Tagged: Animal Cruelty

Crabby Crabs

Very hard to be inside today. The weather is gorgeous and I really want to be done working. Unfortunately this is not going to happen for a bit so I thought I’d write a quick post before diving back into what I have to finish this afternoon. While perusing the “Internets” a while ago I ran across an article discussing a surprising find – crabs feel pain. The piece begins:

A favored method of preparing fresh crabs is to simply boil them alive. A longstanding related question: Do they feel pain?

Yes, researchers now say. Not only do crabs suffer pain, a new study found, but they retain a memory of it (assuming they aren’t already dead on your dinner plate). The scientists say its time for new laws to consider the suffering of all crustaceans.

Duh. What I fail to comprehend is the lack of compassion in people. If you think animals are part of the food chain, fine, we will just have to agree to disagree. But, if you think animals should turn into meals in the most efficient way possible, regardless of the suffering they experience, we will just have to agree that I can punch you in the throat. Why civil societies don’t do more to humanely murder animals for food completely befuddles me. There’s

Bob Elwood of Queen’s University Belfast in the UK says in the article:

“Millions of crustacean are caught or reared in aquaculture for the food industry,” he said. “There is no protection for these animals (with the possible exception of certain states in Australia) as the presumption is that they cannot experience pain. With vertebrates we are asked to err on the side of caution and I believe this is the approach to take with these crustaceans.”

All kinds of animals experience pain. It was clear before and its more clear with the publication of this study. Please think about this the next time you sit down to eat. Even if you’re a carnivore, supporting the efforts of organizations like PETA can help make humans more responsible carnivores, whether it be in light of the environment or in light of suffering. If a couple people are converted to vegetarianism, all the better for you and the earth.

Tailor Your Wardrobe

My tailor and I have philosophical differences about two-way zippers. I don’t even know if that’s their technical name but you know what I’m talking about, right? Zippers with two thing-a-ma-bobbies on ‘em so you can zip the coat closed with the top ‘ma-bobbie and then open it from the bottom with the bottom ‘ma-bobbie. Great for sitting.

Why would a tailor, a veritable master of the use of fabrics, not like two-way zippers? Perhaps he’s a purist, or even a Luddite, and thinks even a single zipper is an abomination. The zipper led to the gear and the gear led to the automobile! Clothes should be tied on god damn it!

For the record, my tailor is a soft-spoken gentlemen who owns a shop in the Benton Park West neighborhood of St. Louis. I’ve only used him twice, so please don’t think he stitches custom-made clothing for me. I had the aforementioned two-way zipper put onto a fleece whose original zipper had bit it and had a pair of way-too-long jeans hemmed that I got for five freakin’ dollars from Old Navy. He did a great job on both.

I own too many clothes and tend to replace things more frequently than I should. I’m also fairly certain these clothes reproduce on their own but no one will buy that theory. I wonder if I covered each item in a dry cleaner style plastic wrap these would act as clothing condoms. So . . . when I decided to repair my fleece instead of just buying a new one, I felt a small bit of pride. The tailor charged almost what a new fleece would have cost – this one was of the Target variety – but there was nothing wrong with it besides the zipper issue.

What’s the point of this rambling? As I’ve mentioned before, I receive The Green Life newsletter from Sierra Club. In a recent series of posts the newsletter has focused on greening one’s wardrobe. The manufacture and distribution of clothing not a very green process. First of all, most of it is made overseas and needs to be shipped to the U.S. Second, the materials used are generally not very sustainable. The implications of putting people in developing nations out of work is a topic for another post. Admittedly, in the most simplistic way, I’m prioritizing environmental sustainability over social sustainability.

So, what should you do to green your wardrobe? Two things: buy vintage and take note of materials. The first idea is not a new one. Resale shops are becoming more common every day and they offer all styles and qualities of clothing. Frequent them and you’ll be surprised. I’m going to make a more concerted effort to preserve the clothing I have and buy “new” clothing in a more sustainable way. The second idea requires a little education, the bulk of which I’ll leave to the Sierra Club:

Buying used is greener, but if you do buy new clothes, at least make sure they’re made of sustainable material. Bamboo and hemp (much more comfy than they sound) are planet-friendly because both plants quickly regenerate and are easily grown without pesticides (hemp’s downside is that it must be imported since it’s illegal to grow in the U.S.). Organic cotton is another decent option; though cotton is a water-intensive crop, the organic variety at least forgoes the polluting chemicals. There have been developments in fabrics made of recycled stuff, including plastic bottles (Revenge Is is super soft) and other fibers (try Gramicci). Buying clothes from companies that donate to environmental charities and manufacturers that offset are other ways to vote green with your wallet. What to avoid? Synthetic fibers (polyester, vinyl, nylon), animal products (leather, suede), and cellulose materials (rayon). For more, check out Lucky‘s April issue.

Make note of the what to avoid list. Each material on this list is terrible in a different way; some require oil and some are produced through very violent and terribly resource-heavy processes. I would add wool to this list as well. Most of it is sourced in a way that’s worse than leather and suede, as sheep are filled with drugs to over produce wool and are repeatedly subject to misery and torture as opposed to just dying once for the sake of a pair of shoes or a purse. I’m guilty of owning some of these synthetic fabrics but am doing my best to replace them – when necessary – with more sustainably made clothing. I hope you do the same.

Two Broken Ankles

AP: Eight Belles was trying to become just the fourth filly to win the Kentucky Derby.William C. Rhoden begins his piece in this Sunday’s The New York Times by asking, “Why do we keep giving thoroughbred horse racing a pass? Is it the tradition? The millions upon millions invested in the betting?” I’m going to go with the millions upon millions.

For those of you paying attention to the annual series of barbaric horse races, yesterday’s Kentucky Derby further highlighted the idiocy of the “sport”. The horse that finished second had to be euthanized immediately after the race because it broke both of its first legs trying to slow down. Supporters of the “sport” claim instances like this are rare. This claim is as true as is it ignorance.

In the upper eschalon of racing horses surely only a very horses are so tragically injured that they must be put to sleep, you know, instead of trying rehabilitate them as they’ve made people millions of dollars. The ignorance in the aformentioned claim arises from the fact that thousands upon thousands of horses you never see on televison on race day are abused on a daily basis.

Rhoden professes, “The sport is at least as inhumane as greyhound racing and only a couple of steps removed from animal fighting.” While horses aren’t trained to kill each other, that these animals are stressed beyond their natural limits to do things only man wants them to do makes this statement true. Anything for a dollar.

The more philosophical issue at hand here is that fact that we are selectively compassionate. People only object to something when it behooves them. People rationalize the extreme stupidity of group behavior because they could get paid at the end of the day.

A tragic ending to a horse race is only as rare as a hungry movie star. If we only examine the extremes of society, we will find it difficult to find relative atrocities. The truth, on the other hand, is that race horses aren’t the only horses that exist, and movie stars aren’t the only people that exist. Horses all over the world that never make the national broadcasts are abused and killed every day, and people who never make the national broadcasts die of hunger every day. 100 to 1 odds on the long shot makes these truths easy to ignore and keep us from evolving as a society.

Circusless Animals

The circus is coming to town! For most people this arouses either no emotion whatsoever or gets them excited about seeing lions jumping through hoops and elephants standing on big balls. Oh yeah, I think monkeys ride bicycles too. But, for the people who care about the animals’ well-being and take the time to examine what happens behind the scenes, circuses represent an out-dated system of animal abuse and submission for human entertainment. Hell, even some people who eat meat are outraged at what happens to animals in between their time on stage. This may be a little hypocritical since society is hell-bent on doing whatever it can to cause animals pain as long it doesn’t have to watch, but I still think it’s progress.

The scene locally is described in this article, and includes descriptions like:

A few hours before the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus opened a five-day run in St. Louis on Wednesday, a near-naked 18-year-old woman sat on a crowded downtown street corner, chains wrapped around her ankles, to protest what activists allege is the mistreatment of circus elephants. People stopped to stare and snap photos with cell phone cameras. It was 35 degrees in the sun, but a goose-bumped Amy Jannette said she’d sit there, “For as long as I can.”

Circus companies weren’t always receptive to protestors’ outcries:

Ringling Bros., which bills itself as “The Greatest Show on Earth,” was once dismissive of the street theater staged by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. But increasingly the 135-year-old circus is fighting back — part of a contentious battle both over the proper role of animals and for the high ground in public opinion. Ringling Bros. also has been troubled by recent moves in cities like Denver and Chicago to ban or limit its animal acts.

Legal battles in these cities, while not always successful, have done much to garner attention, unlike one Ringling Bros. executive claims:

But the circus faces more battles. Last summer, Ringling Bros. was forced to jump into a Denver ballot issue aimed at barring exotic-animal acts in the Mile High City. The measure failed by nearly 3-to-1.

Earlier this year, a Chicago alderman introduced a measure that would effectively ban elephants in the city. Ringling Bros. is cautiously watching the issue. The circus has a troupe in the city this week. Executives from Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, are poised to fly to Chicago from Washington, where the company is based.

Ringling Bros. contends that attendance has risen in recent years. “Animal activists have had zero impact on our business,” said Darin Johnson, Ringling Bros. national public relations director.

Unfortunately, the companies have fended off attacks from animals rights groups and even local governments. It’s a slow battle but things are changing, and for the better as this article describes:

Animal rights activists and shows like Cirque du Soleil could help push traditional tent circuses into the history books. Competition and the high cost of doing business have forced some locally based animal trainers to adapt and base their shows here permanently, reducing the need to take the show on the road.

Circus-animal handlers are governed by the USDA, which enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act. Lisa Wathne, captive-exotic-animals specialist with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, credits public awareness with a decline in circus attendance.

PETA encourages visitors to its Web site to support 26 animal-free circuses around the country and lists 32 circuses that it says failed to meet federal standards for the care of animals used in exhibition. The organization’s circus campaign is a multipronged effort that includes asking venues and sponsors not to host circus acts.

“Most if not all circuses that use animals have abysmal records with the USDA,” Wathne said. “Most don’t meet minimum standards. Even if they did, with all we know about wild animals, it’s blatantly apparent that life in the circus can be nothing but misery to them. They spend their lives in extreme confinement, are subject to gruelling travel schedules and are trained through fear and pain to perform tricks they never would in the wild.”

Much more information on circuses and their mistreatment of animals is available at PETA’s Media Center.

Here’s to circuses without animals.