Supreme Court’s “crush film” decision raises meat-eating issues

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Apr 21, 2010 Supreme Court’s “crush film” decision raises meat-eating issues

Is meat-eating possible without cruelty to animals? Certainly, meat is no treat for those you eat.

How unaware to the cruelty of their own meat eating were meat eaters who passed the federal ban on “animal cruelty” videos that the Supreme Court struck down yesterday, on 4/20 no less? U.S. v. Stevens, ___ U.S. ___ (April 20, 2010).

Certainly, the Supreme Court reached the right result in Stevens, and addressed broader First Amendment issues in the process, including overbreadth and limits on creating new categories of expression that are deprived of First Amendment protection.

I wish for Stevens to be an opportunity not only to celebrate and strengthen the First Amendment, but also for people to re-examine their relationship with and treatment of all animals, both of different species and their own species. Human rights violations continue running too rampant worldwide. Too many people accept violence and the threat of violence as normal for controlling others, for flexing muscle, and for carrying out their daily activities. The human-on-human violence and threats of violence include parents who hit their children lightly or more brutally, police and soldiers who lose a sense of self control over their power to arrest and shoot, governments that mass arms and soldiers, street criminals, and the list goes on.

Physical violence is not the only blight on society. To be sure, a lack of general compassion towards all causes much harm in society, and too often leads to physical violence.

Violence begets violence, and that concept is not limited only to human-on-human violence. How desensitized do people become about harming other humans when they eat other mammals, who are not so unrelated biologically to humans? Of course, chickens and fish also bleed and feel pain and suffering from being slaughtered.

Nearly twenty-five years ago, I started a three-year journey eating down and up the food chain until I finally stopped eating mammals, and then stopped eating chicken, and finally fish. Nearly eight years ago, I cut off eggs and milk, having made only small exceptions, mainly when I learn post-ordering that some butter or milk has been used in a restaurant meal. Having contributed to the slaughter of countless animals myself, I am in no position to point fingers at those who still eat animals, but do make some suggestions for reversing that trend.

For vegetarians considering vegan eating, consider that typical egg-laying chickens are cooped up in horrid conditions as nothing more than egg-givers, with beaks sliced off so as not to peck each other into injury, and then destroyed for chicken soup and pet food once they stop laying eggs. Male chicks often are killed upon birth. Milk-giving cows are slaughtered for dog food and leather once they stop giving milk. They come from the same industry that produces “prized” pink veal from calves deprived of their mothers, of light, of iron, and of movement, lest their tender muscles become less tender.

Despite multi-million dollar propaganda efforts of the meat, fish, poultry, dairy and egg industry, it is not hard to be healthy physically (and sometimes more healthy than when eating meat) — and certainly mentally, from being at peace with animals — from living without eating animals, and deliciously so. For those concerned about sufficient B-12 intake, I understand that only a small amount of milk products or eggs from time-to-time will satisfy that.

Yes, this is one more of my infrequent times when I get on the vegetarian soapbox after having stayed off it for so many years. Non-human animals are voiceless, at least with humans, unless humans give them a voice. And this Stevens opinion should be an opportunity to examine more deeply our relationship with animals.

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