Posts Tagged ‘chickens’

“Changing nature to get the food we eat”: Karen Davis on the Speciesist Indoctrination of Children

Saturday, January 1st, 2011 by

2011-01-01 - 3-2-1 Contact Mags - 0010

A pile of 3-2-1 Contact magazines that I found in my filled-to-overflowing library.
Have a problem, who me?
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In Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs: An inside look at the modern poultry industry (1996; revised 2009) animal advocate Karen Davis offers an exhaustive and heart-wrenching examination of the “poultry” industry, which is responsible for the exploitation and slaughter of an astounding 10 billion chickens annually (in the U.S. alone; worldwide, 40 billion chickens are raised and killed for their meat and eggs ever year). During her journey from the wild to the farm – and from conception to death – Davis touches upon some of the social and psychological mechanisms that pave the way for these atrocities.

Humans are taught from an early age that the earth’s resources – including other sentient beings – were “put here for our use.” We create a false divide between “us” and “them” by denying our own animal nature: there are “humans” and there are “animals.” We deny our similarities – the ability to feel pain, experience emotions such as love and joy (and sadness and fear), form and nurture fulfilling relationships – while simultaneously looking to our relatively minor but wonderfully diverse differences as an excuse to objectify, enslave and exploit the “other.” Nonhuman animals are largely considered property – “its” – more akin to a tree or tomato plant than a human being. Simply put, we exist in a supremely speciesist and anthropocentric culture – and we indoctrinate each successive generation into accepting this skewed and oppressive worldview.

Pop culture, including books, television, and movies, are central to this indoctrination. For example, Davis singles out two children’s shows for criticism – both of which were staples in my own childhood: Reading Rainbow (1983-2005?) and 3-2-1 Contact (1980–1992) – to demonstrate this process:

Chick hatching projects teach children and teachers that bringing a life into the world is not a grave responsibility with ultimate consequences for the life created. Children’s public television has contributed to this desensitization and to the fallacy that chickens have no natural origin or need for a family life. The Reading Rainbow public television program “Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones,” based on a book by Ruth Heller, shows that other kinds of animals besides chickens lay eggs. However, chickens are the only ones represented in barren surroundings. One heartless scene shows a baby chick struggling out of its egg alone on a bare table, while ugly, insensitive music blares, “I’m breaking out.”

The 3-2-1 Contact show “Pignews: Chickens and Pigs” has aired frequently on children’s public television. Promoting the agribusiness theme of “changing nature to get the food we eat,” it shows hatchery footage of newborn chicks being hurled down stainless steel conveyors, tumbling in revolving sexing carousels, flung down dark holes, and brutally handled by chicken sexers who grab them, toss them, and hold them by one wing while asserting that none of this hurts them at all. These scenes alternate with rapid sequence images of mass-produced fruits and vegetables. Children are brightly told that “farmers are changing how we grow 100 million baby chicks a week, 3 million pounds of tomatoes, 36 billion pounds of potatoes.” Chickens are described against a background of upbeat music as a “monocrop” suited to the “conveyor belt and assembly line, as in a factory.”

Is it any wonder that many people regard chickens as some sort of weird chimerical concoction comprising a vegetable and a machine? (p. 21)

[A full discussion of Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs is well beyond the scope of this blog, but you can read a rather lengthy review I published on V for Vegan.

If the psychology of animal exploitation is a topic that piques your interest, check out Melanie Joy’s Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism (2009), which I reviewed here.

Finally, parents in search of animal-friendly entertainment to enjoy with their children will find a friend in VegBooks.]

UPC: Fowl Play Screening & Presentation by Karen Davis in NYC 5/15

Sunday, March 28th, 2010 by

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: United Poultry Concerns
Date: Fri, Mar 26, 2010 at 1:42 PM
Subject: [UPC] Fowl Play Screening and UPC Presentation in New York City May 15

Fowl Play Screening and UPC Presentation in New York City May 15
Join United Poultry Concerns & Mercy For Animals at the Columbus Library!

Promotional artwork for the movie FOWL PLAY.

United Poultry Concerns and Mercy For Animals invite you to attend a screening of MFA’s award winning film Fowl Play and a presentation by UPC president Karen Davis in honor of International Respect for Chickens Month/May.

Hosted by the Columbus Library on Saturday, May 15 from 11:30am to 2:00pm – the day preceding the Third Annual Veggie Pride Parade in NYC – this event will be followed by leafleting for chickens!

Fowl Play Screening and Chicken Presentation will be held at:

Columbus Library
742 10th Ave (between 50th & 51st Streets)
New York, NY 10019-7019
(212) 586-5098

Saturday, May 15, 2010

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Lost‘s Sayid Jarrah: A History of Violence

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 by

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Caution: Spoilers through Season 5 below.

Last year, I wrote a (relatively) brief summary of the few animal-friendly plot lines found in seasons one through four of Lost. Animal advocacy issues are rarely addressed in the show, but look closely, and you’re bound to discover occasional gem: lovable Kate is a vegetarian, while show villain Anthony Cooper enjoys blood sports such as hunting. The Losties (understandably) took to hunting wild boar for sustenance early on, but the slaughter quickly ceased when they discovered the Dharma food drops. And who could forget Sayid’s memories of Amira?

While nonhuman animals didn’t much figure into the season five story arc, one episode in particular stuck with me. In fact, I meant to write about “He’s Our You” (Season 5, Episode 11) months ago, but somehow it kept getting placed on the back burner. With the final season of Lost set to begin tonight, what better time to revisit an old episode?

As I noted previously, Sayid’s story lines oftentimes revolve around the themes of forgiveness and vengeance, with Sayid struggling to come to grips with his strikingly violent past. As a soldier in the Iraq Republican Guard, he was captured, co-opted, and trained as an “interrogator” (read: torturer) by American forces during Operation Desert Storm. At the close of the war, his “skills” were put to use and turned against his fellow Iraqi citizens in the Republican Guard, where he was promoted to the Intelligence division and tasked with torturing dissidents and political prisoners – including his long lost childhood love, Nadia (as well as the aforementioned Amira). Torn between his allegiance to his country and his moral qualms, he helped Nadia to escape, but could not bring himself to go with her.

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Once on the island, Sayid (somewhat reluctantly) put his interrogation skills to use several times (as if fate would not allow him a break from his past – even when stranded on a lost island!), first torturing an innocent but obstinate Sawyer, and later, a guilty but cunning Ben Linus. During the “A-list missions” and battles with the Others, Sayid proved to be a valuable military asset. After escaping from the island, Sayid reunited with Nadia, only to see her murdered not a year after their wedding. The rest of Sayid’s time off the island is devoted to hunting her killers down, one by one, and exacting revenge. This came with an uneasy alliance with Ben, on the premise that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” However, it’s still unclear whether the men Ben directed Sayid to kill had anything to do with Nadia’s murder – or if Sayid was being conned.

Flash forward to Sayid’s return to the island – circa 1977. Here, a lost and confused Sayid struggles with the reason why he’s been brought back to the island; what is his purpose here? After meeting 12-year-old Ben Linus, Sayid has an epiphany: if he was to kill Ben, then the young, innocent Ben would not live to grow into the evil, adult Ben that the Losties know and hate – and thus most of the (present-day) events in Lost would never occur. But can Sayid really murder a child in cold blood?

He’s Our You” deals with Sayid’s inner struggle over this complex moral dilemma. As with earlier episodes, Sayid wonders whether he’ll ever be able to escape his past as a torturer and killer; are these merely things that he has done – bad things, of course, but things that can be left in the past – or are they what he is? To what extent do Sayid’s sins define him as a person? And, given the American occupying forces’ role in shaping his destiny, is Sayid a natural born or man-made killer?

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Praise the Egg! New Musical by Mary Gage Premiers in State College, PA

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010 by

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: United Poultry Concerns – news [at] upc-online.org
Date: Tue, Jan 19, 2010 at 11:53 AM
Subject: [UPC] Praise the Egg! New Musical by Mary Gage Premiers in State College, PA

Praise the Egg! New Musical by Mary Gage Premiers in State College, PA
Experience Life from the Chickens’ Point of View in this Endearing Performance
The State Theatre, Saturday April 3. 2010: 3:00pm. 7:00pm

“I think you should tell your readers that you were the inspiration for the musical.” Mary Gage to UPC president Karen Davis

Praise the Egg! A New Musical is based on the bittersweet novel by prizewinning writer, Mary Gage, showing life through the eyes of chickens. The book, and now the musical, captures the drama and pathos of the chickenyard with a cast of characters that includes Prudence, Granny Black, England the cock, “X and Y” from a battery-cage hen facility, and Man and Woman, the chicken-keepers. The story of these chickens is based on a little flock of chickens Mary kept while living in Perth in Western Australia in the 1970s.

Mary Gage, who now lives in State College, Pennsylvania, is directly involved in the musical production of Praise the Egg: She tells UPC: “The music is being written by a composer who directs Broadway musicals for kids in State College. He is casting these kids as chicks – ideal for his school, as the chicks grow so fast that a new class can do each scene. The set and costumes are being done by an artist whose paper cutouts of grass and trees will be projected huge on the backdrop. Huge hands with buckets or hoses intrude whenever Man and Woman come with the food and water.”

So how did UPC’s president, Karen Davis, “inspire” the musical performance of Praise the Egg? In an email to Karen, Mary Gage writes, “Someone alerted me to your talk about chickens in which you quoted from my book at the Yale Chicken Conference, in May 2002. This person inquired about Praise the Egg! She wanted to know the rest of the story. At that point the producer of the State Theatre invited me to put on another play, so I decided to rewrite my Australian chicken story as an American musical. Thank you!”

Here is the passage I quoted at the Yale Chicken Conference from Praise the Egg! It appears at the beginning of Chapter Two in my book Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs:

Then they all settled down in the soft green shade of the lemon tree, with each little chick taking its turn to fly up to the best and softest seat on Granny Black’s back. And while they waited for the sun to go down again, she told them about the great big world outside the chick run, or the days when she was a chick, or the story they liked telling best of all – her Miracle story about Eggs. How the broken fragments they had hatched from were once smooth, complete shapes; how every chicken that ever was had hatched out in exactly the same way; how only chooks could lay such beauties; and how every time they did, they were so filled with joy that they could not stay quiet, but had to burst into song; and how their song was taken up by England the cock and echoed by every single hen in the Run. – Mary Gage, Praise the Egg

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Farm Sanctuary: Hit Fox Show Bones to Spotlight Farm Sanctuary Footage

Thursday, November 5th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

I just spotted this notice from Farm Sanctuary in my inbox and thought I’d share. Tune in to Fox tonight at 8PM Eastern time, where the “darkly comic procedural drama”* Bones will feature undercover factory farm footage secured by Farm Sanctuary and specially requested by the show’s star – fellow vegan Emily Deschanel.

Alas, I won’t be watching. Though I adore Bones, I’m somewhat of a newbie fan, and am only halfway through Season 4 on DVD. Tonight’s episode will languish on my DVR until the Mr. and I catch up. So no spoilers, mkay?

———- Forwarded message ———-
Date: Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 4:04 PM
Subject: TONIGHT: Hit Fox Show “Bones” to Spotlight Farm Sanctuary Factory Farming Footage

Kelly,

Very exciting news! Tonight’s episode (8pm/7 Central) of the hit FOX show “Bones” will be spotlighting Farm Sanctuary footage of cruel factory farming practices. Please see below for full details. Make sure to tune in and please spread the word!

All the best,

Meredith

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Farm Sanctuary Footage of Cruel Factory Farming Practices Spotlighted on Hit FOX TV Show “Bones”

NEW YORK, NY – November 5, 2009 – Tonight’s episode of the hit FOX television show “Bones” (airing at 8pm/7 Central), starring vegan actress and Farm Sanctuary supporter Emily Deschanel, will prominently feature factory farming footage secured by Farm Sanctuary, the nation’s leading farm animal protection organization, as part of a plot-line surrounding a murder that takes place at a chicken farm.

The footage, which was requested by Deschanel, will educate thousands of mainstream viewers about the cruel conditions animals are forced to endure on factory farms. The episode also features a character who rescues a pig and asks her coworkers for donations so that she can sponsor her at a sanctuary.

To further raise awareness of the horrors of factory farming, FOX is featuring a special message from Deschanel on their website (http://fox.com/bones/) urging people to support Farm Sanctuary by sponsoring an animal in need.

To learn more about “adopting” one of Farm Sanctuary’s rescued animals, please visit farmsanctuary.org.

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“Being dead never tasted so good!”

Thursday, June 18th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

Via Blamer moodygirl comes the following SNL skit, “Cluckin Chicken,” which takes the Suicide Food phenomenon to a whole new level. (Indeed, Ben included the video as part of a “Fictional Suicide Food Emeriti” roundup last May.)

Warning: the video contains some graphic footage of a chicken corpse being “cleaned” and “quartered.”
 


 
About twenty seconds into the video, my husband popped up over my shoulder to ask if I was watching an actual commercial. Such is the depravity of modern “meat” advertisements.

Videos in this post

Saturday Night Live – Cluckin Chicken
Excerpt (s.18 : ep.13) | 01:34
All the outs and ins of making a great chicken.