Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Undercover Investigations and Why I'm Torn

It has been awhile since I talked about animal rights on here, but after attending the recent New York City Veg Fest last weekend I am invigorated and impassioned to keep the dialogue going about the links between my most precious issues: women and animals. I alternate between listening to two weekly podcasts--one is Dan Savage's Love podcast that discusses current political news on sex and also does advice on sex/relationships and the other is Our Hen House which has a vegan and animal rights focus. So basically I alternate between these two every week and my head is starting to get dizzy from all the attacks on women and on animal rights activists/advocates. I can't go a week without hearing one of the podcasts ranting about new legislation that restricts the rights of those who are already oppressed.

I don't need to remind anyone of what is going on in this country to hurt family planning and sexual/reproductive rights, do I? Well, it seems an eerily parallel movement against animals is happening. Just last week Iowa passed the nation's first "Ag Gag" bill which you can read about HERE. The Iowa bill criminalizes those who obtain employment under false pretenses with the intent to harm the business, rather than the actual act of filming animal cruelty in a factory farm (that is redundant, right?). Well, that's the quick and dirty version.

So, here is my struggle...I want factory farms to be exposed for their cruelty (not only to animals, but also workers) more than anyone. I know deep down that undercover investigations in factory farms are NOT the same as anti-woman creeps like Lila Rose (and yes I feel bad giving any of her sites web traffic, but google her if you must). The footage and audio that people like Lila Rose obtain from abortion clinics is manipulated and taken out of context and at the end of the day just a downright lie. When it comes to undercover footage from factory farms there is little manipulation going on. I have seen enough of that footage to know that animal cruelty is commonplace in factory farms and no amount of photoshopping or editing can create the horrors I have seen. Watching sadistic factory farm workers anally rape cows or electrocute chickens is pretty clear cut, as opposed to the shades of grey that have come out of Lila Rose's undercover endeavors (re: abortion counseling with a minor who has an 18+ boyfriend).

My gut tells me they're not the same, but I still can't sit right with it. Let me be clear I do not support the ag gag laws by any means. The more factory farms are exposed then the more business they lose and the less animals suffer. There is just something about the deception that weirds me out and I can't place why or how. I don't have an answer about this....would love to hear thoughts from others.


  1. Because of the deception? To whom? To people who torture and kill animals for money and to people who deceive the public with how animals are treated.

    Going back to the early 20th century, undercover investigations have been a crucial tool for exposing concealed abuse, corruption, and horror in the United States. From Upton Sinclair's The Jungle to Nellie Bly's investigation of women's treatment in insane asylums to John Howard Griffin's Black Like Me exposing the devastating daily effect of segregation on black people. Undercover investigation are and have been a venerable tool for exposing abuses of power.

    Even if one has a problem with the "deception," this problem should pale in comparison to the problem one should have with the daily torture and exploitation of nearly 10 billion factory farmed animals in the United States.

  2. Our WI gov Scott walker just introduced a bill "to increase milk production so farmers can buy WI milk for their cheese" which means factory farm subsidies. They do not say this outright because a majority of the people here vaguely hate factory as opposed to "family" farms. They use Mexican imported labor on these farms under the guise of "diversity" and pay them room and board.

    Here is the beginning of the post I wrote about being in a reproductive health demonstration against all the restrictions our repub legislatures put on abortion and contraception insurance yesterday. They already defunded Planned Parenthood:
    I must say it was great. The post immediately below this one gives the issues we were protesting. This post is just about my feelings. I am glad I went.

    The best of the old days - sisterhood. LOTS of women - serious women - at least half of them were my age and the other half much younger. We stood around the way you do when gathering at 11:30 am - smiling till our cheeks cracked as more and more women came.

    We were at the WI State Capitol, on the steps up to the doors, filling up all those steps, shuffling closer and closer to the doors.

    We could not get into the Capital gallery to watch those mother killers vote our rights away because the gallery WAS FILLED WITH THE WOLF PEOPLE. The wolf people were there protesting the passing of legislation allowing the just delisted wolf to be hunted with dogs and allowing trappers to make money by placing traps in our parks (to kill our dogs and cats) and allowing 12 year olds with bows and arrows to go killing in the parks. The wolf people are my people. I loved that they were there too.
    They did pass the bill, making an Oct through Feb wolf hunting season here with dogs, the longest season in the state. The mother will be giving birth in March and they are killing her with dogs, traps, and bows and arrows in February – the Alpha - carrying the pack's only pups - with bow, arrows and dogs. And of course the entire pack will go down before they let her be taken – even the DNR biologists are screaming that no civilized country does this.

    The same killers oppress both women and animals -- get their kicks doing the worst behavior imaginable. Sadists.

    The steps up to the Capitol were full up. There was a statue of Lady Liberty (the boys call it Forward) on the first layer of steps and soon she was covered with signs saying "Stop the War on Women".

    There was a band there - horns and other instruments - playing rocking versions of Solidarity Forever and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. A huge drummer man was there at the bottom of the steps with the war drum. Soon there was a sea of signs, people singing. Then another group led us all in singing; "we are a gentle angry people fighting fighting for our lives". And all the time the drum was pounding out the beat. I bet they heard that drum inside.
    On my blog I have pictures of the crowd -- Prominently among the placards displayed is a huge sign with a wolf picture on it. I looked around and saw signs with animals in traps and realized that the wolf women had come outside to join us on the steps.

    We are women, one with the female in every species on the planet - all of us oppressed by the same patriarchal spirit.

  3. As for the deception -- just expose the lies if they misrepresent the facts - and sue. Far worse is the use of gag laws. All the sadistic torture is done where no one can see -- they do not want exposure because they know their product will gag the eaters if they knew.

    We have nothing to fear from exposure if we are smart.

    I believe we should be reporting child sexual exploitation if we see it in the clinics. That a girl is being sexually exploited should be part of the counseling and after care. This would be a long post if I went into the details but the truth will not stop children from getting abortions they need and the sexual abuse should be stopped by the clinic is they are ethical. Nothing to fear from doing the right thing.

  4. Look at this being proposed in WI #*%# Maybe we should get a few video cameras of our own.

    Bill Number:
    SJR 28/AJR 34 [ view bill ]
    Passed in Senate; Passed in Assembly
    Sen. Kapanke and Rep. Jacque

    "Unable to shut down legitimate women's centers, the anti-choice movement has built a network of fake clinics called “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) that mislead women to convince them not to access abortion care. Now, extreme anti-choice politicians in Wisconsin have proposed a resolution to honor these centers throughout the month of October."

  5. I suppose in all fairness I should admit I have left veganism for more sustainable pastures. However, your post reminds me of the quote "consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." You don't have to have the same rules for both because they are not the same. We have critical thinking skills, use them. There's nothing wrong with applying rules differently to different situations. There is nothing wrong with disapproving of editing intended to skew the view as opposed to disapproving of all undercover journalism.

    *If you want to know what I mean by more sustainable you can read Meat: A Benign Extravagance or just contemplate how much of the animals' land we'd have to take to feed everyone on plants alone. I'm all for an end to animal mistreatment but I think universal vegetarianism may do more harm than good.

  6. If you really are reading this and dont understand the abuse that the animals in factorys (and other places, everywhere) endure at the hands of man go to TRIGGER WARNING: There are EXTREMEMLY graphic images of animals being abused and tortured by factorys and people in general.
    I don't cry about much of anything, but this Trailor (and I only watched the trailor I couldn't stomach the movie) made me have to stop working that day because I was bawling. I had to go sit down in a more private area for like 10 minutes and my whole day felt like poop. So please be very careful with yourself and the content. I couldn't warn you enough about it.
    P.S. For those of you who do watch it, that animal that has no skin and blinks at the camera, that's a fox.


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