Save the Cow, Broil the Intern?

As a shameless carnivore, I’m not a likely PETA supporter. The campaigns are needlessly provocative, silly, and substance-free. This is of course, my opinion only, and a lackluster one at that. Let those kooky morally righteous beautiful people have their fun, cavorting naked in advertisements. My shoulders barely cared enough to shrug.

But this incident is really so vile, I’m speechless:

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Ashley Byrne, a Washington, D.C.-based campaign coordinator with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), talks with Memphis police officers during a recent demonstration outside City Hall that coincided with World Vegetarian Week. When officers inquired about the well-being of intern Shawn Herbold (bottom) and volunteer Thomas Olsen, a sweat-soaked Herbold replied that she was in pain and feeling nauseated from the heat after being wrapped in cellophane for 30 minutes, and also asked how much longer she needed to stay there. Byrne let her know it wouldn’t be much longer and left her under the hot afternoon sun for 30 minutes more while debating with the officers. link

Yeah, this holier-than-thou hag wrapped two kids in plastic and left then in the blazing sun for over an hour. To demonstrate (against? for? can you tell?) World Vegetarian Week. And by the way? The East Coast is experiencing a heat wave of unbearable magnitude right now. I can only image what PETA would say if someone wrapped cute kittens and puppies in plastic and let ‘em bake in 100 degree heat. Hypocrite, much?

Larger version of this image (warning: close up is disturbing) and more on PETA’s activities in India, after the jump.

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Respect for animals is an intrinsic part of most South Asian cultures, whether veg/non-veg or mono/polytheistic. We’ve talked about vegetarianism and the appropriation of Hindu iconography in previous posts, but what are we to make of PETA’s growing influence in India? While South Asian food and a pantheon of deities have been imported to the West (vegans and vegetarians flock to Indian restaurants, images of Ganesh appear on flip-flops and sofa cushions, etc.) do we really need Western PETA-style philosophies exported back East?

PETA has blog on the activities of its Indian affiliates, The PETA Files. Below, scenes from an anti-leather demonstration in Bangalore. Frankly, I’m about as confused as the cops.

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Photo of Interns by Mike Brown / The Commercial Appeal

113 thoughts on “Save the Cow, Broil the Intern?

  1. Malathi – I am not hurt. But I am frustrated that even after making a clarification, people seem to be attributing to me opinions that I never stated. This is not an issue of me being unaware of the issues at hand – it’s just a matter of me not seeing the same things in a similar light as other people on this thread. Nor did I deny any of those arguments as many, including yourself, hint at – I am just saying that there is one aspect of this issue that speaks to me deeply, and that nobody else brought up on the thread. But it doesn’t mean that I have ignored other elements of the matter. I am not looking to get all the answers – and I know enough about these issues to be constantly thinking about all the aspects that come along with it. It’s just annoying to have people respond to my comments in this way, without clearly reading what I said, and worse, attributing to me statements that clearly I did not make.

  2. Well, think about it: if it weren’t for your need and ability to pay for it, that particular chicken would not even have had its brief, insignificant existence on this planet.

    i have heard this argument before, and it definitely is one of the poorest reasons for meat eating around. this line of argument condones keeping death row prisoners alive to do experiments on them, or that women should not have the right to abort even in the case of rape.

  3. Portmanteau, I’m sorry I don’t understand the point of your links.

    My consciousness as a human being is complicated enough. I do not use human rights arguements to understand animal welfare issues. I subscribe to the idea of individual human rights but not individual animal rights (and I am well within my profession’s ethics which includes the idea of promotion of public health).

    VM: please come up with right analogies and coherent arguements if you want to engage me in a discussion with you.

  4. 95 · Nayagan said

    I see no connection between feminine hygiene products and arguments concerning animal welfare

    ironically, peter singer has an excellent description of the cosmetics and associated industries, and the impact of their testing on animals, in “animal liberation”.

    VM: please come up with right analogies and coherent arguements if you want to engage me in a discussion with you.

    maybe you don’t believe in a moral framework based on sentience, but that doesn’t make arguments founded on that principle wrong or incoherent. my understanding of the energy and resource efficiency of carnivores makes it seem like even a pure human welfare argument on the grounds of feeding the most people sustainably favors vegetarianism.

    also, what is a philosophical foundation for animal welfare that is not based on sentience? the only other one that i can see is that treating animals poorly is detrimental to human character. the latter does allow for socially accepted forms of animal abuse to be deemed not detrimental to our humanity – which is why horse racing is on the front page of the ny times, which vick serves 2 years in jail for dogfighting.

  5. 87 · cocktail_stirrer said

    14 · DesiInNJ said
    12 · tevadi said
    So my one line pitch is ‘animals have five senses just like us, the only difference between us and them is intelligence, they feel pain and suffering like us, so if you like to learn then you should read up on vegetarianism.
    Plants are living organisms too. Talk to a passionate botanist.

    As Veggie Might said, Plants do not feel pain, they do not have nervous system or brain to register anything. DNA wise, Humans are not too far removed from animals, but significantly different than plants. Anyway arguments about everything discussed here has been fully discussed at various internet forums. Thus I said, if you are interested then read up, if you don’t care, you don’t care, nothing I can do about it.

  6. ak, I apologize if I mis-attributed your argument. I did read your clarifications, but was skimming and was VERY hasty in responding (and probably overly terse/simplistic). While I’m amazed by the scenarios and arguments you offered, I, nonetheless, find your reasoning interesting and challenging, and I appreciate all your contributions to the discussion. Please don’t hesitate to post — I always enjoy reading your POV, including when it differs substantially from my own. From a purely selfish perspective, I like that your comments make me think/reflect more about my worldview, reasoning, etc.

    Nayagan, from my perspective your comment is totally on point. I do think there is a unique horror, however, to American-style factory farming. I’m sure my rationale is not logical, ethical, or well-reasoned, but as an omnivore I am especially perturbed by how my meat is raised/killed, and the subsequent effects. It is brutal to murder other animals, period. However, the added torture that is life as a farm animal in the U.S. seems especially disgusting to me.

  7. VM, I was supposed to figure out you were hinting at sentience with your choice of examples?

    Ok, consider this:

    Historically, humans could not afford to raise cattle or chicken just to eat them; they milked them or tricked them into laying eggs. Then when the animals got too old to produce efficiently and it was not economically viable to feed and care for them, they were entered into the food chain. (Goats and pigs were another issue because they converted poor vegetation and organic waste into protein, respectively). Contrary to popular myth, most beef and chicken eaten in the world today are retired dairy cows and layers, respectively.

    In India, retired cattle are turned loose by an already impoverished farmer (losing a chance to earn a few buck from the knacker). In rural India, cattle compete with wild herbivores for meagre resources. (With the rise of mega-dairies, things will have to change in India). So is it less cruel to abandon farm animals and more cruel to eat them? Is it more acceptable to just incinerate retired production animals and not use their flesh for protein? The answers lie mainly in each individual human’s philosophical and/or religious worldview. I am reminding you to include economics and ecology while considering the issue. You are focused on the animal as the individual unit. I am stepping back and looking at a bigger picture.

    Sustainability should ideally include the concept of not descending on Andes-grown quinoa like horses on wild oats. Where I live, one can try to be a vegetarian or follow the 100-mile radius diet but not both simultaneously.

    Sentience-based approach, although noble and guilt-inducing, neglects those species, breeds that we don’t directly cause pain but nevertheless extinguish by logging or building dams or building parking lots (again, complex issues). It also excludes the non-charismatic, lower order animals from receiving any necessary attention.

    To me, it all comes down to whether we as a species truly consider members of another species to be our equal in every sense of the word. I have come to the conclusion that we do not. If you are honest, you will agree with me. Two words: euthanasia and guinea-pigs. You can euthanize your dog (ironically, on the basis of sentience) but not your great-grandmother. Even meat-eaters will be up in arms if you express the latter wish. Vegetarians and animal rights advocates, despite the bad economy and high unemployment rate, are hardly lining up to usurp the guinea pigs’ day jobs. Our soapboxes should not be so high that the speaker’s head is amidst the rings of Saturn. After all, his/her feet are firmly planted on this earth.

  8. Halal and kosher methods may be more than mere rituals. A German study apparently showed that draining the blood induced a state similar to “going to sleep”; this may be the reason why I concluded the animal suffered less (please see previous comments). But my knowledge on pain physiology is really rusty so I am not confident making a statement one way or the other. (Ironic, considering this study)

  9. in my opinion yall need to just stop! I AGREE with this ad 100% but yew see this is something really serious that yall meat eaters just dont understand yew dont find it one bit wrong to kill an animal for your selfish taste satisfaction? i mean yew can eat peatnut butter, Milk, cheese and eggs and soy beans ect… for your protein as for iron yew can eat friuts and vegis! so why kill animals. and as for clothing this is the thing i hate even more WHY????? would yew kill a poor innocent animal for your “looks” i mean really?!?!?! i find that beyond selfish! i mean come on think about it!