UPC President Karen Davis’s
letter appears in today’s edition of the Rockdale Citizen,
in Conyers, Georgia (www.rockdalecitizen.com).
Her letter addresses the arrest on charges of animal cruelty of
seven young men and women who broke into a chicken house in Bulloch
County GA on Sunday, August 31, where they decapitated several chickens
for fun and videotaped the assault. For more information visit http://www.upc-online.org/alerts/90403videokillings.htm.
To the editor:
I am writing in reference to the article headlined, “Conyers
teens charged in chicken killings” (Citizen, Sept. 4).
The seven young men and women who reportedly abused chickens and
videotaped the abuse should get the maximum punishment for their
crimes, as well as counseling. However, putting them to work in
a chicken slaughterhouse, as proposed by Bulloch County Chief Deputy
Gene McDaniel (perhaps in jest), is an inappropriate punishment
if the goal is to rehabilitate them. Killing chickens for a living
is not fun for most people, but killing chickens for a living does
fuel cruel and sadistic impulses in many employees, who vent hatred
of their jobs on the chickens, their spouses, their children, their
neighbors and themselves. Torturing the chickens at the plant becomes
a job-related pleasure for many frustrated poultry workers, whose
relationship to the birds is, after all, a completely violent one.
Alcoholism, amphetamine use, mental illness, assault with deadly
weapons, manslaughter, child endangerment, child abuse, domestic
violence and animal abuse are endemic to the slaughterhouse milieu.
As one former chicken slaughterhouse employee explained after giving
several examples of cruelty to the birds and to people that he witnessed
and practiced himself, “This type of work teaches you a callous
disregard for life and an inability to feel compassion or pity for
others who are suffering. Especially the ones who go to the killing
room every night. It just breaks down a person’s inhibitions.”
(Virgil Butler, via e-mail to United Poultry Concerns, Aug. 12,
For this and other reasons, killing chickens to eat should not
be considered unproblematic and irrelevant to killing chickens for
fun. Look at how television commercials and “reality”
shows are increasingly promoting the mistreatment and killing of
chickens and other animals as sexy, cool and fun.
Thus, while the young people charged with animal cruelty are morally
and legally responsible for their vicious conduct, it’s a
mistake to ignore the fact that they were responding to adult cues
that urge, tease and challenge kids to be cruel to the defenseless.
What they did to those birds is a societal issue that needs our
attention and not simply a youthful oddity.
Karen Davis, PhD
United Poultry Concerns Inc.
Web site: http://www.upc-online.org