Book Review: Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering, Mark Hawthorne (2013)

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

They Shoot Narwhals, Don’t They?

five out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review at the author’s invitation. Also, trigger warning for discussions of violence, including that of a sexual nature.)

“Hierarchies feed oppression because it allows for valuation: those at the top are more valued than those at the bottom. Oppressors like hierarchies that keep animals at the bottom because then you can do to humans what you do to animals if you say that the humans are like the animals. So it feeds oppression to have animal objectification.” – Carol J. Adams (page 492)

“Change is hard, but not changing is just as hard.” – Carol J. Adams (page 487)

“Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you any more.” – Franz Kafka (quoted on page 490)

In Bleating Hearts: The Hidden World of Animal Suffering, author-activist and longtime vegan Mark Hawthorne examines some of the effects of these human hierarchies, which universally place nonhuman animals – an estimated three to thirty million species, comprised of trillions upon trillions of individuals – at the bottom of the proverbial shit pile. (That such categories even exist – human animals, and all the “others” – is itself a testament to the self-centeredness of the human species.)

While I was expecting an encyclopedic, A-to-Z look at animal suffering, Bleating Hearts is something much different; Hawthorne shines a light on practices that, for whatever reason, don’t garner as much attention in animal activist circles: Balut eggs, an Asian delicacy that involves boiling developing duck embryos alive. The plight of the ever-popular slow lorises (please don’t forward those YouTube videos, people, no matter how cute they seem!). Dolphin-assisted therapy (cruel, and a scam). Horse fighting (which often ends in the serial rape of a mare, positioned in the ring to induce the stallions to compete). Rogue taxidermy. If you think you know all there is to know about animal exploitation, think again. Even the most seasoned activist will discover something new within these pages.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 19: Brain Food (Vegan, Natch!)

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Vegan Brain Food

“Vegan Brain Food”: A mashup of book covers related to this latest edition of “Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs.” Clockwise from the upper-left: Sistah Vegan: Food, Identity, Health, and Society: Black Female Vegans Speak by A. Breeze Harper, ed. (2010); Terrorists or Freedom Fighters?: Reflections on the Liberation of Animals by Anthony J. Nocella II and Steven Best, eds. (2004); Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women’s Anthology for a New Millennium by Robin Morgan, ed. (2003); The Pornography of Meat by Carol Adams (2004); The Year of the Flood: A Novel by Margaret Atwood (2009); Penelope by Marilyn Kaye (2007); Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism by Melanie Joy (2009); and VegNews, March+April 2010.
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Sistah Vegan Book: Win a Free Copy!

Editor Breeze Harper is giving away a free, signed copy of her upcoming anthology, Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health & Society. The catch? You have to answer a short essay question, which will (hopefully) get you thinking about issues of food, race, gender, and/or nonhuman animals in new (and fruitful!) way. The deadline is April 1st, so don’t delay!

Let Live Foundation: Food Justice w/ lauren Ornelas (3/21)

I’m so terribly jealous of all you vegan folks living on the east and west coasts; y’all always throw the coolest conferences and lectures! (There’s a reason I titled this link roundup “Brain Food,” yo!) This Sunday, March 21st, Let Live Foundation will be hosting speaker lauren Ornelas of the Food Empowerment Project. On the menu?: Food justice, veganism, and the intersections of human and animal exploitation. If you happen to find yourself in Portland this weekend, attend, take notes, and report back, mkay? (Pretty please? With an organic, raw, fair trade cherry on top?)

The Washington Times: Food For Life Global Is Coming Through Big In Haiti

Who says animal advocates only care about nonhumans, hmmm? Check out this nice writeup Food For Life Global received in The Washington Times, and then hop on over to Disaster Relief in Haiti: Animal Rescue & Vegan/Animal-Friendly Resources to see how else you can help with disaster relief efforts in Haiti (and Chile).

The Voracious Vegan: International Women’s Day: Why Feminism? and “Until We Are All Free”: International Women’s Day (@ Choosing Raw)

In honor of International Women’s Day (which took place on March 8th), the Voracious Vegan penned not one, but two posts. The first includes a short film that, in Tasha’s words explains why “women’s rights and feminism are still relevant and necessary in this day and age.” Additionally, in a guest post at Choosing Raw, Tasha discusses the intersections of feminism and veganism, including the shared ideologies and social systems which allow human, animal and environmental exploitation to thrive. It’s a lengthy piece but well worth it – she touches upon a number of salient points, including the objectification of women’s and animals’s bodies; the state’s (and businesses’) attempts to control the reproductive systems of females, human and nonhuman alike; food and environmental justice; and public safety and human health concerns.

(More below the fold…)

The Onion asks, "Should Animals Be Doing More For The Animal Rights Movement?"

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Much like The Colbert Report, I’m beginning to suspect that there’s an animal sympathizer working for The Onion. (See, for example, Exhibits A, B and C.)

In this piece of bizarre hilarity, the talking heads at The Onion explore whether nonhuman animals are doing enough in the fight for animal rights:
 



 
While most of this is an over-the-top caricature of the misconceptions people have about the animal rights movement, I think The Onion is spot-on when they suggest that we should drop certain “problem animals” if we’re to ever secure rights for nonhuman animals. Might I suggest the entire corporate cadre of PETA in place of the noble water buffalo? I doubt that the latter would ever be so insensitive as to don a white hood and parade around the streets of NYC or mock women for their eating disorders. Just a thought.

By the way, I apologize if this video is old hat; I stumbled upon it while clicking through to “Facebook, Twitter Revolutionizing How Parents Stalk Their College-Aged Kids” from “Next Tarantino Movie An Homage To Beloved Tarantino Movies Of Director’s Youth.” Next up: “Ex-Pedophile Shares Tips On How To Make Your Kids Less Attractive.” Labor Day: not so laborious.

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The not-so-curious case of Santino the chimpanzee.

Friday, March 13th, 2009

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Santino the chimp with a stone in his hand. Photograph: PA

Many of you have no doubt already heard the story of Santino, a chimpanzee being held captive in a Swedish zoo who, in gathering rocks to throw at visitors to the zoo/prison, evidenced abstract thinking and planning for the future.

STOCKHOLM (AP) – A canny chimpanzee who calmly collected a stash of rocks and then hurled them at zoo visitors in fits of rage has confirmed that apes can plan ahead just like humans, a Swedish study said Monday. Santino the chimpanzee’s anti-social behavior stunned both visitors and keepers at the Furuvik Zoo but fascinated researchers because it was so carefully prepared.

According to a report in the journal Current Biology, the 31-year-old alpha male started building his weapons cache in the morning before the zoo opened, collecting rocks and knocking out disks from concrete boulders inside his enclosure. He waited until around midday before he unleashed a “hailstorm” of rocks against visitors, the study said.

“These observations convincingly show that our fellow apes do consider the future in a very complex way,” said the author of the report, Lund University Ph.D. student Mathias Osvath. “It implies that they have a highly developed consciousness, including lifelike mental simulations of potential events.” […]

Osvath said the chimpanzee had also been observed tapping on concrete boulders in the park to identify weak parts and then knocking out a piece. If it was too big for throwing, he broke it into smaller pieces, before adding them to his arsenal.

“It is very special that he first realizes that he can make these and then plans on how to use them,” Osvath said. “This is more complex than what has been showed before.” […]

For a while, zoo keepers tried locking Santino up in the morning so he couldn’t collect ammunition for his assaults, but he remained aggressive. They ultimately decided to castrate him in the autumn last year, but will have to wait until the summer to see if that helps. The chimpanzees are only kept outdoors between April and October and Santino’s special behavior usually occurs in June and July.

“It is normal behavior for alpha males to want to influence their surroundings … It is extremely frustrating for him that there are people out of his reach who are pointing at him and laughing,” Osvath said. “It cannot be good to be so furious all the time.”

I’ll try to not rehash what others have said, but if I may, a few points:

I’ve noticed that a disturbing number of news articles refer to Santino as “belligerent,” “anti-social,” and the like. His behavior is characterized as unreasonably antagonistic and hostile, as if it’s wholly unprovoked. On the contrary; Santino’s actions are defensive, not offensive. How would you respond if, day in and day out, naked apes invaded your space, gawked, laughed and pointed at you, and occasionally even assaulted your person, both verbally and physically? (Anyone who’s taken even the occasional trip to a zoo has witnessed humans – adults and children alike – harass the animals, usually with words and noises, but also with improvised weapons.) Probably you wouldn’t like it. Probably you’d become fed up and eventually lash out. Santino is 31 years old; though I’ve no clue how long he’s been held captive in a zoo, probably it’s been years – possibly, decades. How would you handle 31 years of captivity and slow torture?

In regards to the zoo keepers’ efforts to control Santino’s “belligerent” behavior by castrating the poor bloke, I say this: isn’t the obvious answer to remove him from the gorram display? That’s the real issue at play here, not his aggression or excessive levels of testosterone.

And also: humans often invoke our superior intellect – whether this is defined as a sense of self, ability to plan for the future, ability to craft and use tools, what have you – as an ethical justification for our exploitation and enslavement of non-human animals. So what do we do when a non-human animal exhibits human-like intelligence? Why, we (try to) castrate it out of him, of course! Can’t have a dirty, filthy ape acting like a person now, can we? Oh, the irony.

I can only hope that Brother Kwan – another forward-thinking primate – escaped his captors after his own attempt at freedom. Brother, described only as “a monkey,” killed his abusive owner by throwing a coconut at the man’s head. Slave owner Leilit Janchoom died instantly.

Perchance Brother Kawn will make an appearance on a future segment of TCR’s “Monkey on the Lam“?

(More below the fold…)

More human than (the) human(s).

Monday, October 20th, 2008

In The New York Times, “Farm Boy” Nicholas Kristof “Reflects” on time spent murdering innocent, sentient beings:

Then there were the geese, the most admirable creatures I’ve ever met. We raised Chinese white geese, a common breed, and they have distinctive personalities. They mate for life and adhere to family values that would shame most of those who dine on them.

While one of our geese was sitting on her eggs, her gander would go out foraging for food—and if he found some delicacy, he would rush back to give it to his mate. Sometimes I would offer males a dish of corn to fatten them up—but it was impossible, for they would take it all home to their true loves.

Once a month or so, we would slaughter the geese. When I was 10 years old, my job was to lock the geese in the barn and then rush and grab one. Then I would take it out and hold it by its wings on the chopping block while my Dad or someone else swung the ax.

The 150 geese knew that something dreadful was happening and would cower in a far corner of the barn, and run away in terror as I approached. Then I would grab one and carry it away as it screeched and struggled in my arms.

Very often, one goose would bravely step away from the panicked flock and walk tremulously toward me. It would be the mate of the one I had caught, male or female, and it would step right up to me, protesting pitifully. It would be frightened out of its wits, but still determined to stand with and comfort its lover.

He goes on to say,

So, yes, I eat meat (even, hesitantly, goose). But I draw the line at animals being raised in cruel conditions.

How very generous of you, Mr. Kristof.

(More below the fold…)

Kinship Circle: ACT/ Death Is Price Of Freedom At SF Zoo

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net
Date: Dec 28, 2007 4:05 PM
Subject: ACT/ Death Is Price Of Freedom At SF Zoo

KINSHIP CIRCLE PRIMARY – PERMISSION TO CROSS-POST AS WRITTEN

12/28/07: Death Is Price Of Freedom At San Francisco Zoo
http://www.KinshipCircle.org

Kinship Circle - 2007-12-28 - SF Zoo

PHOTO: This undated handout from the San Francisco Zoo (SFZ) shows female Siberian tiger, named Tatiana, [who] managed to escape from [her] enclosure and maul three people, killing one of them. US media report that the tiger may have been helped out of its den by one of the victims.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071227/ts_alt_afp/usanimals_071227152920

EMAIL kinshipcircle [at] accessus.net FOR WORD DOC OF A FORMATTED LETTER.
Easily modify letter and copy/paste it into an email or print out to fax or mail.

==========================

CONTACT INFORMATION. Sample letter follows.

==========================

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ARA PSAs: March of the Penguins

Monday, April 9th, 2007

Prowildlife (Penguins)

Gives new meaning to the term “animal rights terrorism”, no? Ah, if only.

Make the jump for the rest of the photos in this series.

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ARA PSAs: Animals Do Science, Go Clubbing

Monday, February 12th, 2007

Before I head off to bed, one of my favorite animal rights PSA campaigns. Just because.

It’s from Humans for Animals, a group I’d never heard of prior to stumbling across these ads at Ads of the World (here and here). Surprisingly, the comments over at AotW are generally positive. That’s a good sign, right?

I’m out. Sweet dreams.

Humans for Animals (Monkeys)

Humans for Animals (Seal)

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Tagged:

DawnWatch: CBS follow up on Herbie the runaway calf 2/7/07

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

The previous DawnWatch alert, referenced below, can also be found here.

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Feb 8, 2007 11:29 AM
Subject: DawnWatch: CBS follow up on Herbie the runaway calf 2/7/07

CBS – 2 in New York has done a beautiful follow-up story on Herbie, the calf who escaped the slaughterhouse in December. (The DawnWatch 2006 wrap-up alert with the original story is on line at http://tinyurl.com/3aqgyg.)

Herbie and another calf have been adopted from the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary into a loving home. Go to http://wcbstv.com/pets to watch the follow-up story. It will warm your heart.

Please thank the station for its coverage. Positive feedback for animal friendly coverage encourages more of it.

Go to http://wcbstv.com/contact and select reporter Pablo Guzman from the pull-down menu.

Yours and the animals’,
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited — leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards DawnWatch alerts to you, which you enjoy, please help the list grow by signing up. It is free!)

To discontinue DawnWatch alerts go to http://www.DawnWatch.com/nothanks.php

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Tagged:

Kinship Circle: Reprieve For Pig Who Escaped Slaughter

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Kinship Circle – info [at] kinshipcircle.org
Date: Sep 20, 2006 7:04 PM
Subject: Kinship Circle OFF-LINE 9/21 – 9/26 * Reprieve For Pig Who Escaped Slaughter

Kinship Circle will be off-line from:
Thursday, September 21 – Tuesday, September 26

* I will not be able to respond to email from SEPT. 21 – SEPT. 26
* There will be no new campaigns from SEPT. 21 – SEPT. 26
* Send general inquiries to Janet Enoch, Kinship Circle’s vice president: janetelinstar [at] yahoo.com

If possible, please hold personal messages/requests from 9/21 – 9/26. I will do my best to respond when I return, but thank you for understanding I will have many emails to answer…

Take care,
Brenda Shoss, Kinship Circle
http://www.KinshipCircle.org
Letter Library: http://www.kinshipcircle.org/letter_library/default.html

A Kinship Circle Member Asked Us To Get The Word Out About…

From: PJ – PJ [at] mindspring.com
Date: Wed, 20 Sep 2006
Subject: Request for help

Reprieve For Pig Who Escaped Slaughterhouse

If you have questions, contact:
Valary Bremier at valary [at] mindspring.com or 415-461-9300
Kinship Circle is off-line from 9/21-9/26

Ask the pig’s “owner” to not send the animal back to slaughter:
Nila Robinson: 920-986-3472, defense [at] nilarobinson.com

Contact MSNBC, which ran the story below:
Letters to the MSNBC Web site: letters [at] msnbc.com
Letters to MSNBC TV: viewerservices [at] msnbc.com
MSNBC on the Internet
One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052

Contact Greenbay Press Gazette, which also ran the story: Letters To The Editor.

Contact WashingtonPost.com, which also ran the story, here.
CLICK ON “OPINIONS,” second word from left, at top inside navy blue bar just
above the SEARCH window. You have to register, in order to leave feedback.

Pig withstands Tasers to escape slaughter
150-pound porker finally succumbs to tranquilizers but avoids butcher

On MSNBC
On the Washington Post
On the Green Bay Press Gazette

GREEN BAY, Wis. – A pig on the lam from a trip to the butcher withstood Taser shots from police officers and eluded authorities for more than an hour after wandering onto Green Bay’s major highway Wednesday night.

The 150-pound pig was spotted by a passing driver on U.S. 41 at 6 p.m. Wednesday night, Green Bay Police Lt. Todd LePine said. The animal reportedly went into traffic several times, creating a hazard, he said.

Officers located the pig about 7 p.m. and made two attempts to subdue it with a stun gun, he said, but it fled both times after pulling out the Taser probes. A passerby who described himself as a former pig farmer tried to wrestle the animal, but the animal pulled away from him as well, LePine said.

Three tranquilizer darts were finally used to bring the pig under control, and it was placed in blanket and lifted into an animal control van, LePine said. The animal was taken to the Bay Area Humane Shelter that evening. Police said a local attorney planned to claim the pig Thursday.

Appleton attorney Nila Robinson, who raises pigs on her farm, told the Green Bay Press-Gazette the pig was hers. The animal escaped somewhere between an Appleton Starbucks and Maplewood Meats near Green Bay.

###

I called a TV station – and they say the story has gone national – so we may be able to get a lot of support for him. I got the owner’s name and phone number. She’s a lawyer in Shiocton, WI. Nila Robinson: 920-986-3472

I left a short message on her answering machine. Do you think you could put a notice on your email list asking everyone to make a call or maybe someone can get an email address for the newspaper so that we can get a reprieve for this pig before she sends him back to slaughter.

Thank you, PJ Bremier
PJ [at] mindspring.com

If you have questions, contact:
Valary Bremier: valary [at] mindspring.com or 415-461-9300
Kinship Circle is off-line from 9/21-9/26

**********************************

BEAR WITNESS. SPEAK. DEMAND. ACT.
Kinship Circle – Action Campaigns I Literature I Voice For Animals
Nonprofit working in animal protection/cruelty + animal disaster relief campaigns
Brenda Shoss, president * Janet Enoch, vice-president
info [at] kinshipcircle.org
http://www.KinshipCircle.org

DONATE ONLINE: http://www.kinshipcircle.org/donation/donations.html
We are grateful for your support!

DawnWatch: Joanna Burke, beloved member of The Elephant Sanctuary team, is killed 7/21/06

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Jul 23, 2006 5:21 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Joanna Burke, beloved member of The Elephant Sanctuary team, is killed 7/21/06

Many in the animal advocacy community have already heard the devastating news, that Joanne Burke, a handler at Carol Buckley’s wonderful elephant sanctuary in Tennessee, was killed on Friday, July 21, by Winkie.

The news was in the Saturday edition of many papers and on the USA Today website. The USA Today story, headed “Elephant kills handler in Tennessee sanctuary,” opens:

“A 36-year-old woman whose love for pachyderms led her from her native Maine to rural Lewis County, Tenn., was attacked and killed Friday morning at a preserve for aging elephants, authorities said.

Also, a man who handles the 22 Asian and African elephants at The Elephant Sanctuary was injured and hospitalized late Friday at Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia, Tenn.”

(More below the fold…)