Rogers: Time to wake up and smell the cruelty

If certain students succeed, a new Geneseo Vegetarian Club will form here. Being a vegetarian myself, I think it would be a great way to bring awareness to students.

Not everyone, however, is always open to the idea of a meatless lifestyle. One of the common attitudes I have observed is one of total ignorance; when it comes to meat, many like to adopt a "head in the sand" mentality. Some even like to imagine Babe-like scenes; chickens outside scratching at dirt and pigs frolicking around. While some farms like this exist, the vast majority of animals are raised on factory farms. Chickens live crammed together in cages so close they cannot move a wing; pigs' tails are cut off without anesthetic and a large number die before even reaching the slaughterhouse due to horrible living and transporting conditions. Hardly the idyllic farm scene.

Some think that such "graphic imagery" should not be forced on people who don't want to know. However, if there was an incident at the Twinkie factory where workers were filmed throwing live kittens into the Twinkie batter, the general public would be outraged, and would try to find clips of it on YouTube. But most do not wish to hear about meat-industry employees throwing live birds against walls, because a double standard exists. While most people could live without Twinkies, many rely on meat as a part of their diet. And if people understood what was happening, they might feel obliged to do something. But who wants to, when those chicken wings taste so good?

"But it's the circle of life," my friend argues. But the problem is not people eating animals; I understand that it is "natural" to do so (although so is walking around naked). The inhumane way in which these animals are treated, however, is not natural. It perhaps is natural to kill an animal so that we may eat, but is not natural or necessary to make an animal suffer its entire life before we kill it.

Another example of the double standard can be seen with dog-eating. Photos of Chinese restaurants serving dog paws have been surfacing as many call for a total elimination of the practice by the time of the Summer Olympics. My opinion: Stop bothering the Chinese about their dogs if you're still going to eat meat and not protest the living (and dying) conditions of all animals bred for food. I don't condone dog stew, but a dog is no more capable of love or fear, or more biologically able to suffer than a pig or cow; pigs are actually more intelligent than dogs. If you're not going to speak up about their flagrant abuse just because they aren't as "cute" as puppies, then you shouldn't be speaking up at all.

Basically what I'm saying is this: Just imagine, for a day, your dog or cat going through life like these animals do, and don't just cover your eyes when it comes to knowing what the story is behind the food you are putting into your body. As PETA President Ingrid Newkirk has said, "…society doesn't want to look, because it is uncomfortable. But the thing is, what kind of moral individual are you if you say, 'I'm not going to look at that because I enjoy doing this thing so much, that I don't want to know?'"

Mari Rogers is freshman English major who plans to read The Jungle to her kids on a nightly basis.