The HSUS and Prop. 2 in CA: The Big Picture

The NYT Magazine takes an in-depth look at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and their support for Prop. 2 in California. Prop. 2 would require farmers to house chickens, pigs and veal calves in less restrictive conditions. It’s mainly about chickens though as CA has LOTS of chicken farmers and almost no pig or veal producers. Prop. 2 requires that chickens be able to fully extend their wings without touching the sides of a cage:

That doesn’t mean that California chickens will live like the chickens in the final scene of a Proposition 2 commercial, in which a handful of them peck and strut in the grass of an idyllic farm. “Free-range” chickens have access to outdoors — though that may be only a slab of concrete — while cage-free hens live in henhouses and usually never go outside. And depending on the producer, the henhouse may be a comparatively roomy, modern system with plenty of space and sunlight. Or not. The worst-run operations are dirty, dark barns crammed with thousands of chickens that never see daylight.

The article also looks at the toning down of the shock campaigns of previous animal rights efforts in order to appeal to a larger demographic. And specifically, under Wayne Pacelle’s leadership, how HSUS has shifted much of its focus away from pets and baby seals toward farm animals:

That more-palatable mainstream message, coupled with the Humane Society’s political power, is what the animal rights movement in America has needed for a long time, argues [Peter] Singer, the Princeton bioethicist.

This is a well written and thought provoking article. Read it here.

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