It should come as no surprise that McDonald's is coming under fire for buying meat from a producer that abuses its animals. Smithfield Farms in Virginia is especially notorious for the way it abuses and exploits pigs.
So notorious, in fact, that the company produced a slick piece of propaganda called "Taking the Mystery out of Pork Production." This surreal short appeared on this blog earlier in the year. It featured Dr. Temple Grandin - a shill for the biggest mass murderers on earth - defending Smithfield's procedures. It would be downright laughable if there weren't so many lives at stake.
Now the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is filing a lawsuit against Smithfield for its terrible treatment of pigs, including routine castration without painkillers and keeping the poor beings confined to gestation crates. As Paul Shapiro of the HSUS noted:
They make outlandish claims: that their pigs live in ideal living conditions, that every need of the animals is met. It's hard to imagine that a pig crammed into a cage where she's unable to turn around for months on end would consider that to be ideal.... It doesn't take a veterinarian to know that locking up a 500-pound animal in a cage barely viable for movement is inhumane. (Source)
The HSUS's lawsuit is laudable in many respects. It has received a lot of publicity. It has made McDonald's look bad. It has spoken truth to power. How anyone can put a McRib sandwich in their mouth, even if the murdered pigs were treated "humanely" during their short lives, is beyond me. But the fact that the pork used in those ghastly things is saturated with pain and misery makes it doubly perplexing.
Equally perplexing to me is the insistence by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the HSUS that getting rid of gestation crates is all that is required to remove McDonald's and Smithfield Foods from the shit list. As Shapiro stated, "It's time for McDonald's to make gestation cages part of the company's past."
Agree. But it's also time to make mass murder and the exploitation of animals part of the past. It's time for McDonald's to stop the assembly-line slaughter of pigs and chickens and cows.
Condemning McDonald's for using pigs raised in gestation crates sends out the wrong message. You know what will happen? McDonald's will get a little bad publicity. The gestation crates will be jettisoned. The bad publicity stops. The mass murder continues.
In the past, McDonald's has actually been praised by animal welfare groups for using "humanely" treated animals. In 2005, the BBC reported that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals singled out McDonald's for using "humanely" killed animals:
Burger giant McDonald's has won an award for its humane animal treatment. Firms which promote better treatment of animals were recognised this week at the RSPCA's first Alternative Awards held at the Natural History Museum. McDonald's was praised for changing egg suppliers to those that use only free range eggs, and its cattle handling standards also drew RSPCA plaudits. Now McDonald's can use the RSPCA's logo to identify it as a business committed to higher welfare standards. (Source)
Is this really the message that we want to send out to McDonald's? Just tweak a few of the worst animal abuses and then mass murder is acceptable?
Think about it. What message does that send to the millions and millions of pigs that are sent into this Kafkaesque hell? It says that human beings are concerned only with cosmetic "feel good" measures that - once instituted - make it perfectly acceptable to butcher pigs en masse.
There is an alternative message: Stop the killing now. Stop the exploitation now. It is immoral to murder pigs. It ought to be illegal to murder them. The McRib sandwich will still taste of misery and heartache and pain, of life cut short, even without gestation crates, even if pigs are anesthetized before being castrated.
As long as human beings exploit and murder animals there will be no peace. Do not give McDonald's and Smithfield a way out by only cleaning up their act slightly, and thus ending the negative media scrutiny.
When you think about it, that's about as Orwellian as it gets.