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Shades of “Green” (Update on Lou and Bill)

I know that folks want an update on the status of the Green Mountain College oxen known as Bill and Lou. I’m sorry to report that, despite what has become an international outcry for mercy, the college remains determined to send them to a slaughterhouse at the end of the month.

Thousands of people have signed a petition, and hundreds have written letters to the Provost and farm manager; prominent organizations like Farm Sanctuary and prominent scholars like Marc Bekoff have weighed in on the side of Bill and Lou.

To no avail.

So far.

We can’t give up, but we must adjust our actions in response to new information.

A Matter of Mathematics?

The latest argument we are hearing from Green Mountain College is that these two animals must be sacrificed because the environmental impact of their continued lives would be too great. Evidently, it was fine for Bill and Lou to eat, drink, and excrete as long as they were serving human purposes but, now that one of them has become too disabled to be yoked and worked, their continued use of natural resources cannot be countenanced.

I have two sets of strong responses—one ethical, the other mathematical—to the idea that killing Bill and Lou is the “green” thing to do.

Ethically, I am appalled by the notion that the elderly and disabled should be killed to prevent them from wasting resources now that they can no longer work. Again: According to the college, it was fine for Bill and Lou to consume resources so long as they were working. It’s only now that they can no longer be yoked and forced to plow (or generate electricity) that they must be killed to save the planet.

Ethically, I am alarmed by the notion that any animal who does not produce some material good for people must be killed in order to reduce their drag on the planet. (According to that logic, virtually all dogs and cats should be executed immediately.)

Ethically, I am dumbfounded by the notion that the way to relieve the pressure a human-bred population puts on the environment is to kill already existing animals, rather than to quit breeding more.

Which brings us to math. Green Mountain College says—and we should take them at their word—that they want to conserve the resources that Bill and Lou would consume or pollute if allowed to retire to a sanctuary. Since killing them would be ethically objectionable (not to mention unkind and unmerciful) what can the college do instead?

Here is a list of just a few of the ethically unobjectionable things that the college could do to conserve even more resources than would be conserved by killing Bill and Lou. These are listed from lowest to highest, in terms of resources conserved.

  1. For the length of time that the college cafeteria intended to sell Lou and Bill burgers, the cafeteria sells no burgers at all, encouraging students to choose healthy plant-based meals instead.
  2. The college cafeteria institutes “Meatless Mondays” in accordance with the recommendations of United Nations climate chief, Rajendra Pachauri, who has recommended a meat-free day each week as “the biggest single contribution” people can make to reduce climate change.
  3. The college reduces the number of animals it breeds or buys for experimental or agricultural purposes, replacing the associated research and instruction with research and instruction on low external input sustainable agriculture practices that do not require the use of animals.
  4. The college ends the breeding (or purchase) of animals for experimental or agricultural purposes, replacing the associated research and instruction with research and instruction on low external input sustainable agriculture practices that do not require the use of animals.
  5. The college farm becomes a demonstration project of the sustainable production of plant crops for local consumption that is our only hope of feeding the world without wrecking the planet.

I’m just sketching out the possibilities here! Nobody expects Green Mountain College to change its orientation overnight, but it is important to see that there are many, many different ways the college could elect to offset or reduce the environmental degradation associated with its animal agriculture program.

Of course we—and every other farmed animal sanctuary—know all about the environmental impact of animal agriculture. We’re the ones who have collected and publicized the very facts the Green Mountain College now cites as a justification for killing Lou and Bill. But we say that the ethical answer is not to kill already-existing animals like Lou and Bill but, rather, to quit breeding animals for agriculture.

Ecology + Generosity = Sanctuary

As our long-term supporters know, VINE has always taken the position that “green means vegan” and, just as importantly, “vegan means green.” At our original location (when we were known as the Eastern Shore Sanctuary) we were well-known for our “freegan” sensibilities, with visitors often commenting upon the creative uses to which we had put found or discarded objects. A set of steps we found at the dump served as perches for egg factory refugees. Miriam made a bedding shed out of the wood from an old couch plus some scrap lumber donated by a neighbor. We used my late grandmother’s broken-down Buick as a feed shed.

That spirit has continued and intensified since we’ve been in Vermont. Aram routinely brings home odd objects from the dump, which are then miraculously transformed into perches for birds and shelters for feed bowls. Cheryl designed and built ingenious passive solar heat collectors to keep water troughs from freezing in the winter.

Speaking of solar, when we expanded to the 100 acre tract where the cows and sheep (plus emus, ducks, geese, and more chickens) live, we incorporated that and other “green” building practices at every step of the way. Solar panels power the sanctuary, feeding unneeded energy back to the grid.

We used “green building” principles in designing the home occupied by our full-time animal caretaker and her partner. More solar panels, hyper-insulation, and a solar water heater are just some of the features of that dwelling, which consequently uses almost absurdly low amounts of energy to heat. Any land that we’ve cleared for pasture had been pasture previously, so we’ve not cut any old-growth forest. (Even so, we plan to reforest an equivalent number of acres elsewhere.) We’ve also preserved most of the forest on the sanctuary’s land and incorporated forest into the foraging areas used by the healthiest and most agile cows. Hence, ours is the only farmed animal sanctuary where you will see cows in the woods. (It’s quite a sight! Sometimes they look like mastodons in the mist.) Organic gardens feed not only the people but also the non-human sanctuary residents. Kathy routinely sows surprise lettuce, squash, and other delicacies in areas grazed by sanctuary residents.

"Milkshake" in the woods

Of course, all five of the people here (all LGBTQ, by the way) are vegan, which means that we collectively conserve the resources consumed by 95 people eating the standard American meat-based diet. We compost the few kitchen scraps that can’t be fed to the chickens. We all practice the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) religiously and are as “freegan” as possible when we need to acquire things. (I’ve not bought new clothes since 2001, and that was only because I had to speak at the UN World Food Summit and figured I ought not wear my usual assortment of raggedy items that don’t quite fit. Cheryl and Kathy are constantly hauling home items found by the roadside.) Oh, and, none of us have elected to add any high-resource-using American children to the world population.

All of which is to say, if Green Mountain College can’t find a way to offset the resources Lou and Bill will consume during their retirement, we’ll be happy to carry that weight.

Please do incorporate these or other answers to their “environmental” argument for slaughter when writing to Green Mountan College. Please do continue to write to the Provost, but it’s probably not worthwhile to write to the farm manager anymore. Instead, go right to the top, and write to the college President. If you’re a Vermonter, a Green Mountain College alum, and/or an environmental scholar or activist, please do be sure to say so in your note to the college and to get in touch with us.

Paul J. Fonteyn, President: FonteynP@greenmtn.edu
Bill Throop, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs: throopw@greenmtn.edu

The cows of VINE want to know--What are you going to do?

Addendum: On the question of what’s best for Lou and Bill, remember: (1) Only Lou has the recurring injury—Bill is fine, just elderly; (2) Lou can’t manage the heavy labor demanded of working oxen but is up and walking, showing no sign of wanting to die; (3) Lou was allowed to rest after his initial injury, but the college tried to work him again as soon as he showed improvement—this happened repeatedly, probably aggravating the injury; (4) because of USDA regulations, Lou can’t receive most pain medications if he is scheduled to be slaughtered for meat—in addition to being allowed to rest as much as he wanted, he would receive immediate veterinary care, including pain management, if he came to VINE; (5) the college is not planning painless euthanasia in familiar surroundings but slaughter at a commercial slaughterhouse—a terrifying way to die.

Buddy and Clover

Seriously-- What?

50 comments to Shades of “Green” (Update on Lou and Bill)

  • Seeing the heartlessness of college authorities is disappointing. I just posted about this in our online journal. The link is http://greenheritagenews.com/petition-seeks-saving-oxen-from-slaughter-by-college-authorities/. Please keep me posted on any upates at the email provided above.

    Thank you!

    Ernest

  • Lynn
    If this is they way they publicly handle their service animals, perhaps they should LOSE their Gov’t funding to be able to have a college….shameful and disappointing….I wonder if they would change their tune if they lost their FAFSA status.
    Green is green so stop over breeding to begin with.
  • I vehemently urge ever compassionate humane being to write and call the Green Mountain College, boycott the school, petition the school, go to social networks and desseminate the information for Bill and Lou. Go to the PETA website and sign the petition. Time is running out for these 2 Beloved animals. They need the comforts of a real home now with Love and Kindness of Miriam and the staff at Vine Sanctuary who will provide total care for Bill and Lou.
  • bird brain
    perhaps GMC could use these oxen as a educational opportunity teaching students that they CAN change the rules. Isn’t that what colleges are all about? To teach the students to LEAD and not follow along blindly?
  • Miriam today was the 2nd annual VegFest held in Port Orange, Florida. I attended this wonderful event with over 100 people attended on Sunday Oct 14 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. I had spoken to both coordinators as well as made my first ever public speaking announcement to the 100 plus people regarding Bill And Lou. I pray that they heeded my compassionate plea to assist them on their mission of life and freedom. I asked them to contact the Green Mountain College, if they have relatives or friends in the area of the college to picket or boycott the college, sign the petition that PETA has about Bill and Lou, desseminate their resources by using the social networks, etc. May they come to the rescue of Bill and Lou as well as many other compassionate people will.
  • Claire
    pattrice, what a relief to read your solid, sensible, down-to-earth facts about this awful situation! I’ve been taking part in some of the GMC Facebook discussions about Bill and Lou, and was truly amazed that so many GMC people so adamantly call for the killing of these beautiful creatures, for “environmental” reasons — and were totally deaf to appeals to ethics or compassion. My head was spinning. Thanks so much for your dose of sanity. I’ll write to the college administrators again.
  • anitat
    After reading this I realize you are approaching this entirely wrong. Lou and Bill should not be allowed to retire. Instead, they should continue their lives as experimental subjects and educational surrogates as you continue your practice of investigating the environmental footprint of allowing previously captive animals to contribute manure to a green reforestation endeavor. In this way, they will be contributing to the body of knowledge and will not be “disabled”, they will be productive. They will be participating in a different type of experiment.

    No, I’m not being sarcastic or tongue in cheek. I’m quite serious that this is perhaps the best way to present another pitch to the College.

  • CQ
    anitat, if I were Lou and Bill, I would wonder why in my twilight years I must continue to justify my existence by being “productive” to humans.

    To me, each ox’s true “usefulness” lies in sharing their innate, if hidden, strengths — strengths that sanctuary life would surely draw out of them: resilience, forgiveness, peaceableness, good humor, gratitude, serenity, contentment. It’s obvious those desirable qualities are much in demand in our high-pressured, self-centered, consumption-oriented, violence-prone world.

    If the school opens its collective heart and changes its collective mind and sends Bill and Lou to this life-affirming sanctuary, any student paying a visit to VINE would receive an education in ethics and ecology and economics. They would see with their own eyes the provable, permanent, universal benefits of compassion and justice for all beings.

  • Claire
    CQ, I agree with you entirely. Would you like to post your comment on GMC’s Facebook page, or can I, so that some students see it? Thanks.
  • In response to the planned slaughter of Bill and Lou i wrote this brief essay – http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201210/green-mountain-college-slaughter-two-oxen – i just posted this comment as well … please feel free to share widely – all the best and good luck, marc

    Homepage: marcbekoff.com/
    Marc Bekoff and Jane Goodall (EETA): http://www.ethologicalethics.org
    Marc Bekoff Central: http://www.yourcybercourt.info/Bekoff/marcbekoffcentral.html
    Psychology Today: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions

    This isn’t about one’s meal plan, it’s about Bill and Lou
    Submitted by Marc Bekoff, Ph.D. on October 15, 2012 – 5:26am.
    I really appreciate all of these exchanges and the personal emails I’ve received. In response to a very thoughtful note I received I’m sharing some of my response – the bottom line is that this is about Bill and Lou and not about one’s choice about who (not what) they choose to eat … I wish them well …. so here are some snippets …
    ___

    Posted at: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201210/green-mountain-college-slaughter-two-oxen/comments

    let me say a few things up front to be clear on my position and general feelings … i realize these are just snippets about which books could be written …

    – i love philosophy but i think some of the details of individual cases can be lost in the muddle/argument ….

    – would people who choose to kill bill and lou make the same decision of they were dogs (the oxen are no less sentient …)

    – life is precious …

    – death is a harm to the individual who dies and to survivors who knew him or her …

    so … i would give bill and lou the very best lives they can have and if one is in pain i’d do all i could to alleviate the pain – if VINE is not living up to their claims (as some have claimed but I don’t know this ….) i’d find another place for them – in my opinion this is not a matter of one’s meal plan – it’s a matter of giving all individuals the very best lives we can – in this case they served you well and let’s ‘serve’ them and let them live out the rest of their lives wherever it might be in dignity and peace and safety – and not serve them up as a meal – i really don’t see this as a complicated matter at all – maybe some would say mine is a very simplistic idealistic view but that’s how i see it – Bill and Lou should be placed somewhere where they can live a good life until death do them part – and then the survivor should be given the best life they can have –

    i realize that some will agree and some will disagree but there are lives of sentient beings at stake here and this overrides this or that school of thinking ..

  • JAH
    Writing from GMC, I wouldn’t say that so many of us are deaf to appeals to “ethics and compassion”. Indeed, I’d say that this is what drove the college to proceed with this decision the way that it did–attempting to ease Lou’s suffering over the summer, not deciding the fate of the oxen until students were back in session, and thoughtfully wrestling with the many implications that would come with and without the slaughter.

    Further, our students get quite an education in ethics, ecology, and economics particularly as they relate to small-scale operations, both on the farm and in the woods.

    In our natural resources management program, students are taught how valuable and life-affirming our forests are. They are also taught how to safely operate a chainsaw and the process of extracting value in terms of wood-based products.

    Reasonable people can reasonably disagree on matters of value and ethics. Where one person believes that our greater duty is to ecosystems or watersheds (or some other collection of things), another person may believe that our greater duty is to individual living creatures. In some instances these duties can conflict and we’re left with the proverbial moral dilemma.

  • I think their arguments are Christian based and have the lack of rationality that Christians usually have in their thinking. They clearly hate the green movement and that is also Christian right wing thinking.

    So I wrote and said: I am sure you support the right to abortion as a green alternative, since you believe killing the useless and unwanted is the ethical thing to do.

  • The first time I wrote I said: It is not necessary for a farm to be successful by stubbornly clinging to brutal selfish methods of farming that have harmed the planet. Things are changing in agriculture. People want a different kind of product now. You are not teaching your students how to survive in the new economy by doing the same ugly things that the USA consumer is learning to hate and reject.

    Move forward and begin to teach methods that will bring a better return in the future. Let this act of mercy for animals that have given their all for you be your first step toward forward thinking agriculture.

    Clearly – they are not moved by any kind of green thinking…

  • CQ
    Claire, I’m not on Facebook, but I’d be delighted if you’d post my comments on GMC’s FB page. Thank you for offering!

    JAH, I don’t believe we have to pick and choose our duties, or that they must in some cases conflict with one another. I believe our minds and our hearts are big enough to embrace forests and individual trees, watersheds and single drops of water, the human race and each human, all species of animals and the intrinsic worth of each creature. Built into each of us is what Albert Schweitzer referred to as a “reverence for all life.”

    When regarded and treated with respect and love, living beings and living systems have no reason to be at war with one another, so there need be no moral dilemma. I think we are all, spiritually speaking, woven together by one golden thread, made to fit together perfectly. None of us is excess or expendable. We’re each a member of one family lovingly created and lovingly maintained by one grand Maker — an amazing, infinite Mind pouring forth diverse, unique, valuable, necessary and, yes, harmless, “ideas” — from a worm to a willow tree to a warthog!

    Thus, it makes sense to me that the only way we humans can live in harmony with the earth and our fellow beings — if not the entire universe — is when each of us honors every evidence of life to the best of our ability, to our highest understanding, and with the purest, most unselfish motives. Killing — gratuitous and graceless, uncompassionate and unnecessary killing — hardly honors life! It feeds neither soul nor body, but, rather, corrupts a person’s mind and in turn corrupts the body and the actions that manifests that person’s mind.

    Honoring all life doesn’t make for dilemmas. It doesn’t divide us into factions or cause us to kill. Honoring all life brings peace to every being and binds these beings with bands of love.

  • In light of the above comments i have been thinking. They could put the sanctuary arguments above which they did not have before into the student newspaper – and re-vote to give reason a chance — wouldn’t that be reasonable? The students commenting here could submit this page by e-mail to the editor and ask for a re-vote. One Last Chance because these arguments were not presented — in fact they could invite Vine to a debate or Forum on the issue.

    UW-Madison always makes an educational event out of controversy and it is a good idea!

  • JAH
    Thanks for the thoughtful response CQ. I am quite fond of Albert Schweitzer and some of his writings. Of course Schweitzer too recognized that things can get messy in our complicated world. He did regular battle with snakes threatening the chickens and goats around his hospital compound. And one of my favorite Schweitzer quotes is,

    “The principle of not killing or harming should not be considered as something in itself but as the servant of compassion and subordinate to it. Therefore, it must come to terms with reality in practical fashion. A true reverence for ethics is shown in the fact that man recognizes the difficulties inherent in it.”

    Schweitzer’s ethics allowed for the hunting of animals too–those animals that would threaten humans or crops.

    So Schweitzer recognized the need to kill individual creatures, but we should not take their lives so thoughtlessly. And this is just the approach taken by GMC with regards to Bill and Lou.

    I suppose I have a less spiritual approach to nature than you through your artfully worded post. But I do feel a deep awe and appreciation for the natural world. And I’m forever amazed at the creative fecundity that rests so fully on death–life requires death, nearly all living things kill and consume other living things as a matter of course.

    Also, I regularly come across instances where the death of individual animals is better for the population, species, or ecosystem. We may disagree whether the health of the ecosystem or species should triumph over the well-being of individual animals, but these instances do exist.

  • Peter
    Some people are vegans. Some people are not. With all due respect (this is directed to the Sanctuary), please stop trying to tell people how to live their lives. I respect your cause, and compassion toward animals is a beautiful thing that needs to be promoted. However, this is a private college’s decision, about two animals that have been raised, fed, and loved for over 10 years. The college is in a much better position to decide what to do with these animals than you are. Your perspective is very highly valued and is providing a much-needed looking glass into the complexities of this issue, but parading around on the internet condemning one small institution as being heartless and cruel for partaking in a long-standing farming practice in its own sustainable way seems a bit excessive. Of all the institutions to condemn, why a small liberal arts college that teaches sustainable farming techniques? I think, also, that your vision of ideally turning Green Mountain College into a kind of vegan school is also a little far-fetched.
  • Wen
    Just sent letter to both emails you provided, pointing out (among other things) I am in Southen California, some 3,000 miles away, discussing their poor decisions. I also told them to DO THE RIGHT THING. The eyes of all compassionate people are watching.
  • CQ
    Ha, JAH, I had a hunch you would know and admire Albert Schweitzer — and would comment on his fuller statements. The thing is, I don’t believe what was “practical” in his time is necessarily applicable today, at least not in the developed world. Haven’t we evolved ethically beyond what some of the best minds grasped a century or more ago? It’s sad that Schweitzer’s thoughtful commentary on the “difficulties inherent” in ethical considerations would cause GMC to justify killing two named non-carnivorous creatures who are assured a happy retirement home if their “owners” dare accept the kind offer.

    I’m aware the majority of people believe what they see as surely as they see what they are taught to believe — namely, that life requires death. But I suspect that’s just a temporary, biologically-based view of life, which is contrary to the immortal, spiritually-based reality that’s hidden by layers of mortal theories.

    If you haven’t read “Kinship With All Life” by J. Allen Boone, JAH, I highly recommend that short read (as well as his equally concise “Adventures in Kinship with All Life” and his slightly longer “Letters to Strongheart”). Boone’s man-meets-beast tales demonstrate how it is possible to love aggressive dogs, poisonous snakes, biting ants, pesky flies, rowdy raccoons and more — love them into being completely harmless. In “Letters to Strongheart,” Boone writes of his journey around the world: “Wherever I traveled with inward good will, tolerance, consideration, a desire to cooperate, understanding, gentleness and appreciation, those qualities came back to me in outward profusion from all directions — even from creeping and crawling things supposed to be deadly foes.”

    Anyway, JAH, I appreciate your respectful tone; be assured I have no quarrel with you personally, though I differ with the views you put forth. And I wonder why you (and many others at GMC) cannot identify with the feelings of two innocent oxen, why you don’t pity them and desire to see them enjoy a few years — or even a few days — of bliss at a peaceful haven where they would no longer be treated as the “property” of a “superior” species.

  • Thank you for all you are doing to raise awareness about this and try to save these animals from slaughter. It makes no sense that they would not want to be compassionate and let them live out their lives at the sanctuary. I do hope that they will have a change of heart. Thank you for your efforts!
  • pattrice
    Peter—We got involved because a Green Mountain College student contacted us, dismayed that Lou and Bill were going to be killed. We contacted the college assuming that our offer of sanctuary would be accepted gratefully, as such offers usually are. Instead, we were met by hostility and a shifting series of incredible—literally contradictory and sometimes counter-factual—reasons why the decision to kill them could not be revisited.

    These two oxen undoubtedly have been loved by many students, but they were worked. Hard. If you will read the comments on our original action alert, you will see that a long-time neighbor of the college—who can see their pasture from her house—contests the notion that they were always treated kindly.

    If the students had voted to deprive campus maintenance workers of their pension plan, you can bet we would take speak up in that case too. But then, the workers would be able to speak for themselves. Bill and Lou—facing a frightening and painful death when they could have a happy retirement—are not able to advocate for themselves.

    As Vermonters, we are neighbors of the college. Just like neighbors who overhear a child or elder being abused, we have both the right and the obligation to speak up. And, I might add, as a sanctuary that has generously offered our resources and labor to care for these animals, we deserve thanks rather than antipathy.

    As for the fantasy of Green Mountain College ending its animal agriculture program, as I said in the post, I’m just sketching out the range of things that the school could do if its concern really is the use of natural resources by farmed animals.

    It’s just not true that these oxen must be killed. It’s true that the school has the legal right to kill them. But we have been and will continue to make the case for mercy.

  • CQ
    Indeed, pattrice, you are doing a yeoman’s job making “… the case for mercy” — and justice!
  • JanetPickles
    I just heard of this yesterday, and can not believe the college would take the slaughter route on this!

    This is animal abuse: “because of USDA regulations, Lou can’t receive most pain medications if he is scheduled to be slaughtered for meat——-If he was “allowed” to go to your sanctuary, in addition to being allowed to rest as much as he wanted, he would receive immediate veterinary care, including pain management” Wouldn’t that make sense?

    Lou can not receive most pain medication because they want to kill him—-After 10 years of being worked, he is forced to endure fairly substantial pain until he gets to go to a painful slaughter.

    The college has an alternative! What about compassion? That would be a nice example for students to see. I can not believe the college is so locked into killing them, when there is a wonderful alternative. I think they might get some really positive publicity instead of people thinking they are, well , I will leave that alone…..

    I have no idea on how to do this, but how about others getting involved, such as a show like Ellen,(Ellen seems to be a big animal advocate), or having a veterinary association getting involved…or the Governor? Or Bernie Sanders? Or more press? Or past donors or alumni to the college?. Or members of the Vermont legislature? Or members of your board? Or the national news networks?

    The college says they are limiting the pain drugs, but one wonders if they have given drugs unacceptable for use in human food anyway. It would be interesting to see the veterinary records.
    You are doing an unbelievably wonderful thing by working towards getting Lou and Bill home to Sanctuary. The college so far has missed a wonderful opportunity to get great, positive publicity. I wish you, Vine Sanctuary, success.

  • pattrice
    Thanks, Janet. These are all fine ideas, some of which we’ve begun to pursue.

    One college alum has publicly said he will take the college out of his will if they kill Lou and Bill. Others have contacted them privately, saying they will no longer donate if Bill and Lou are killed.

    To no avail. This is why we have now formally asked the Board of Trustees of the college to step in. It seems fairly clear that the college administrators are so dug into an untenable position that they are not able to either compassionately consider Lou and Bill’s best interests or dispassionately consider the college’s best interests.

    On the meds issue, we are going on what we know about USDA regs concerning animals scheduled for slaughter. Without the vet records, we can’t know what if any pain medications Lou is receiving. At VINE, he would receive immediate top-notch veterinary assessment and whatever pain management program the vet recommended. We do keep standard pain meds on hand at all time and are able to access any special medications the vet might recommend. (All thanks to generous VINE supporters, of course.)

  • JAH
    I too appreciate your respectful and measured responses CQ. I don’t think it does much to advance intelligent discourse when people spend all their effort shouting (or whatever the blog-posting equivalent is) at one another and vilifying each other through name calling and character slurs.

    I am not familiar with the works of J. Allen Boone, but I will add his name to my list. I do enjoy reading all manner of things dealing with human/non-human interactions. And in the interest of returning the favor, I’ll pass along a couple for you.

    “Divorce Among the Gulls” by William Jordan which I think you might enjoy as it really breaks down some claims of anthropomorphizing animals–showing that humans and non-humans have many similar behaviors (e.g., divorce) and that the “line” between the human and non-human may not be as crisp as some contend.

    The other one, a short article, “Ethical Responsibilities to Wildlife” by Holmes Rolston probably isn’t something that you’d agree with, but it does offer a short and easy to read treatise on why Rolston believes an ecocentric environmental ethics is preferable. I don’t agree with everything in Rolston’s philosophy but I do align with much of it.

    A couple follow ups…

    I didn’t mean to suggest that the GMC process regarding Bill and Lou was to invoke Schweitzer’s words, I just drew on those to illustrate that the college’s decision was nothing if not deliberate and carefully considered. I got the sense from a number of the other posts that GMC is:
    * Just hard up for cash–Bill and Lou = cheap meat
    * Unwilling to consider anything but slaughter
    * An evil institution committed to slavery

    I think the spiritual connectedness arguments don’t go far among those of us in the sciences because we just need more evidence that they exist in the first place. I sure do like the idea of a great chain of being and the notion that everything has a place and a place for everything, but none of that squares with my understanding of how the natural world works.

    And I do think that many/most of the GMC folks who support the slaughter of Bill and Lou do not disregard the fact that they are sentient creatures, but we do not presume to know what Bill or Lou think or feel (in the human sense of “How does this make you feel?”). Where I think you and I differ is both on the notion that we can know what Bill and Lou want with great certainty and that their status as sentient creatures obviously includes them in the moral community with equal standing as humans.

    Thanks again for the constructive dialogue.

  • Wen
    Please everybody sign the petition and send emails.They need to know the world is watching.
  • CQ
    JAH, I promise to look in my library for both books you cited — and order them from the interlibrary loan system if I come up empty. Sounds like I’ll agree with — and like — the first but not the second!

    If you’d like to follow up on the J. Allen Boone books or anything else, I can be reached via my website (which, by the way, contains Boone quotes as well as quotes by Strongheart, indexed under that famous silent-screen dog’s name).

    A happy, long life to you — and to the fellow-beings who started our “constructive dialogue”: Bill and Lou! :-)

  • Marty
    My suggestion when I wrote the school was to change their policy and offer the students only a plant-based diet as that is the most sustainable practice that can be employed today to further our health and the planet. Their statement about how much it takes to raise cattle, fell short from my education in stating how much it takes to produce the same amount of grain vs cattle and how many can be fed with grain vs cattle.

    We were all raised, or most of us, as carnivores thinking that was the only natural diet. Until I met two women in college in 1972, I’d never heard of a vegetarian. I have been vegetarian off and on since then, and because vegan in 2007. I would love to advocate it for all, but I do not push, but suggest options for health, compassion and sustainability reasons.

    Will all man stop eating meat, no, my husband being a hunter will never, but he has reduced his consumption more for health reasons than anything else. Americans and many others eat meat because it is familiar, but it is not a sustainable lifestyle as we are increasingly becoming aware. That is those of us who are interested.

    As “bird brain” says, GMC could be a great model by changing their policies and adding the teaching of animal welfare by allowing animals to live their lives naturally until death, after service, in a sanctuary as an alternative to slaughter which benefits only a few and not the whole.

    BTW, I was born in Hanover, NH and raised in St. Johnsbury, went to college in Rochester, NY and have lived most of my adult life in Alaska. I did date in high school a man whose father was a local dairy farmer. Paul attended VTC and took over his fathers farm. I saw how humanely they were raised and treated and am somewhat familiar with a farms operation, though I never asked what happened to the cows that were no longer milkers.

  • APASTOR
    Just thought I’d let interested parties know that Green Mountain College on their Facebook page has stated that the forum on Friday Oct 19 at 4 pm is put on by their philosophy students and it not open to the public. They will be discussing the issues but I heard through another source that the school is not open for debate and that an official statement is circulating that the animals will be going to slaughter regardless. Whatever you post here for heart-felt wishes for these creatures, please also be sure to email to the College at the above email addresses. I can’t imagine what a PR nightmare this is for them (and rightly so).
  • Green Consciousness
    Are there student at that school who can make this page into leaflets and pass them out to people going into that closed forum?
  • pattrice
    We’ll be on Vermont Public Radio in the morning on Friday, October 18th between 7:30 & 8:00 a.m., and the segment may be archived on their website.

    The segment will run on NPR’s Sunday Morning this weekend.

  • Thank you Vine Sanctuary – And pattrice! I couldn’t agree more that they may have the legal authority to kill Bill and Lou – But they certainly don’t have the ethical right to do so!

    I’ll post the pending Vermont Public Radio interview on as many social forums as possible. Good luck in your efforts to halt this unjust execution! http://www.vpr.net/schedule/

  • Claire
    Too bad the VPR story gave pattrice and Miriam only two sentences, and ended with a very inane statement by a GMC student. Let’s keep pushing for better media coverage of this issue — if enough people hear about and THINK about this, some minds and hearts will be changed.
  • Barbara Bornstein
    Below is the text from an email I sent to the President and Provost of the School today, Oct 22, 2012. I wasn’t able to be as eloquent as many of you, including Ms. Jones, have been, but I pray it helps:

    Dear President Fonteyn, and Provost Throop,

    I haven’t been able to get this matter off my mind since I first heard the NPR story. I understand it is your power to save the lovely Lou from being served in the mess hall. He deserves better. His handlers deserve better and your legacy and image deserve to not have a cloud.

    At the time I heard the story, I was in my own barn treating my horse for a lameness with some ‘bute’ (phenylbutazone) and reading the warning label not to use on horses meant for food. First, it is important that I describe my point of view. I eat animals. Many of my friends are ranchers and farmers, both here in Long Island, NY, and across the country. So I look at this from a broad perspective. I don’t want to be part of a world that casts away its old and infirmed in such a manner. Especially an animal that if given the right care right now, maybe able to go through this world just fine, once his pain is relieved.

    The reason I bring up the Bute, is my first thought was to have someone treat Lou with Bute to prevent him from being slaughtered. And now, I understand that this pain relief of choice is being withheld from him. This is Not Kind.

    Sometimes one can use principles as a guideline and still adjust to suit the situation at hand – using their heart and mind as a stronger guide. And if god is a bovine creature, your reward will come. More important, your reward will come immediately – compassion is a good thing. Compassion and thoughtfulness is a bigger lesson to those who look up to you than any rule about a self-sustaining school/farm. I’m sure you do a lot of other good things along those lines. This will be a lesson you can give to students and others who are watching that sometimes, there are higher things than being right, and that right doesn’t always look the way one thinks.

    Please do the right thing by yourself, by these animals, their caretakers, and the public who is watching your decision closely. Others will learn from your strength in making this decision to save Lou and Bill and treat them with dignity by giving them the home they deserve at the sanctuary. There will many opportunities to continue to demonstrate your admirable pledge to sustainability.

    Thank you for your thoughtful consideration to honoring these creatures with dignity and a well-deserved retirement. I welcome any comments or communication from you.

    Kind regards,

    Barbara Bornstein

  • CQ
    Dear Barbara Bornstein,
    I think your email is wonderfully articulate, and of course kind and compassionate. Perhaps your mention of the fact that you eat animals (I admire you for not using the euphemism “meat”!) will cause the college to respect and pay attention to your thoughts, given the point of view that predominates there.

    For clarification, on a recent VINE blog someone affiliated with GMC explained that a vet had recommended that no painkiller be given to Lou because, being so hefty, he might further injure the leg if he doesn’t feel any pain in it — or something to that effect. I can’t speak to the legitimacy of that argument. (Perhaps pattrice or Miriam can easily find and provide a link to that comment.)

  • APASTOR
    A few people had mentioned there may have been some cruelty involved; I’m not saying there was because I was not present. But if there’s anything to substantiate such claims, these pages could be very useful:

    http://asci.uvm.edu/equine/law/cruelty/vt_cruel.htm

    I am doing more research, but anyone else who wants to jump in, please feel free to do so.
    A~

  • Hi APASTOR – I looked over the guidelines that apply to Vermont – And they appear to be similar to just about every other state. “Livestock” are always exempt. Tragically, it seems nearly anything may and can be done to those species without so much as an eyebrow being lifted to contest it. :(

    353. Degree of offense; sentencing upon conviction
    (b) In addition to any other sentence the court may impose, the court may require a defendant convicted of a violation under section 352 or 352a of this title to:
    (1) Forfeit any rights to the animal subjected to cruelty, and to any other animal, except livestock or poultry owned, possessed, or in the custody of the defendant.

  • APASTOR
    We are trying to find folks who can substantiate any ‘cruelty’ claims. Also, some have turned to Vermont Governor Shumlin’s page to post comments to save Bill and Lou: https://www.facebook.com/Governor.Peter.Shumlin?fref=ts

    Thank you, Bea, for your follow-up and heads up. I had seen those lines as well. :( The focus appears to be mainly on pt 7 of title XIII at present, given one of the two has an injury. I am working with another buzzing group on Facebook.
    A~

  • Great idea – Keep us posted. Sometimes you get to justice through a back door. Here’s hoping.
  • JanetPickles
    I did just post a note on the Governor’s Facebook page regarding Lou and Bill . One of the other posters to the governor’s Facebook page noted that Huffington Post published an article on Lou and Bill.
    (I did not see mention of the article here, so please forgive me if someone else has done so.)
    :http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bruce-friedrich/green-mountain-colleges-f_b_1967361.html
  • Kimberley
    I can’t believe the school! I THINK THE STUDENTS SHOULD WALK OUT THAT DAY IN PROTEST AND NOT RETURN UNTIL THEY CHANGE HIS OR HER MINDS. JUST TRAGIC TO THINK THAT WE ARE NO BETTER THAN SOME THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES THAT MISTREAT ANIMALS.
  • APASTOR
    Video of some of the interaction with GMC students at the campus the other day. Please share far and wide. The world needs to know how GMC is educating these young minds:

    http://www.causes.com/causes/644857-let-s-turn-facebook-orange-for-animal-cruelty-awareness/actions/1696966

  • APASTOR
    For anyone that has been following, VT Gov. Shumlin endorsed GMC on the front page of a local paper. I’m not sure to what degree his office looked into Bill and Lou’s story, but it was reported that Shumlin’s family owns/owned a family farm.
  • JanetPickles
    National news isn’t covering Bill and Lou? Seems like this sweet cause for Lou and Bill would make for interesting news.
    And, if the college would understand, very good will and advertising for GMC, if they allowed them to go to sanctuary.I wish I knew how to go about getting national news involved. You are doing an awesome job of trying to save them, despite huge obstacles.
  • kathleen
    pls contact PCRM Physicians Committee for REsponsible Medicine — u may know them, they fight animal experiments in colleges, very successful at stopping most all medical colleges in U.S. from using animals, got them to use simulators.

    i have emailed them and posted on their fb page here: asking them to contact u to see how they can help u to save Bill and Lou !
    http://www.facebook.com/PCRM.org
    website pcrm dot org pcrm
    email: pcrm@pcrm.org

  • pattrice
    Yes, PCRM is a great organization. We do know them. This isn’t the sort of campaign in which they usually involve themselves, but it’s great that you contacted them. I personally would like to see PCRM and other organizations opposed to vivisection pay more attention to animal experimentation at agricultural colleges.
  • pattrice
    Janet, National news has been covering Bill and Lou. NPR, Boston Globe, and a NYT article coming out soon.
  • JanetPickles
    I did see the NPR and the Boston Globe articles. Glad to hear about the NYT article.
  • I believe this is the much awaited NYT article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/29/us/oxens-possible-slaughter-prompts-fight-in-vermont.html?_r=0

    A choice quote: “They start listening to you, and they become your friend,” Mr. Kohler said. “I feel honored to eat them.”

  • JanetPickles
    Is it true Bill and Lou were donated, and the original owners had requested them back when they could no longer work? And the college is refusing to do so?

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