The Human Shame of Proposition Two
Do farm animals have rights? Do they deserve legal protection during their lives before they meet their deaths on your dinner table? In California, Proposition 2 is November 4 ballot initiative — better known as the “Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act” — and I wonder why we even need to provide that protection and why we don’t naturally have it in us to humanely tend those that feed so many as part of our basic human nature.
Yes On Prop 2 is an activist site that promotes animal welfare:
This November 4, Californians should vote YES! on Prop 2 – a modest
measure that stops cruel and inhumane treatment of animals, ending the
practice of cramming farm animals into cages so small the animals can’t
even turn around, lie down or extend their limbs….
It’s simply wrong to confine veal calves, breeding pigs, and egg-laying
hens in tiny cages barely larger than their bodies. Calves are tethered
by the neck and can barely move, pigs in severe confinement bite the
metal bars of their crates, and hens get trapped and even impaled in
their wire cages. We wouldn’t force our pets to live in filthy, cramped
cages for their whole lives, and we shouldn’t force farm animals to
endure such misery. All animals, including those raised for food,
deserve humane treatment.
It is our human shame that we need Proposition 2 to instruct us how to properly take care of our farm animals — why wouldn’t we want to take the best care of any animal under any circumstance?
If you’re eating animals that are stressed and compressed — wouldn’t that tension and pain become part of you as you bite, chew, and swallow the forsaken so you may live?
Opponents have pressed a line of attack that suggests that Proposition
2 — which would require that animals be provided room to turn around,
lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs — could expose birds,
via contact with their own waste and that of other animals, to such
dreaded diseases as salmonella and avian influenza. They also argue that standard egg-laying cages — a
little more than eight inches square — actually protect hens from
aggression by other birds and predators.
I certainly hope Proposition 2 passes — but I am concerned that general human cruelty will win the day in the advance of money and convenience over caring and consideration.