Sunday, February 07, 2010

Temple Grandin

Anyone else bothered by the new HBO special on Temple Grandin?

On the one hand, I feel like I should watch it just to know what it is everyone is talking about (I have a sinking feeling that a lot of lawyer colleagues will be asking me about it over the coming weeks just as a matter of making pre-court conversation...)

On the other, I can't much think about Grandin's work in the livestock industry without just getting really annoyed. Not that I'm against humane treatment of animals as a general matter, mind you. Nor have I ever much subscribed to the Francione camp of enacting-humane-laws-can-be-more-counterproductive-than-good.

But (at least to me), Grandin is different. Her "work" resonated at such a voluminous scale that I can't help but truly feel that her - in my view - completed warped ideas about animals and slaughter really helped anyone... that is, other than the large-scale operators save face in the public arena or (more likely) assuage their nagging cognitive dissonance the public never sees.

I think her "vision" about how to keep animals calm(er) before killing them is no better or different than giving a condemned prisoner a cigaretter before a firing squad blows his brains out. I understand why the livestock industry lauds her. It is, I suppose, equally understandable - but nonetheless very disappointing - that HBO has also chosen to try to wring profit from her unusual perspective on suffering.


Hannah said...

A point: Grandin IS unorthodox. As someone who's grown up in the cattle business, I'll be the first to agree with you there. However, her handling techniques actually work. I've tried them, and been VERY pleased with the results. (It's to be noted that I'm talking about live animals here.)

In regards to her humane slaughter techniques, may I suggest you look at the statistics? First we have the unavoidable fact that people are going to eat meat. Second, we have the unavoidable fact that animals are going to panic at this. Can't blame them. Slaughter houses have to keep a written record of major disturbances in their animals' behavior because-believe it or not-a cow that panics in the chute is actually worth less once slaughtered than one that stays calm. There's a lot of money at stake in that regard from the consumers all the way down to the beef growers (me).

Before Grandin came on the scene anybody that brought up humane slaughter issues in my end of the business got laughed out of the room. We thought they were NUTS. The humane-slaughter laws that are in place today are there due to the work of loonies like Grandin.

The interesting thing about Grandin is that she wasn't getting paid, initially, for any of this work. It was ridiculously unpopular. Grandin was more worried about terrified cattle than she was about her reputation.

Do I think she's nuts? Yup. Do I think you might need to rethink your angle on Grandin and her motivations? Yup.

neblinal said...

I see nothing wrong with Temple's method trying to give the animals respect and offering them a happier life. God put animals on this earth so we could use them, for food and many other reasons. The way people hurt these animals is so wrong. Because of HBO airing this movie people were able to see what does go on. All that mattered was she was their advocate for these animals who are unable to fend for them selves. She was brave. I just watched a video on you tube of a dairy farm, in Ohio & the owner Gary Conklin, was beating, stabbing, punching the cow's. Just for fun. Watching that makes me not want to buy any dairy anymore. What is so hard about treating animals with respect? Even if we do want their meat, dairy etc..