Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

By: Caroline Zagraniczny

The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but rather, "Can they suffer?" ~Jeremy Bentham

Falsehood, lack of care, and ignorance. Such are the characteristics of the rich in the book The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby holds within it themes of pretense and lies. Themes which are the crux of our modern society. To me, Fitzgerald's themes relate to my life in a different, more obscure way. I believe that people, as a whole, intend to do good upon this world. Yet regarding the issue of slaughterhouses, our society is lulled into complacency; the reduction of costs sugar coating barbaric practices. There is no doubt that parts of our society have viciously spoken out against the abuse of non-domestic animals. Though, be that as it may, many people have used the mask of outrage to conceal their lack of care. It is my belief, that The Great Gatsby ties into the issues of inhumane treatment. When Daisy Buchanan kills Myrtle Wilson, she does not feel guilt. For Myrtle, in her mind, is expendable. She is not of the social elite, so what difference does her death make? Daisy's mindset is similar to how society is apathetic about the treatment of animals in abattoirs. As a matter of fact, parts of the population are not even informed. They are not aware of the atrocities that the animals go through. It is such blasé attitudes as falsehood, lack of care, and ignorance that wreaked havoc upon the society in The Great Gatsby. Our American society is no different; those ideals are what have given birth to the monstrousness committed in such butcheries. The ideals may not be destroying our society, per say, but they have in a sense made us forsake reason and sanity.
Burger King Cruelty - Video Exposes Horrific Animal Abuse at a Burger King Dairy Supplier
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarian.”
― Paul McCartney

“Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence” -Henri Frederic Amiel

Falsehood and Carelessness

For many years now, thousands of people have been petitioning for the humane treatment of animals in food processing plants. However, even with promises being made, the progress is miniscule. A quote from the book Slaughterhouse by Gail A. Eisnitz explains why.

"By 2005, Congress had provided the USDA with more than $11 million to enforce the Humane Slaughter Act. The money, according to assurances from the secretary of agriculture to Senator Byrd, was to be used to hire no fewer than fifty new inspectors for the sole purpose of enforcing the Humane Slaughter Act. To date, the USDA’s promises have proved empty. Apparently not a penny of that money has been used to hire even one in-plant inspector to enforce the Humane Slaughter Act."

Even with all the existing public pressure to cease the painful handling and killing of those animals, there is little being done. As the quote above recites, there have been chances to change the way that "harvesting" occurs. However, even though the responsibility has been shifted into the governments hands, the entirety of the fault lies with the public. As aforementioned, there is public awareness and there are people who are trying to make a difference. An example of this is the creation of The Whole Foods Market. Whole Foods has developed a five step animal welfare rating standard. At each level, the quality of life for the animal improves. Already at step one, the animal has space to move around comfortably, which is better than all modern slaughterhouses. Even so, the majority of the population chooses to go to Jewel, Dominick's, Piggly Wiggly, McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, KFC, Taco Bell or similar smaller supermarket and food chains. That choice is what continues the cruelty. Those who shop at such chains further increase the demand for cheap, quickly produced meat. That demand further stokes the process into a bigger operation. People, like the Buchanans in The Great Gatsby, are careless in the fact that they expect that the problem will somehow go away.

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…” -F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Today's population expects that someone else will solve this gruesome occurrence. If people wholeheartedly did wish to put an end to the injustice, the change would already be in motion. People would stop shopping the way America shops now, and petition to force companies to follow rules and regulations. By ignoring the disturbing truth and pretending to care about the animals we eat, not only do we harm those creatures; we harm ourselves. Daisy and Tom were blinded by their lifestyle; they regarded themselves to be above everyone and had no problems in "smashing up things and creatures". By treating this issue with a sense of pretense and a lack of care we become like Tom and Daisy. We become empty, shallow, and hurtful people.

“Most ignorance is vincible ignorance. We don't know because we don't want to know.” -Aldous Huxley

An outlook to the future; made personal.

Like many others, when I first learned the truth I was horrified. However, I naively thought that people did care about what happened behind the walls of slaughterhouses. I believed that there was change occurring; that it just took time. It was all very removed from my life. Though that is the way it is for everyone; it is not an issue until it becomes personal. However, on August 12th, 2012 it all changed.

"All non-domestic animals must be removed from the premises" -The Village of Deer Park

It all started with ten words. In today's world, the grassroots organizations that preach for organic food have been gaining more attention by the year. However, even with the growing support, as of this year my life has been turned upside down. Recently, the hometown where I live in has forbidden my family and I from owning our own livestock. Many people look down upon the lifestyle that I lead. Although, surprisingly the people who do judge me are not strangers. My own friends look at my lifestyle with distaste. Is it really a crime that I choose to consume eggs from a happy animal? One that has not been cruelly smashed into a cage? Is it a crime that I choose to shun the heartless killings? Change starts from the people, and only the people. The fact that my family and I are trying to bring about that change should not be condemned. It should not be condemned by the people who speak against slaughterhouse practices. This is the phony mask that society puts on; the mask that hides the twisted truth. People like the idea of stopping the cruelty, but they do not like the idea of actually changing reality. American society is like that of The Great Gatsby. It is like a distorted image of Tom and Daisy Buchanan; pretending to give a care about the world while hiding their faces of indifference. So why did the chicken cross the road? Simply, to get to the other side.

"The truth is rarely pure, and never simple" -Oscar Wilde

Jermey Bentham- English philosopher

Henri Frederic Amiel- Swiss philosopher, poet, and critic

Aldous Huxley- English Writer

Oscar Wilde- Irish Poet