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April 23, 2009

Center for Industry Freedom?

Recently, we’ve seen case after case of cruelty to farm animals. Wherever undercover investigators have probed, they have brought shocking cruelty to light.

Downed cow rammed with forklift at Hallmark/Westland in Chino, CA
© The HSUS
A downed cow is rammed with a forklift at Hallmark/Westland.

In California, downed cows tormented to get them to stand. In Ohio, pigs killed by hanging. Turkeys kicked, punched and stomped on in West Virginia. Pigs beaten with blunt instruments in North Carolina. Egg-laying hens thrown into trash cans to die a slow, painful death in Maine.

The footage that has come to light is repulsive. In the aggregate, it paints an ugly picture of the state of self-regulation within the industrial agriculture sector.

When confronted with photographic and video evidence of the grim mistreatment of animals inside these facilities, the leaders of these companies typically profess ignorance. They excuse them as isolated cases, outside of the norms of industry, and pledge corrective action.

But what’s the underlying attitude? The unfiltered view?

Well you can find it on Twitter, of all places. David Martosko is the mouthpiece of the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF)—a primary critic of animal welfare groups, nutrition and health advocates, environmentalists, and anti-drunk driving groups. CCF is a front group for corporations that do not want their fingerprints on their counterattacks against public interest organizations, and it has distinguished itself for scattershot reprisals toward Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the American Public Health Association, the Harvard School of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, PETA, and, of course, The HSUS.

So what does Martosko have to say about the farm animal cruelty that has come to light in case after case?

“Cheap solution to #PETA & #HSUS? Stop animal-rights infiltrators in farms & slaughterhouses … ” He then provided a link to a website that sells a supposed gadget to detect the presence of hidden cameras. (The #-signs indicate Twitter subject tags.)

That’s right, Martosko and his ilk have a simple answer to cruelty. Prevent anyone from seeing it. Don’t fret about the suffering, just stop the chronicling of it.

When some industry groups were confronted with the abuse of downed cows, they joined with The HSUS to call for reforms. There are some within the agribusiness sector who recognize that the public is deeply concerned about animal welfare, food safety, and transparency. Then, there are the likes of CCF and David Martosko: Is there a form of institutional cruelty that they won't defend or conceal?

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