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Posted: 4/27/2001 8:43:25 AM EDT
Should Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh be allowed to take even one more life by consuming the corpse of an animal at his last meal? People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) asked his jailors to deny him this final killing. The Pilot's Dave Addis took McVeigh's side and spelled out the admitted terrorist's "right " to consume flesh as long as it meets penitentiary guidelines (April 20 column). innocent victims" and feels PETA's request demeans the human victims of McVeigh's despicable act. I disagree. I grew up in Oklahoma. My parents were 15 miles away from the government building when the bomb exploded and my next door neighbor, Mary, had her face blown off. Some of my friends worked to pull bodies from the rubble. When I say this bombing struck home, these are not idle words. Along with the rest of the nation, and particularly with my fellow Oklahomans, I watched the devastation in horror, realizing my mom could have been in that building, my baby could have been in that day care center. But my compassion for living beings is not limited to people. Without diminishing the significance of what happened to the men, women and children in that Oklahoma City building, I can also feel the terrible injustice of killing animals for food we don't really need (and would be better off without, according to top nutritionists). Meat is not just what you serve up on a platter at dinnertime. It is the flesh of living, thinking, suffering animals who feel pain every bit as much as we do, are horrified at the sights and smells of the slaughterhouse and are afraid to die. Having compassion for these beings does not mean I care one whit less about the people who died in Oklahoma City. It just means that I've looked beyond the neat packages wrapped in plastic in the tidy grocery store and found a bloody, ugly nightmare that millions of animals endure every day. As a recent joint investigation by NBC's Dateline and the Washington Post revealed, many animals are conscious as they move down the slaughterhouse butchering lines. In violation of federal law, fully conscious pigs are screaming as they are dropped into tanks of boiling water and cows are looking workers in the eye as their hooves are cut off. Whether or not one chooses to admit it, cooking and eating bits of an animal killed solely for that purpose is a form of violence. When we eat meat, we participate in this grim world of the modern American meat industry. So my question remains: Why should a man who has already senselessly slaughtered so many be allowed to take part in more suffering? The Oklahoma City bombing is one of the greatest tragedies in our country's history. But if we leave it there, we do the victims a disservice. When something so awful happens, we should all reflect on it and ask ourselves what we can do to decrease the violence and suffering in the world and in our own lives. Or are we so entrenched in our dietary habits that we will even defend a mass murderer's desire to eat steak rather than acknowledge our own part in the suffering? I care about humans and I care about animals. I wouldn't murder people and I don't kill and eat animals either. The best kind of compassion, I believe, is the kind that encompasses all who are capable of suffering.
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