De-Sensitivity Training

Purchasing factory farmed meat products supports the violence perpetrated on animals. Does it also support the violence perpetrated on other human beings?

Jane and I were speculating about this recently: Does working in a slaughterhouse somehow alter your perception of violence? Does it inure you to violence, leaving you indifferent to acts of violence being perpetrated on other persons? Or might it serve as an outlet for a fraction of slaughterhouse employees… preventing some from turning around and slaughtering humans?

Intuitively, I would think that the more violence you perpetrate, the more desensitized you become to it, the easier it is to commit or ignore acts of violence.

It seems like we’re not the only ones pondering this. On April 3rd the Freakonomics Blog covered this very topic. They reference two studies, one of which shows a link to the psychological damage suffered by slaughterhouse workers; the other links the violent work at the slaughterhouse to increased crime rates in the surrounding communities. Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz, also talks in brief about the link between slaughterhouse violence and domestic violence.

If this subject is new to you, you might want to check out our post Earthlings — A Discourse on Compassion. You’ll find a link to the Earthlings DVD (2003) narrated by Joaquin Phoenix. Although it doesn’t directly touch on the aspect of the nature of the slaughterhouse as it pertains to the human experience, it does provide graphic illustration of what humans do to these animals. This video also touches on a wide variety of the other abuses of animals by man and is very compelling. I really can’t recommend it highly enough. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It will change you.

Also, our post Another Reason Not To Eat Meat has the undercover Humane Society video clip of employees at the Hallmark Meat Packing Company abusing downed cattle while trying to get them into the slaughterhouse. Again, there is no discussion as to the correlation between slaughterhouses and human violence. But it too provides graphic footage of just how horribly these animals are treated.

I’ll end with this thought:

“For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”

—Pythagoras (500 BC)

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