Wednesday, May 8, 2013
I adore these videos of Tardar Sauce (a.k.a., Grumpy Cat). She has become a worldwide sensation, and she is quite rightly described as the World's Most Famous Cat (at least for the moment).
If you're on Facebook, like me, you know that Grumpy Cat memes are a dime a dozen. A few of them are amusing (rarely laugh-out-loud funny, but amusing). Most are just juvenile and stupid. A few are even mildly offensive, although not being a member of the PC Police, I shrug those off and keep scrolling down the newsfeed.
Most of the Grumpy Cat memes show a grouchy, bitter cat spewing out caustic one-liners. These videos, however, show a very different kind of cat, one that's quiet and gentle and living a pleasant life.
It's great that Grumpy Cat has caused such a worldwide stir, but the online version is a caricature in the tradition of Archie Bunker, Oscar the Grouch and Scrooge. I suppose, for whatever reason, that's what the masses want now, and Tardar appears to be a big hit. But, being a hardcore cat lover, I hope this sweet little kitty is able to avoid some of the more negative pitfalls of being a global superstar.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
This is a superb PETA video on animals in circuses, hosted and narrated by actor Alec Baldwin. There is an excellent interview in the video with a longtime veterinarian Dr. Mel Richardson, who has worked with elephants in circuses for over 40 years. Please have a look at this video. It's not very long and it's quite informative.
Please show this to your friends and family who are meat eaters. It is a gore-free video. It shows a cow shedding tears over the horrific fate he is about to experience. I quote from the wonderful Facebook page Animal Rights Activist:
This 34 second footage clearly shows a beautiful, sweet cow shedding tears in the seconds before slaughter. There's no blood or guts in this film so if you eat meat, it's something you can watch. Animals have the same feelings and desires we do. They long for life and love their children. They know love and feel pain, suffering, sadness and terror... just like we do. Reconnect your heart to life and respect for everyone we share this planet with. It just makes no sense to savagely destroy an innocent creature for 20 minutes of taste bud pleasure. We hope you will watch and realize that no amount of personal pleasure is worth taking an innocent life over.
There is no reason to continue this brutality and violence. It is time to end the Dark Ages that animals have been subjected to for so long. The only way possible to bring an end to these tragedies is to go vegan. How many millions - ultimately billions - of cows and pigs and chickens have wept as their lives have been violently taken away from them? This is mass murder on a gargantuan scale. The question is: Are we going to allow it to continue? Or are we going to move on to the next phase of our evolution and insist on treating animals with respect and dignity, and not as commodities?
The decision rests with humanity.
Friday, May 3, 2013
"I had never seen a slaughterhouse before. My blood ran cold. This didn't just turn me into a vegetarian. It turned me into a genuinely compassionate human being. I ultimately became vegan when I aw what happens to millions of chickens - their beak burned off, millions of tiny male chicks being hurled to their death into grinders, premature calves being deliberately induced and being killed by crushing to death. It is a so tiresome to hear the hideous lies and self delusion from those who profit from this ghastly trade. I am a vegan because I love life in all its forms."
- Philip Wollen
Thursday, May 2, 2013
It occurred to me that my post yesterday contained some pessimistic observations about the human race. Whenever this blog features despairing observations, I like to counter with a more hopeful follow-up. There are plenty of reasons why Animal Rights advocates should be hopeful.
Here are five!
NOW THERE'S A GREAT IDEA!
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Video cameras - or camcorders or movie cameras or whatever they're referred to in the parlance of the times - have been an extraordinary invention, used to capture histories both personal and on a grand scale. The 20th Century was the first "filmed" century - cameras existed from one end of the century to the other - and the film footage we have of those one hundred years is nothing short of incredible. Some of it, such as the 1945 Victory in Europe celebrations across America or the 1969 moon landing are incredibly inspiring. Other films, such as war footage, or the shooting of a Viet Cong prisoner during the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam, or the '89 Tiananmen Square protests, or the Rodney King beating, or the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.
And then there is the issue of animals and videos. What will historians say 100 years from now about the movies we shot of animals? How will the ways in which we film animals be remembered?
The answer to that question depends on the films of animals that survive our times. Certainly, Hollywood has churned out lots of sentimental films, especially movies about dogs such as Lassie Come Home (1943) and Marley and Me (2008). Hollywood films about other species of animals also abound, including horses (The Black Stallion, Seabiscuit), cats (That Darn Cat, Harry and Tonto), pigs (Charlotte's Web, Babe). The list goes on and on.
But I'm not really talking about Hollywood films here. I'm talking about films used by animal rights activists that depict the treatment of animals in our society, often showing a darker side to how human beings interact with animals.
Example 1: Recently, there were two big developments around the issue of filmed animal footage that are worth noting. The first occurred on April 22 when U.S. District Court Judge Sim Lake in Texas decided that so-called "animal crush videos" - showing the torture and killing of animals - are protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
Judge Lake dismissed charges against Ashley Nicole Richards and Brent Justice, who allegedly made films showing all kinds of animals - chickens, puppies, mice and kittens - being tortured to death. Judge Lake conceded "the acts depicted in animal crush videos are disturbing and horrid," yet they are "still considered protected speech."(Source)
Example 2: Salt Lake City, Utah. My hometown. In February, Amy Meyer, standing on public property, used the video camera on her cell phone to film the brutal treatment of cows at a slaughterhouse in Draper Utah. She was charged for committing a crime under Utah's new Ag-Gag laws. Thankfully, the case was dismissed when Meyer received a lot of nationwide attention. At the time she was charged, in late April, Meyer issued the following statement:
I visited the Smith Meatpacking Slaughterhouse in Draper, Utah because I have heard numerous reports that any bystander standing on the public thoroughfare could witness the horror of cows struggling for their lives as they were led to their violent deaths. What I saw was upsetting, to say the least. Cows being led inside the building struggled to turn around once they smelled and heard the misery that awaited them inside. I saw piles of horns scattered around the property and flesh being spewed from a chute on the side of the building. I also witnessed what I believe to be a clear act of cruelty to animals – a live cow who appeared to be sick or injured being carried away from the building in a tractor, as though she were nothing more than rubble. At all times while I documented this cruelty, I remained on public property. I never once crossed the barbed wire fence that exists to demarcate private and public property. I told this to the police who were on the scene. I am shocked and disappointed that I am being prosecuted by Draper City simply for standing on public property and documenting horrific animal abuse while those who perpetrated these acts are free to continue maiming and killing animals. It is my understanding that the Mayor of Draper co-owns this slaughterhouse.
Amy Meyer (Source)
I am convinced the only reason Amy Meyer's case was dismissed was because she was getting lots of nationwide attention. Had she been sentenced to jail time, she would have become a martyr for the anti-Ag-Gag Movement.
But take a good look at these two cases. One in Texas, the other in Utah. What do they say about our species? Taken together, they are a damning indictment of the human race. On the one hand, filming the torture of animals for some sort of perverse thrill or pleasure is protected under the United States Constitution. On the other hand, filming the horrific treatment of animals in slaughterhouses and factory farms is prohibited by Ag-Gag laws, which - shockingly - are not regarded as violations of the First Amendment.
There are dangerous and potentially very horrifying precedents being set here. Both of them show a callous - one might even use the word "psychotic" or "evil" - disregard for the well being of animals. The message that these cases convey is abundantly clear: The lives of animals do not matter. Worse, in destroying their lives, it is perfectly acceptable to torture them to death in unbelievably horrific ways, the way a serial killer might torture a human being to death. If that torture is being captured on film to educate and mobilize people to act to change this treatment, then filming is banned. By contrast, if that torture is being filmed to satisfy the twisted fetish of sick, perverted, psychotic individuals, then filming such scenes is perfectly acceptable.
The time has come to get militant about animal rights. No more fucking around (excuse the foul language). War has been declared, not by animal rights activists, but by the institutions that are put in place to justify, sanction and use coercion to maintain the mass murder of these beings. Make no mistake: We are living in times that will be remembered in history books as the Dark Ages for Animals.
But this does not need to be the case. Imagine creating the kind of society where the videos and films we shoot of animals show beings living happy, blissful lives. Such videos and films do exist! Look at any film shot inside of a farm sanctuary and you'll see happy animals, living the way animals are meant to live. Leave it to human beings, who have shown us the worst sort of depravity imaginable, to also teach us the noblest ways imaginable to treat our fellow sentient beings.
Therein lies the contradictions, the paradoxes, of our species. We are the most brutal and violent of all animals, yet we have the potential within us to be the kindest and gentlest of all animals. Remember when you were five or six or seven or eight, and you used to visit the petting zoo, and you loved animals and you could never dream of hurting these wonderful personalities?
We need to reclaim that beauty and that innocence. The price of not reclaiming it was revealed in late April, when a judge ruled that filming torture for pleasure was OK, while a few states over, around the same time, a city laid criminal charges against a heroic individual filming animal torture in order to end it.
What does this say about our species?
Friday, March 29, 2013
Do yourself a favour: Check out Father Frank Mann reflecting on why he converted to veganism. It's one of the most eloquent and moving testimonies I've ever heard. And it shows what many of us have believed all along: That veganism and animal rights are an essential part of our spirituality and ability to feel empathy with all living beings.
Please check it out, and share it with others you know. You'll be glad you did!
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
This film - from Mercy for Animals - is extraordinary and short. Please have a look. It poses a question that many people are afraid to ask: Where does my food come from? The mini-film is an extraordinary mixture of pathos and humor. I've always thought the movement needs more humor, but we should never lose sight of the tragedy all around us. This commercial is the perfect blend of the two. Please watch it if you get a chance.