Animal "Cruelty"

Hello, I’m new here - please don’t bite!

Having got that out of the way, here’s my 4th ever post…

I posit that it is hypocrytical for anyone that eats meat to oppose animal cruelty. The reason for this is that it is no longer essential to eat animals for survival: Indeed, vegetarianism would be better for the earth as a system. By killing animals for meat, we are essentially killing / torturing (for this is what modern factory farming methods are) them for our pleasure.

You are probably thinking I am a vegetarian. However, this is where this thread gets a bit more interesting than others might have been. I eat meat all the time. However, I do not like being a hypocrite - indeed, Aristotle (iirc) considered hypocrisy to be the only definite moral sin.

Therefore, I think that animal cruelty for any reason whatsoever is perfectly acceptable, so long as the animals are legally owned by the abuser, as otherwise this would be considered vandalism.

However, I am very open minded (indeed, at first, this idea seemed repellant to me, but I could not find a flaw with the reasoning). So, please could some of you more knowledgeable guys/girls run with this, and we’ll see how this idea stacks up.



Killing and torturing are not the same thing.

It’s perfectly OK to be in favor of killing someone in self-defense, but not be in favor of torturing the guy to death.

Similarly, killing an animal and torturing it are different things and it’s not hypocritical to be in favor on one and not the other.

I understand this, but surely modern factory farming methods are a form of torture? And there’s no form of painless killing, as far as I am aware.

However, for the sake of argument, let us assume that you are correct. Is it ok to kill an animal for fun?

I would posit that no, it is not acceptable to kill an animal for fun. I would further suggest that it’s not acceptable to treat an animal abominably in a factory farm: I believe that we need to have stricter animal welfare laws governing animal husbandry.

However, I think there’s something to what you say. When I’m out at dinner with my humane society colleagues, and they’re chowing down on hamburgers while talking about the morons who mistreat their animals, it does irk me.



This simply introduces a whole other layer of hypocrisy: it is OK to cause one creature (e.g., a cat) pain for any reason, but not another (e.g., a human). Why not advocate torture, regardless of species, for any reason?

Is killing an animal for food killing an animal for fun? And if not, why not?

(I’m talking about situations where the killing of the animal is not neccessary for survival. And I think it’s reasonable to include killing an animal for someone else’s fun in that definition)

Because it’s virtually impossible to eat otherwise. As Tom Waits declares, “There’s always some killing to do around the farm.” Even on the vegetable and flower farm I worked on when I was just out of high school, our tiny, one-person plow would dig up mice nests, killing the baby mice inside. A large tractor disc is going to kill hundreds of animals per acre. To eat without killing animals, you’d need a vegan lifestyle in which you grew all your own food. Virtually impossible.

The question isn’t whether you kill animals to fill your belly: the question is how the animals live, and whether their deaths are entirely incidental to filling your belly or not. There’s a difference between killing a cow for hamburger and killing a cow for fun.

And this is ignoring The Link: even someone who opposes animal rights entirely ought to support anti-cruelty legislation.


I think “killing an animal for fun” means killing an animal just for the sake of enjoying seeing the animal suffer and die. I.e. you derive fun from the death itself. You don’t care about side-benefits, like getting food to eat.

Killing an animal for food, when it is not necessary for your survival, while it is something whose ethics we can debate about, I do not classify it as “killing for fun”.

Quick analogy:

  1. Someone who demolishes other peoples’ houses just for the fun of it: bad
  2. Someone who demolishes other peoples’ houses in order to make way for, e.g. a highway: not so bad
    (even though the highway may not be necessary for society’s survival)


Let me try to follow your reasoning in simple terms.

[li]You posit that it is hypocrticial to oppose animal cruelty if you eat meat.[/li][li]You yourself eat meat.[/li][li]You wish to avoid hypocrisy.[/li][li]Therefore, you propose to give up opposing animal cruelty, and continue eating meat.[/li][/ul]

I was with you up and until that last jump. What about eating meat trumps your convictions against animal cruelty? If you have to give up either a moral philosophy or a dietary choice, you’re thowing out your morals and chowing down?

I don’t follow.

I faced the same issues myself and wound up becoming a compassionate vegetarian.

Speaking strictly personally, the deciding issue was slaughter and butchering. I personally shrank from the idea of butchering animals by my own hands. When I realized that I was merely paying other people to do it for me so that I wouldn’t have to see it and think about it, I felt pretty hypocritical.

So I decided to do my own killing, or not at all. Since then, I have never wanted a hamburger badly enough to want to slaughter, dress, and butcher an animal, and so I have gone without.


But killing a cow for its meat is more akin to “deliberately targeting civilians”, while accidentally killing mice with a plow is more akin to “collateral damage”, and just because we will always have collateral damage does not make “deliberately targeting civilians” morally justifiable.

Yes, but there are other effects from the highway that are (debateably) good for society. I don’t know if the same case can be made for meat. In fact, meat is positively detrimental to society.

Sorry if you misunderstood me. I don’t believe that eating meat is morally wrong. From this, I have come to the conclusion that animal torture is not morally wrong either.

It’s also worth noting that someone who tortures animals purely for the pleasure they derive from the animal’s suffering often graduate to doing the same to people. It is, therefore, in our all interest to criminalize the former, to help prevent the latter.

So, do you believe that in a society that has the death penalty (which has some benefits, but is not necessary for society’s survival), it would be hypocritical for torture (of humans) to be illegal?

I, too, faced the same issues, and came to the conclusion that I just don’t care about animals enough to stop eating steak.

When the sewer in front of my house backed up and started overflowing into the street, I didn’t much want to unclog and clean it up with my own hands, so I hired someone to do it for me. I don’t think this makes plumbing immoral.

But there is a difference.

If you had to slaughter a cow with your bare hands and a butcher’s knife, and see it bleed and slowly die, I doubt this is something you could easily forget, and it might bother you for a long time.

However, if for some reason you ended up having to unclog the sewer yourself, I doubt that, beyond the “yuck” factor, it would bother you for very long.

As a rule they don’t ‘bleed and slowly die’.
They’re smacked on top of the head with a bolt stunner that’s more effective than a bullet to the head.
(Warning: If you’re squeamish, this site has drawings. Nothing grotesque, but still…)

Oddly enough, while cattle and sheep are fairly well protected with laws (Go hamburgers and uh…whatever the hell you make sheep into!), poultry have no such laws in place and can thus be tortured to death if people feel like it.
Article here.

So what are the options besides eating these animals? Telling the farmers they’re no longer allowed to kill them? They’d then be promtly turned loose into the countrside where disease would rapidly wipe them out.
Hmm…Bolt stunner to the head or a prolonged agonizing death due to starvation or disease…
Reminds me a bit of a story from a few years back where some people ‘liberated’ some horses from a lab and it turned out they had (I think it was) equine encephalitis…which rapidly spread, of course.

I don’t get this analogy at all. Is it worth elaborating on it?


Let me try:

In war, there are two ways for civilians to be killed

  1. if they are deliberately targeted
  2. if they die as “collateral damage”, when the real target was something else.

Collateral damage is unavoidable in war, and so, while efforts are made to minimize it, actions that result in collateral damage are not seen as morally bad as actions that deliberately target civilians.

In our food chain, there are two ways for animals to be killed

  1. If they are deliberately targeted (e.g. the cows)
  2. If they die as “collateral damage”, when the real target was something else (e.g. mice die when plowing a field)

You had mentioned that #2 is unavoidable, and implied that, since there is nothing we can do about it, it is not morally bad.

However, that does not morally justify #1.

If it did justify #1 in the case of animals, it should justify it in the case of war, which would mean that deliberately targeting civilians is morally OK.

I’m not saying that #1 in the case of animals is not morally justified. I’m just saying that you can’t use #2 to justify it.