A couple weeks ago I participated in a Die In, organised by FARM and held across the street from the US Department of Agriculture in DC. The Washington Monument on one side, and all these government buildings on another. You just can’t feel more in the middle of governmental happenings than that, especially not when one of those giant green helicopters flies right over you.
This is not really a good feeling. We were a peaceful group, with the proper permits, holding signs, ringing a bell, and wearing black, yet our government will consider that terrorism with the new flavor of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. (Here is an excellent analysis of the AETA.)
Disturbing doesn’t even cover it.
But the Die In. This was for World Farm Animals Day. I’d never been to one before, for any cause, and had no real idea what to expect. A nice nap in the sun was my thought, to be honest. And it really was the easiest demo I’ve ever participated in.
We got there a few minutes before it started, picked up our t-shirts (yes, I had to get a youth medium, the smallest size they had there) and milled around talking to people while waiting for it to start.
There were a bunch of people holding signs in a semi-circle, and then the rest of us layed down on the ground (mostly shady, to my great disappointment) and tried to look “dead, not asleep”, as requested by Dawn of FARM.
We were giggly at first, or at least I was, and it was hard to not feel peaceful and prone to smiling. But Dawn talked about the animals in terms of numbers. In terms of how many we represented, the 50 or so of us who showed up. 1 million animals each, killed for the profit and pleasure of humans.
Every time the bell rang, every 30 seconds for 27 minutes, was symbolic of another 10,000 animals killed in those 30 seconds. 10,000 animals in 30 seconds. That really is the rate that animals are killed in this country.
It was not hard to be somber when considering these numbers. As I watched the clouds drifting across the sky, they didn’t look like bunnies or snowmen, they looked like connective tissue under the microscope. They looked like processed and rendered bits of formerly sentient beings.
At the end, right before we descended upon the treats provided by Java Green and Sticky Fingers Bakery, Dawn talked about how difficult it can be to hold still for 30 minutes, that though it is not actually a long time, it can seem like a long time when you are so restricted. Yet laying on the soft grass with a gentle breeze, hearing the birds chirping and not smelling anything in particular, breathing freely, not moving, yet not constricted…compare this to life inside a gestation crate or a battery cage. Life isn’t long for them, but every second must be agony.
Andy Rooney, of all people, recently said,
I often pass a farm with cows grazing in the field and I think to myself how terrible it is that human beings grow other animals just to kill them and eat them.
Isn’t it, though? The good news is that human beings don’t have to exploit animals at all. That we do is horrifying. That we have no need to use them, for medicine, health, entertainment, or transportation, is something everyone should be thinking about.