Opinion

Vote “Yes” on Question 3 and support animal rights

Massachusetts voters have a chance next Tuesday, November 8, to take a stand in favor of animal rights. Ballot measure 3 is against farm animal confinement. The law, if passed, would prohibit any farm operator from knowingly put any breeding pig, calf raised for veal, or egg-laying hen in confinement that prevents the animal from “lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, or turning around freely” and any business operator from selling products from animals that they know were confined in the manner described above. I am supportive of this law and urge voters to vote “yes” on Question 3.

According to Andrea Shea on WBUR, the main argument of the pro side is that humane farming practice effectively stops cruelty to animals on farm and is also healthy for animals and consumers, because the animals raised in a less harsh environment will be less likely to be infected by diseases. The main argument of the con side is that the price of eggs and meat of humanely kept animals will increase significantly and cause more hunger issues, because many people dealing with financial hardship will not be able to afford them.

I believe that the confinement of animals is a more serious issue than the economic repercussions. I see pushing animals into tiny cages as a form of slavery, because it is as demeaning to animals as slavery is to humans. It takes away all that makes animals what they are—free creatures who have the right to walk around and breathe the fresh air when they are alive. According to the Humane Society of United States, the vast majority of egg-laying hens are confined in so-called “battery cages” in the United States. Each caged hen has an average space of only 67 square inches, which is less than a single sheet of letter-sized paper. A hen spends her entire life in this kind of cage, restrained from nesting, perching, and dustbathing. Scientist and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Konrad Lorenz said it was “truly heart-rending to watch how a chicken [tried] again and again to crawl beneath her fellow cagemates to search there in vain for cover” in egg-laying season.

Let me be clear that voting for Question 3 does not mean ignoring the problem of food prices. Though the farm owners will probably charge higher prices for their products to raise revenues if Massachusetts passes this law, new economic plans can be devised in response to the change. We can also help the poor by establishing more food distribution programs and wasting less food. According to Compassion in World Farming, North America and Europe waste up to half of their food, which would be sufficient to feed the undernourished people three to seven times over. Plus, about a third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted in industrial farming, and humanely keeping farm animals will potentially help food resources recycle by turning food waste into food products.

Banning the sale of products of animal confinement in other states could lead to a nation-wide campaign toward cage-free breeding methods that will eventually transform American farming industry. Americans have made a considerable progress in the past four hundred years in valuing human life. Valuing animal life should be the next goal.

It is common for humans to include animal meat in our diets, but this does not mean that we are justified in letting animals live their entire lives in bondage. The lions kill the zebras, but the zebras roam free—they do not only exist to feed the lions. No species should live only to die for another species. Only humans are arrogant enough to manipulate other creatures to do that. We have caused enough inflictions on the planet earth and our fellow inhabitants, and even our fellow human beings. In the frenzy of industrial and technological developments, we are losing our kindness and conscience. It is a sad thing, but voting for Question 3 can help us bring some of that kindness and conscience back. Please vote “yes” for Question 3.

Photograph source: David Stephenson, via the Humane Society website.