals. b) The animal rights movement betrays animals. c) The animal rights movement is winning. d) The animal rights movement is dead. COLUMN B a) The animal rights movement exists to generate enormous income for activists. b) Tra la la COLUMN C a) All parents and children cheer animals in Disney movies, then go out and "do lunch" at fast food meat and chicken restaurants. b) Everybody goes to the tofu bar after the flick. c) Please pass the popcorn. d) Some people eat dogs in Korea, cats in China, and calves and piglets in the United States. CORRECT RESPONSES: B-A-D For the past three years, I've attended America's largest animal rights convention (July 4th weekend) in Maclean, Virginia, right outside of Washington, D.C. The AR conference is presented by Alex Hershaft of FARM. http://www.farmusa.org I received the FARM Report (Farm Animal Reform Movement) and found great irony in the page 7 story: "News of Dying Industry" Which industry is dying? Meat and milk consumption, or animal rights protest? It certainly isn't the AR industry. There's millions of dollars out there, and a simple review of the tax returns of some of the AR groups reveals that mega-salaries and bonuses in the high six figures are doled out to well known activists. (Alex Hershaft is one of the exceptions to this cash-cow phenomena. He lives a simple life, and all of his resources go towards keeping the animal rights movement alive). Many animal rights activists are wearing big smiles these days, boasting of major victories. Is the annual animal rights convention a major waste of time? More animals seem to be dying. Let me answer that question. There is only one individual in the AR movement who is able to gather together all of the ids, egos, and superegos associated with the so-called movement. There is anger, jealousy, hatred between varying groups who vie for the donations and cash flow. One group bashes another, and it's miraculous that Hershaft can assemble all of the players on the same playing field. He does so year after year, and somehow maintains his dignity by not yielding to enormous pressure from one group after another seeking to bar, ban, crucify, blacklist another group or activist. Animal rights groups fight among themselves claiming victory for chickens. Humane Society claims that they made the difference, while PETA claims victory occurred as a result of their efforts. Farm Sanctuary and United Poultry have lobbied for humane slaughter, and they too claim credit while soliciting your donations. Once chicken were allotted an average living space of 8 x 8 inches, or 64 square inches. Their living space has increased nearly 13 percent, so that the average bird lives in an 8.5 x 8.5 inch area. That's a major victory for some people. Not me. Chickens no longer live in teeny crates. Today, they live in tiny crates. A big deal to some humans is in reality rather meaningless to a chicken. They still die the same way. What has this phony change accomplished? The so-called dying industry will process 9.133 billion broilers in 2002. That represents an increase of 2.6% over 2001. If we were winning, people would be eating less chicken. Our efforts relieve the consciences of chicken eaters, and they end up eating more chickens because they perceive that chickens are living more humane lives. Everybody is happy. Activists feel good. AR organizations get more money in donations. Purdue and Tyson make more money. The only ones to suffer are the poor animals. More birds die for the good things that we do. So, while many things are wrong, and we are clearly not winning anything, except for an occasional delusion that we are making a positive difference, there still exists the possibility that good things can happen. We must continue to meet, just for the sake of doing so. It's a morale booster. It's the social event of the year for some. While some panel discussions are poorly attended, the after hours bar always remains packed, and all activists are in agreement when management closes down the real action at the stroke of midnight. So, to answer the question posed as the point of this column: Is The Animal Rights Movement Dead? Let's analyze. Ten billion animals will die this year in America to feed its citizens. There are 280 million Americans. That's 36 animals per citizen eaten per year. Each new vegetarian represents 36 less animals to kill. Of course, new vegetarians are created each day, but new compassionate slaughter laws translate into more animals produced on factory farms. The movement may not be dead, but we are clearly losing. As a matter of fact, our actions seem to result in an acceleration of the numbers of animals being eaten. I have a plan. I have a goal. I will create 100 million new vegetarians. I will save at least 5 billion animals per year. I now see with clarity the mistakes being made, and know what has to be done. See me in 2007, and tell me how I have done. Unlike most animal rights activists, I will not be promoting compassionate slaughter laws. The same vivid images that motivated me to stop eating animals must be seen by young and old alike. I will not be painting a pretty picture. Be ready for visions of horror. Bloody deaths are not pleasing to the conscience or palate.
Robert Cohen, author of: MILK A-Z
Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dairy Education Board
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