Candidates: Humane Treatment of Animals

In front of the Saturday farmers’ market, hundreds of signatures have been collected asking the Santa Barbara City Council to support a resolution encouraging restaurants to offer humanely raised animal products, for Santa Barbara to become a Humane City U.S.A. The candidates for mayor (aside from Angel Martinez, whose contact information couldn’t be located) have been asked to respond. Hal Conklin responded with a thoughtful, personal letter, finding the idea appealing. Cathy Murillo didn’t answer the question but gave information on the Bee City U.S.A. measure. No response from Bendy White or any of the other councilmembers.

Finally, on November 3, a response from Frank Hotckiss arrived to this letter:

Dear Mr. Hotchkiss,

I haven’t received a response from you on whether you would support Santa Barbara being a Humane City USA. Do you support humane raising of farm animals, and for the city council to do a resolution encouraging restaurants to offer humanely raised animal products?

No.” —Frank Hotchkiss, Santa Barbara City Councilman

In Ojai, all the candidates for mayor (and all but one councilmember) signed a similar petition. The best response in Santa Barbara comes from Hal Conklin, who still doesn’t endorse the effort.

A society is judged by how it treats its weakest members. What does this lack of support for such a basic measure of humaneness tell us about the character of the candidates for mayor and members of the Santa Barbara City Council?

In his autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Mahatma Gandhi said that a life of a lamb is no less valuable than the life of a human being. He said the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to our protection. He was, in fact, an adamant vegetarian. So was his wife, who refused the meat broth that the doctors wanted her to eat during a serious illness. She said it was a rare thing to be born a human being, and she would rather die than eat the flesh of animals. Gandhi said there were certain things we can’t do even for life itself.

While most Americans don’t share these views, many want the animals they eat to be raised humanely. Brutality to animals must stop, and I wish the councilmembers would read Gandhi and care.

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