Monday, September 19, 2011

Of Cows and Music

Maybe you've already seen the recent YouTube video (above) of band members from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, entertaining a group of cows in the French Alps. The video, showing Steve Call and his Dixieland Band playing tunes for a group of music-loving cows, instantly went viral, now approaching a million views. To be certain, it is a delightful video, but it is by no means unique. Below are other videos, posted long before the BYU jazz band performed for French bovines, showing similar results when musicians wander out to farm pastures.

The next few videos show cows enjoying the handiwork of accordionists.

And a violinist...

And yes, even a little classic hard rock...

Dairy farmers have apparently understood for years that cows love music, so music has become an important part of numerous dairy operations, as the next few videos show.

I was thrilled to see the video of cows in the French Alps enjoying a jazz music performance go viral. The other videos posted above of cows loving music boast only a few thousand views at most.

I'm not sure the viral video is going to necessarily convert any viewers to veganism. It never ceases to amaze me when I hear people say how adorable it is to see cows savoring music, then those same people turn around and devour steaks and hamburgers and pot roast.

Sadly, so many people possess an incredible capacity for denial. They can somehow adore cows and eat them at the same time. Indeed, dairy farmers - as one of the videos points out - play music to calm their cows in order to increase productivity.

Also, there might be some animal rights purists out there who insist that appealing to human compassion by showing animals enjoying music is a form of speciesism. People have no right to exploit or harm animals, they argue, whether or not those animals enjoy human music.

Hard to argue with that logic. And yet... And yet... Part of what it means to be sentient means to be aware, and awareness comes in many forms. We can be aware of pain. We can feel what it feels like to suffer. But we can also be swept away by the beauty of images and scenery and music. These videos show that we are not the only animals who love music. Cows love it, too. That's not the main reason we shouldn't eat them. But it's yet another item to add to a long and growing list of reasons why it's criminal to mass murder these extraordinary beings.

Imagine eating meat from a being that once savored music. How could you possibly do it?

1 comment:

  1. At first I was puzzled by the reference to those who object to showing animals other than human enjoying music...then it dawned on me that the point was that it didn't matter if they enjoyed music or not...exploitation is wrong.

    Well, yes, but I'm of the mind that increasing awareness about the similarity of all animals is never a bad thing...the exploitation message stands on its own...whether or not similarities exist...that doesn't mean showing how we resemble one another should be avoided. Does it?

    I remember all the bickering and confusion and difficulties that accompanied changes in social perceptions and language and depictions that went on (and still does occasionally) when awareness about everyday (and institutional) racism and sexism was beginning. Struggling about what is and what isn't speciesism seems to be following the same trajectory.

    That's actually a good thing, isn't it?