The in-class film “Earthlings: Make the Connection” is a gory depiction of the truth behind many of the practices of animal cruelty that humans are either ignorant about or are afraid to face. Animals are used and abused in every aspect; simply from domestication and abandonment to factory farming and circuses. Animals are treated as slaves; unequal to humans and only here to serve us and only when it is convenient for us. One does not even have to get in to the gore of the movie before we see cruelty. At the end of every episode of “The Price is Right” Drew Carey reminds the audience to get their pets spayed and neutered. I never understood why he said that; I just figured it was his own weird catch phrase. However, this movie demonstrates that one of the biggest issues facing domesticated animals, namely dogs and cats, is the owner reluctance to get their pets spayed and neutered, which leads to the high number of animals that are abandoned and left on the streets to die or are sent to overcrowded shelters where their fate will still probably be death. Furthermore, the cost for the euthanizing drug and the demand for it are so high, the animals will most likely die in an inhumane, painful and drawn out manner. The film also addresses the issue of factory farming. Marketing phrases such as “free range” and “grass fed” are certainly disproved or at the very least tainted in this section of the film. The scene of a factory farm is similar to that of concentration camps during the holocaust, only replacing humans with animals. The biggest way to reduce animal suffering that has been proposed is to reduce our consumption of animal products. This includes both food and the material products made from other parts of the animals.
It’s difficult to face the facts about how we treat animals. I had to keep my head down for the majority of the movie because it was just too painful to watch. In fact, some of my classmates thought that I was sleeping but what I was really doing was listening. Unfortunately, listening wasn’t much better, which too me coincides with Peter Singer’s argument that language is not a necessary requirement for feeling or sensing pain. The “scream” of the cow waiting to be hung and bled out in the factory and the shriek of pigs that were being teased and shot at inside their tiny pen haunt me. The narrator of the film says that if humans were all to look at what they’re doing to these animals that we would realize the error of our ways and we’d probably become vegetarians. I argue that you don’t even have to watch the bloodbath, just listen to it and it’ll have the same effect. I already eat a very small amount of meat, but that doesn’t ease my concerns of where that meat came from and how it was treated. Like I said before, companies and their marketers prey on the idea that Americans (or just humans in general) have of free open range farms where animals graze and roam until the day that they’re needed. After watching this film I have a very hard time trusting those labels or even understanding how they could be true. But another question also comes to mind: does it matter? Does it matter if a cow is allowed to roam in an open field farm and id fed properly before we kill it for our own use? This question hasn’t really been answered for me yet, either in the film or in this course in general. Does the method matter if we are still treating the animal as a means to an end? I myself am not really sure. Singer seams to advocate for a world filled with vegetarians but I find this hard to imagine. As the biocentrist argument says, humans are hunters and gatherers at heart. Therefore, I don’t see a large shift to vegetarianism any time soon. The Humane Society put out their “Reduce, refine and replace” program, which I think could lend a hand in sending a strong message to producers that consumers do care about where their products are coming from and how they were treated. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m not much of a meat eater myself, but I think I could stand to pay a little more attention to the labels on the packages of animal products that I’m purchasing and while I don’t see myself or a large majority of the population shifting to vegetarianism any time in the near future I do think that the reduce and refine elements of the program are realistic, effective and easy to implement.
Question: Can we have a morally acceptable version of large-scale farming that would sustain the need of humans?