Human Exceptionalism

Animal Rights Activists Like Wolves Picking Off the Weaklings of the Herd

I write often here about animal rights, most often to decry the violence in the movement. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the perfectly legal methods liberationists also apply to end the domestic use of all animals.

One of the most effective, is to focus attention on a few discreet alleged “abuses” of animals at a time. This is smart. Animal products are so ubiquitous that railing against them all would be to disburse the movement’s energies and render it impotent. So liberationists choose a few primary enemies at at time, allowing all aspects of the movement from the theorists, to the lawyers, to the political activists, to the terrorists, to concentrates their attention like a knife point and do real damage.

This is why the movement is now so focused on foie gras–the product made from overfed duck and goose livers–with a national effort underway to legally outlaw foie gras. It worked in California. And now, there is an attempt in Maryland to legally ban the sale of foie gras even though none is made in the state. From the story:

The Senate’s education, health and environment committee, accustomed to debating global warming, septic systems and high-school dropout rates, heard two hours of testimony on the durability of goose gullets and whether a duck feels pain as its liver is fattened up…

This seems an odd choice because far fewer birds are killed in fois gras manufacture than are chickens or turkeys. But it makes good tactical sense: First, it is a delicacy, so unlike, say milk, few people consume it and thus will not respond defensively to the criticisms. Second, the method of fattening the livers of the birds–forced feeding through a tube–allows liberationists to claim that foie gras is especially cruel in both the method of swelling the birds’ livers and the alleged suffering thereby caused. Foie fras producers scoff. They claim that the birds don’t mind being overfed at all, that birds in the wild stuff themselves in preparation for winter, and moreover, that at least one study shows no increased stress in the birds having food poured through a pipe down their gullets. But empirical analysis isn’t the point of the liberationists’ attack–by hook or by crook they seek the destruction of all meat industries.

The point of this post isn’t to defend foie gras but to note that animal liberationists are like wolves picking off the weakling in the herd. It went after sow gestation crates in Florida because there are very few pig farmers in that state, and they knew the pork industry would be too shortsighted to spend sufficient resources to defend the use of crates in Florida. Now, it is attacking foie gras producers, which are few and far between in this country, knowing that other food industries are unlikely to rally to that small industry’s defense. And slowly but surely, various meat products and practices are being constrained.

Credit where credit is due: This is effective advocacy and smart politics.

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