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Aaron Sorkin Misses the Mark on Animal Rights

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So Sarah Palin shot a caribou on her lousy reality show. Killed it, butchered it, and stuck in her freezer. This is one of the least offensive things that Palin has done in the course of her political career. And yet it has Hollywood screenwriter Aaron Sorkin up in arms. In a hilarious and widely read rant on our beloved HuffPost, he tears into Palin for making a critter snuff film:

Like 95% of the people I know, I don't have a visceral (look it up) problem eating meat or wearing a belt. But like absolutely everybody I know, I don't relish the idea of torturing animals. I don't enjoy the fact that they're dead and I certainly don't want to volunteer to be the one to kill them and if I were picked to be the one to kill them in some kind of Lottery-from-Hell, I wouldn't do a little dance of joy while I was slicing the animal apart.

Well, bully for you, Mr. Sorkin. But it doesn't much matter to a dead animal how you felt about butchering it. It's just as dead.

That you would prefer an underpaid factory worker kill your dinner for you instead of doing it yourself does not make you morally superior to Sarah Palin. Killing an animal to eat is not a "Lottery-from-hell," it's the food chain. That you can choose to participate in the food chain without getting your hands dirty speaks not to your ethics, but to your financial privilege. No, wealthy Sarah Palin doesn't have to kill her own food in order to eat -- but millions of people do.

As for what you call "torture," have you ever been to a factory farm, where most of the meat Americans eat comes from? Livestock are generally kept in crowded, uncomfortable, and unsanitary conditions. They are deprived of natural social interaction with their own kind, fed subpar diets, and subjected to painful practices such as having teeth, tails or beaks removed without anesthesia. In sharp contrast, wild animals like the caribou Palin was hunting have the pleasure of living in their natural habitats, free from cages and steroids and cattle prods. A brief period of suffering at the end of a hunted wild animal's life is nothing compared to the daily torment animals endure on factory farms.

If you genuinely want to take a stand against cruelty to animals, start by identifying the real problems. It's not hunters. It's not Republicans. It's certainly not The Learning Channel.

Real perpetrators of animal suffering are the farming systems that reduce sentient creatures to profit margins, the social trends that reduce pets to status symbols and fashion accessories, and the cosmetic companies that reduce companion animals to laboratory test subjects. But most of all, they are the consumers who choose to look the other way.

Sarah Palin may not know the difference between North and South Korea, but at least she knows where that meat in her freezer came from. Here, Mr. Sorkin, are a few sites you can check out to learn about your own dinner:

And if it makes you feel any better, cocaine is 100% vegetarian.


This article first appeared on FishbowlLA.

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