Calif butcher dis­plays anti-meat sign

Kuwait Times - - ANALYSIS -

It was per­haps only a mat­ter of time in ul­tra-pro­gres­sive Cal­i­for­nia, but a lux­ury butcher’s shop is sur­pris­ing pa­trons with a sign warn­ing about the cru­elty of eat­ing meat. “At­ten­tion: An­i­mals’ lives are their right. Killing them is vi­o­lent and un­just, no mat­ter how it’s done,” reads the no­tice greet­ing pa­trons of The Lo­cal Butcher Shop in Berke­ley. The busi­ness stuck the sign in its win­dow as part of a “peace treaty” with an­i­mal rights ac­tivists in the left-lean­ing univer­sity town who have been pick­et­ing the store for the last four months.

Every Sun­day as it opened for butch­ery lessons, it was be­sieged by demon­stra­tors from rights group Di­rect Ac­tion Ev­ery­where (DXE) - some­times naked, drip­ping with fake blood and wrapped in cel­lo­phane. Mon­ica Rocchino, co-owner of The Lo­cal Butcher Shop with her hus­band Aaron, was at her wits’ end and de­cided to meet with the ac­tivists. “They said they wanted Berke­ley to be­come a meat-free city and they were ready to shut down our busi­ness,” said Mon­ica. “We asked for ac­tions we could do. And they said they’d think about it, but they kept protest­ing for 10 weeks. They made our neigh­bors mad, our neigh­bor­hood busi­nesses were los­ing cus­tomers.” Fi­nally, DXE laid down its con­di­tions for bury­ing the hatchet.

Ideal meat

“Ei­ther we had to be­come a ve­gan butch­ery or we had to stop giv­ing these classes, or put up a sign say­ing that an­i­mals have rights,” Mon­ica told AFP. She says the sign hasn’t im­pacted cus­tom. “We go to great lengths to make sure our meat is from lo­cal ranches, is raised as hu­manely as pos­si­ble, free of an­tibi­otics. We want... this to be the ideal meat. Our cus­tomers know this and sup­port us.” She ac­knowl­edges, how­ever that the sign will not pla­cate DXE, for whom the is­sue is black-and-white. “For them, you kill an­i­mals or you don’t. I un­der­stand that be­lief but it’s an­other thing to force your ideas on other peo­ple,” says Mon­ica.

Berke­ley, the cra­dle of the US uni­ver­si­ties’ free speech move­ment, has been the scene of reg­u­lar demon­stra­tions from the days of the anti-Viet­nam War cam­paign to re­cent protests against vis­it­ing right-wing speak­ers. Re­cently it has been crit­i­cized for chill­ing free speech af­ter can­cel­ing an ap­pear­ances by fire­brand pun­dit Ann Coul­ter and right-wing provo­ca­teur and former Bri­et­bart edi­tor Milo Yiannopou­los.

Berke­ley also hap­pens to be the epi­cen­ter of Amer­ica’s or­ganic food in­dus­try, its rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing green sent up in the TV se­ries “Port­landia,” in which restau­ra­teurs pro­vide pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence that their meat is from eth­i­cally-raised an­i­mals. DXE or­ga­nizer Matt John­son says one of the group’s ac­tivists felt his blood chill as he saw “an advertisement for these cour­ses where peo­ple are taught how to prop­erly dis­mem­ber the body of an an­i­mal.”

In line with the bet­ter-known Peta an­i­mal wel­fare as­so­ci­a­tion, DXE di­rects its protests “ev­ery­where where vi­o­lence against an­i­mals is nor­mal­ized - rodeo, cir­cuses, restau­rants, the butch­ers”. “We dont have any ill will against any in­di­vid­ual, no hate for butch­ers - only love for an­i­mals,” says John­son. “But we can­not ac­cept small busi­nesses mis­lead­ing peo­ple, say­ing this is just fine, to be pro­mot­ing a bet­ter brand of vi­o­lence.” — AFP

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