United Poultry Concerns September 12, 2003

Chicken killings traced to cues inspiring kids to be cruel

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, 2003).

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.
Machipongo, Va.
Web site: http://www.upc-online.org



United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
FAX: 757-678-5070

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