The religious excuse for barbarity
In the light of conclusive evidence that ritually slaughtered animals do feel pain, this impassioned plea from Johann Hari in The Independant:
Britain is famously a nation of animal lovers who turn doe-eyed and gooey at the sight of any furry creature. So why are we sitting silently while our treatment of many of our animals regresses to the standards of the sixth century?
It is true that, at the moment, there is a frightening rise in real bigotry against Muslims and, to a lesser but still significant extent, Jews. Some people who object to the rise of halal meat try to fit it into a preposterous narrative where Britain is somehow being “taken over” by the 4 per cent of its population who are Muslim, presumably via the Protocols of the Elders of Mecca. I have written many articles against this resurgent bigotry, and I can see why some people would be shy about anything that would look like piling on.
But the only consistent position is to oppose viciousness against these minorities, and to oppose viciousness by these minorities. The proponents of halal and kosher meat are choosing to inflict terrible and unnecessary pain on living creatures every day. It would be condescending to treat them as victim-children who are exempt from moral debate – and it would be a betrayal of the real victims here: the sentient creatures having their throats cut.
We need to be much more self-confident in criticising religious claims. Your ideas do not deserve any special status because you say they came from an invisible, supernatural being.
No, we don’t respect your desire to needlessly torment animals because some hallucinating desert nomads did it centuries ago. We don’t respect it at all. You can cry that we are “persecuting” you if we stop you committing acts of cruelty if you want.
It’s what the religious – Christian, Jew and Muslim alike – did when we stopped you tormenting women and gays and anybody else you could get your hands on. One of the great markers of the advance of human kindness is that the howls you will hear are from the Men of God.