"I've noticed that quite a lot of people who are prominent in the animal liberation movement are Jews. Maybe we are simply not prepared to see the powerful hurting the weak." --Peter Singer (Author, Animal Liberation)


The Cruelty of Battery Cages

I have a letter to the editor about battery cages in this week's issue of The Commentator, the student newspaper of NYU's law school. (Click here to read my 2007 article about eggs in Carnegie Mellon's The Tartan.)

Hens in Battery-Cages Constitutes Cruelty

To the Editor:

I take issue with Andrew Kloster’s letter trivializing the importance of reducing suffering to egglaying hens (“Coke Now Available, but Some Want to Regulate Your Ova,” The Commentator, February 18, 2009). Hens in battery-cages are packed together so tightly, in such tiny spaces, that they wouldn’t even be able to move a single wing if there were no other birds present. Battery cages are arguably the cruelest devices in all of industrialized farming, and it is an ethical imperative to stop supporting them.

Mr. Kloster complained that efforts to reduce animal suffering are done “in the name of vaunted ethical gods.” Mr. Kloster is disregarding the wisdom of religious teachings—particularly monotheistic ones, if I may take issue with his wording—that condemn cruelty to animals. In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that... hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that
comes across in the Bible.”

Mr. Kloster also claimed, “What highfalutin ideas we may entertain at the law school may not be relevant to the average NYU undergraduate.” Battery cages have been banned by the European Union, and hundreds of U.S. colleges and universities have made the compassionate decision not to buy eggs from such inhumane sources. Cruelty to animals raised for food is indeed “relevant” to the entire student body. It should be a great concern that all of us take seriously.


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