Suppose at your local grocery store there was a clerk that, before putting the vegetables out on display, would urinate on them. Would you want them caught? What if the person who caught them doing it was not a USDA inspector? Would it bother you that the privacy of that person or the grocery chain was being violated?
Evidently it’s a terrible problem if a non-USDA inspector catches questionable activities on film and takes the time to build a case before taking it to the authorities. That’s why many states are passing laws making it illegal for people to take undercover video at feed lots, slaughterhouses, and meat packing plants. If you’re not a USDA inspector (who have in the past been caught telling owners how to avoid getting caught) you’re not allowed to care what happens to the animals you eat, or what might be going into your meat.
The excuses for this from the meat industry are pretty lame:
“At the end of the day it’s about personal property rights or the individual right to privacy,” said [American Legislative Exchange Council] spokesman Bill Meierling. “You wouldn’t want me coming into your home with a hidden camera.”
Seriously? That’s the best argument they can come up with? Equating a slaughterhouse, where food for millions of people is processed, to a private home is ridiculously asinine. It’s already illegal for me to make food in my home for sale to the public without Health Department certification–if even then. And if I were, then I would expect little legal standing to keep someone from filming any non-code activities while making that food. If they wandered off and videoed my kids playing in their rooms, sure, but not the activities around making food that unsuspecting people might buy and eat. And Child Protection Services can show up on my doorstep without even a shred of evidence beyond a complaint from a neighbor.
In a way, it’s no skin off my nose. I’m a vegetarian, so it’s not me that’s going to be poisoned by sick cows being put into the food chain. But the reason I’m vegetarian is because I don’t see why animals that are giving their lives to feed us have to be treated so poorly. If we’re not going to give them a choice, the least we can do is give them some respect and dignity.
It’s not like these videos are just to stir up public sympathy. In most of the cases there were criminal charges filed against the abusers. It’s not like these videos are taken just to protest perfectly legal practices. The people caught by these videos are willfully going against laws and regulations in place to protect you and me. So in spite of the statements of the various meat industry councils and representatives, these laws are not about helping animals or stopping domestic terrorism. It’s about continuing to get away with things they don’t want people to see. It’s about protecting their image and their profits.
It’s definitely not about looking out for you and me. It’s money and politics once again winning out over public safety and health. I hope you can stomach it.