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.