“Better than Skydiving”: The Backyard Slaughter IV

As I continue my crusade to make sense of the desire to personally kill the meat one eats, I’m starting to notice patterns, habits, tics, and all manner of rhetorical dodges. Undoubtedly, the most common response to the brutality of hacking dinner to death out back is that “I am getting to know where my food comes from.” Sure. But I don’t buy it. I don’t buy that this desire to know where meat comes from (is it that mysterious?) is as deeply prevalent, or convincing, as the commonality of this rationalization would suggest. We don’t feel the same way–or at least act like we do– about the lotions we apply to our bodies, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, or the pharmaceuticals we take.

But there it is, over and over again, with every blood stained account being capped with a congratulatory “I now know where meat come from” response. It was thus with some excitement–well, as excited as one can get reading blogs by people who kill their own animals–that I came across what I have always thought is a deeper reason for this trend toward urban and suburban homesteading. Here we go, with an account by our blogger about witnessing a turkey slaughter at a French farmhouse:

I followed his quick gait to another barn where he had about 30 beautifully large turkey’s milling about. He grabs one by the neck, bounds his feet, and hangs him upside down in a matter of seconds and then grins at me. The kill gives him that same cave-man sort of excitement that I get. For those who aren’t squeamish, the thrill of killing your own food is an exhilaration better than skydiving. There is something so pure and animalistic about it—you embrace the energy of survival and need, the way it once was when the capture of an animal meant enough calories to survive another day and to feed and nourish your family.

http://theroadislife.blogspot.com/2007_12_01_a rchive.html

Aha! The prehistoric appeal, the lure of the primitive, the desire to reconnect not with our food supply, but, alas, our inner caveman. It all Robert Bly and Joseph Campbell and the glorification of a day and age and way of life that was marked by utter despair and cruelty and abuse. Thank goodness we have evolved. Well, at least some of us have.



About James McWilliams
I'm a historian and writer based in Austin, Texas. This blog is dedicated to exploring the ethics of eating animals and animal-based products.

9 Responses to “Better than Skydiving”: The Backyard Slaughter IV

  1. Debra says:

    I want to applaud this. Instead, I’ll share it on MY blog!

  2. Pingback: Re-post: Better Than Skydiving « These Glass Walls

  3. emily says:

    It’s so difficult for me to wrap my head around why the slaughter hobbyists are doing what they’re doing. I’ll follow a course in my head — maybe they starting growing tomatoes, saw that was gratifying, bought a chicken, and things spiralled out of control. Or maybe they always wanted a pet duck, but people think pet ducks are weird, so they justified getting that duck by saying “one day I’ll eat him” and then one day felt they had to follow through. That’s when i’m feeling charitable. When one of them throws a rock through my window or yells at me and intimidates me in a public forum — both of which have happenned here in Oakland, leading me to give more and more credence to the tie between violence and slaughter — i tend to think that this skydiving-like thrill is the more powerful motivator. Either it’s post-facto over justification: “I kill things, so I better have a good (aggressive) reason.” Or they are people motivated by the thrill of doing something unnecessary and dangerous. It’s probably much better than skydiving, since most of the danger isn’t theirs — it’s most dangerous for the animals.

  4. Pingback: News for October 7, 2011 : From A to Vegan

  5. Ian says:

    Indeed, a cursory scan through the literary archetype of these blogs, Farm City, shows that there is indeed a type of gratification involved in killing the animal.

    But I think people work their way up to it. First they are squeamish, maybe even really feel bad for the animal. Then they learn not to give the NEXT animal a name, because that causes them to get attached. As soon as they just see “chicken” and stop seeing “my chicken, hennypenny,” and assuming they have killed a few before, that is when the perverse excitement seems to start.

    Not for everyone, but for some. Very similar to war. There is always the crazy guy in the platoon who ends up going on a killing spree and wearing a necklace made of human ears.

  6. For every quote you perversely dig up, we could find a quote indicating the exact opposite. Anecdotes do not an argument make.

    Your entire “discourse” on the matter hinges on the supposition that killing animals for food (and specific ones at that – I would love to hear your thoughts on the killing of animals not typically killed for food, but killed nonetheless in all sorts of unsavory ways, like mice and rats) is barbaric and wrong. Not everyone will agree with you, no matter how many stories you parade around to the contrary.

  7. Rachel B. says:

    So because one person wrote about enjoying the killing of an animal, we all must enjoy it? Am I getting that right?

    I can tell you there’s really nothing enjoyable about slaughtering animals, but I am not willing to give up meat, dairy or eggs. I’m also not willing to hire someone else to do the deed for me because that would make me a hypocrite. I instead choose to be a part of my animal’s life and treat them dignity and respect instead of paying someone else to abuse them in a CAFO.

    I also don’t view death as some intrinsically evil event. Life would not exist without it.

    • BlessUsAll says:

      You are not willing to “give up” meat (that would be the carcass of another sentient being) or dairy (that would be the milk that Mother Nature intended to be drunk by the baby of the cow) or eggs (that would be taking what belongs to another without asking, a.k.a. stealing). And yet you expect the animals to “give up” their precious lives for your precious taste buds.

      You may think you are dodging the hypocrite label, but you sure aren’t escaping the traitor to friends (whom you treat with “dignity” and “respect” by cutting short their little lives) label.

      Why oh why does defensiveness make the guilty so BLIND and SELFISH and ILLOGICAL?

      Note: natural death is one thing; killing of the powerless by the powerful for profit and/or pleasure is quite another.

  8. Rachel B. says:

    And for the record I do care what I put in and on my body. I make all of my personal body care products, I don’t take drugs unless I absolutely have to, etc.

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