“[N]o one was hurt in the blaze.”

Dear Colleagues:

Sociology instructor Roger Yates just sent me a news article about a fire at a turkey farm in Minnesota.

The article states:

An estimated 25,000 turkeys are dead after a fire swept through a large turkey barn in rural Cannon Falls, but no one was hurt in the blaze.

Twenty-five thousand turkeys were killed but “no one was hurt in the blaze.”

It is clear that “no one” refers to humans. As I embrace the principle of Ahimsa, or nonviolence, I am certainly glad that no humans were injured in the fire. But because animals are chattel property—they are things and nothing more—they are not considered as individuals who could have been hurt in the fire. A turkey is not a someone.

The article also states:

John Peterson helps run the family operation. He called it a “terrible fire” that was really upsetting.

If we were talking about a fire that killed humans and used the word “terrible,” it would refer to the fact that the loss of life was a morally undesirable event.

But we are talking about property.

For Mr. Peterson, what is “terrible” is that his property was damaged and that the turkeys did not live long enough so that they could be jammed into crates, hung upside down, had their throats slit, be immersed into a tank of scalding water—and provide a profit to Mr. Peterson and a benefit to all who eat animal flesh and animal products.

And remember that the people who are ultimately responsible for animal exploitation are not those who own and operate the farms or the slaughterhouses; those who consume meat and animal products, who create the demand, bear the ultimate moral responsibility. Mr. Peterson would be doing something else with his life if we did not demand flesh and other animal products.

All sentient beings are alike in that they all value their lives and they all have an interest in not suffering.

Every sentient being is a someone.

The article should have stated instead:

An estimated 25,000 turkeys are dead after a fire swept through a large turkey barn in rural Cannon Falls, and 25,000 individuals were killed.

Until we get more humans to see it that way, nothing will ever change.

Go vegan and use creative, nonviolent means to educate others about veganism.

Gary L. Francione
© 2009 Gary L. Francione