The Hypocrisy of Animal Rights

[in translation via ESWN]

Chickens were turned into meatballs for hotpot meals and the slaughter of the chickens took place right on the street not far away from the diners. This scene occurred at a newly opened restaurant “Fangji Chicken Meatball Restaurant” in Shenzhen. Yesterday afternoon, almost one hundred animal rights defenders gathered in front of the restaurant to protest. At one point, the angry chicken lovers entered the chicken meatball restaurant to demand the shop owner to free the chickens.

On June 15, this reporter went to the Fangji Chicken Meatball Restaurant on Lianhua Road in Buji district of Shenzhen. The shop is about 10 or so square meters in area. There were seven cages containing chickens of various colors on the sidewalk in front. The slaughter area was just one or two meters away from the cages. Two shop employees took a brown chicken, slit its throat and drained its blood. Then they picked up the dead chicken with a thong and threw it into a large iron pot of boiling water. Afterwards, they picked the chicken up and then the two shop employees used a sharp knife to skin the chicken. After washing the chicken, they cut off the head and tossed it into a garbage bag on the side. According to the shop owner, they are from the Jiaozhou-Shantou area where chicken meat is popular. The chicken soup for the hotpot costs 25 yuan while the chicken meatballs cost 60 yuan per kilogram. Each chicken will yield at most one kilogram, and therefore this is expensive stuff.

Yesterday afternoon at 4pm, the founder of the Shenzhen Chicken Net Isobel went with more than 10 chicken lovers in front of the shop. They held publicity placards and leaflets and they were waiting to meet other chicken lovers. Isobel explained the Chicken Net is an organization that is concerned about stray chickens. After this newspaper reported on the problem of chicken slaughtering and consumption in the street, the Chicken Net netizens were heartbroken and therefore decided to hold an action to protest the act of slaughtering chickens in the street.

At 430pm, the protestors unfolded a banner and raised their placards on which were written slogans such as “Love little animals, respect life.” They distributed the leaflet for “A Letter to Shenzhen Citizens” which said that “chickens and pigs are friends of human beings and refusing to eat chicken and pig meat is to respect life.” The action received the attention of many pedestrians and residents.

Before the action, the organizer Isobel told the reporter that they wanted to adopt a rational approach. But during the protest, some angry protestors went into the chicken meatball restaurant and demanded the shop owner to free the chickens. The shop owner said that there were no more chickens in the restaurant. The reporter observed that there was only one goose and several cats. The protestors found a skinned chicken and two bags of chicken meatballs in the refrigerator. At the sight, several female chicken lovers hugged each other and cried. When the protestors could not find any chickens in the restaurant, they attempted to go upstairs to look but found nothing.

Even though the chicken rescue mission failed, the protestors made speeches in front of the restaurant with a loudspeaker. Many elementary school children and their parents were attracted to the scene, and some students also protested against the slaughter of chickens.

Against the condemnations from the numerous chicken lovers, the chicken meatball restaurant owner took down the plastic “Fang Company Chicken Meatball” sign, locked up the shop and left.

At 6pm, after the chicken meatball restaurant owner has left, the protestors prepared to proceed to another restaurant in Shawan. Supposedly that restaurant advertises with a sign that says “Chicken Meat 120.” Isobel said that there are no animal protection laws and so their actions are awkward. They want to gain government attention to come up with legislation to prevent cruelty against animals.

Ms Shenzhen 2005 Gao Haiyun is the spokesperson for Chicken Net. Today, she brought along a banner that said: “Boycott harmful eating habits; refuse to eat chickens and pigs; be a civilized person.” According to information, this incident gained a lot of attention at the Guangdong One Net, so that many of their netizens came to join the Chicken Net chicken lovers to protest yesterday. Almost one hundred people were at the protest today.

In memory of all the slaughtered chickens, each protestor wore a white rose on the lapel.

This is a Southern Metropolis Daily article. Well, it’s a slightly modified Southern Metropolis Daliy article, as I’ve changed all references of ‘cat’ to our slightly more killable fine feathered friends. (oh yeah, and ‘dog’ was changed to ‘pig’ in that one spot… and chicken to cat… I love find/replace functions)

China gets a lot of flack for what the people are ok with eating. Equal parts tradition and extreme poverty have caused the residents of this lovely nation to develop eating habits that simply gross most us Westerners out. Intestines (and not just wrapping your favourite sausage); heart, liver, gizzard, stomach, kidneys (and not just in your favourite sausage); heads, feet, joints, and pretty much every other bit’o’beast is commonly consumed.

It’s no surprise that these habits would expand to include two animals that A) never saw it coming – with what seemed like a rock solid peace treaty, and B) involve no hunting – as a simple pat of the lap or whistle is the only tool you’ll need to capture them.

Now the argument as I understand it, is that these animals are ‘pets’ and therefore deserve some sort of ethical considerations that those we’ve decided aren’t quite so litterbox trained don’t. Personally, I don’t care much for what the reasons are… it’s bunk.

catslaughter.jpg chicken2.jpg
Sorry, what’s the difference?

Don’t get me wrong. I did the vegetarian thing; eight years peppered with religious veganism. I also did the animal rights thing with a couple years of co-running an environmental/AR group in school. There are principles here I agree with. Unfortunately the larger concepts of these lifestyles are generally quite lost to their mass of practitioners. Eating meat of certain animals and not eating meat of others because it’s not “civilized” is just as retarded as a Chinese typewriter I’m afraid.

A friend, upon my arriving in China, explained that I might want to prepare myself as there’s a lot of animal cruelty here, and what would I expect of a country that doesn’t have much in the way of hvman rights [sic] never mind animal rights. From zoos to restaurants, our earthly comrades are generally not living the plush standard of life that we would expect for them back in the West.

The argument is vacuous though. If an animal is slaughtered “humanely” do you think that it’s sitting there with the bolt gun against its head thinking “well, thank god it’s not a knife to the throat … that makes people feel icky.” No. One because it’s an animal that never had the resources (or opposable thumbs) to evolve passed its current station in life and very likely has no real concept of what’s happening other than the smell of death and fear in the air. And two because it’s just a stupid statement, and if it’s one thing humans have proven… (opposable thumbs or not) we can be a whole lot less intelligent than the creatures we share this planet with.

Can you imagine if a wolf, in a coy move to maneuver up the “civility” chain, decided that bunnies were too cute to eat, so it was only going to eat things like frogs, fish and the occassional badger.

So I think the retort here is thus: “we aren’t animals, we’re humans.” And if this is what was about to come from your lips… take a step back from your monitor, pick up your PC speaker and beat yourself with it. Humans are animals. We need to move past this. All the philosophy and religion in the world cannot change this fact. And just like every other animal, we have always and likely will always kill to live.

Now, I understand if you have a pet cat or a pet dog you might feel queasy about eating your best friend’s brethern. I personally have a hard time eating dog meat for this reason coupled with the fact that I was raised in a different culture that never desensitized me to such things. I also agree with the argument that dog meat, got in traditional fashion, shows a side of humanity that is sadistic and I don’t dig it. But slaughtering and eating one species in the same fashion as another but damning it as “uncivil” because of the type of animal… c’mon. There’s a reason that these ’causes’ get so many high profile supermodels to support these causes – intelligence is not required to protest.

Lets be clear. My argument here is not against those that don’t like to look at animals being slaughtered. It’s fine if you would like to remain ignorant and not know what goes into getting that pork chop to your table. I’m also not attacking you veggies that obstain from the flesh for what you feel are negative environmental impacts. Save the world. I’ll love ya for it. My problem is simply with the hypocrites that closed down this guy’s restaurant in Shenzhen because they didn’t agree with the type of meat he was selling.

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