Monday, December 01, 2003

Peter Singer...

and Karen Dawn, have an op-ed piece for the L.A. Times titled, Back at the Ranch, a Horror Story. Peter Singer, if you are not aware, is the Princeton bioethicist who advocates infanticide if it pleases the parents but, as this editorial shows, has problems with the inhumane treatment of animals. "A ranch owner in San Diego County disposes of 30,000 nonproductive egg-laying hens by feeding them into a wood chipper. Live hens are dumped into the shredder, some likely to hit feet first, some breast first. Sound like a scene from a horror movie? It's a true story. One would surely expect the ranchers to be prosecuted, but California humane slaughter laws do not cover unproductive egg-laying hens. "Spent hens" are often packed into containers and bulldozed into the ground — buried alive. Or they are often gassed using carbon dioxide distributed unevenly among tens of thousands of birds; it's common for them to die slow, painful deaths." Efforts to prosecute the ranch owner failed for no criminal intent was shown. Singer and Dawn outline other practices as follows, "The majority of laying hens in the United States are forced to go into an unnatural molt by the sudden withdrawal of food for up to 14 days. This process shocks them into another round of laying. Even though this violates California's anti-cruelty statute, which states that a person who causes an animal to be "deprived of necessary sustenance" is guilty of a crime, but cases are not prosecuted." (emphasis added) Now, I am not advocating cruelty to animals and a Christian argument could easily be made not for complete vegetarianism, but for a much more modest approach to the consumption of meat than we are used to in the West. In the Touchstone article, Our Food from God: Factory Farms & the Culture of Death, Christopher Killheffer, comments on the fact that Jesus and his disciples probably did not have meat every day, as is so common among those of us here in the U.S. Killheffer reminds us that, as Christians, we are to treat animals not as commodities, but as part of God's creation... that which we have been commanded to manage. But I veer off on a tangent. One has to wonder why Singer and Dawn are so concerned about chickens being summarily ground up or deprived of necessary sustenance, while at the same time not lifting an editorial finger to come to the defense of Teri Schiavo being deprived of her necessary sustenance.

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