Thursday, March 22, 2007

Welcome To The Machicken

These days, I watch television in short spurts, generally while I'm cooking, so I tend to either watch the news or the Discovery Channel, because I can generally count on either to entertain me or inspire me to write. A couple days ago, it was the Discovery Channel. They have a show called How Stuff Works, and on this particular day I caught a segment about chicken hatcheries.

The chicken hatchery is a place that artificially inseminates hens to lay eggs, and then incubates and hatches millions of eggs at a time, all with the cold, callous indifference you would come to expect from an industrial complex. Now, I'm not one to get overly emotional to see a bunch of birds being processed that I would stand up on the soapbox and demand the dissolution of the agriculture industry, but I can't say that I wasn't appalled at this segment. To the point that I adopted the comically high, offended Jerry Seinfeld voice to shout "Why, why, why, God, why? Why is this on TV? Why are they showing us this?!? What is wrong with these people?"

I can't say I didn't feel sorry for those poor little baby birds. I mean, I agree that birds are stupid, noisy, dirty creatures, but dammit, they're cute stupid, noisy, dirty creatures. Baby chickens are among the cuter of the cute birds, so it was disheartening to watch them being tossed around from machine to machine. They would struggle to right themselves only to be knocked over again and again, all without so much as the benefit of reason why. And the factory workers — they were so completely indifferent to the welfare of the chicks. Some of those women are literally throwing them into the chutes.

Imagine yourself as one of these baby chickens for a moment. You wake up with no knowledge of where you are or recollection of how you got there. The first thing that happens is you're swept from conveyor belt to conveyor belt so fast you can't even get your bearings. Every time you get to your feet, something comes along and knocks you over again. You're routinely dropped, shoved, thrown, and jostled. You eventually meet others, but they all woke up the exact same way you did. No one knows where the hell you are or what the hell is going on, or what is going to happen next. You just end up corralled into a box with so many others you only have room to stand, to be taken to God-knows-where to do God-knows-what. This could be an analogy for basic military training or the Jews in World War II Germany.

If you can't feel sorry for these baby chicks, then you need to find your heart because it done walked out on you:

Finally, to lighten the mood a little, someone else saw the same program, and one following that documented a chicken processing plant, and he decided to put the segments to music. Specifically, Pink Floyd's "Welcome to the Machine." It is such an appropriate song for the footage. If it wasn't for the poor video quality, it could have been the video for that song it's so appropriate.


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