I have seen it all before but it still shocks me. The Humane Farming Association recently shot undercover video at an Ohio pig farm which shows animals living and dying in conditions far more horrifying than one finds in any torture camp. And what I am about to describe in this article is typical of the lives of the 10 billion ‘food’ animals raised for slaughter in America each year.
Pigs with broken legs and broken backs; pigs with prolapsed vaginas and abscessed tumors; pigs crowded so closely together they cannot move or turn around, living in their own excrement; pigs bashed with hammers and shocked with electric prods.
At this Ohio farm, the pigs are killed through strangulation. We see a worker kicking and then beating a pig with a metal bar. The pig cannot walk either due to broken legs or partial paralysis, and so the man relentlessly bashes and bashes and bashes her to make her crawl down a corridor until he kicks her off a four-foot ledge onto a muddy yard. She is then chained around the neck and hoisted by a fork-lift. It takes her about five minutes to die as she struggles desperately. During her last few seconds of life, you see one of her feet waving feebly in the air. While this is happening, the men are joking around, as if it is all good fun.
A few feet away, a group of pigs are huddled together, waiting their turn. Some are lying on top of others, forming a pile of animals too weak to move. They are covered with excrement; one has a broken leg sticking out at an odd angle; they look near death already, from the conditions of torture they were raised in.
Like all other animals, pigs feel. Pigs are extremely aware, intelligent, and conscious of their surroundings. They experience a range of emotions equal to that of the human animal. This pile of what humans would call ‘near dead meat’ has watched what the men just did to one of their kind.
In a mock gesture of affection, a worker embraces the body of the dead pig hanging in the air. All the men laugh.
There is also footage of the torture of piglets. One man picks up a piglet and pretends to stroke her with affection. He then hands the animal to another man who slams her against a metal wall by one leg and then tosses her into a metal bucket.
In the background, we hear the rough language of men at play—lots of joking around, lots of ‘fucks’ uttered in fun and a “Bullshit, you did it in one hit.” The torturer looks in the bucket where the piglet is lying in blood, paralyzed, except for one rear leg twitching wildly. The man says, “Kinda, almost did it in one hit.” It is a game and contest, seemingly, of virility, to almost kill her with one slam.
There is footage of piglets grabbed by one ear and flung into shoots and metal crates and trucks. The men handle the animals as if they were insensate sacks of flour. All the while they are laughing and joking—business as usual. Meanwhile the piglets are screaming in fear.
Out of Iraq comes recent video on YouTube of a group of American soldiers shooting a dog for fun. The dog drags her injured hindquarters on the ground as the men look on indifferently. The dog collapses, still alive and suffering. An Iraqi man, in despair, tries to help the animal. He cries as he gestures at her and at the soldiers. They are still indifferent. Finally, the Iraqi man simply leaves the animal to die, with a shrug. That shrug was perhaps the most painful item in the video. What can I do? I give up. The torture is too great.
Tolstoy said that as long as there are slaughterhouses, there will be battlefields.
I feel compassion for animals that we treat without mercy. It breaks not just my heart but the soul and spirit inside me to see pigs and dogs so helpless before us. A Christian nation? So America says it is. A nation of Christians without mercy for animals. Of the pig torturers in Ohio, one received a $200 fine and a year’s probation. And an admonition to not torture pigs anymore. Who is going to oversee this farm, to stop the suffering? Will there be vast numbers of judges and lawyers and policemen, maybe even the National Guard out there, tomorrow, taking these pigs out of captivity? Will there be thousands of ‘concerned citizens’ at this farm tomorrow, all of them having given up their morning bacon, now that they know where it comes from? And will all these good people find these worthy pigs a sanctuary, where they can live out there days peacefully on green grass?
The other cause that touches my heart—one that I have written on extensively—is the sexual enslavement of women. What happens to these tortured women bears a terrible resemblance to what we do to animals. Brothels in the immigrant district of Paris, where women are raped 80 times a day (and perhaps up to 160 times a day on weekends), are called abattoirs—slaughterhouses. Allied soldiers during the last world war called Pigalle, an area of Paris where prostitutes congregated, Pig Alley. Prostitutes are referred to as ‘fuck meat.’
After her ordeal under 80 men a day (160 on weekends) this prostitute will be ‘dead meat.’ And she’ll be worth a lot less than the dead pig since, typically, women ‘dishonored’ to this extent are marginalized and disposable.
I have written a long article on how brothels are identical to factory farms. I will share it with you at another time since my focus here is the misery of the animals who will be adorning your holiday table. I want to end this piece with another undercover video, this one shot by Mercy for Animals in a North Carolina turkey slaughterhouse. On the way to the killing blade, the animals are shackled upside down by their feet. We see workers using them as punching bags. One worker is ‘raping’ a line of turkeys by reaching into them, deeply, with his hands, and extracting eggs, which he throws playfully at his co-workers. He never seems to tire of this game as he rapes turkey after turkey after turkey—the birds writhe in pain as his hand ‘plays’ around inside them.
From the unbearable conditions under which they were raised, we see turkeys arriving at the slaughterhouse with bloody open wounds and huge infected tumors. Most don’t even look like turkeys, but like grotesque monsters since they have been genetically engineered to grow too fast. There is no resemblance to the beautiful bird with her golden brown plumage and impressive carriage that is the wild cousin of this pathetic Frankenstein bird we have created.
Some of the birds have broken feet and wings and they desperately try to crawl along the floor as they thrash around in the slippery blood. The workers ignore them, except when they step on them, and even stand on them, for long periods of time, for fun. Injured birds are the norm–since they are pulled so roughly from their cages, the workers break their bones. We see one worker ripping off a turkey’s head with a metal pole–for fun, I guess. The turkeys make sounds like screams; and when they are upside down, heading toward the blade that will slice off their heads, they struggle and struggle, for one last breath of life.
No where in the slaughterhouse is there a moment of kindness, or a gentle touch, for these birds who feel so much as they die.
What you can do to answer my prayer for mercy: First, become aware. Numerous groups on the internet carry information, videos, and activist suggestions for those who want to end the torture of animals: PETA, Humane Farming Association, Mercy for Animals, Compassion Over Killing, Farm Sanctuary, United Poultry Concerns, and Viva! are just among a few that are out there. Suki Falconberg