A few months ago, during heavy rains in Los Angeles, I was at my gym, where televisions had recently been installed for the entertainment of the elliptical users. On this particular morning, I looked around the gym and noticed that all motion had virtually ceased. Everyone seemed to be consumed with a drama that was playing out on the screens. A mottled German shepherd was swimming for his life in the swollen Los Angeles River. For an hour and a half, while I was in the gym (and, apparently, for a long time beyond) , the drama played out, with a helicopter eventually lowering a fireman into the river, who took hold of the dog and whisked him to safety.
Just another day on Los Angeles television, I thought, where frivolity regularly intersects with irrelevance. But as the day wore on and other tragedies, such as a tree which collapsed on a home in Kern County killing a young boy asleep in his bed, barely got any coverage, I became deeply concerned. How is it that abused animals or those in distress receive so much more sympathetic attention from our media than humans in the same perilous condition?
Its a question that demands an answer and one made particularly relevant for me by a piece in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, April 8 in which egg farmers are seen to be striking back against those animal rights organizations seeking to significantly hinder their businesses. Egg farming and its impact on the lives of chickens, came into the spotlight in California in the lead up to the 2008 federal election when animal rights organizations, led by the Humane Society, successfully fought for the passage of Proposition 2. The Proposition, then known as the California Prevention to Farm Animal Cruelty Act, mandated that calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs or turn around freely. Misdemeanor charges and fines of up to $1,000 would be leveled against violators.
What was astonishing about the Proposition’s success was the range of support it received from across the spectrum of California society – from environmentalists to religious groups to political organizations, who would usually have nothing to do with such a matter. The overwhelming majority of Californians (63%), who eventually approved the proposition were no doubt moved and influenced by videos of chickens being trampled in close quarters or sometimes pecked to death by rivals. This was no way for a chicken to live a dignified life.
Most voters of course did not know that Proposition 2’s passage would mean higher prices for eggs and veal, would jeopardize food safety and public health, and wipe out Californians’ access to locally grown, fresh eggs.
What they also didn’t know is that the principal sponsor of Proposition 2, The Humane Society of the United States,( HSUS) is a cash rich organization pledged, not only to making life easier for farm animals, but to changing our whole relationship to the animal kingdom. Their campaign is not only to transform us into vegetarians, but also prohibit all human domestication of animals and animal husbandry. HSUS, along with such organizations as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and Farm Sanctuary have adopted a one- step -at- a-time strategy intended to undermine the economic and cultural foundations for the domestication and use of animals for human purposes – in essence destroying any notion that there is a separation in moral stature between humans and animals and elevating animal rights to the level of human rights.
They are achieving their incremental strategy through the promotion of legislation, voter initiatives and intense lobbying. They file law suits, many of them frivolous and vexatious. And they publish video or photographic exposes -some real and some faked, that serve as the basis of official investigations and PR campaigns. The commanding victory in California is the leading edge of this campaign and has become a rallying cry for animal liberationists throughout the land.
All of it is designed, not to promote animal welfare – which is far from a principal concern – but rather to impede the functioning of the animal using industries, damaging their profitability and undermining their public legitimacy.
Flush with cash, these liberationists have few fears about the mounting opposition to their tactics. Said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS President at a press conference on Wednesday: “People know what happened in California and they know it can happen again and again. They know that no group has passed more ballot measures than we have. They know we have a focused strategy. They know we have a budget of $150 million a year. And they know we’re ready for a fight.”
The Agribusiness Industry has seen what is happening and is fighting back. Organizations in Kansas and Missouri have launched a full throttle campaign against the Humane Society. On Thursday, April 8, Kansas Farm Bureau President Steve Baccus wrote in a letter to Bank of AmericaCorp., one of the Humane Society’s largest corporate sponsors, that “HSUS seeks to remove meat from our dinner tables, leather goods from our closets, animals from zoos and circuses and eventually pets from our homes.”
The reach of the animal rights movement is deep and pervasive and should not be ignored. Evidence of it was recently offered by Judge J. Thompson who presided over a Los Angeles District court case in which Glynn Johnson, a former Los Angeles County Assistant Fire Chief, was sentenced to 90 days in jail for beating a puppy with such violence that the dog need to be euthanized. Judge Thompson stated that in his 22 years on the bench, not even the death of children had inflamed the level of rage and vitriol he had seen leveled at the accused.
Look soon for the Humane Society to take that one to the bank as well, adding another trophy in its quest to transform our country from an animal loving one, into a society where people not only fear to touch animals, but are terrified of any attempt to domesticate them.