New York's Sunday papers, October 25, included some fascinating articles about meat. The New York Times had a piece in the Sunday Styles section about classes in the skill of personally slaughtering and butchering the animals one intends to eat. The New York Daily News included a piece by Peter Singer suggesting that meat should be taxed at the sales level to help cover its disastrous environmental impact and its drain on health care.
Though unfortunately it is featured in the Style Section instead of the crime section, Alex Williams' article about classes in private meat butchering, titled "Slaughterhouse Live," doesn't simply present this trend as the best thing since sliced bread. The lead photo is chilling: the carcass of a pig laid out on her back, looking rather human, but for her decapitated sweet-faced head sitting next to the body, facing the camera. And though we read that the program is popular, Williams shares quotes such as the following from student Christian Rusby:
"That faint smell reminded me of being covered all over my arms in this animal's death. It was more profound than I expected, because it was an olfactory experience, like a smell you remember from childhood. Every time I ate a tamale from this pig, I remembered it laying on a pallet and being shaved."
Peter Singer is quoted in this New York Times piece, apart from having his own piece in the New York Daily News on the same day. Addressing the notion that people take the class because they want to be in touch with their food and where it comes from, he retorts:
"If you just say, 'I'm in touch with their pain,' that can be hypocritical, because youre not experiencing their pain."
Williams ends the article with a quote from a student, Jack Lahne, who wanted "a real understanding of where meat comes from." Williams comments, "He got it." He shares Lahnes' words:
"Animals do not want to die. They can feel pain and fear, and, just like us, will struggle to breathe for even one single more second. If youre about to run 250 volts through a pig, do not look it in the eyes. It is not going to absolve you.
"I truly believe that humane slaughter is important and possible, but, as I have been learning, here's the truth about any slaughter: it is both morally difficult and really gross."
While this article in the Style section could have been a fluff piece on a dark new fad, Williams did not handle it as such. It is well worth checking out, and it opens the door for letters to the editor from those who, without having to take the class have worked out what Jack Lahne came to realize.
The article is on line at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/25/fashion/25meat.html
The New York Times takes letters at firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter Singer's piece in the Sunday, October 25, Daily News, is headed: "Make meat-eaters pay: Ethicist proposes radical tax, says they're killing themselves and the planet." That lengthy heading does a good job of summing up a detailed and engaging article, cutting edge and unapologetic, as one would expect from Singer. While Singer's tax point is based on the drain of resources caused by meat consumption, the article also discusses some of the horrors visited upon animals on factory farms and in slaughterhouses. It is well worth reading. And it is worth forwarding to all of your friends; papers note which articles get the most forwards.
You'll find Singer's piece on line at http://tinyurl.com/ykw32mk
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Yours and the animals',
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Date: Mon Oct 26 17:33:19 2009