BY BILL MAHER
Dateline: November 20, 2007 | Crosspost with Huffington Post
New Rule: The president can’t pardon just one or two turkeys this Thanksgiving. He’s got to let them all go.
It’s probably too much to expect from the man who wanted “no child left behind,” then vetoed health care for kids. But think of the upside. Freeing the turkeys might help the president’s credibility when he says things like, “We don’t torture.”
Take a look at this video, shot just last month at a typical American turkey slaughterhouse, and this one, shot undercover last year at a Butterball slaughterhouse by investigators from PETA, and you’ll see that my use of the word is no exaggeration. Butterball employees, taking a page out of the Abu Ghraib handbook, laughed while they kicked, punched, stomped, and even sexually assaulted turkeys.
These people should be arrested. They would be if the turkeys were dogs or cats. Too bad our animal protection laws make about as much sense as fighting a war against a country that doesn’t have an army. Even though 98 percent of the land animals Americans eat are turkeys and chickens, the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act specifically excludes birds from protection. I’m not kidding.
The Butterball plant in the video slaughters about 50,000 turkeys every day. Fifty million turkey corpses will go into American ovens this Thanksgiving. More than 9 billion turkeys and chickens are killed in the U.S. each year. But not one of them is guaranteed a painless death, as documented in this video that was narrated by my fellow animal-lover and HuffPo Blogger, Alec Baldwin. The Senate can find time to vote to condemn an advertisement, but not to add birds to humane slaughter laws.
So in the face of this surreal situation, in which, once again we can’t put our faith in the president, I ask you to do what I’m going to do and pardon a turkey this Thanksgiving. It’s not hard. Just eat something else (ideas here and here). Not someone else, because it doesn’t seem fair to spare a turkey and roast a hunk of pig or cow instead. If we can bow our heads in gratitude for our families, our friends and our big screen TVs, and then carve into a creature who lived a miserable life and died a horrible death, then our ethics are about as sensible as Britney’s parenting skills.
Former Vice President Al Gore should be the first to take the meat-free Thanksgiving pledge. Since raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined, is it too much ask Mr. Gore to stop gazing at his Oscar and his Nobel Prize long enough to read the United Nations report that calls the meat industry “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global”? *
For those of you who believe that the war is just and that global warming is a figment of the elite liberal media’s imagination, here’s the straight poop:
* Turkeys and other animals raised for food produce 130 times as much excrement as the entire U.S. human population — all without the benefit of waste treatment systems. Sewage spills, waste-filled waterways and underground aquifer contaminated with e coli are the meat industry’s gift to Americans this holiday season.
* Turkey meat has just as much cholesterol as the pieces of cow and pig called “red meat.” Eating meat is linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, some cancers, and diabetes.
So do the right thing. Instead of stuffing a turkey this year, stuff the tradition of turkey for Thanksgiving right where it belongs — in history’s trash can.
Bill Maher is the outspoken, controversial comedian celebrated for his specials on HBO and other venues.
[Maher’s attack on Gore is well deserved. For eight long years during the Clinton tenure, the “New Camelot” for those who love fantasy, Gore was at the very top of the inner councils of power and did shinola for the environment, in fact he did less than that: he betrayed the environmental cause. It’s all there, documented. Look it up. Then, his much celebrated film, “Inconvenient Truth” is as much an instrument to educate mainstream audiences about global warming as it is for promoting the political saintliness of Al Gore. Problem is that, as a mainstream liberal, and a certifiable creature of the establishment, Gore is terrific and pointing out symptoms and shying away from causes. Especially since the environmental crisis is systemic, and a direct consequence of runaway productivism and capitalist global dynamics. Because of that Gore would have us, the consumers, be “the solution”—implying we’re also the chief culprit, a facile conclusion— by switching from regular bulbs to fluorescents, or gas-guzzlers to hybrids, but he’s silent about the much deeper causes of the crisis—the role of business in all of this mess, including agribusiness, for example—all of which are given a pass. And his Nobel Prize is just a pat on the back from fellow establishmentarians. It happens often. Any committee that gives Nobel Prizes to sociopathic economist Milton Friedman and war criminal Henry Kissinger cannot be taken too seriously.—PG]