August 29, 2011 21 Comments
There’s a growing movement afoot right now, most of it concentrated in the Bay Area, to legalize the backyard slaughter of farm animals. The quest to kill locally is part and parcel with the overwhelmingly irrational appeal of the eat local movement. Of the many flimsy justifications buttressing the argument that urban homesteads have the right to become backyard slaughterhouses, one strikes me as particularly disingenuous: it will inspire more humane treatment of farm animals.
The logic behind this claim seems to hinge on the morally amorphous notion that if we deregulate the process of slaughtering animals, the slaughter will become more humane. The idea here is that if we love the animal we kill, then the animal will be happier about being killed. In fact, I think this way of thinking is perverse, and the underlying rhetoric plain insidious.
What actually happens when amateurs slaughter animals that they’ve lived with and (presumably) nurtured is as unintended as it is disturbing: a) we become callous to the ethics of slaughtering an animal, and thus become more and more like factory farmers; and b) the animal suffers more than it would had it been killed in a large-scale slaughterhouse, which–weird as it sounds–has become more “humane” as a result of the work of people such as Temple Grandin. [Please note: this comment is no way an endorsement of slaughterhouses; it’s just a statement of relative fact.]
I make these claims after reading blogs kept by the slaughtering homesteaders themselves. Check them out (and be warned–they made me sick):