Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cruelty in Wool

I just couldn't watch the whole Swedish documentary about the completely vile, repulsive act of atrocious cruelty toward sheep in the (merino) wool industry. The practise of so called mulesing in mainly the Australian sheep industry. The pictures, and the absolutely heartbreaking screams of those poor lambs being scalped...

It makes me so unbelievably mad, I've had an angry despair-knot in my stomach all evening, I've cried and have been on the verge of crying ever since I catched those glimpses of this savage abuse. Ah, who cares if the human race extinguish themselves, good riddance for planet earth.

And those guys who have the audacity to claim innocence, who play all injured and wronged... P l e a s e, if you can find it in your vile heartless human heart to do it, then you should at least be *human* enough skip the whitewash and admit to your own actions!!

Why not simply admit that you just don't care about all the pain and suffering you're willfully causing innocent and helpless animals, that their life and suffering just is a part of you making money. I mean, it's not like you're alone in the world being a brutal barbar, there are plenty of you heartless abject bastards around. All you sad excuses for decent human beings, that put yourselves above the rest of nature's creatures. Oh there are a plethora (unfortunately) of you that can comfort you and pat your back when poor you are so completely misunderstood by the rest of us who actually do have a conscience, who care about something else than our own measly monetary profit.

Being a consumer it's so easy to live under the illusion that whenever you buy something that's made in nature materials it's also something very natural, made with thought and care for animals and the environment. Really, very different from those horrible synthetics, that feels absolutely nasty against your skin, makes the clothes all burled and your hair all wired.

And then you suddenly read something here, see something there that makes you realize that just because it's called nature materials that doesn't mean it's so very eco and animal friendly. That you have to look even further when you're buying clothes and accessories, that you have to be *quite* active in your pre-store-clothes/brands research if you want to continue to claim being a human with a conscience.

I didn't think I had any garments made of merino wool, turned out I was wrong. I did get something at the post-Christmas sales that states 100% merino wool. And now I feel *slightly* queazy about that. Me being a, however tiny, part of this reprehensible industry. Ah, it's so very easy to think of oneself being a bit better, a bit - or more - superior than the average sheeple, but I guess, sometimes you're simply a sheep like everyone else.


John D. said...

I didn't click on the documentary link because I'm sure, like you, I could not bear to watch it. There simply isn't anything more upsetting to me than to bear witness to the mistreatment, or even worse - torture - of animals. And at the same time, I know that I unwittingly perpetuate some of these practices through my everyday consumerism. When I allow myself to think about it, it's so painfully conflicting to me. When I DON'T allow myself to think about it, it's also conflicting to me, because then I feel like I'm just closing my eyes to these atrocities. I just don't know how to deal with it really.

Pia K said...

I totally agree, not thinking about it just isn't an option, thinking about it and always acting on those thoughts somehow doesn't feel quite doable either - or perhaps it's just a question of being too caught up in that consumerism of most of us...

Instead of beating myself up on all the things I don't do, or do though I really shouldn't..., I at least try to think that for every little (or larger) thing I actually do act upon, for every stand I manage to take, it's at least a step in the right direction. And if many more of us take those smaller steps we can accomplish so much more than we think. But still, my conscience as a human being is ever so often a guilty one...

Today I heard one amazingly - alas not surprising though - stupid remark from a spokeswoman for the Swedish Federation of Trade concerning boycotting the Australian merino wool industry until they make some real changes concerning the animal welfare: "well, I don't think that's viable since the only other option they have then is emergency slauthering of sheeps". Excuse me, but how completely stupid and ignorant can one well-paid person be...?!?!?!?

John D. said...

I agree with your position on doing the little things we can, as inconsequential as they may seem to be. I guess my best coping mechanism to deal with these horrific realities is that I do believe the collective consciousness regarding animal welfare is SLOWLY, universally evolving for the better (and I do mean slowly, I'm talking about evolution over decades and centuries). It doesn't do much to make me feel better if I allow myself to consider the atrocities that take place every day, but it's something anyway. *sigh*

Farmer Savealamb said...

As an Australian farmer I can only recommend you have a look at this site:

This issue is a very complex one and one that is not solved by boycotts.
Despite being describes as less than sensitive there are some other point you and other consumers need to consider.
The web site is a little rusty as it is the first time I have done one and only started this morning.

One of the things that is interesting is when you take a suit from Zegna or Ralph Lauren or other top designers, or some of the best knitwear.

A suit might cost a customer $1500 for a magnificent Aust Merino fibre suit, better than anything else in the world.

Yet the farmer will be lucky to get $15 for the amount of wool that will go into the suit.

So it is one thing to criticise farmers for doing what they think is best for the welfare of their animals to prevent them being eaten alive by maggots, but the consumer needs to know they have to be part of the a process that makes sure farmers are rewarded for their work, care and environmental stewardship in trying to clothe and feed the world.

It is a very complex debate.

The income of people doing it tough on the farm is at risk by people trying to say the wrong story. As I mentioned in the web page, no one likes having to mules their sheep.

Australian farmers on average work over 70hrs a week, which includes some of the most backbreaking hard work imaginable.

They spend hundreds of thousands of dollars feeding livestock they have spent many years breeding, to keep them alive in drought.

They receive little income after their ever spiralling costs are taken to account.

They then are pilloried by media and animal rights groups from around the world who are hell bent on taking away their customers so they will be financially and emotionally destroyed.

Once the farmers are gone, who will look after the most exciting source for sequestering carbon from the atmosphere, the soil?

Once the farmers are gone, who will look after the animals left to go wild and feral?

Once the farmers are gone, who will provide the food for the third world countries who cannot feed themselves?

It won’t be the animal rights extremists.

So when someone buys a $1500 suit and remembers that the farmer on the other side of the world is getting $15 for his contribution, it doesn’t seem much to think they might Save a Lamb by spending $50 so they will be able to buy another suit next year….and a farmer might still be alive and in business.

With the drought in Australia that has been so devastating over the past 7 years, there is one farmer killing themselves every three days.

They cannot cope with the stress that is being placed on them financially and emotionally. They aren’t coping with the lack of support and certainty they are able to provide their families.

They can not cope with the stress their relationships are under because of the amount of money and energy they spend looking after their animals to keep them alive and in many cases cant deal with the emotional and financial needs of their family.

One Australian Farmer commits suicide every three days!

Rates of severe clinical depression are highest in Australian farmers than any other group in Australia.

Australian farmers have to deal with this and worry how they are going to keep going and keep their families together.

And at the same time they are attacked from people from all over the world who like to go to work looking smart in their suits, who would have no idea that it was made from merino wool, have never been to a sheep farm and probably don’t know where milk, bread or steak come from, but will make a judgement about what a specialist, caring environmentalist wool grower is doing on the other side of the world.

I am really sorry to download on you about this.

I have had too many friends suffer from depression, too many stories of suicide, too many stories of people being evicted from their farms by banks because the global supply chain rapes them, then makes them out to be the perpetrators of a crime.

This is a very complex issue and a boycott will not solve it.

How do we so easily overlook the suffering of people in an attempt to make ourselves feel good by thinking we are doing something for animals.

Anonymous said...

Farmer Savealamb:

You say that people need to be a part of the process that makes sure farmers are rewareded for their work... well then EDUCATE THEM IN THE CRUELTY. They can't understand or know what a farmer is going through without you telling them. They can't help be stewards of the land without understanding how much suffering and cruelty exists in the farming industry. By bringing the merino industry's cruelty to the public, it can only benefit the farmer. They will know why the wool is so expensive, they will feel good about supporting an industry that is morally sound. They can buy their suit and feel secure in knowing no lamb suffered alone and scared. No living soul should EVER have to go through that. Farmers DO NOT OWN their flock. You CANNOT own life. As a farmer i would think you would understand that the sheep keep YOU alive. The sheep and the land feed YOU. YOU should treat the animals and land with respect. It should start with the farmers. If everybody treated animals and the land with care and respect, than everything would equalize. Everybody's prices would go up, and consumers would know why. The price of gas keeps going up, and people pay it. They complain, but they pay, because they know that's how it has to be.

I don't think that there is ever any excuse that can justify harming or torturing another soul. The merino industy needs to understand that. By making people aware of this issue, and how horribly wrong it is to treat another living soul this way, it is only helping the "smart suit wearers" understand why they will have to pay more in the end. To continue this practice will only further soothe the consumers into thinking that low prices are what to expect. I believe the issue is completely BESIDE economics. Money should have NOTHING to do with animal rights, ever. Basic respect for life is at the base of this. are right in that people suffer to, but these people are not being abused and tortued. There is no excuse to treat a living, breathing, vulnerable life the way the industry does. If we bring this issue to the forefront, and educate everybody, merino farmers will only benefit, in that the consumer will udnerstand why their 'suit' costs more. They will feel good about buying something that didn't come at such a moral cost. Most of the people who would bark at raised prices are not aware of the suffering involved in the making of their new suit. If they do, I would imagine that over time they will understand.

You can justify yourself all you want, but i'm sure murderers can justify murder in their own way as well. Please look at the issue from a merino lamb's perspective for once. Born to suffer, born to be tortured. All they know is how alone and scared they are, and then they die. How can you justify that? How can anyone.

Pia K said...

Thanks for that comment, andrea, and what a great comment it was! I wholeheartedly agree!!

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