Sunday, July 29, 2007

cruelty, compassion and the chance for change

Her lips are pulled back in a snarl as she circles the quivering mass of sinew, blood and tangled fur on the cement floor. The lightbulb in the centre of the room moves back and forth with the rippled momentum of the recently expended energy below. Its harsh light is reflected in her teeth - the teeth speckled with saliva and blood, the teeth that are about to meet in a rattling throat, the teeth with the power to extinguish life. Having just dealt a whiplash blow to the broken dog's right flank with her powerful forearm, she growls low, the flavour of victory on her hot breath. Her broad, heaving chest swells as the men around her roar for blood, more blood and not her blood.

She tenses. Leaps. Not even a sigh leaves the shattered throat of the nameless one as she rips its life from its already fading form. Back and forth she shakes the limp body, spraying the cracked grey walls with warm reds and sending the men nearest to her reeling back in gleeful disgust. The crowd erupts in shouts of victory or disbelief, money is violently shoved from one palm to another, but the dog notices none of it. With crazed thirst she vaults over the unidentifiable mess at her feet, careening towards the top of the dull, thick walls surrounding the ring of death. The belching perpetrators leaning on the barricade have no time to drop their beers before the wild beast is upon them. Her ears scream with muffled silence as her brain roars for blood, more blood and not her blood...

Recently indicted NFL superstar Michael Vick has been accused of participating in the extremely violent torture of animals; specifically dogs, destined to be used in dogfights. He has been hosting, funding and betting on these deathly matches for years as the case by the prosecutors will claim, and had even been present (and perhaps the hand behind) the drowning, hanging or electrocution of dogs which did not perform up to specific standards. Michael and three of his co-accused entered a plea of not guilty on July 26, while one of the accused is expected to plead guilty on Monday.

This disgusting practice is apparently a multi-million dollar illegal industry in the United States that sees the death and torture of uncountable, innocent animals for entertainment and gambling purposes.

I ask of you what I hope to be a rhetorical question: Is this right? Can this be justified in any way?

Dogs are bred to be killing machines. They live lives of darkness and violence, before they are shoved into a ring and ordered to kill or be killed. They are tools of bored, mindless people (or monsters if you prefer: one can hardly call individuals who thrive on such violence people in light of the moral connotations this word should carry with it) who exist outside the realm of rationality and compassion, and whose pathetic existence is given some illusory purpose through witnessing two animals disembowel each other.

This is a disgusting practice. I sincerely hope you all agree.

Imagine having lived your life without experiencing joy, peace, freedom, love, compassion. Every day darker than the last. Wire mesh, dull cement and hatred enclosing you in a cage you were born, raised, and will eventually die in.

Is it any better for a cow, a pig or a chicken to be mentally and physically broken for the pleasure of society than it is for a dog to be subjected to such horrors?

Whether the end result is a 5:1 win on a dogfight or a $6.95 cut of grade A beef, there is no justification for supporting intensive cruelty to our fellow creatures. Animals are not goods. They are not items. Their existence here on earth is not for the sole purpose of satisfying our insatiable appetite for entertainment or gluttony.

"The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men."

- Alice Walker

For more information on how easy it is to begin the transition to a cruelty-free lifestyle, visit PETA or The Global Action Network .

- L.


Lauren said...

ps -

The embedded video is the initial glimpse I had into the world of factory farming when I was 16. For the past 4 out of the 5 years since I have been a full-fledged vegetarian.

I do not feel limited in any way in my diet, except maybe by having fewer saturated fats and less cholesterol. I do not pay more (or less) for food now than when I ate meat. I am able to appreciate the subtleties and complexities of an array of nearly endless vegetables, fruits, grains, meat and dairy alternatives and spices. And I am confident that my food choice is cohesive with my moral support of peace and a cruelty-free existence.

peace, love and bon app├ętit! :P

Mladen The Terrible said...

^ignor the fake posts.

Moving on:

First of all, i aint watching your damn video because there's no way im going to let myself get brainwashed into believing we humans shouldnt sacrafice animals for survival purposes and the ocassional nice fur jacket that goes well with your favourite louis vuitton belt.

Thats what the media does. It turns people into mindless drones and vegetarians.

With that being said, there is no comparison between dog fights and treatment of chickens and other farm animals. Sure there are serious questions to be addressed with both of these issues but i see them as being on different levels of cruelty.

For example, the concern about keeping farm animals in cages is more then just torture. Im sure its a health concern and if you just let all the animals loose they could get infected, kill eachother, and cause many other problems that could later reflect on us.

Letting all the animals rome the earth freely is a little improbable dont you think? I mean how would you feel if you were at Stiches looking at some 5 shirts for $2.99 deal and all the sudden some livestock decide to walk right in and pay you a visit.

I think you watched to many reruns of the legendary Babe movie to the point where it has created a serious effect on your thought process. So now the outcome is you probably think animals can talk to each other, and your sitting there thinking like "Wow thats right, a little pig can go a long way". No lauren.

Dog fights however, im completly against. Anyone who is willing to watch a dog gets slaughtered, and be entertained during this, has some serious problems. Dogs are pets (in our society), and we value them almost as much as we value a human life.

Now, you attempted to make a connection between farm animals being tortured by humans and dogs being tortured by humans. The difference is farm animals are tortured in order to create the most safest product so that the comsumers dont have to worry about being poisoned. The mentallity is different. People who torture pets have no value or simpathy for the life that will be taken, they only care about the reward, the money, not the food they will need to survive.

But then again, maybe im a hypocrite.

My name is Mladen The Terrible and i value pillows.

Joe said...

Nice post Lauren!
when it comes to this topic, only one video comes to mind for me:

NeilV said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quetzalcoatl said...

Beautiful, heartfelt prose Lauren. I got swept into empathizing with you, and it felt natural to me.

Then I read Mladen and also felt the flip side of the coin.

The precedents that have been set that define what is 'normal' -- processing animals in the cheapest way possible, the same way we would bundle wheat -- come from long useless traditions.

I feel that with stability, and as we reach closer and closer to utopia, we as a people will soon start to completely re-evaluate what we want and need out of life.

I think one thing that may come along, far ahead of today, is that we as humans do want to feel one with the world around us, because it feels GOOD. I wish I could say we'd do it out of compassion, but I think compassion is something that once you truly feel, you never lose. The path TO feeling that compassion will be selfishness. And I think that the positive feeling of letting a creature live is something that far too few of us know.

I also fear that the path to a human embrace for the feeling of life will come after the blunt, undeniable human awareness of the feeling of death. And the cycle may continue forever, with larger and larger wavelengths.

Keep fighting, I will help more and more.