Talking Turkey and the Sanctimony of American Slaughter

Christine Saenz

It’s that time of year again. A time when 45 million turkeys are slaughtered, stuffed, and feasted upon for Thanksgiving dinners across the U.S. According to PETA and other sources, this 45 million makes up 1/6 of the number of turkeys killed each year in America. While many animal rights groups will be imploring President Obama to pardon all turkeys this season, you shouldn’t have to worry about a protest stampeding across your lawn if you partake in this gluttonous “tradition.” Apparently the protestors and news media outlets will be thoroughly preoccupied with the Hindu Gadhimai festival in Nepal, where, every 5 years, 200,000+ animals are ritualistically sacrificed to bring peace and prosperity to devotees.

Last week, an organizing committee member defending the ritual stated, “We will not stop this centuries-old tradition now. This is our religion, belief and tradition and we will continue with it no matter what.” Sound familiar? The 45 million turkeys slaughtered in the U.S. this year will die in the name of our own time-honored beliefs and traditions. On one end of the world, hundreds of thousands of buffaloes, pigs, sheep, birds, and goats (to name just a few) will have their throats slit by priests and their carcasses distributed to devotees after the festival. In our own country, hundreds of millions of turkeys will live their lives in tightly-packed, windowless “houses,” hung upside down in shackles (alive), mercilessly slaughtered, and decorated on dining room tables.

Is there not a blatant disconnect here? It appears that our own society is shaking its finger scornfully at a cultural tradition mirroring its own. The only apparent difference seems to be that while the devotees in Nepal actually attend the sacrificial ceremony, most Americans will only see their turkey as a “dressed” centerpiece on a table, void of any attributes that evoke qualities of its past sentience. Should a culture that remains callously indifferent to the inhumane butchering of 300 million turkeys per year concern itself with this Hindu tradition? Perhaps we should instead direct our misplaced indignation towards the American CAFO that, unlike the Hindu priest, voraciously processes billions of animals every year in an endless assembly line of lifeless commoditization. Or, further still, Americans might want to begin asking why, on such a thinly-veiled consumerist holiday, we feel the need to predicate our own thanks and happiness upon the miserable suffering of so many defenseless creatures.

One Response

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pace Law Library, Animal Blawg. Animal Blawg said: #animalrights Talking Turkey and the Sanctimony of American Slaughter […]

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