Indoctrination vs. education

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We recently ran an article on PorkNetwork called, NIAA supports animal welfare, not activists’ “humane education.” In the release, Jim Fraley, Livestock Program Director for Illinois Farm Bureau and co-chair of National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) Animal Care Council, stresses that animal welfare and animal rights are not the same.

From the standpoint of animal care, it’s an easy differentiation, but animal rights groups vigorously work to blur the lines. Animal welfare is about following best-management practices so animals are treated humanely throughout their lives. On the other hand, the animal rights movement is just what it implies. It wants to give “rights” to animals, often on the same level as humans, and to transfer human emotions and feelings to animals. Many of those involved in animal rights activism are vegetarian or vegan, believing that animals should not be used by man for any purpose.

According to a news release from NIAA, members recently adopted a position that public schools should not stir confusion regarding the difference between animal welfare and animal rights by allowing extremist animal rights groups to present their views, which can erroneously be perceived as facts.

“Those of us in animal agriculture do not believe that extremist animal rights groups should be allowed to dictate information children are exposed to—or will be exposed to—at our public schools regarding animal welfare,” Fraley states. “Animal rights groups led by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), PETA and the Institute of Humane Education (IHE) do not reflect balanced views and are campaigning across the United States to implement what they refer to as ‘humane education,’ a program of extreme ideological material they aspire to teach in our school systems.”

It’s a matter of choosing education over indoctrination. The meaning of “indoctrinate” is: to teach somebody a belief, doctrine, or ideology thoroughly and systematically, especially with the goal of discouraging independent thought or the acceptance of other opinions.

That is exactly what the animal rights groups hope to accomplish. Carefully crafted, tightly-focused messages are designed to indoctrinate listeners with a single viewpoint: theirs. They plant images of abused, “unhappy” (their words, not mine) animals that aren’t allowed to “express their natural instincts,” whatever they may be. The message they spout is that modern agriculture is evil and you should be wary of the food you eat. Unfortunately, they infiltrate schools and deliver their one-sided doctrine to impressionable young people. While Ag in the Classroom has helped educate many children, agriculture doesn’t have the vast resources of groups like HSUS. As a result, too many students aren’t exposed to a realistic, honest view of production agriculture.

In 2010, the HSUS have total revenues of more than $148 million. It gives less than one percent of its massive donations to local pet shelters, but it has socked away more than $17 million dollars to its pension fund. No wonder staff members are so rabidly enthusiastic in promoting their ideologies. Self-preservation is a strong incentive.

Animal welfare and best management practices are bylines of responsible livestock producers. After all, contented, well-cared-for animals are more productive. It’s important that consumers of all ages understand the difference between animal welfare and animal rights.

Maybe everything depends on your point of view, your background and history, and your experiences. Most of the people I know have a healthy skepticism of “fast talkers.” We don’t accept everything we’re told. We’d rather base our beliefs on facts than on popular opinion or biased propaganda. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone did? 


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Bea Elliott    
Florida  |  April, 25, 2013 at 08:37 AM

It's clear that indoctrination begins at a very early age-Especially regarding children and what foods they are given.The truth is is that if most kids were given the facts that beloved creatures are killed to get this "food"-They'd most likely make other choices.The matter is not of indoctrinating kids to care.It's a matter of opening up the conversation so they are given an opportunity to know the truth and to finally think independently.It is the industry that profits from emotional blindness and so hopes to shut down efforts that raise awareness. There is no "confusion to stir" but rather reality to unearth! The reality is according to the esteemed scientists is that consciousness (whatever “consciousness” is) belongs to “all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses.” Please see the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness - April 2012. And within that consciousness is a someone who values their lives.Attempting to trick or convince kids that it's acceptable to forcefully take those lives for frivolous desires is what ought to be a violation to any thinking man! The world does not suffer from too much compassion-But rather a lack of it.Can we please observe the needless violence all around us and draw the conclusion that the way we treat those who are most vulnerable has negative impacts to our culture as a whole.I'm sure it is "profitable" to draw some arbitrary line as to which animals deserve to live and which ones don't-But monetary gain doesn't justify callous treatment of others. For an illustration of how we are indoctrinated not to care about the lives of "food animals" please see to this thought provoking talk by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=od_cqvr-ueY

JoAnn Alumbaugh    
Iowa  |  April, 25, 2013 at 08:49 AM

If I considered eating meat a "frivolous desire," then perhaps I might see some validity in your perspective. We disagree on the purpose and use of animals and why they are here, and fortunately, in this country, we're entitled to our differences. My problem lies in the fact that some groups want to push their beliefs on others, though a number of means. You have the right to your opinion as others do to theirs.


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