Thursday, July 10, 2003
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is suing KFC Corp. for its alleged mistreatment of chickens, and surprisingly, the organization doesn’t mean coating a chicken with 11 herbs and spices and deep frying it, which, if you think about, is as bad as it gets when you start talking about mistreatment.
What PETA is upset about is how KFC treats chickens before it covers them with 11 herbs and spices and deep fries them, as if that’s worse than cutting up a chicken and cooking it.
PETA says KFC is misleading the public about how it treats chickens — apparently prior to the herbs and spices and deep-frying phase — saying that its chickens are treated humanely, right up to the time they are served with mashed potatoes and a biscuit, except, of course, for the deep-frying part.
PETA says that isn’t true, that KFC doesn’t do chicken right and that KFC misleads consumers about how it treats animals.
Misleading? What, is KFC now using 12 herbs and spices?
So, if you’re keeping score at home, PETA may or may not be upset about how chickens are treated before they’re deep fried, but is definitely upset about how KFC allegedly misleads people about how it treats chickens and apparently is not at all upset about the herb-and-spice-deep-frying phase of a chicken’s life.
PETA claims the chickens destined to become Extra Crispy are treated poorly during their short lives, that they are kept in tiny cages and in unsanitary conditions and they basically cannot live full and interesting lives and pursue the hopes and dreams of chickens everywhere, which, apparently, do not include being covered with 11 herbs and spices and deep fried.
Yes, chickens have hopes and dreams. There’s a lot more to chickens than Popcorn Chicken. Really. There are McNuggets, for instance.
A PETA article titled “The Hidden Lives of Chickens” points out that despite what you might think about chickens, that they pretty much spend their days pecking at things and being fried, they have hidden lives. They might seem to be pecking around the barnyard or turning golden brown in a vat of hot oil, but in reality, they have a hidden life in which they are executives in major corporations and have summer homes in the Hamptons.
Chickens are pretty smart, the article said.
“Chickens,” the article said, quoting an animal behavior specialist from Australia, “are as smart as small children.”
On the one hand, that makes sense. You hardly ever see a chicken stick a crayon up his nose. On the other hand, you hardly ever see small children coated with 11 herbs and spices and deep fried.
But it does raise the issue of relative intelligence. Are chickens as smart as people?
Let’s look at the evidence.
According to a recent article, chickens are becoming popular pets among people who can no longer get prairie dogs and Gambian rats because of the monkeypox scare. Chickens, people who know say, make good pets. The story quoted one woman from Bala Cynwyd, near Philadelphia, saying, “It’s quite aesthetically pleasing to watch chickens wander around the yard.”
Some people are transfixed by chickens wandering around their yard. Chickens, though, do not appear to be transfixed by people wandering around their yards.
And then you have eggs.
You have to wonder what the first person who ever thought of eating an egg was thinking. “Hey, that white thing just came out of a chicken’s butt. I think that’d be good to eat.”
A chicken never had that thought. At least as far as we know.
So chickens are pretty smart.
And they make good pets.
But would you really want to befriend a chicken before eating it?
Does it matter that the chicken led a full and interesting life before being turned into Honey Bar-B-Q Hot Wings?
And when PETA speaks of mistreatment, doesn’t coating with 11 herbs and spices and deep frying trump anything that leads up to that?
The concern for chickens’ well-being, while laudable, is kind of strange. Does it matter how you treat an animal if you plan to eat it? Isn’t cooking and eating an animal just about the worst form of mistreatment? Would chicken taste better if it was, say, president of AOL-Time Warner before you cut it up and barbecued it?
As a wise man once said, If God hadn’t intended us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them out of meat.