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December 11, 2013

No More Rolling a Stone Up a Hill

When I started in animal advocacy as a college student, there was not a great deal of serious-minded journalism on animal protection issues. The topic was fresh and provocative – specifically the notion that we humans were misusing our power over animals and abusing them in systemic ways through factory farming, animal testing, fashion, and wildlife management, among others. Although there were exceptions to be sure, the reporting often focused on tactics and protests, and treated animal advocacy as a sort of curiosity – an interesting new phenomenon, but not one ready to see its core ideas incorporated into our political, corporate, and cultural landscape or institutions.

Nursing sow crate
Humane Society International

During the last 20 years, we’ve moved steadily from the margins to the mainstream, with The HSUS playing a leading role in building a legal framework to forbid cruelty, working with many of the largest corporations in America to improve their animal welfare practices, and reminding average citizens that concern for other creatures is a matter of the deepest human responsibility. We have worked hard to normalize an ethical concern for all animals throughout society.

One measure of the emergence of our cause is in-depth reporting on our issues, which we’ve tracked carefully, especially through our running of the Genesis Awards, which recognizes the major media for examining animal protection topics.

Yesterday, journalist Paul Solotaroff wrote a dazzling essay for Rollingstone.com on factory farming, exposing the cruelties built into the system of warehousing animals and intensively confining them, the attempts by agribusiness interests to repress investigations and exposés of inhumane practices, and the efforts of The HSUS and many family farmers to challenge the orthodoxies of an industry that turns animals into meat, milk, and eggs.

It’s a 7,000 word essay, but it’s worth spending time with. I cannot imagine any fair-minded people who would read this piece and not think that the protection of farm animals, especially in light of their exploitation on factory farms, should not be an issue for the nation to examine carefully and to work to correct.

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