Via the MARC list I came across Bill Maher’s excellent and well-timed pre-thanksgiving rant about turkeys. He links to a few slaughterhouse videos to emphasize the point:

These people should be arrested. They would be if the turkeys were dogs or cats. Too bad our animal protection laws make about as much sense as fighting a war against a country that doesn’t have an army. Even though 98 percent of the land animals Americans eat are turkeys and chickens, the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act specifically excludes birds from protection. I’m not kidding.

He calls for readers to have a cruelty-free thanksgiving meal:

So in the face of this surreal situation, in which, once again we can’t put our faith in the president, I ask you to do what I’m going to do and pardon a turkey this Thanksgiving. It’s not hard. Just eat something else (ideas here and here). Not someone else, because it doesn’t seem fair to spare a turkey and roast a hunk of pig or cow instead. If we can bow our heads in gratitude for our families, our friends and our big screen TVs, and then carve into a creature who lived a miserable life and died a horrible death, then our ethics are about as sensible as Britney’s parenting skills.

He even makes the connection to the environmental crisis and Al Gore’s (and other environmentalists’) refusal to significantly acknowledge the role of meat-eating in that crisis:

Former Vice President Al Gore should be the first to take the meat-free Thanksgiving pledge. Since raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined, is it too much ask Mr. Gore to stop gazing at his Oscar and his Nobel Prize long enough to read the United Nations report that calls the meat industry “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global”?

The recent Rolling Stone interview with Gore (page 54 in this digital edition) misses this point entirely:

On a Sunday afternoon, two days after Al Gore received the news that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, I sat down with him in the leafy, wooded back yard of his Nashville home. Following a lunch of steak he barbecued with Tipper, his wife of thirty-seven years, he spoke with passion and confidence about the future. (emphasis added)

Kudos to Maher for pointing to the inherent contradictions in our laws about animal cruelty, which in general exclude the very animals most in need of protection, and the hypocrisy of environmental movements which fail to connect the dots where they find the connection too inconvenient.

Why is it that when a single individual (take Michael Vick, for example) abuses animals there’s a great outcry, but when an entire industry is pervaded by (or even based in) cruelty is accepted as “industry practice”?

I may even have to go back to reading the Huffington Post on the strength of this post.