Do Something About It
Ethics. How is something ethical? How is something unethical? What are the qualifications for being defined as ethical or unethical? Ethics. They are the center of most every controversy.
The slaughtering of animals in factory farming and hunting is among some of the most controversial topics in the United States. Since ethical opinions are completely subjective, they create tension between governments and citizens, neighbors and friends. Some author’s write novels like Fast Food Nation or Eating Animals to voice and support their opinions, while others write blog posts, such as Hunter. Angler. Gardener. Cook. The author’s of these pieces are simply providing the reader with a stance on these controversial topics, and synthesis to potentially persuade them to the author’s side. These are just three examples of hundreds of thousands of books, websites, blogs, and forums regarding the ethics of factory farms and hunting, which are all trying to get the readers to support the ethical code of the author.
Critical Thinking and Writing has taught me a lot about the social justice issues present in food, self, and culture. I have seen the injustices present on factory kill floors, their corporate offices, their unions, and their sources. I have seen the injustices of hunting and trapping wild game for prize, food, and fun. But I have also seen the other side of the arguments as well. I have seen the efficiency, practicality, and necessity for factory farms and hunting. So what really have I learned from this class? I have learned that, to me, ethics do not matter whatsoever. We will be fighting over hunting and factory farming forever. We learn so much about how hunters break the law and kill protected animals because they can turn a huge profit, or that factory farmers hire illegal immigrants because they have no rights. We learn that these workers are treated worse than the animals they kill, and that animals do not stand a chance against military grade rifles. So what do we do about it? Argue. We hear people argue that the killing of any living being is unethical, while others argue that killing animals is necessary for nourishment. Everyone thinks that their viewpoint is more realistic or more intelligent than others, and we get nowhere. All that news stations cover is the damn arguments between different political parties or regions of the nation. If we spent less time arguing about all different reasons about why something is unethical or is ethical, and focused on how to make hunters and factory farms operate more safely and within the confines of the law.
Eric Schlosser is an American author who wrote the novel Fast Food Nation, a book that gives insight into the dark and controversial industry that is factory farming. The book is split up into sections, which pertain to particular topics such as agriculture, feed, the meat, the farmers, and the kill floor. In the kill floor section, the reader is provided with a brutally honest depiction of the situation. Schlosser gathers the accounts of many different kill floor workers and compiles them into one graphic and gut-wrenching section of his novel. By the end of a long day of slaughtering, the kill floor is in dire need of cleaning. Conveyer belts are coated with intestines; and the now redish-gray cement floor is hidden under a puddle of blood. Workers arrive at the slaughterhouse when the day is over, and clean the slaughterhouse with chemicals all night, to prepare the kill floor for the next day full of slaughter. Their principle cleaning tool is a high pressure hose that shoots a mixture of water and chlorine heated to about 180 degrees (Schlosser 177). Schlosser’s point is that the lives of the workers are put at risk day in and day out and that is a key source of support for the argument that factory farms are unethical. High injury rates are prevalent in the industry, but the number of injury reports is inconsistent with the rate of injury. The annual bonuses of plant foremen and supervisors are often based in part on the injury rate of their workers (Schlosser 175).
Hunter. Angler. Gardener. Cook. is a blog run by Hank Shaw, a modern day hunter gatherer. His blogs consist of his stories of hunting, gathering, fishing, and other ways he provides for himself. Shaw is an example of a supporter of hunting, and justifies his support with the fact that he hunts in order to eat. He hunts for a lot of reasons, but for Shaw the endgame is always the table (Shaw). There are people who become so overwhelmed by the antlers and horns of animals, that they begin to kill just for that. These people kill the animal, cut off its antlers, and walk away. Wasting meat is a sin Shaw cannot forgive. When he kills an animal it is his responsibility to ensure that animal did not die for nothing (Shaw). Shaw’s blog is remarkable. He does an excellent job of providing his ethical code when it comes to hunting, and why his code is the way it is. And at the same time, it is the perfect example of how ethical controversies are preventing us from making any actual change through the comments left by readers. Some people who weighed in through comments on Shaw’s blog, like Ingrid, believe that we can avoid causing death and pain when we nourish ourselves, while others, such as Joshua, disagree and feel that death is inevitable when nourishing ourselves (Shaw). The conversation is all over the map, and we get far too caught up in it. Proving or disproving, when we could be spending that time fixing the problems, consumes all our time.
Finding sources on the ethics of hunting and factory farming can be easy, but also very difficult. The Internet is the hotspot for arguments and bickering, but it is extremely difficult to find a reliable web source. While on the other hand, finding a reliable source of a book is not that difficult, because many authors have been writing about these controversies for years. However, finding an unbiased book is almost harder than finding an unbiased article, because there a less books than articles.
Yes, there are unethical practices used and unethical decisions made in the factory farming industry, and there are many counter arguments that these factory farms can use in their defense. But, to be honest, I really do not care. Neither the company nor Schlosser are right or wrong. I do not care if someone thinks factory farms are unethical because workers are treated poorly or if someone agrees with factory farms because they are efficient. What I care about is these two sides of the argument coming together and addressing the blatant issues present in the factory farming industry. I do not care whether one thinks hunting is unethical because it is wrong to kill an animal or it is ethical because it provides food for people. What I care about is following the law. I care about the preservation of animals that are protected by law, because clearly the government that implemented the law saw a need, whatever it may be, to protect that species. I do not care whether someone thinks the other person is right or wrong, I want that person to express his or her concerns and present a way to fix the problem.
Bickering cannot happen for the rest of our lives, I want there to be a change. Change in concern for human life; change in respect for the law; change in mentality that profit is more important than life; change in illegal and dangerous practice. This is what I want, and it really is quite simple. Instead of authors writing about how they are right and others are wrong, and spending 300+ pages arguing why, they should be writing about the laws being broken and how the two groups can work together to better the nation.