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Chickens do good things and today is their day in the political sun

A Chicken walking to the left-- or its right

As everyone knows by now, today is International Respect for Chickens Day.

In fact, this entire month is International Respect for Chickens Month, designed to celebrate those feathered fowl and highlight the political import of chickens in our world and also how tasty they are.

All right, not that last point. United Poultry Concerns designated this day and month four years ago to call attention to the intellectual bleakness of life for factory farm chickens.

According to the group, today you folks in Washington, San Diego, Orlando, Niagara Falls,Chicken wings Minneapolis and, of course, Kanab, Utah, among other places, are in for some special chicken political events. These include leafleting, library and poster displays, a chicken run and, naturally, vegan parties.

There, unthinking people will take innocent plants ripped from their native home in the soil and brutally grind them with their teeth.

These chicken events are designed to "capture the beauty, joy, intelligence, dignity and zany exuberance of chickens," according to UPC. (See video below.)

These days the swine industry is gathering much of the public's negative attention. But chicken lovers this month are pushing their vegan agenda by warning widely that chickens and egg products, which come out of the back end of chickens, are the most common source of household food poisonings. Factor that into your menu planning!

“Over the years," says UPC President Karen Davis, "people who once thought they would never care about a chicken have changed their minds after learning about the terrible suffering endured by these birds and after meeting some happy chickens who escaped to live in our sanctuary.”

Judging by the video below, at least one California chicken has learned to take care of himself.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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I'm trying to figure out what would be a substantial difference between this blog entry and one written by a poultry industry lobbyist. While writing about activists who are trying to highlight the suffering of factory farm animals, Andrew Malcolm omits any description of the suffering the activists claim is occurring, instead mocking the idea of animal suffering as "the intellectual bleakness of life for factory farm chickens." The premise of Malcolm's mockery seems to be that animals can't suffer, or at least that chickens *don't* suffer, or at least that their suffering doesn't matter any more than the "suffering" of a vegetable.

Could a meat industry whose primary public-relations goal is public ignorance of what actually happens behind the walls of their facilities have done any better?

In fact, many factory farm animals suffer for their entire lifetimes -- by design. Their bodies actually want to die as a response to their mistreatment, so the industry keeps their bodies alive with drugs -- literally robbing these suffering animals of their desired escape into death. Has alleged journalist Andrew Malcolm personally visited a single modern facility that raises chickens for slaughter? Has he personally seen that these chickens suffer nothing more than "intellectual bleakness"?

I wish Andrew Malcolm would make just such a visit -- the kind of thing a journalist might do before forming an opinion about the claims made by animal activists about what goes on behind slaughterhouse walls. It's the kind of thing one might do if one wanted to illuminate rather than obscure.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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