Are Killers Ordinary Men?

A slaughterhouse near Dalrymple’s home in France has recently been discovered to have been very cruel to the animals on whom it carried out its work. Dalrymple’s piece on the issue at Psychology Today is unusual for him in that it consists merely of a series of questions, impressively long, that the case raised in his mind. A small sample:

Were the staff of the abattoir a self-selected group of people, drawn to that kind of work and therefore susceptible to the allure of cruelty, or were they, to quote the title of the book by Christopher Browning about a genocidal reserve police battalion in Poland during the Second World War, ‘ordinary men.’ What were they thinking as they behaved in the fashion shown, seeming calmly in the midst of an Armageddon? Were they motivated by the fear of losing their jobs if they did not obey orders, fill quotas set by management, etc.? Were they horrified at first and merely habituated themselves to what they saw and did? Were they afraid to appear weak and sentimental in the eyes of their colleagues? Did they justify their actions by, for example, theoretical denial of the self-consciousness of animals, or did they think there was simply no ethical question to be answered?

…and many more. Go here for the rest.

One thought on “Are Killers Ordinary Men?

  1. JimS

    I’ve worked on farms and ranches and seen a number of animals slaughtered and slaughtered them myself. I looked at the video that Dalrymple writes about. What strikes me most is the horrible inefficiency of the operation cited. There are no safe alley ways to lead the animals to slaughter. There are no safe and consistent kill methods. It is dangerous to be around animals being bled. I would hate to see the dangers to humans on the processing floor. Many animals in the video have their throats cut as a means to slaughter (this is normal for Kosher slaughter, Halil, or a favored method in many Eastern and southern European countries). All animals must have their throat cut as a means to process to drain away the blood. Many animals continue to move, though dead. I have quartered steers who continue to twitch in quarters on the hook. This is lactic acid leaving the flesh. These animals when run into a chute for slaughter are no more panicked than an animal run into a chute for treatment. The failed clean kills are problematic. They are cruel, dangerous, and create bad product (black cutters). In the business of animal slaughter, this facility was amateurish.


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