Monday, July 10, 2017

Animal Exploitation

The Visibility of Animal Exploitation.

It is simply not possible to walk down any high street without encountering evidence of instrumental and sentimental orientations toward other animals: evidence of apparent animal hating and animal loving.  Butcher shops with the freshly killed; the dismembered, on display.  During deliveries, nonhuman bodies are slung over human shoulders, from lorry to meat market door, feet kick lifeless in the air.  Gutted cadavers limply hang; smaller body parts arranged among plastic greenery and models of ‘farm animals’ made of pottery.  Outside, perhaps a jolly caricature: maybe a figure of a smiling pig, dressed-as-butcher, holding a meat cleaver.  Perhaps a laughing cow, like those on TV advertisements, welcoming customers into the meat store. 

Outside the fish and chips shop, perhaps an emblem of a happy fisherman with his arm around a large smiling fish who offers, ‘Me and Chips’.  On every main thoroughfare, one, or several, ‘McDonald’s’, ‘KFCs’ or ‘Burger Kings’.  In newsagent stores, hunting and fishing magazines, and general and specialist magazines full of advice about how to cook animal parts. 

In the majority of clothes shops, even R.S.P.C.A. charity shops, the skins of those Richard Ryder calls ‘sentients’ presented as fashionable leather items.  In every single supermarket, aisle after aisle of products containing animal ingredients: animal body parts in tins and neat packages; calf food in row after row of white bottles and cartons for a never-weaned population.  Sometimes, in a special section, nonhuman animals cut up and presented for sale under a remarkable (yet rarely remarked-upon) sign reading, ‘Freedom Foods’.  A casual walk down any street means meeting people clothed with bits and pieces of other animals: leather shoes, leather jackets, perhaps a full fur coat or, more often in recent years, fur trimmings on collars and cuffs.  Shoppers or passers-by may be attached to their animal property by leather lead or (more hip) by a rope: they may be engaged in buying meat for their animal property to eat.  A glance into the front windows of houses and flats may reveal any number of animal ‘lifers’; perhaps some are in the homes of criminologists and their students: imprisoned in cages or other forms of containers such as tanks for fishes.

Travel down any major road to encounter (if not fully register what they are) refrigerated lorries with cargoes of whole dead animals, and animals cut in half, and separated into many parts.  Every traveller is likely to pass articulated lorries, live animals this time, in ‘transporters’ on their way to or from farms or toward slaughterhouses, or animal markets and air and seaports.  A traveller may run into tractor-drawn trailers transferring sheep or ‘cattle’ from one field to another.  For, it is difficult to travel any distance without passing a field of sheep (legs of lamb, chops) or cows (sides of beef), or - far more rarely - ‘free-range’ pigs (pork shoulders, sausages) and hens (eggs, drumsticks, breasts).

Is it possible to glance at a TV or radio schedule without being immediately aware of the number of cookery programmes describing the various ways of transforming animal corpses into food items?  As well as treating other animals as if they were food, the TV schedules are filled with details of numerous wildlife documentaries about ‘wild nature’ and pets.  In recent years in Britain it has been difficult to avoid the ‘animal hospital’ shows extolling the virtues of ‘pet’ ownership.  Horse racing programmes are not hard to find; while coverage of the ‘Grand’ National and Cheltenham Festival is hard to avoid: ‘hard-hitting’ national radio news and current affairs programmes feature racing tips every morning in their ‘sport’ slots.  

Animal Exploitation: Less Visible.

It is practically impossible to travel far, certainly in Britain, without passing by largely unseen, unrecognised, low-slung, windowless structures: intensive pig-breeding and fattening units, or windowless, hanger-like, ‘broiler chicken’ sheds, or windowless ‘battery hen’ units with grain silos standing by.  Vegan and vegetarian activists are far more likely to recognise an animal agricultural ‘unit’ than would the people who actually buy its produce. 

Abattoirs are usually located in secluded places, away from main thoroughfares, or on outlying industrial estates.  Of course, not one is made of glass.  Similarly, most commuters, holidaymakers, lorry drivers and even many ‘locals’ are likely to pass by blissfully unaware that they are near now heavily-defended, security-guarded, razor-wired, vivisection laboratories. 

Any journey through countryside is as likely to pass small and medium sized woods, ‘coverts’ (pronounced ‘covers’), within which game keepers’ gibbet lines are hung and where semi-tame pheasants and partridges are purpose-bred for shooting estates and gun clubs.  Travellers are likely to innocently drive by hunting kennels or areas where hunts have set up artificial ‘earths’ to maintain foxes.  More rarely, they may unknowingly pass the secret location of illegal dog fights or badger baiting pits, and are almost certain to pass alongside scrub land and fields where official and unofficial ‘lamping’ (hunting with powerful lights) and hare coursing takes place.

Returning to shops and supermarkets consumers can find - if they read a product label or two - animal tested make-up, detergent, soap, toothpaste and every other imaginable household product.  Easily located are animal parts in the ingredients lists of all manner of products, bits and pieces of nonhumans: ‘secretions’, and so-called ‘by-products’ from the meat industry, are labelled as ‘gelatine’, ‘lactose’, ‘animal fat’, and found in several common ‘E’-numbers.

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