Finger Lickin’ Cruel

According to the folks at Kentucky Fried Chicken, what makes their chicken "finger licking good" is a recipe that features a "secret blend of eleven herbs and spices." Well, if the people at KFC aren't careful, they are going to find something missing from their prized recipe: chicken. For several years, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, has been waging a campaign it calls "Kentucky Fried Cruelty" over KFC's treatment of chickens. Recently, PETA has increased the pressure on KFC by making the dispute personal. A few months ago, PETA announced that it would picket the home of KFC's president, Cheryl Bachelder. To avoid having her driveway blocked, Bachelder cut a deal with PETA. Among other things, KFC promised to install cameras in all of its slaughterhouses to monitor how the animals were being treated; to increase the space that chickens have to live in; and to adopt more humane ways of killing chickens. As Wesley J. Smith of the Discovery Institute wrote, "It shouldn't take pressure from fanatics for corporate executives to do the right thing." He was correct when he said that is an "important human obligation to treat food animals properly . . . " But he was even more correct when he wrote that KFC is only fooling itself if it thinks that this agreement marks the end of its conflict with PETA and other animal rights groups. As Smith wrote, their goal isn't a "universal standard for humane treatment of chickens by food producers." It's driving anyone who serves meat out of business. This goal grows out of PETA's worldview, its understanding of the relationship between man and animals. In this worldview, humans are merely one species of animal among many, and a species' treatment should be a matter of its capacity to feel pain or suffer. That's what PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk meant when she said that "a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy." Since they all feel pain, Newkirk reasoned, "there is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights." Thus, the only satisfactory outcome for PETA is for everyone to become a vegetarian -- not out of respect for animal life, but out of contempt for human life. In contrast, the Christian view of animal welfare is eloquently described in the book DOMINION by Matthew Scully. According to Scully, cruelty toward animals "is not only a denial of the animal's nature, but a betrayal of our own." That is, it ignores the duties that come with man's exalted role as the steward of creation. When we use animals without concern for their treatment, we are putting our -- pardon the word -- "animal" appetites ahead of the moral vision provided by a biblical worldview. And it's this vision that best assures what PETA claims to want: the humane treatment of animals. The way to get people to do the right thing by chickens or any other animal is not to insist that they are only animals themselves. Instead, it is to remind them what it means to be made a "little less than angels." For further reading and information: Wesley J. Clark, "PETA-Fried," National Review Online, 11 July 2003. Marc Morano, "Feathers Ruffled During PETA's KFC Protest in DC," CNS News, 3 October 2003. Scott Sonner, "PETA steps up campaign against KFC farm, slaughter practices," San Francisco Chronicle, 19 September 2003. Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy (St. Martin's, 2002). Visit Matthew Scully's website. Kathryn Jean Lopez, "Exploring 'Dominion'," National Review Online, 3 December 2002. Kim I. Robbins, "Lethally Blonde," BreakPoint Online, 18 July 2003. BreakPoint Commentary No. 030507, "Abusing Our Power."


Chuck Colson


  • Facebook Icon in Gold
  • Twitter Icon in Gold
  • LinkedIn Icon in Gold

Sign up for the Daily Commentary