On January 8, 2020, passenger flight 752, headed from the Iranian capital of Tehran to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, was shot down by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran, killing all 176 occupants, including 167 passengers. The jet continued flying for several minutes before turning back toward the airport. According to The New York Times, “The plane, which by then had stopped transmitting its signal, flew toward the airport ablaze before it exploded and crashed quickly”.
One can only imagine being strapped in a plane that is about to crash, being, in the final moments before death, a conscious individual, helpless in a cage. In considering such circumstances, is it impertinent to compare this experience with that of chickens (any animals) hanging face down on a slaughter line as it moves toward a large rotating knife that will cut their throats? Is the terror of the chickens any less palpable in those final moments than the terror of the airline passengers hurled helplessly toward their own deaths?
Even granting the terror the chickens must be feeling, there are those who are outraged by the very idea of comparing anything a chicken might feel with the feelings of a human being, for the simple reason that, no matter what, the feelings and nature of humans are considered “superior to” and vastly “more important than” those of any other sentient species – a view not shared by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder Paul Watson or by me.
Probably, if questioned, few people, even those who grant that other animals can form lasting emotional relationships amongst themselves, would concede that their experiences could equal the range and depth of human social and familial experience.
Among land animals, chickens constitute the largest, most expanding universe of pain and suffering on the planet. There is no fate worse, no suffering worse, no injustice worse than what has befallen chickens in their encounter with human beings. For them, every torturing second of being alive in our grasp is as bad as it gets. I therefore submit that the continuous, unrelieved suffering of chickens and other intensively-farmed animals compares in magnitude, intensity, and injustice with the suffering of human beings in horrific plane crashes and similar episodes of massive violence.