Posts Tagged ‘science’

“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.]

The Snowpocalypse Descends Upon The Daily Show and The Colbert Report

Friday, February 19th, 2010 by

Stewart/Colbert '08 graphic. (Should read Colbert/Stewart '08!)

Even before the flakes settled, right-wing pundits were pointing to the snowstorms that have slammed the East Coast this year as evidence that “global warming”

[CLIMATE CHANGE! Temperatures may or may not rise depending on one’s geographic location, air and ocean currents, etc. In fact, some scientists worry that melting polar ice caps might actually plunge the northeastern U.S. and northwestern European coasts into a mini-ice age. Global warming does not mean that every location on earth will resemble a sauna! End: rant.]

is a hoax and/or has been definitely discredited. Naturally, these gleeful squeals of triumph are usually accompanied by multiple smug, self-serving jabs at Al Gore. (Because the man IS global warming itself, dontchaknow! And I say this as a vegan with her own complex, ambivalent feelings towards the meat-guzzling Gore.)

Anyhow, both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert had a little fun at the expense of these climate change deniers – and in back-to-back shows, at that. While I don’t have time to type up transcripts, I have embedded the videos below, after the jump. (Too many videos on the main page makes Firefox crash. I blame Comedy Central and its clunky video formats. IBCC!)

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The horrors of modern fetus farms.

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

The (d)evolution of animal agriculture sounds so much more insidious (and comical, natch!) when applied to human vs. non-human animals!

(Cue fetus frenzy at 1:10.)
 

 
If only they could grow in vitro embryos. Oh, wait.

Videos in this post

March 16, 2009 – Stem Sell
John Oliver does his best Bush impression to prove science is undermining America.

Veg*nism & Pop Culture: Animal Rights Terra-ists on The Mentalist

Saturday, December 20th, 2008 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

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Proceed with caution: Spoilers galore!

Ten episodes in, and already The Mentalist has jumped on the animal rights terra-ism bandwagon.

Let me preface this by saying that I’m addicted to cop tv: The X-Files, CSI, NCIS, Law & Order, Criminal Intent, Life, NYPD Blue – I just love ’em. And my love runs extra-deep for the serialized cop drama/mystery/thrillers with a season/series-long story arc. Throw in a lead character who just so happens to be an atheist, and I’m hooked. Hello, The Mentalist!

That said, the latest installment (Season 1, Episode 10: Red Brick and Ivy) just wasn’t up to snuff.

The plot line is all too familiar: a scientist who experiments on non-human animals is murdered; the prerequisite, SHAC-like animal rights group which has been “terrorizing” said scientist (or said scientist’s university/lab/company/employer) for months is suspect numero uno. Cue the crazy!

In The Mentalist, the scientist in question is an up-and-coming neuroscientist who, along with his colleagues, has been conducting invasive research on animals (most notably, chimpanzees – unfortunately, a baby chimp does have a role in the episode) in order to locate the structures in the human brain which govern morality. The end goal? Finding a way to manipulate these structures and thus, magically, turn all of humanity into moral beings. Whatever that means.

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