Animal Rights and Other Social Justice Movements
This Statement was prepared for the April 8, 2000 Animals and Law
Conference at Pace Law School on Animal Rights and Other Social
Justice Movements in the New Millennium.
From Karen Davis, PhD, President, United Poultry Concerns
On behalf of United Poultry Concerns, I would like to
express our concern that the animal advocacy community would
support employment that constitutes animal abuse. In particular,
we are concerned that animal advocates would support making it
more comfortable for people to work for the poultry industry.
While we support social justice, we recognize that not all social
justice interests are compatible and that not all jobs can be
ethically supported. The unpleasantness of a job for a worker
does not of itself entitle that job to be benefited. Some work is
not fit to do. Raising animals for slaughter, rounding them up
for slaughter, transporting, and killing them--the entire bundle
of violent, cruel, abusive jobs that constitute the poultry
industry cannot logically be supported by animal or peace
However underpaid, poultry industry employees are neither
legal property nor slaves, whereas the birds are both. Workers'
choices may be limited, but people with limited choices leave
jobs all the time for reasons that are far less compelling than
why a person should get out of the poultry industry instead of
demanding better pay to abuse birds for a living. Poultry
industry employees are not children but consenting adults, and
while they may be victimized by Perdue and Tyson, etc., they
themselves violently and directly victimize animals. The fact
that they do not object to such work as long as they get
sufficiently paid to do it shows the insensitivity and lack of
empathy such work produces.
United Poultry Concerns opposes any alliance that animal
advocates would make with individuals or groups that support and
perpetuate animal abusing employment. Commitment to a worthwhile
life for humans and nonhuman animals means supporting morally
responsible occupations, not cruel and unconscionable ones, like
working for the poultry industry. Making it more lucrative and
"dignified" for people to mistreat animals is a misguided
approach for animal advocates to take. It is a betrayal of our
mission and a betrayal of the birds and other animals whom our
species has already desolated and deprived of everything but
misery, horror, and murder. Helping people to feel and be more
comfortable in a cruel and abusive occupation does not help them.
It would be wrong for the animal advocacy community to facilitate
the illusion that it does.
United Poultry Concerns. April 14, 2000
May 12, 2000
Dear Karen Davis,
I wanted to thank you for the statement you prepared for the
Animals and Law Conference at Pace Law school, this year. I know
it takes a great deal of integrity--and courage--to speak the
truth about the immorality of supporting better working
conditions and wages for those who choose to work at jobs that
Besides my work for Humane Religion, I also work with the
National Farm Workers Ministry. We support migrant farm workers
who harvest the produce that feeds us in this country. And from
my experience with addressing local churches and political
groups, I know full well that my fellow liberals have no
understanding that being financially disadvantaged does not mean
that you are ethically challenged. The liberal cliche that you
need to be financially secure in order to do the right thing, is
actually a terrible bias against the moral character of the poor.
Thank you for your work,
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
( Animal Rights and Other Social Justice Movements )