Two interesting "undercover" videos came my way today. The first is from activist group Mercy For Animals, and shows workers at an Ohio dairy farm abusing cows and young calves, including stabbing cows in the face, legs and stomach with pitchforks, and kicking injured "downed" cows -- abuse carried out and encouraged by the farm's owner.
Does this represent every dairy farm? Of course not. Most make at least some effort to be humane.
(Though there's a sharp limit on how humane you can be in the production of milk in industrial quantities, since you have to keep the dairy cows giving birth to keep the milk flowing; those calves mostly end up as beef and veal, and there's no retirement plan for old dairy cows once they are no longer economically viable milk producers. The natural life span of a cow is 15 to 20 years, but a typical dairy cow (conventional or organic) only lives four to six years before she's slaughtered and ends up as sausages and pet food. Still, I believe the level of cruelty seen in this video would sicken most dairy farmers.)
Not everyone likes the fact that cruelties like this get exposed. Some in the industries that profit from animal abuse would like to "shoot the messenger". Thus, the second animal-abuse related video -- or, supposed animal-abuse related video -- that came my way today: a claimed exposé of the Humane Society of the United States's (HSUS) Duchess Horse Sanctuary, by a group called the Center for Consumer Freedom.
Now, I've sent money to HSUS before, so I was anxious to see if my donations were being misused. What did I see in this exposé? Horses being beaten? Starving, diseased animals? No. I saw some horses in a muddy field, with captions that suggest that this is the entirety of the sanctuary. I've camped out in fields that were almost as bad after enough rain. (Squishwood!)
In point of fact, the Duchess Sanctuary is an 1,120-acre facillity; a video that shows that that an area of perhaps a half an acre is muddy on some day in February (a fairly rainy month in the Eugene, Oregon area, is not exactly damning.
So, I asked myself, what's up with this "Center for Consumer Freedom"? And with a little Google-fu, I had my unsurprising answer: shills. The "Center for Consumer Freedom", the group behind this video, is an front group for the restaurant, meat, alcohol, and tobacco industries, who's primary strategy is to "shoot the messenger" and attempt to discredit any groups -- such as the HSUS -- that criticize these industries.
According to SourceWatch:
The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) (formerly called the "Guest Choice Network (GCN)") is a front group for the restaurant, alcohol, tobacco and other industries. It runs media campaigns which oppose the efforts of scientists, doctors, health advocates, environmentalists and groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, calling them "the Nanny Culture -- the growing fraternity of food cops, health care enforcers, anti-meat activists, and meddling bureaucrats who 'know what's best for you.'"
...[CCF's] advisory board is comprised mainly of representatives from the restaurant, meat and alcoholic beverage industries."
And from www.ConsumerDeception.com:
The Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit corporation run by lobbyist Richard Berman through his Washington, D.C.-based for-profit public relations company, Berman & Co. The Center for Consumer Freedom, formerly known as the Guest Choice Network, was set up by Berman with a $600,000 “donation” from tobacco company Philip Morris.
Berman’s name might sound familiar. In 1995, Berman and Norm Brinker, his former boss at Steak and Ale Restaurants, were identified as the special-interest lobbyists who donated the $25,000 that disgraced then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was hauled before the House Ethics Committee for influence-peddling over the money. Berman and Brinker were lobbying against raising the minimum wage.
The key to Berman’s aggressive strategy is, in his own words, “to shoot the messenger ... we’ve got to attack their credibility as spokespersons,”—an interesting remark from someone whose background and funding so severely challenge his own credibility.