Animals with Names

Submitted by John_O on Tue, 01/26/2010 - 20:18

The act of naming (as opposed to numbering) is very powerful.  In naming animals, we identify with the individual animal - and it is no longer merely one of the herd

Dead Meat

The act of naming is so important in human cultures that it is often accompanied by ritual, and, a given name is carefully selected and rarely (if ever) changed.

Indeed, scientists at a University in the North East of England have recently published research indicating that cows with names will produce more milk.


It is rare that animals earmarked for slaughter are given names - naming is typically a ritual reserved for animals intended to be kept as pets.  So, the news that China is drafting a Proposal to ban it's citizens from eating the meat of cats and dogs should come as no surprise. 

Apparently: "In ancient times, dog meat was considered a medicinal tonic...." BUT "...In recent years... ...such traditions are increasingly criticised by an affluent, pet-loving, urban middle class"

Such moves seem symptomatic of a global phenomena of state intervention into social and cultural practices - in this Chinese instance, the motive seems to be part of a strategic re-branding exercise.

Dead Cat

The Great Species Wall of China

Of course, to some in the West (and in China itself), the proposed Chinese ban seems patently hypocritical - "How do you justify the slaughter of one animal for food and yet prohibit the slaughter of another?"

This charge however, makes a naive assumption that Governmental legislation is implemented to ensure a level of consistent action.  In fact the function of such a "No Cats & No Dogs Act" would be to justify widespread hypocrisy and to artificially ascribe a never-before-acknowledged boundary in China, between different species of animal.

It is hardly surprising to see that the Chinese Authorities have been consulting with Britain's pet-loving RSPCA - a group which describes and supports four distinct categories of animal instrumentalisation:

Our Pets - "Comfort"
Wildlife - "Decoration"
Farm Animals - "Food"
Laboratory Animals - "Science"

Whilst The Meat Licence Proposal is in some respects bolstered by this new legal framework being drafted to intervene in thoughtless killing, it would always be preferable to enact an engaged rather than prohibitive approach to lawmaking.

As I understand it, The Meat Licence Proposal does not seek to legislate against our human propensity for contradiction, but instead to distinguish between this contraditory quality, and a pitiful, lazy, hypocrisy when it comes to "what we kill" and "how we kill it."