You remember Bill and Lou? (see, “Oxen: It’s what for dinner,” Oct. 22, 2012).
They were a pair of aging cattle that worked an on-campus farm at Vermont’s Green Mountain College, an institution that prides itself as being environmentally sustainable, to the extent the college requires all students to complete a 37-credit Environmental Education program. Given that positioning, the school intended to slaughter, process and serve beef from the oxen in the interests of actually being eco-responsible.
But I said Bill and Lou “were” a pair, because the college decided earlier this week to euthanize Lou, citing an injury to his rear leg, which required medication college officials said rendered the meat unfit to eat.
“The arrival of cold temperatures and icy conditions are certain to increase [Lou’s] suffering, and we have concurred with our veterinarians’ judgment that it was not humane for him to suffer further,” college officials said in a statement released Sunday.
The decision came amid an outcry ginned up by animal activists, who demanded that the animals be sent to a sanctuary, rather than to the dining hall. But activists didn’t just petition the college. Oh, no—that’s not how they roll.
Instead, according to a story in The New York Times, they bombarded a local packing plant with protests and threats, forcing the school to re-consider its plans.
“The slaughterhouse was barraged by threats from animal rights activists and refused the animals, so we were unable to carry through with our plan,” William Throop, the college provost, who also specializes in environmental ethics, told The Times.
Which is exactly the kind of hollow victory in which the animal rights movement specializes.
Examining the real issues
Let’s be clear about three things here:
- Activists always focus on slaughter as some kind of outrage. When herding animals in the wild are torn apart by a pack of wolves to die a slow, gruesome death, why, that’s perfectly acceptable. But a painless death in a modern packing plant? Unthinkable!
- Second, activists always raise the sanctuary issue, as if a handful of non-productive “farms” could somehow provide refuge for millions of horses, cows, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys—not to mention companion animals—if we all were suddenly to become vegans.
- Finally, activists of all stripes always spotlight individuals, because our human reaction to a crisis is understandably amplified when we focus on a single person or animal. Think about it: Every appeal that HSUS and kindred groups conduct features the face of a sad, lonely puppy, all the better to fleece their supporters out of some discretionary cash under the guise of rescuing said puppy.