In my opinion, the Onion generally does a good job with creating humorous satire. I have been a fan of satire since I first started reading my older brothers’ Mad Magazines. Eventually, they and I moved on to National Lampoon, but my love of satire used to mock the status quo has never waned.
That is why I was so disappointed by the Onion’s new piece of satire, Tyson holds a contest to let fans submit new ideas for torturing chicken to death. I worked in poultry slaughter plants for six years and I was in charge of the slaughter operations for several of those years. I and the people I worked with all took humane slaughter very seriously.
People outside the poultry industry might not believe that individuals who work on the slaughter end of the plant really care about how the animals are treated, but I can assure you they do. Why am I so sure? It is very easy for an experienced person to walk down the evisceration line or even look at carcasses on the deboning or cutup lines and spot carcass damage that may be present and assess its likely cause. Damage that might have been the result of over or under stunning the birds or resulted from the live hangers or catching crew not following proper handling procedures.
Simply put, it is immoral to mistreat the birds and it is also just bad business. Critics of the poultry industry may not believe that individuals working for poultry companies are concerned about the welfare of the birds in their care, but they certainly can’t believe that industry professionals are stupid. Humane handling and slaughter of the birds increases pack-out yield. You can’t sell broken wings or bruised parts and birds that die before being hung on the slaughter line go in the rendering truck.
I realize that some poultry industry critics will always think it is immoral to kill an animal so it can be consumed as food. My beliefs on the relative value of animal and human life come from the Bible. I have gotten used to critics of the poultry industry thinking I and others who have worked in slaughter operations are immoral, but really, do they think we are stupid too?
I suppose I should just accept this Onion satire piece as an attempted joke that bombed. I could also look at it as an attempt to poke fun at activists who portray the act of humanely slaughtering animals for human consumption as barbaric by suggesting that those who consume these animal products are more interested in inflicting animal suffering than they are in producing nutritious food products. I just think that some subjects, like torturing animals for “fun,” just aren’t ever funny.