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January 15, 2008
I have big problems with animal cruelty. Torturing animals for any reason is morally reprehensible. I do not (generally) consider the use of animals for medicinal (testing) purposes, food, pets and agriculture a form of torture/cruelty. Bear baiting, cock fighting, the conditions in battery farms, cows hooked up to milking machines: all disgusting.
When it comes to the eating of animals, I don't eat seafood, pig flesh or anything that is carnivorous/omnivorous. I find it hypocritical that people who love nothing more than chomping on their bacon, sausages and blutwurst will cringe at the idea of eating dog meat. Rare steaks dripping with blood and finding tiger penis soup gross? Very odd.
How about the keeping of animals in captivity? I don't generally have a problem so long as they are looked after. Domestic pets are fine (and yes, animals are abused, as are children), although I have a problem with the caging of birds. Zoos are a necessary evil in that they are often of limited space (see the Gorillas in London zoo, or bent-fin Killer Whales in any aquarium) but they preserve rare species or species on the brink of extinction.
What has all this got to do with The Daily Mail and "Chinese Culture"?
Well I came across this recent article on a random Google search and I gave it a read. Some choice tidbits:
"It's almost a form of child abuse," says Carol McKenna of the OneVoice animal welfare group. "The cruelty of Chinese zoos is disgusting, but think of the impact on the children watching it. What kind of future is there for China if its children think this kind of cruelty is normal?
"Zoos like this make me want to boycott everything Chinese," says Emma Milne, star of the BBC's Vets In Practice.
"I'd like to rip out everything in my house that's made in China. I have big problems with their culture."
"Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by their behaviour towards animals, as the value of human life is so low in China."
I think Emma Milne is bordering on racist there. "I have big problems with their culture... the value of human life is so low in China". Disgusting. Perhaps we should boycott her?
The Chinese do have some serious problems with animal cruelty. Zoos and supermarkets alike. I've seen videos of monkeys beaten by street performers, images of tigers having had their teeth shaved to the point of exposure of the roots and I've personally witnessed crabs, lobsters and fish kept in distressing conditions in run-of-the-mill Beijing supermarkets.
Does this provide a stunning indictment of "Chinese culture"? I don't think so. You will find such cruelty in any developing country, especially one so difficult to regulate (through geographical and population size). Moreover, even in "developed nations", animal cruelty is common. I previously mentioned battery farms: if you've seen the pictures and videos they are vomit-worthy. Cows screaming with milk-swollen udders waiting for the machines to kick in; chickens dragged through electric baths, cows still alive because the bolt hasn't killed them first time around; animal culls; cosmetic testing (and let's not pretend that's not cruel); the list goes on and on.
Let's get back to Emma Milne. Here's a BBC article in which she's quote with regards to her views on dog-breeding:
Emma Milne, from BBC One's Vets In Practice, described the dogs as "mutated freaks". She claims inbreeding to produce show dogs has led to damaging genetic weaknesses.
"Modern bulldogs can't run, they can't breathe, they can't give birth," she tells the Real Story programme.
"They have enormous problems with too much soft tissue in their mouth and it adds up to a dog that is struggling for air all its life."
The breed, once pitted against bulls in fighting rings, is now a regular at competitions where champion bulldogs are worth up to £50,000.
Males and females with the flattest faces, biggest shoulders and smallest hips are mated to produce the purest possible offspring.
I agree. This sort of dog-breeding is disgusting. The animals are, as she says, essentially "mutated freaks" and it is cruel to breed them in this fashion to win dog shows so that rich housewives (and househusbands) can show their wealth and cruelty to the world. I don't see the same sort of criticism of "British culture" though. Perhaps it's not so obviously cruel? Watching a tiger kill a chicken is nasty and inhumane. But keeping a little dog as a fashion accessory..?
How about the "child abuse" with some children witnessing animals feeding on chickens? It may be terrible and it may verge on abuse. I saw Jurassic Park when I was about nine or ten and I remember seeing a T-Rex (which I found quite realistic at the time) eating a chained-up goat. Veliciraptors tearing apart a live cow (off-screen). Not a great example? Seeing a realistic polar bear swipe off the jaw of another polar bear (in the rubbish Golden Compass)? Perhaps seeing what appears to be a lion killing and eating a deer (in I am legend)? Or the strangling of one's own dog (again I am legend). What about the brutal stabbing of a tiger depicted in Gladiator (not to mention the number of grisly deaths)? Will this have less of an impact on a child than seeing a tiger killing and eating?
There's much to fix in China. There's also much to fix over here. There's no use climbing on your high-horse because people here don't like to witness what goes on in an abbatoir while they're busy using their lipstick (that may well have been tested by rubbing it over a monkey/ape's eye) and carrying fashion-accessory pets.