GUEST POST – “Save a hog, eat a teacher”: Challenging animal agriculture

by Kathleen Stachowski who writes about animal rights at  where this article is cross-posted & on Facebook The title refers to one of the attacks an opponent directed at Ms. Stachowski for her guest-opinion piece in the Missoulian – Cowgirl


What happens when you criticize animal agriculture? I’ll tell you. You’re called a “complete moron.” A “libtard.” An “idiot” and an “a**hole.” You’re told to “shut the f up.” Oh, and look, here’s Yoda in an Internet meme: “The retard is strong with this one.” The local newspaper is labeled a “commie” for printing your guest column (a “direct assault on our culture”), and further accused of printing “a bunch of propoganda [sic] stuffed with opinions.” OK, I’ll cop to the opinions…my column (read it here) appeared on the Opinion Page.  

Missoula County (Montana) voters are being asked to pay for a multi-million dollar high school bond to make significant, needed upgrades to infrastructure, Internet capacity, and school security. Included along with these vital necessities is nearly $600,000 for a “full meat-processing center” for the Vocational Agriculture Program. For me–a former teacher–that’s the deal-breaker, and my column outlines why. The reasons are larger than “just” the exploitation of animals, though that alone would suffice.

I didn’t expect to feel the love, but the vitriolic, sometimes apoplectic response was a stark reminder that–in spite of its unsustainable and devastating excesses, its out-of-proportion resource use, its inability to address world hunger, its violence and the human health woes that result from consuming its products–animal ag is not going to go gently into that or any goodnight. The status quo hates change, doesn’t wanna change, and won’t change without a fight. But “status quos are made to be broken,” quips author Ray Davis, and evolving consumer values and advances in humane alternatives just might supplant the fight anyhow.

“Because violence has no place in schools,” I wrote,  “taxpayers are asked to fund security upgrades to thwart those whose intentions are violent. Fair enough. At the same time, we’re asked to fund a program that promotes violence against sentient nonhumans (and inures students to it) as part of the curriculum.” And here’s where a major disconnect comes into play: it seems that animal ag people don’t consider it violence to take the life of another who wants to continue living. Said one commenter, disputing a couple of my claims, “Their sole purpose is not to be raised for slaughter. They are learning tools, companions, and teach students responsibility. Animals are not treated as commodities, but as friends.” Though I don’t doubt the sincerity of this response, where do you go with that? (Yes, yes, I know…with friends like that, etc.)

If so inclined, peruse the 100+ combined comments posted to the column at the newspaper’s website (some of the more civil comments appear to be from ag students and industry people) and at the newspaper’s Facebook page (“save a hog eat a teacher”) to see what happens when you challenge animal agriculture and the ag program in your local school. Keep in mind that Missoula recently became the first city in Montana to pass an ordinance banning wild and exotic animal performances (article), meaning that folks around here are just like humans everywhere: they possess well-honed compartmentalization skills that enable us to place some sentient nonhumans (e.g., wild, exotic, and companion animals) in one protective box while relegating others (e.g., “market” animals; “livestock”) to another less compassionate and entirely utilitarian box.


9 Comments on "GUEST POST – “Save a hog, eat a teacher”: Challenging animal agriculture"

  1. Be careful, lest you aspirate a sentient moth with that rambling.

  2. But, uh, BACON! I can’t survive without my bacon! What will keep my eggs under control? What do I do with my hot dogs without a bacon wrapper! Ugh. sorry, give me bacon or give me…beans?

  3. Yes, and we should also do away with biology labs where they dissect frogs. Can I hear an Amen? There are a lot of folks that make their living in the meat industry, I don’t think they would consider themselves to be depraved killers.

  4. Cares a whole lot | November 7, 2015 3:06 AM at 3:06 AM |

    Thank you for speaking up Kathleen. I totally agree with you. Is says something about the people that use words such as what you were called. More and more people are waking up and realizing that these animals are more than a commodity and besides they cause cancer.

  5. You can’t force enlightenment on the masses. I became a vegetarian in the 1980’s and had to deal with lots of pushback from “friends”. Whatever karma we create now, we get back later.

  6. If humans ever become evolved and enlightened enough to have compassion for all beings, we would look back at our treatment of animals with horror and disgust.

    Sadly, I doubt this evolution will ever develop because of our greed and self-centered concerns. The unkind way we treat our fellow humans is a perfect example of how far we are from spiritual awakening.

    It never fails that the least evolved among us will object most loudly and harshly against anyone who tries to advocate for animals, the animals that endure torture in our factory farms, and are treated cruelly for our entertainment in rodeos, circuses, or pig wrestling at the county fair. Let’s not forget the heinous “sport” of trapping where animals suffer for long periods of time, often trying to chew off their own legs to escape the trap.

    Basically, we are a cruel species, but there are bright souls among us that try their best to awaken the compassion gene that surely resides in all, or at least most of us.

    Many thanks to all of you Bright Souls.

    “The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but “Can they suffer?”
    ― Jeremy Bentham, “The Principles of Morals and Legislation”

  7. pegleg32: Amen. Eighteen states (so far) have dissection choice laws for K-12 students; anyone interested in pursuing this for your own state can look here:

    Cares a whole lot and Barbara P., thanks to both of you Bright Souls!

    Snuhwolf, you’re right, you can’t force it on the masses. But you can make it available to them. You can plant seeds–seeds of doubt, seeds of truth, seeds that grow briars to prick consciences–and sometimes they’ll fall on fertile ground. “Endless pressure, endlessly applied.” ~Kathleen

  8. I totally agree with Barbara P.
    I find our society is not as advanced as it thinks it is. Agribusiness does not care for animals or FOR US. They care only for $$$$ and that seems to be the predominate theme in this country these days.
    Why is it so difficult to open OUR hearts to care about sentient beings all sentient beings; and why do so many care only for themselves and why cannot they see that to care for all is to make the world a better place. Everyone has a place on the “continuum” of life, but my hope is that those who remain on the lower end (agribusinesses and those that support them)move forward to enlightenment and love.
    All animals (including humans) have feelings. They feel hurt (and believe it or not) LOVE. Let’s wake up and ground ourselves in the moral rather than the material.

Comments are closed.