And wondering where we strayed, posterity will note that in America, farm animals were excluded from the very definition of “animal” in the protections provided in our federal Animal Welfare Act. A few minimal regulations apply, such as a new one — a glimpse of the whole ethical setting — saying that you can’t use bulldozers to drag to slaughter a dairy cow too sick or lame to walk to her own death. Even this was resisted by the cattle and dairy lobby as a meddling in their private affairs. What should we expect of an industry that may be described, almost literally, as lawless?
Egg producers call the process “maceration,” doubtless because “chick shredding” didn’t have quite the right ring of science and normality. They borrowed the term from wine-makers — apparently figuring, hey, what does it really matter whether you’re doing it with grapes or to living creatures? If it were some guy in his backyard “macerating” a handful of live baby birds, instead of a supposedly respectable global enterprise doing it to billions of them, witnesses would call the police, who would call in the psych unit. Never mind what kind of industry can get away with such a thing. What kind of industry would even think of it?
“One measure of human moral progress — amid and despite the savageries we visit upon each other — is how we treat the innocent in our care. And none are more innocent than these.”