Give Pigs a Chance

Once upon a town, there was a little white haired lady who wanted nothing more than to protect a few little pigs. She summoned up her courage and presented herself before the Commissioners one Monday evening with a simple request, “Respect pigs.” “What!, without an ordinance?” they cried ensemble. “We have no ordinance for such things and in our time of national crisis, this could be dangerous.” So the Cratchets were soon hard at work crafting an ordinance no ACLU member could love: $25.00 for a permit and 10 days to wait before “Respect Pigs” could be marched before the offending revelers at the Greased Pig Race at Farm/City Day in Jackson Park.

Needless to say, the local editor along with soap box regulars starving for an hors d’oeuvre de prey jumped with glee. Soon, all manner of offended citizens were waving the First Amendment. In less than three minutes on a gray Friday evening, the hapless, red faced Commissioners rescinded their foolish jump into the frying pan. Respect pigs.

Sure there is humor to this whole affair, but this event has also afforded an opportunity for personal reflection. I had grown accustomed to several personal certainties where animal rights were concerned--cock fights, fox hunts and bull fights were out while pig races, frog jumps and circus acts were in. Yet, if I had lived only fifty years ago, would I have accepted cock fights and dog fights as acceptable human entertainment? Was I thinking or merely drifting, reflecting the cultural values around me. As we grow older, hopefully we are growing wiser.

So I sat on that cold windy hill overlooking the arena to decide for myself whether or not greased pig chases were really just harmless fun for children of all ages. What I witnessed was a contest between unequals. If the pig was having fun, you sure couldn’t tell it. Watching the “fun” I realized for the first time that the grease is really a disadvantage for the pig, not the human missiles. Because those human hands couldn’t get a solid grasp, they pulled harder and held on longer while the pig shrieked and squealed. Unless my high school biology fails me, pigs have nerves, muscles, joints, and a heart which have our same capacity to feel pain and collapse from exertion. Fear is common to us both. It is hard for me to imagine that there have not been numerous piglet legs separated from numerous ball joints.

Earlier I had the opportunity to talk with Stewart David and his wife Terri who founded Carolina Animal Action in Asheville. Stewart David was there along with Carol Kauppert (the white haired lady) and others to protest the greased pig event. Mr. David is a Certified Public Accountant with a BS in Social Sciences and Terri Holds a bachelor’s in psychology and a masters in business. They are not exactly your left wing animal hugger stereotype. As David says, “As you can see from our education and from meeting us, we are middle class Norman Rockwell Americans except in regard to our views regarding animals…We simply promote compassion towards animals.”

It was a very uncompassionate event that helped cement their decision to remain firmly fixed to animal rights advocacy. Terri explains, “Ten years ago, we went to Hegins, Pa. to help stop a pigeon shoot that took place on Labor Day. They would release thousands of pigeons one at a time and then encourage children and adults to shoot them out of the air. Pigeons dead, wounded and bleeding fell everywhere and revelers would wring the necks of those who were still writhing. Young children called “trapper boys” charged the field collecting wounded birds and killed them by stomping on them, ripping off their heads, banging them against barrels, or throwing them into barrels to suffocate. Vets who had volunteered their time to help would scurry across the field trying to save all they could. It was a sorry sight. Also distressful was the fact that unsympathetic police were slow to respond to our safety as protestors.” This “fun” event was finally discontinued last year after 65 years due to the persistence and courage of animal rights advocates like the Davids.

Now, the question I have to ask is this, “If you were to knock on all the doors in Hegins today, how many people would admit that they had taken part in this event?” Not many I would believe. The country has changed, they have changed and we all continue to change. A self satisfied attitude is never acceptable to anyone or any community who is striving towards an ever higher moral ledge.

As intelligent compassionate beings, humans can invent plenty of ways to have fun without hurting or exploiting other creatures.

It’s time to move pig races to the out box.



To my readers: If you ever wonder if I get comments on these columns, I do occasionally. What are your thoughts on the matter?
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*The opinions stated in this page are those of Ms. Eva Ritchey and do not necessarily represent the views of CyTech Computers & Internet Solutions, Inc.
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California Good
December 2001

Give Pigs a Chance
November 2001

Sandra Walker
October 2001

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August 2001

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