I have returned to rant a mini-rant. It begins with a news article: “Chicken Parts and Sewage Flood Local Businesses, Owners Say.” From there it devolves into an image from Stephen King’s IT…
…and to be honest, I’m not sure if we can come back from that.
To summarize: Business owners reported “a deluge of chicken body parts” floating around the workplace.
I don’t see how you can glance over this tidbit of news and not do a double-take. How is this not a big deal? By what dark magic has this been normalized? How are we sleeping at night? (I mean, morally, not literally. I’m sure your mattress is comfy.)
Dear North Carolinians: I think something might be amiss. There seem to be dismembered body parts flooding into your businesses. Have you noticed? Can we talk about this? It bothers me a little. I’m worried about what it says about us as a whole.
“There were eyeballs, gizzards, ground-up feet, bills, all kinds of feathers, intestines, skin – like the whole skin of chickens was coming through.”
Distraught customers: “Oh, no, I can’t order my pizza covered in dead animal parts because of all the dead animal parts floating around.”
I’m just speculating with the last quotation, because I can’t remember/imagine what goes on in someone’s head when they read this, but otherwise have no problem with the consumption of these BODY PARTS. Personally, I find it kind of, sort of, really fucking disgusting, nauseating, and disturbing on an I Saw the Devil level (minus the cool revenge factor, but hey, maybe someday?). If you don’t feel the same (and you aren’t a sociopath), then your brain is working overtime, pushing all the disturbing images and (even more disturbing) empathy the fuck out. I did the same for decades: every time I bit into a vein while eating [a] chicken and spat it out, feeling sickened; every time I fed watermelon to the cows in our backyard, feeling joy, and then promptly forgot their individuality when it came time for my dinner; every time I saw “food” when I should have been seeing “flesh.”
I guess to say that I can’t remember/imagine isn’t exactly accurate, and it may be hypocritical for me to be so flippant about cognitive dissonance I battled with for so long myself. (Sorry not sorry for Pennywise’s beautiful mug.) However, now that I find myself on the other side of it, and obvious horror is obvious (THERE ARE BODY PARTS FLOATING), I’m having a little trouble. It just isn’t easy to balance and disguise the visceral emotions that surface when you stop pushing reality out. Empathy for such mass-scale suffering elicits an urgency that sometimes makes it feel nearly impossible not to grab the person nearest to you and shake the fuck out of them. That’s a scary feeling. (Touching people? Eww.) I’d love to say being vegan is all cupcakes and Instagram pics, but there are days it carries such a heavy emotional weight, and the people you love cannot help you shoulder it because they aren’t ready to acknowledge it.
I’ve been on both sides and harming animals is the heavier weight, in my experience, but the burden is shared with so many defense mechanisms, societal institutions, and cultural traditions, that I can see how it would be preferable to many to stay in the comfort of societal norms, and just hope all the body parts stay at the slaughterhouse until they’re sanitized and packaged into happy, happy meals.