Prepare to read Vincent Bevins’s The Jakarta Method in one sitting because it's impossible to put down. The book is a summation of the US government assisting the Indonesian military in killing approximately one million civilians from October 1965 through March 1966.
Sunday, June 13, 2021
Gunda: My Porcinus Teacher
Over the years as an animal activist I’ve shown many films of graphic animal cruelty, both in class rooms and in the streets. Except for the granddaddy of them all, 1981’s The Animals Film, there is very little art about them. Mostly, they’re just blood and guts.
And I’m a big believer in showing blood and guts because if they are left out completely -- as in The End of Meat (2017) or Eating Animals (2018) -- the films don’t engage the emotions and are forgotten about the next day. Without the suffering and killing there’s no sense of urgency and we are left wondering exactly what the stakes/steaks are. Absent this truth, these films feel hollow no matter how well-intentioned and researched.
Yahoomans in Paradise
Earthquakes, wildfires, mudslides, drought, the longest commutes and greatest traffic jams, unimaginable criminal wealth and sprawling tent cities, addiction normalized en masse, bubbles in land, art, butts and busts, botoxed sisters from another planet, ever-increasing outrageous rents and 800-square-foot fixer-uppers that cost a million bucks — why would anybody want to live in Los Angeles? Simple:
Not My Brother's Reefer
Sometimes when I’m kneeling on the outermost rocks in my favorite cove in Big Sur, the spray hitting me in the face and the endlessly popping champagne stallions rearing up on both sides of the cliffs, I feel one with this powerful dynamic being called Earth. I understand that, though I will disappear, it has been a great privilege to have been here. The Earth will go on, regenerate, prevail. If necessary, it will shake off the “disease” of humanity, as my favorite movie hero, Agent Smith of The Matrix, called us. I’m feeling one with the eternalness of the Earth and I’m positive that I know what’s goin’ on, what’s goin’ on — it’s washing over every cell in my body, it is my body. I’m in tune.
As Namaste As I Wanna Be
I moved to LA last year but I’m a little out of place here. I’m not used to being around so many peaceable people and they’re not used to fire and brimstone animal liberation. Animal activists in Ohio (where I’m from) have some things in common with our opponents: we often have farms, horses, pick up trucks and guns and we believe hunters, trappers, animal farmers and vivisectors can stop sinning or they can get the fuck off the planet. We don’t believe in giving them their “space” or any other thing they don’t deserve.
LA is a different matter. LA is a very Buddhist kind of city. Buddha was known for saying incredible things like: “May all that have life be delivered from suffering.” Or: “Now may everything, young or old, weak or strong, near or far, known or unknown, living or departed, or as yet unborn, may everything be full of bliss” — and then you have to keep in mind that he most likely died of eating tainted pork. He was probably the Obuddha of his day.
Matters of National Insecurity
(Autumn, 2023. Congressional hearings continue on the Trump family’s “collusion” with Russia.)
Sen. John McCain: The committee will now come to order. Yesterday we heard from Marla Maples. Today’s first witness is Barron Trump, son of President Trump. Thank you, Barron, for coming in today. You are free to speak your mind but I remind you that you are under oath. Because these hearings involve matters of national insecurity… if you perjure yourself, you’ll go to Jessup.
Barron Trump: You know, senator, whenever people talk about you, they always say the same thing: it’s a shame the Vietnamese pulled you out of that lake. And then you sang like a canary — weak!
Sen. Lindsey Graham: There is no reason to make this hostile! All of us in Washington have done our level best to make the Trump family welcome.
Barron Trump: And you, whenever you come on TV, dad just says, “Oh, there’s that faggot ferret from the land of cotton — who does he want to bomb today?”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Young man, we’re interested in how you came by that set of Russian nesting dolls that your parents bought back in 2005.
Barron Trump: First of all, I wasn’t born yet in 2005. My mom and dad didn’t know if they were having a boy or a girl so they bought me the nesting dolls and a lifetime platinum membership to Slutload. But because my parents are generous they let me keep the nesting dolls too.
Sen. John McCain: Former CIA director John Brennan says that all 17 US intelligence agencies believe that there was probably microfilm hidden in your Kremlin nesting dolls because that was likely the only thing that could fit in them. The agencies feel very confident about that and so does The Washington Post and The New York Times who repeated what the CIA told them. When these blockbuster stories appeared, James Clapper submitted them to this committee as the unimpeachable evidence that they are. So my question to you is: When you opened Vladimir Putin’s last Rosemary’s Baby-like nesting doll, what was in it? Was it glowing evil? Was it plutonium? Polonium?
Barron Trump: Nah, it was deadlier — it was baloneyum.
Sen. John McCain: I’ve never heard of that. Did Putin give the baloneyum to your father to use on his future political opponents? Is that why Hillary looked awful during the 2016 campaign? Is this why Senator Ted Cruz looks so bad?
Sen. Ted Cruz: I don’t look bad! You’re the one who looks like a rancid Gila monster! I’m so sick of you getting away with vicious attacks simply because you’re old as dirt! You got too used to dropping napalm on babies — you can’t treat United States Senators like that!
Sen. John McCain: Well cry me a Mekong River! What a whiner! Please answer the question, Barron.
Barron Trump: By 2005, weren’t spy agencies probably using flash drives — and not microfilm? Just sayin’. Also, my mom and dad bought the nesting doll set at the Moscow Airport when they were done vacationing. Anyway, on my 16th birthday — which is close to Easter — when I opened up the last nesting doll, it turned out to be a gag gift from dad. There was a rosary in there plus a pack of condoms and a little note that said: “For when He rises.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham: This Russia scandal gets more perverted the more we look into it.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: There’s something I don’t understand, Barron. Your parents waited 16 years from when they bought the set of KGB nesting dolls to when they gave them to you?
Barron Trump: They told me they wanted to make sure I was secure in my sexuality before they gave me dolls. Some things went wrong in the raising of Donnie and Eric — they’re always sneaking up on God’s creatures and blowing them away while they’re nursing their young or getting a drink at a watering hole — and my parents didn’t want me doing that.
Sen. Lindsey Graham: Well, did it work — do you feel secure in your sexuality? Or do you feel the need to bomb innocent people all over the world?
Barron Trump: I doubt I’ll ever bomb as much as you do.
Sen. John McCain: Speaking of dolls, CNN just reported that Vladimir Putin uses GI Joes as voodoo dolls to attack US military personnel. Has your father ever mentioned that?
Barron Trump: What?
Sen. Lindsey Graham: I’d like to see Putin get that scuba outfit on him!
Sen. Robert Menendez: You’re not kidding!
Sen. Lindsey Graham: I tore off one of his arms trying to get it to fit.
Sen. Robert Menendez: I was so frustrated I ripped off his head!
Sen. Chuck Schumer: We’ve all been there.
Sen. John McCain: Barron, when did your parents give you the lifetime platinum membership to HoeLoad?
Sen. Robert Menendez: It wasn’t HoeLoad — he said BurkaBoyzBlow.
Sen. Marco Rubio: No he didn’t — it was SpankThang.
Sen. Lindsey Graham: I heard CornHolinPal.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: It was HippyJizzLamp if it was anything.
Sen. Ted Cruz: Wrong — he said CuckedNLoaded.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: No, I’m pretty sure it was GrannyTrannyCam. Staff, could you read back Barron Trump’s answer about his lifetime subscription to whatever that was.
Staff: It was Slutload, Senator Feinstein.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Thank you. It’s amazing, but never humbling, how all of us can be wrong about things. It must go against the laws of chance.
Sen. Ted Cruz: Now Barron, last night it was reported on The Rachel Maddow Show that Vladimir Putin was in Dallas on November 22, 1963 —
Barron Trump: Oh, so you’re using this hearing to cover up again for your dad on the grassy knoll? Let’s ask Alex Jones where your pops was on that day, doughboy. Rachel Mad Cow? How can I comment on something I’ve never seen? My parents won’t let me watch that trash.
Sen. Ted Cruz: So you’ve never seen that show?
Barron Trump: Every night that Mad Cow is on — that’s my time period to study Russian literature. This week I’ve been reading The Brothers Karamazov. Last week it was Fathers and Sons by Turgenev.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: So, is it your testimony that Rachel Mad Cow causes people to love Russia and Russian culture more?
Barron Trump: It causes people to hate Democrats more — I know that.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: But the nesting doll scandal, these KGB heirlooms passed down from Stalin to your father, this has also been reported on by Whoopi Goldberg on The View.
Barron Trump: When The View is on that’s when I study the great Russian composers. This week I’m learning Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in C Sharp Minor. Senator Feinstein, did you know that the span between Rachmaninoff’s thumb and his little pinky was longer than John Holmes’s cock? How rad is that?
Sen. Lindsey Graham: Wow! What I could do with something like that!
Sen. Chuck Schumer: Please tell this committee everything that you could do with something like that, Senator Graham. I’m sure all the Gamecock voters in the great state of South Carolina want to know.
Sen. Lindsey Graham: I’d — I’d —
Barron Trump: He could play all those two-handed octaves in “The Great Gate of Kiev” from Pictures at an Exhibition. I mean, my dad couldn’t do that cuz his hands aren’t that big… but maybe Senator Graham could.
Sen. Lindsey Graham: That’s right! Thank you, Barron. I was having trouble thinking of the name of that piece. Let’s put this behind us.
Sen. Marco Rubio: I don’t understand this abnormal interest in literature and music. Let’s move on. Previously, we’ve heard testimony from former FBI director James Comey which suggests that your father is Putin’s Manchurian Candidate and you’re Damien of The Omen. Which one is more true?
Barron Trump: I’m more the Manhattan Candidate. As soon as I get complete control over my trust fund, every one of you will be lining up from here to the Lincoln Memorial for Trumpo dinero.
Sen. Marco Rubio: You apparently lead a very self-centered life. Has it ever occurred to you to do anything for your fellow man — like bomb Cuban airliners or go to the Holy Land and shoot Arabs for sport? How committed are you to the nation of Israel?
Sen. Lindsey Graham: Oh, great! Why did you bring Israel into this, Marco?
Sen. Chuck Schumer: Now we’re going to be here awhile.
Sen. Ted Cruz: Do you ever stop running for Sheldon’s shekels, you little punk?
Sen. John McCain: Well, we all have to say something. I’ll begin: We need to bomb Iran — like yesterday.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: It isn’t good enough to move Israel’s capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — we need to move it to Tehran.
Barron Trump: If you both get what you want, you’ll be bombing Israel’s new capital.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: Am I up? There is no daylight between my lips and Bibi’s ass.
Sen. Ted Cruz: There’s only 1.5 billion Muslims in the world — it wouldn’t be too much trouble to kill them all if it makes Israel feel better.
Sen. Robert Menendez: This tepid, rote support of Israel disgusts me. To guarantee the security of Israel, I’d be willing to kill every non-Jew in the world, including all my family members and cap it off with my own suicide. Not only that but also every liberal self-hating Jew who supports the BDSM movement.
Sen. Lindsey Graham: You’re a patriot and a poet, Bob! It comes so natural when you love your country.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: The what movement? What did he say…? Staff, what was the last thing that Senator Menendez said?
Staff: He said he wants to kill every liberal self-hating Jew who supports the BDSM movement.
Sen. Robert Menendez: What’s the problem? I don’t get it. You’re all looking at me like I’m crazy. Why should the Israelis be the only people in the world that the BDSM people punish?
Sen. Ted Cruz: So fucking stupid he’s right. He probably just started a new cottage industry.
Barron Trump: I don’t see the problem either. Part of the definition is… they like it!
Sen. Marco Rubio: This is all worse than I thought! Do Haim and Sheldon know about this?
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: All great questions. Senator Menendez is playing on so many different levels today that my head is spinning. I fold.
Sen. Ted Cruz: I’m out too. Unpacking this isn’t going to lead anywhere good.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: You Latino senators are amazing — it’s like Cinco de Mitzvah 24/7!
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Tell me about it! I feel like I’m constantly being out-Jewed!
Sen. Marco Rubio: It takes a lot of chutzpah for you to say that!
Sen. Robert Menendez: Tedious kvetching. She’s got bupkes.
Sen. Ted Cruz: Let’s get back to Barron’s Commie tchatchkes.
Sen. John McCain: Staff, please forward Senator Menendez’s original comment to The Guinness Book of World Records. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve been at this for twenty minutes today. I think we should adjourn until tomorrow. We have some very promising leads to follow up on. Tomorrow, Melania Trump will be testifying again. She’ll be bringing in the newest additions to the Trump family, the fraternal twin girls — Lolita “the bomb” Molotov Trump and Modest “mouse” Mussorgsky Trump. God only knows who the father is but we’ll be looking into that too. The girls were born in 2019 just as Putin ramped up plans to throw the 2024 US Presidential election into chaos and make America look like a laughingstock across the world. Thankfully, we won’t let him do that. We’re going to be paying particular attention to the timeline of the twins’ birth and conception because the first lady accompanied the president to the summit with Putin in Sochi, a place which is apparently as romantic as it gets for the hammer and sickle crowd. DNA will be collected. Both Putin and Lavrov spat on me at the G20 and I saved it so we already have theirs. The twins are too young even for Jessup so I hope counsel will inform them about the honor system.
Sen. Lindsey Graham: Come on, senator — if we want anything close to the truth, they should be made to swear on a stack of Chekhov plays!
Sen. John McCain: Well, we’ll sort out the swearing-in process tomorrow. By the way, former Senator Joe Biden has told me privately that Lolita, in particular, is a fetching young lady.
Barron Trump: She’s only four years old you fucking pervs!
Sen. John McCain: And last but not least, be prepared for a full day on Monday when the entire committee flies to New York for the exhumation of Fred Trump’s body. I understand you never met your grandpa, son. Well, here’s your chance. I thank you all. It’s been a pleasure to conduct the people’s business today.
Barron Trump: Right — dolls, porn and Israel.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: It’s been a long day and tempers have flared. Barron, let’s leave this on a friendlier note: Do you have any political ambitions for yourself?
Barron Trump: No, not at all. This is the one thing that dad got wrong. It’s much better to sit in the penthouse and bribe you idiots than live in a shit hole in DC and try to work with you. What kind of world do we live in where rabble can jump over the fence to the CEO’s front lawn and live to tell about it? How is there not a pack of Presa Canarios on that ass? We’ve been here for almost eight years and we still haven’t seen a secret service agent! What’s with cherry blossoms that only last a couple weeks when I can have Juliet roses, Saffron crocus and Shenzhen orchids in our foyer every day of the year. And don’t even get me started about the pedestrian, depressing National Gallery of Art with stern old fogies staring down at us, interrupted occasionally by exhibitions of Cameroonian 2 x 4’s — statues — art we’re told. Or Archie Bunker’s chair at the Smithsonian — talk about deplorable — who thought up this shit! And the DC Metro — have you ever seen the Moscow Metro? Muscovites travel in art every day while American yahoos travel hundreds of miles on broken down roads to fetishize Dorothy’s ruby slippers! So you got the East Wing, big whoop — how many decades are you going to rest on that laurel? You gonna wheel out I.M. Pei to do something right again and hope it lasts another 50 years? And your most famous film production — your mayor smoking crack in a motel room? The Oval Orifice — Bill Clinton’s glory hole! Do you understand how underwhelming Ford’s Theatre is? What a tacky, terrible place to be shot dead in! Those seats don’t even fit the current American butt! When my dad goes, I hope he goes fighting out of a deep state sand trap on the back nine at West Palm! MOMA, Guggenheim, The Met, Broadway, The Garden, Lincoln Center, Juilliard, Carnegie Hall, Coney Island, Central Park, here I come!
published 7/21/2017 counterpunch.org
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
I first met animal rights philosopher Tom Regan in April of 1985 after he’d given a rousing speech in Philadelphia condemning the University of Pennsylvania’s baboon head-bashing experiments. (This was the infamous Thomas Gennarelli lab which the Animal Liberation Front exposed by breaking in and taking tapes the researchers made of themselves.) Tom was walking across the commons area and I asked him to sign a copy of his book All That Dwell Therein: Essays on Animal Rights and Environmental Ethics. The pictures below are of that day.
These were halcyon times for the animal movement. The annual FARM-organized Action for Life conferences were foundational in networking and training people who had no social change experience. April 24, 1983 marked the official birth of the modern animal rights movement with four Mobilization for Animals rallies in Boston, Atlanta, Davis, California and Madison, Wisconsin. The many thousands who participated went back to our communities, organized grassroots groups and began putting slaughterhouses, research labs and factory farms in the faces of the American public. In England, the Animal Liberation Front waged war on fur farms, fur stores, factory farms, laboratories and meat shops. In popular culture, the television show LA Law showed graphic footage of animals caught in leghold traps to millions of viewers as part of one episode’s court case — and there were prominent anti-vivisection messages in three 1982 films: The Dark Crystal, The Secret of NIMH, and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. We were vilified on most meat and pharma-supported news shows but homeboy (Dayton) Phil Donahue gave us a fair hearing. On the west coast the Javier Burgos-led SUPPRESS challenged the superstition of vivisection on scientific grounds and regularly fielded thousands of people to march against vivisection at UCLA and USC. Some hunters, vivisectors and animal farmers came in from the cold of killing and became eloquent spokespeople for the animals. Professional organizations like the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights were formed. PETA made animal cruelty the issue instead of sexist divisive tactics. Both Ingrid Newkirk and Marti Kheel — the latter the founder of Feminists for Animal Rights — were inspirations. And Animals Agenda magazine spread the good word and tied everything together.
Doing much to fan this whirlwind was a former butcher who became a philosopher and teacher, one who wasn’t satisfied with Peter Singer’s (Animal Liberation) utilitarian arguments for protecting non-humans — or humans, either, for that matter. Instead, North Carolina State Professor Tom Regan knew that to make a case for animal rights he first had make a case for human rights. Why should we be protected? What’s special about us? What are the relevant characteristics shared by, say, a rational adult human and a non-rational human infant? What makes humans human? What characteristics cross over to non-human animals?
Tom answered these questions in his seminal 1983 book The Case for Animal Rights by demonstrating that there are no morally relevant differences between us and most other animals. Animals aren’t merely alive like plants but, like us, they have lives. Beings should have rights even if they are incapable of having responsibilities or rationality. Besides sentience, all creatures possess inherent value — that is, our lives matter to us even if they don’t matter to anyone else. And more importantly, both human and non-human beings are subjects-of-a-life: “Subjects-of-a-life are characterized by a set of features including having beliefs, desires, memory, feelings, self-consciousness, an emotional life, a sense of their own future, an ability to initiate action to pursue their goals, and an existence that is logically independent of being useful to anyone else’s interests.” To think it’s acceptable to do things to non-humans that we would call atrocities if done to ourselves is nothing but pure bigotry and unthinking prejudice, no more legitimate than “might makes right.” Anyone who reads this intellectually rigorous and revolutionary book understands immediately that it demands the complete re-ordering of society, starting with the dinner table. It’s hard-headed, erudite, logical and unassailable. In Tom’s words, this is what it felt like after writing the book — and, I might add, what it felt like for me after finishing it:
“What was perhaps the most remarkable part of working on The Case was how I was led by the force of reasons I had never before considered, to embrace positions I had never before accepted, including the abolitionist one. The power of ideas, not my own will, was in control, it seemed to me. I genuinely felt as if a part of Truth was being revealed to me. I do not want to claim that anything like this really happened. Here I am only describing how I experienced things. And how I experienced them, especially toward the end of the composition of the book, was qualitatively unlike anything else I have ever experienced. It was intoxicating. It was as close to anything like a sustained religious or spiritual revelation as I have ever experienced.” I closed the book and thought to myself: “This is the way, this is the future. This is what rights and laws — and everything that follows — will be based on.”
Tom understood that animal exploiters can’t compete on the cultural playing field because there is nothing uplifting about hunting, trapping, vivisecting and slaughtering animals for food — so the pro-animal position has the field all to itself in poetry, dance, theater, film and art to make our case. Accordingly, Tom and his wife Nancy created the annual International Compassionate Living Festival in Raleigh which drew together artists, musicians, theater troupes and writers for several days every October. This led to the formation of the Culture and Animals Foundation which gives grants to people for “exploring the human-animal relationship through scholarship, creativity and performance.”
Like hundreds of other activists, I brought Tom to my home town in Ohio to speak and give press interviews. He was indefatigable, upbeat, patient, wise. He saw the horrors of what humans do to other animals but he never let the horror make him bitter or cynical or divert him from his mission of combating it. He was dynamic and gregarious, a freely-drinking Irishman who was the life of any party whether it was in the Regan home or marching in the streets with a picket sign or even a historic sit-in with 100 other activists at the National Institutes of Health which resulted in funding being cut off to Gennarelli’s monkey-bashing experiments. It’s also impossible to talk about the greatness of Tom without also talking about the greatness of Nancy — the Culture and Animals Foundation was her idea. They were an incredible team and they showed how much can be accomplished by the power of love and the power of two people who love each other.
Tom’s life was filled with interviews, debates, camaraderie, strategizing, conferences, protests and hundreds of lectures here and abroad, including China, Turkey, Italy and the Netherlands. He also excelled at the thankless task of mediating between squabbling individuals and groups within the animal movement. He felt that grassroots activists were as important as movement “leaders” because we were the only ones who could exercise a corrective effect on national groups which were businesses always in danger of getting too comfy with donor money and selling short the animals. Before Tom, there were only a handful of philosophy courses in America that mentioned animal rights — now over 100,000 students each year are discussing the issue. As he said: “It is no exaggeration to say that, during the past thirty years, philosophers have written vastly more on the topic of ethics and animals than our predecessors had written in the previous three thousand.” He wrote over twenty books, most of them concerning animals but also including fiction and scholarly works on the philosopher G.E. Moore. He won the highest teaching award at North Carolina State and also gave what is considered the greatest animal rights speech ever in Los Angeles in 1988. Countless times over the years I would discover that some publication or some pro-animal production was funded by the Culture and Animals Foundation or I would meet someone who wrote something that Tom had edited and critiqued. Or someone who would first discover, say, the work of artist Sue Coe or performance artist Rachel Rosenthal because Tom brought these great people to Raleigh to display their talent.
One of the greatest things that Tom did was to establish the Tom Regan Animal Rights Archive at North Carolina State which contains not only his work but entire collections of other groups and individuals. One such collection is Argus Archives, established in 1969 by the pioneering psychiatrist turned animal activist Dallas Pratt, who disseminated information in the 1960s about the plight of animals in slaughterhouses and research labs. The Regan archives also contain the indispensable work of photojournalist Ron Scott who seemed to be at every protest and conference documenting the early years of the animal rights movement.
Six years ago, traveling back to Philadelphia from Florida, I got it in my head to call up the Regans even though we hadn’t spoken in many years. They said come on over. I was with my friend Lisa Levinson (of the Roxborough toad detour fame) and we spent several hours visiting. The fact that we were there was utterly Reganesque: Lisa attended one of Tom’s gatherings in Raleigh many years before where she met fellow Philadelphians Jim Harris and Zipora Schultz. They didn’t know each other even though they lived in the same city at the time. They had to make the pilgrimage to Raleigh to find one another — and the three went on to found the cultural animal advocacy group Public Eye: Artists for Animals. That’s what Tom and Nancy did: they were movement builders and change agents, they made it possible for more people to help more animals. They made people stronger. They enriched thousands of lives.
We talked about everything. I asked if he thought there had ever been a credible intellectual challenge to The Case for Animal Rights and he said no but that he felt that the thorniest issue was what to do, if anything, with invasive species. Tom decided that my “mission” was to “call back” all the great activists of the old days who had dropped out of the movement. I didn’t want to be too negative — because Tom is one third of my Holy Trinity, along with Karl Marx and Dr. John McDougall — but I said that, in my own case, I felt like I didn’t know how to be effective any more, that the things we were doing were not working and that the really big gains could only be made once capitalism is overthrown. The animal movement couldn’t keep up with the depredations of global capitalism. Animal liberation can’t precede socialism. (Before we get to Tom’s world, we have to pass through Karl’s world.) Tom disagreed. He felt if enough consciousness was raised and laws were changed, animal rights could happen under any system.
As the conversation wandered up to midnight we talked about those parties at the Regan’s house twenty five years earlier. During the annual festival for the animals, out of town activists would sometimes bunk at the Regan’s (or their equally gracious next door neighbors) and find ourselves in the kitchen cutting up vegetables for the large nightly meals. Tom asked me if I remembered the words of some intolerant judgmental activist back then who excoriated another person who still drank cow’s milk. I racked my brain trying to think who this was — Gary Francione, Carol Michael-Wade, Shelly Shapiro… who? I gave up and asked “So, who said that?” And Tom and Nancy roared in unison: “You did!” “I said that?” Oh, right, right… The Regans were charming, gracious, supportive, always concerned, always interested. Two of the most sterling humans I’ve ever known.
Tom and Nancy were married for 50 years and she and their two children, Karen and Bryan, were with him when he died on February 17. He was 78 years old. They have four grandchildren. Tom always said that the animal rights movement was made up of “many hands on many oars.” But nobody rowed more effectively, tirelessly, more collegially and congenially than Tom. Tom and Nancy, thanks for everything, thanks for making my life better. You two had a big life and you did it right. Tom, for me, you’re going to be forever waving hello. You have the last word:
“My fate, one might say, is to help others see animals in a different way — as creatures who do not belong in cages. Or in leghold traps. Or in skillets. Perhaps, indeed, there is in everyone a natural longing to help free animals from the hands of their oppressors — a longing only waiting for the right opportunity to assert itself. I like to think in these terms when I meet people who are not yet active in the Animal Rights Movement. Like Socrates I see my role in these encounters as being that of the midwife, there to help the birth of an idea already alive, just waiting to be delivered.”
published 2/27/2017 dissidentvoice.org
Sue Coe: Uncaged, copyright 2016
Courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York
published 2/27/2017 dissidentvoice.org
You Gotta Serve Somebody, Not Some Body
“But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh, we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of the proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy.”
— Plutarch, On the Eating of Flesh
Down a country road, across from a nursing home high on a hill, is the factory hog farm, surrounded by acres of soybeans. The “farm” is several low, windowless aluminum buildings that contain about a thousand pigs. Except for the stench from the manure-filled slurry lagoons, no one would know there are animals here.
Our guide, let’s call her Beatrice, is working her way through college and says she loves animals and the life sciences.
How much does she love animals? This much: she chops off their tails, castrates them, cuts their ears (”notching”) and pulls their teeth — all without any anesthetic. And, of course, the ultimate expression of her love for creatures as intelligent as dogs: she eats them. Over 110 million pigs are killed every year in America.
She flips on the light switch and we see dozens of breeding sows in metal crates on either side of the aisle. They are kept in a lifetime state of pregnancy, birth and lactation, never to turn around, never to see the sunlight or touch the earth — except when they go to the “rape rack” to be artificially inseminated, the farrowing crate to give birth, or the day they lose their productivity and are put on the truck for slaughter.
We come to a sow who has apparently been dead for several days. Flies buzz around the death. Big and black with a huge flat belly, where the skin is taut and ripped apart from side to side, she’s seemingly been growing into the steel rails of the stall and has a deep four inch gash in her side. Like all animals, this animal has a story and Beatrice tells it: One time no one remembered to move her from the gestation crate to the farrowing crate and she gave birth to her piglets but because there was no room, she crushed and killed them all.
Beatrice casually tosses off comments as we walk: She dragged out 20 dead ones yesterday. Last week, another pig was so sick that one of the other workers vowed to come back at night and shoot her against the owner’s wishes. He didn’t, and when she died, she was so wedged into the stall that they had to hack her up and carry her out in wheelbarrows — and they found a bellyful of dead piglets. The owner is a “Hitler” because of the way he treats the employees, Beatrice says. She wouldn’t think that she oversees a concentration camp of a thousand beings, even though the Nazi holocaust is the first thing that many people think of when they see this kind of industrial brutality and killing, this shameful desecration of life.
“In their behavior toward creatures, all men were Nazis. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might makes right,” wrote Isaac Bashevis Singer. Better still, the right Reverend William Ralph Inge: “If animals were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.”
We come to some farrowing crates where the sows still can’t turn around but adjoining them is another crate where the sow’s piglets can crawl underneath the lowest bar and nurse. A metal interrogation-like lamp hangs above them. Eight little pink and red heartbeats, laying next to each other, hot, striving, fighting for their mother’s milk. Soon, for faster weaning, they will be placed with “Pig Mama,” a mechanized teat so the sow can be impregnated again.
We come to some 10 x 10 pens where 25-plus pigs are stomach to stomach, all over each other, fighting to get their mouths on the lone water spigot. These are the nearest to “graduating,” to getting their first glimpse of daylight on the day they are taken out and killed. One pig stands up on his hind legs with his front legs on top of the pen, wanting attention. I rub his nose and forehead. We walk on. I turn around at the end of the barn and he’s still watching us.
This pig prompts Beatrice to relate other notable pig stories: the pig who, at night, stood up on his hind legs and turned on the light switch with his nose. Another who stood up and turned on the automatic feeding machine — the owner thought it was a human prank until waiting in the dark one night and seeing the intelligent animal in action.
We pass another group pen and they become afraid of me which I hate. They stampede into the corner, trying to hide, stepping on each other, stomping the floor. Some slip and fall. I won’t forget the last one to make it. He gets knocked down, looks right at me, terrified. His legs splay out, he flips, thuds on his side, then gets up and jumps into the pile in the corner.
A young boar is out of his pen. Beatrice says he’s always doing this. She tries to capture him. He walks down the aisle to me. It’s narrow. The others are grunting loudly and knocking against their crates. Talk about “mind in the waters” with whales and dolphins… these pigs know exactly what’s happening to them, the injustice we inflict on them. I turn sideways to let him pass but he stops before me, looks up and cocks his head, as if not understanding me letting him go. He hangs his head, looks away from side to side. He tries to turn around but he can’t so he keeps backing up and tripping, unsure of where to go. Beatrice finally gets him into a pen.
As we near the exit, another little pig is out of a pen. I kneel. I motion for him to come to me. His nose is going back and forth, he’s curious and friendly. What’s all this about? Who am I? His backside is sore and red because his tail is chopped off. Happy trusting little being. Leaving feels like a giant betrayal. I’m already disgusted with myself for not obliterating this place from the face of the earth.
Outside the sunlight is sweet relief for the senses from the dark, stinking place — but not for the mind, no, that horror intensifies: the cars zip by unaware, the humans march on and, even if they knew what was happening in the barns, they still wouldn’t raise a finger, or lower a knife, to stop it.
And at the slaughterhouse the pigs will be beaten with 2 x 4’s and kicked and shocked with prods as they smell the blood and death and hear the terror of the ones who are fighting for life and being killed before them. Meat eaters, humane slaughter only exists in your weak-ass immature revolting cowardly minds. Life on earth isn’t compatible with your insatiable hunger for the flesh of the 100 billion land animals that are raised and killed worldwide each year, to say nothing of your voracious strip-mining of the seas. All you left wing meat eating poseur “environmentalists” are just like the right wing barbarians that you hate and think you’re superior to. You can go straight to the fucking hell that you’re making of the world: the waste of resources to feed, water, heat, cool, transport and “process” your victims, the desertification caused by overgrazing, the wearing out of the soil with chemical fertilizers and pesticides because most of the crops grown aren’t eaten by people, the rivers and streams polluted by the waste of veritable animal cities, the 136 million acres of rainforest cleared for cattle grazing and cattle feed, the release of more greenhouse gases than all transportation, the cancer, the heart disease, the strokes, the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria through the routine feeding of antibiotics, the whole monstrous evil, complete poison and enemy of the earth known as “animal agriculture.” You fucks are eating the world to death.
One day, to save yourselves, you’re going to realize that non-human beings are the gods, not you, and your blessed mission in life will be to protect and serve them, no pun intended. Once capitalism is overthrown and all production is socially-owned, truly free and intelligent conversations will be had about how, where and what to produce and whether some things should be produced at all. Congresses in the future will be devoted to finding out what is good for the honey bees and the earthworms, the wolves and the bison, and the constitution will be written by St. Francis: “Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them: but to stop there, a complete misapprehension of the intentions of Providence. We have a higher mission. God wishes that we succor them whenever they require it.” (my emphasis)
Why will this be the way forward? Because human beings are lost — we either don’t know what we want or we want the wrong things and we’ll turn the entire world upside down and still not get satisfaction. Putting ourselves first doesn’t work. The answer is to live for others — the ultimate “others”: the furred, finned and feathered — and our own lives will take care of themselves. You gotta serve somebody — and the best masters are the innocents, the ones incapable of sin, the ones who are not moral agents.
In the meantime: impatiently you stand in check out lines, buying sausage and ham, like flies about to land on the wound of a dying pig. You’re Time’s flies. Everything goes down your drain-like eyes. Your ancestors had a thousand eyes. Your children have a thousand eyes. Still, they’re blind. What’s your hurry?
Oh, if only slaughterhouses had glass walls, if only the “average” person — how meaningless is an “average” Nazi? — could hear the cries and calls, all of this would stop, some say. But they do have glass walls and you pass them every day: the meat counters in every store where the innocents are dismembered, displayed and replaced in gargantuan numbers, “beings endowed with movement, with perception and with voice” (Plutarch again) — piles and piles of innocents showing you their blood, their very insides, screaming out if they could, while you pretend to be special and civilized, imagining yourselves deserving of justice and compassion when you won’t show it to them. You aren’t religious, you aren’t spiritual, you aren’t just. Denounce dog-eating in Korea while you eat cows, pigs and chickens? Fuck you. Save the tears. Nobody’s impressed. Think you have a spiritual” connection to your cat or dog while eating other animals? Get off the fucking planet. You’re living a lie. Self-mystifiers have no reason for being. Think your dog or cat has a soul but a chicken or a pig or a deer or a fish or a mouse doesn’t? Neither can be proved but it shows how petty and detestable you are, how ungodlike for lack of a better word. You’re not really present on earth and you’re definitely not in heaven. You’re nowhere until you cease to murder.
published 2/4/2017 dissidentvoice.org