Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Undercover Investigators, or: Exposure


Sometimes I just don't feel that I do enough. I wrote about the dislocating experience of thinking you're changing the world and then being re-confronted with all the atrocities that made you go vegan in the first place, that you'd conveniently subsumed in a food orgy of happy potlucks, here.

Reading articles like the one above causes a similar dislocation. I do nothing like what Pete, an undercover animal rights investigator, does. And the simple, stark truth is that I couldn't. There are so many things in life that I know I could face, and things that I know I have the resilience to cope with, but not this. I could not, even in the course of pretending to be a slaughterhouse worker, do what they do.

And if you think you could, then consider this: why do commercial slaughterhouses never let anyone inside? Why, when respected academics and authors Peter Singer and Jim Mason offered to undergo the same processes as employees do to avoid contamination, were they denied? Why, when they offered to observe through cameras, utterly uncontaminable, were they denied? Why do AR groups have to obtain illicit footage using undercover investigators to show the deliberate mistreatment and cruelty to animals both inherent in the slaughtering process and that which is tacitly permitted for 'fun'?

Because slaughterhouses don't want you to know what they do.
Because, like Miss Trunchbull in Roald Dahl's Matilda who was so horrible that no-one believed there was a Chokey because really, those sorts of things just don't happen in nice society and there are laws against it, without visual evidence you will choose to believe that stories of deliberate torture and animals being skinned and dismembered alive are the hysterical fantasies of AR extremists. Because that way you can pretend that your sausage was 'happy meat', or that it didn't know what was coming, or that it didn't feel a thing, or that it's part of the circle of life and a natural end, or that nothing we do to animals has any significance for our own humanity, or whatever it is that helps you eat your dinner.

And they don't want you to see what happens because if you see it happen, if you see it happen a lot, then you'll know it's not right. Because it's not.

Apologies for the truculence. Sometimes things remind you that you should be angry.

So a thousand credits to Pete. You do more than I could ever do and more good will come of it.

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