Zombies and Animal Rights

Posted by Carter Dillard, ALDF's Director of Litigation on October 31, 2012

(Photo by Marcos S. González Valdés)

What could zombies possibly have to do with animal rights? OK, bear with me: One of my guilty pleasures is watching The Walking Dead, a show chronicling the adventures of a group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world. In one episode the survivors are forced to hide under cars on an abandoned highway when a group of zombies appear out of nowhere,  wandering up the road. After the zombies have passed one of the survivors tells the others the “herd” of zombies has passed, and the survivors agree that “herd” is a fitting term.

A herd of zombies, like a herd of cattle, or buffalo.

For a lot of folks that probably feels like a fitting term. As they did for Descartes, animals–especially ungulates–seem like insensate automatons, so different from us, unable to communicate or really relate to us, or be convinced by rational argument, and only intent on consuming what they can. Of course, this view of animals has nothing to do with reality. Animals are, in general, self-aware, empathetic, and highly-socialized, with a complex consciousness comparable to our own.

But reality has never stopped people from believing what they will. If you have ever seen late night talk show hosts quiz the general public, you will learn our species is, on average, misinformed but undaunted.  Education, awareness, and the truth do not get in our way of doing things–even when we have formed a personal bond with animals. Bill & Lou are a well-known and popular pair of oxen that have been dutifully plowing the fields at the Green Mountain College eco-farming program in Vermont. Recently their caretakers have announced that they will slaughter and eat the oxen despite offers from sanctuaries to take them.

And here is the irony. While comparing animals to zombies makes no sense, insensate and unfeeling consumers of the world around them, and impervious to reason, is an apt description of humans at their worst. From the perspective of factory farmed animals, for example, humans are probably a lot like zombies: voracious automatons incapable of empathy, lined up by the hundreds of millions in fast-food drive-thrus bent on eating the flesh of others. Of course it doesn’t have to be that way. We can educate ourselves and learn to empathize with animals, care for them, or when they prefer, leave them alone. For those of us that won’t, being undead, or unfeeling and irrational, is a fitting analogy.


5 thoughts on “Zombies and Animal Rights

  1. pattrice says:

    Thanks for blogging about Bill and Lou. I was just thinking, today, that the supporters of their slaughter seem somewhat zombie-like in their relentless repeating of nonsensical arguments while lurching toward murder. They think they are making sense, but all they are really saying is “we’re going to kill them because we said so, we’re going to kill them because we said so, we’re going to kill them because we said so.” And then, every once in a while, a student will punctuate the incessant mummer by saying something like, “they’re gonna taste good!”

  2. Barry N. Taylor DVM says:

    I might add that Bill and Lou worked for, and interacted with, the students at GMC. They are as gentle and TRUSTING as lap dogs, and deserve a dignified and gentle retirement. As a veterinarian, I have been watching films of them walking in their paddock, and while the reported “injury” that one has suffered may prevent him from pulling again, it is not life threatening, nor would it be difficult to manage with pain relief and anti-inflammatory drugs. The college has stubbornly refused to budge from their desire to kill and consume this pair, despite offers of thousands of dollars to purchase them. They would rather make a point and poke the compassionate majority in the eye than accept money that their college badly needs. This issue should NOT be allowed to die with Bill and Lou, but should be repeated continuously and allowed to impact the enrollment at GMC for years to come.

  3. Sharon says:

    Is there an attorney in Vermont that will intervene and pursue action to represent Bill & Lou’s interests? GMC is determined to kill them, even after worldwide protest, even after being offered many thousands of dollars, even after a new sanctuary has been secured by VINE. Time is of the Essence!

  4. pattrice says:

    Barry, Bill and Lou are still alive. It might be helpful to them if you were to share your expert assessment of Lou’s condition in some way that it might be heard or seen by GMC students, faculty, or staff, many of whom seem sincerely to have been hypnotized into believing that Lou’s injury is such that they both must die. We have seen him too, walking around just slightly favoring one back leg. We suspect some bute would fix that right quick, but of course he cannot be getting that pain relief if he is scheduled for slaughter.

  5. Michele Poling says:

    Is there a legal defense that could save these two from the heartless students/faculty at GMC? I am shocked how they vividly use them in campaigns on their website to get grant money, utilize them in the Cerridwen farm monthly newsletter, and state their love and admiration for these two oxen cuties, yet want to send them to slaughter as a show of that love for the animals…..What world are they living in?
    I have an attorney that will file, with the funds available, any ideas pls let me know, let’ s “bring it on”!