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Chicken rights

Letter to the Editor | Monday, April 24, 2006

In the April 19 issue of The Observer, Julie Nichols expressed her perspective on how we students could do our part to “make the world a better place” and “ease the suffering in the world” through decisions based on “compassion and decency” (“Rid campus eateries of battery cage eggs”). I highly doubt anyone would argue that these abstract goals are quite worthy of our attention and commitment, as suffering and injustice are rampant on both an international and local scale.

Amidst my consideration of how to address suffering around the world, Julie pointed out to me that farmers are confining their egg-producing chickens to “barren, wire cages” all over the world. Wait a second. Now this is a topic that truly deserves my attention. Let me forget about the international struggles against genocide in Sudan, the enslavement and forced prostitution of women in Eastern Europe and the growing sweatshops in Southeast Asia. All of the homeless, starving and impoverished people living on the streets in the US are also going to have to wait. Sorry CLAP and AllianceND, but it’s the chickens’ turn.

I cannot truly express my severe disappointment that human rights (on whatever scale) are less important than the quality of life for your average chicken. At no point should animal rights step ahead of our own as a campus priority. While nothing necessarily threatens our existence as students, our attention would be much better spent addressing any worthwhile human cause before an arbitrary animal rights cause.

Ultimately, Julie would like to see Notre Dame buy its eggs from a source that does not confine its chickens to a cage. If it were up to me, I’d much rather see the effort and money that she would apply to this cause sent to an international relief organization or earmarked for an increase in the wages of campus employees. While I completely agree that we should base our decisions on “compassion and decency,” I find that neither of these criteria is met by wasting resources on a species that is not even capable of appreciating it. Go tell a starving child or an impoverished working father that mistreated chickens deserve aide before them, and I guarantee that you do not understand compassion and decency.

John LentzsophomoreKeough HallApril 20