An historical event has transpired - for the first time ever, undercover footage recorded by a Humane Society investigator has grabbed headlines nationwide. This has resulted in the largest recall of beef in US history - 143 million pounds, and has exposed horrible cruelties that, while commonplace, were shocking and new to anyone who has never seen the underbelly of factory farming. Trying to make sense of them is another story.The coverage that this undercover video-clip received nationwide, and the beef recall itself, were both watersheds. If you haven't seen the clip, please watch below:
For more of the footage click HERE
Meat-eating has always been associated with manliness in our culture. Traditionally, the predatory nature of hunting required physical strength, stamina, tool-making, and often hours to days of tracking herds. Then there was the kill; the bloody and exhausting act of taking down large animals, cutting them up and bringing them home. Many anthropologists and primatologists argue that meat was a pivotal way to exert social control in the form of currency due to its desirability. While women may have collected most gatherer-hunter protein sources, we should not ignore the fact that men were able to use meat for their own selfish and manipulative political ends. It's no surprise then, that thousands of years later, most men still identify with this nearly-universal symbol of masculine social and political power, though they rarely grasp why. What does this beef recall and the surrounding events say about us if real men eat meat?
Vegetarianism is often portrayed as weak, emasculating, and undesirable, although more and more men are realizing that a vegetable-based diet is healthier and better for the earth, and that the reality of their bond with meat is now relatively invalid. While meat is rarely necessary for survival in modern times, most advertising geared toward mainstream men still appeals to his hunter roots - to his very primal, instinctual brain. If the disconnect here is not apparent with the merciless cruelty shown in the video above, it might bring clarity to know that this is by no means an isolated incident. This is something that is commonplace from chicken farms to circuses to laboratories. These sweeping abuses of animals showcases a crippling and epidemic -sized inability to empathize, and a desire to play out those primal tendencies to control something so politically defining and powerful.
On farms worldwide, untold cruelties are trespassed. The video shows Hallmark Meat Packing Co. workers administering repeated electric shocks to downed cows -- animals that are too sick, weak or otherwise unable to stand on their own. Workers are seen kicking cows, jabbing them near their eyes, ramming them with a forklift and shooting high-intensity water up their noses in an effort to force them to their feet for slaughter.Typically, the media shies away from showing footage of animal cruelty, despite the frequency of incidents like these in many industries, because it is believed that viewers will change the channel. However, if you tuned into your local news almost anywhere in the country in the last few days, it was impossible to miss it as news stations everywhere spent several minutes on this headlining story, shocking viewers - and raising many questions. The president of HMP published this statement on the meat company's website.
"...Words cannot accurately express how shocked and horrified I was at the depictions contained on the video that was taken by an individual who worked at our facility from October 3 thru November 14, 2007. We have taken swift action regarding the two employees identified on the video and have already implemented aggressive measures to ensure all employees follow our humane handling policies and procedures. We are also cooperating with the USDA investigators on the allegations of inhumane handling treatment which is a serious breech of our company’s policies and training... " - Steve Mendell, President Westland Meat Co. Hallmark Meat Packing
This statement is an expected cliché and completely fails to elucidate the incident. In an industry where living, feeling, animals are reduced to mere economic units, it is no surprise that profit-seeking businesses end up treating animals in this way. The huge demand for meat results in an immense pressure to raise, exploit, and kill animals in such massive quantities that no dream of the resources required to produce "humane meat" could ever exist to satisfy the grotesque amount of meat consumption that occurs in the US. In addition, this immense demand requires assembly line killing, and any extra care taken or 'downer' incidentals means profit-loss. It's an out-and-out contradiction to claim that any meat-production facility could sustain 'humane' policies. Less torturous, maybe, but never humane.
Expect to see many, many more videos like this reaching the mainstream media, now that the barrier has been broken. Organizations like HSUS, PETA, and Farm Sanctuary continually send undercover investigators to work at these facilities and expose horrible cruelties. Now it seems many more investigations, like the Butterball Turkey Investigation showcased in the HBO documentary "I Am An Animal" will reach more viewers.
The Humane Society says the video was shot last year by an undercover investigator . Investigators like these, who wear a hidden camera under their clothes and work at the facilities, risk their safety and deserve our praise.
If you want to get involved, but need some motivation, visit GoVeg.com, and watch 'Earthlings' starring the Discerning Brute, Joaquin Phoenix: