Do Californian chickens have rights?

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Do Californian chickens have rights?

In November 2008, Californians voted against the worst confinement systems in animal agriculture. An overwhelming 63% of voters gave permission to farm animals to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. The Proposition 2 victory is extremely important because it shows that the majority of the people do not approve of the current system of industrial animal agriculture. At the same time though, it is sad to think that we are declaring victory over the fact that millions of animals are now “liberated” by gaining a few inches of space inside their cages.

4751_86776639309_516524309_1666017_1916643_n1Coincidentally, during the same election, Proposition 8 was also passed, banning gay marriage in California. Living in Canada where gay marriage is as common and legal as non-gay marriage, the kerfuffle over this issue seems surreal. I don’t think I’m alone when I say I found the ballot initiative to be offensive and distasteful. And the fact that it passed served as a stinging reminder of the deep prejudice against LGBT people that is still very common. To me, this type of prejudice, like cruelty to animals, should never be tolerated.

The outcome of the election gave rise to the argument that chickens now have more rights than gays in California. But is that really true? Does Proposition 2 give RIGHTS to farm animals?

98% of all of our eggs come from this

98% of all of our eggs come from this

Today’s industrial farming system is so cruel that nothing else in history can compare. An egg laying hen spends her entire miserable life inside a small cage with 5-7 other inmates. She stands on a slanted wire-bottomed floor while being defecated on by other hens above her. A breeding sow, probably smarter than most dogs, is locked up in a cage so small that she is unable to take a step forward or backward. She stays like this for her entire life and goes insane from the extreme confinement and lack of mental stimulation.

Thanks to Prop 2, these animals will no longer have to endure the most extreme forms of confinement. But it is a far cry from having any rights.

This leads me to wonder what California would look like if chickens were actually granted rights. First off, chickens would not have to worry about being locked up, beaten, strung up, mutilated and murdered at 6 weeks of age – or EVER. And if they can talk, they would say “screw prop 2, I don’t just want more leg room, I want out of this cage and into an air conditioned sanctuary. And no one better steal any of my kids for no stinking breakfast sandwiches!”

For a chicken, the end is all the same

For a chicken, the end is all the same

But as it stands, even with the help of Prop 2, chickens have no rights. They are still treated more horribly than any slave in history. Can anyone truly and sincerely feel animosity towards chickens for getting a bit more leg room?


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