Why Is the Sarah Palin Video So Disturbing?

You’ve already seen the Sarah Palin video where chickens are slaughtered in the background:

Everywhere I’ve seen, websites and TV stations offer disclaimers: It’s not for the weak of heart. Don’t watch this if you haven’t eaten lunch yet. Etc.

I don’t get it.

Maybe this is just my own ignorant, vegetarian self writing… but non-vegetarians know damn well where their meat come from. Why would any of them be disturbed by this video? Are you surprised?!

  • Santiago

    Hey, I know you’re a vegetarian and all, but those are clearly turkeys not chickens!

    I wasn’t disturbed or surprised, as a meat eater I’m cool with the fact that we have to, y’know, kill the animals first. I’m not surprised that it got censored, this is the same media that almost went batshit with the whole “wardrobe malfunction” thing.

  • http://stereoroid.com/ brian t

    I don’t think the fuss is about the turkey-slaughtering as such, since (as you say) it’s not much of a revelation. It’s that it screams “political naiveté” for someone whose woodsy manner and reported activities – like shooting moose from a helicopter – struck such a discordant note with American voters.

    At one point near the end of the video, Palin says something like “I’m in the right place” – which might be interpreted as “I know what y’all think of me, and ah don’t care”, which is hardly the mark of someone who wants a career in mainstream politics.

  • mikespeir

    Yeah, turkeys. And, no, it doesn’t bother me. She just happened to be at a turkey farm when the interviewer caught up to her.

    Look, I voted for Obama mainly so I wouldn’t be voting for Palin, but I deplore the mentality that seems to go out looking for opportunities to bash her.

  • http://jicksta.com Jay Phillips

    I totally agree. I find there are a lot of similarities between vegetarianism and atheism:

    – Both are based on a desire for personal moral advancement
    – Vegetarianism is as healthy for the body as atheism is for the mind
    – Both eschew ancient beliefs beyond which we should move as a modern society
    – Both share a common enemy: ignorance
    – Both are relatively hard to maintain within our society’s status quo

    It’s a shame most atheists, contrary to the humanist philosophy of “act in a way which minimizes harm and suffering”, still contribute to this industry of cruelty. Do they truly believe these humanist values? How is this not as hypocritical as pop culture Christianity?

  • http://notapottedplant.blogspot.com/ Transplanted Lawyer

    I eat turkey. I like it. I know full well that they are raised on farms, slaughtered, and then butchered for my eating pleasure. It’s a bit more complex but fundamentally no different than catching and cleaning a fish, which is something I have done and is only moderately disgusting the first few times you do it. That’s what it is and I think it’s valuable for meat-eaters like me to know what they are eating and how it got that way. If you can’t handle it, you probably shouldn’t be eating meat.

    The irony, though, is as delicious as the turkeys that are being harvested here — Palin was there to pardon a turkey for Thanksgiving in one of those silly holiday traditions that pervade our culture. The juxtaposition of the turkey pardon while other turkeys are being slaughtered right behind her is the mark of the tin political ear that helped propel her straight back to Juneau instead of the Naval Observatory.

  • Zed

    The fuss is simply bigotry against rural people and how they make living.

  • http://unreasonablefaith.com Dan Florien

    The disturbing part for most folks isn’t that turkeys are killed — it’s that she’s having an interview in front of it like nothing is going on.

    Similarly, someone pulling down their pants and dancing around isn’t disturbing as long as they are in their own home — but if it’s going on behind Palin as she’s doing an interview, it becomes disturbing.

    Same with someone going to the bathroom, or whatever. It’s just not something to have going on in the background of your interview.

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com ollie

    The disturbing part is that she called it “fun”.

    Sure, killing is part of meat eating, but killing shouldn’t be joyful or “fun”.

  • http://brentcliffe.blogspot.com Alex

    I’m not disturbed because I never believed that the meat on in plate came from animals that committed suicide.

    Having said, I leave you with a little bit of the lyrics from the Smiths’ Meat is Murder:

    “Kitchen aromas aren’t very homely
    It’s not comforting, cheery or kind
    It’s sizzling blood
    And the unholy stench of murder.

    It’s not natural, normal or kind
    The flesh you so fancifully fry
    The meat in your mouth
    As you savor the flavor of murder.”

    I don’t know how I feel about the fact that I still savour the flavour of murder, but I do.

    Happy American Thanksgiving.

  • Richard Wade

    For me, the disturbing part is the video’s juxtaposing of the real turkeys being killed in the background with the biggest political turkey in living memory babbling in the foreground. But the video has its saving grace. The goofy, creepy look on that guy’s face as he stares at Palin is high comedy.

  • Eric

    I find Palin infinitely more disturbing than a man preparing to butcher a turkey.

  • Sarah

    Yeah, I knew turkey’s get killed on november (heck, I’ve got 2 thawing in the fridge as i type this to feed the invading hordes). I was rather bemused/impressed as I watched the distinct lack of carnage in the video–the turkeys were dispatched in an efficient and non-gruesome manner (assuming you’re okay with the killing of animals for food, which I am). It was proof that Palin’s a doofus (apparently the reporter asked her if she was *sure* she wanted to be interviewed in that spot, and she said yes), but really, who didn’t know that already? I think it was a bad place to do her interview not because of the butchering itself, but because it was an inherently distracting scene that ensured nobody would hear a single word that came out of her mouth.

  • http://tehjuggernauts.blogspot.com Amber

    Actually… I think that it is easy to miss the point.

    It isn’t going “eww” about the dead turkey. It isn’t getting to laugh at the irony of her pardoning a turkey and then promptly interviewing while several more are sent to their deaths.

    This simply embodies her lack of empathy. This wasn’t an accident. She knowingly filmed the interview in front of the scene. She wasn’t able to put herself in the shoes of the mother watching the news with her young child in the room, or with the vegetarians, or with the city slickers who don’t want to think about where their food comes from.

    It seems as if she doesn’t have the ability to truely think from another person’s perspective.

    This is gruesome, and it is not something that most people would want to see. And she can’t understand that. If that is because of intelligence, because of empathy, or just because of common sense, I don’t know. But it is painfully obvious when you watch the video.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ hoverFrog

    The woman writes her own spoofs now?

    You couldn’t write a parody of Sarah Palin that she couldn’t beat.

  • Pamela

    her camp is claiming she didn’t know what was going on.

    Give me a break.

    Big ups for cruelty-free holiday eating!

  • Eric

    I know what happens in surgery too, but that doesn’t mean that looking at it won’t gross me out.

    (Well, actually it doesn’t for me, but for some people it does.)

  • stephanie

    Hey, that funnel is a whole lot more sanitized than seeing it with an axe.
    I think the deal comes with the dichotomy of what she says and what she does. I laughed whole heartedly when I saw this. As hoverfrog said, you can’t really parody her, she’s already done it.

  • http://gretachristina.typepad.com/ Greta Christina

    I was disturbed by the video. But the disturbing part isn’t that turkeys are being slaughtered. I eat meat, and have more or less made my peace with it.

    It’s the appalling lack of judgment on Palin’s part.

    The news crew didn’t “happen to catch up with her” at a turkey farm. This was a carefully orchestrated “pardoning a turkey” cutesy photo op. And it somehow didn’t occur to her that you don’t want the turkey equivalent of the Invasion of Normandy scene in Saving Private Ryan going on in the background in your cutesy photo op.

    The turkey slaughter is real and honest, and I think it’s the sort of thing all meat- eaters should see. But parents might not want their young kids to see it. People just sitting down to dinner might not want to see it. People with PTSD might not want to see it. This is the sort of footage you preface with “The following contains disturbing imagery and may not be appropriate for younger viewers.” It’s not the sort of footage you put up behind you for your cutesy political Thanksgiving spot for the six o’clock news. The juxtaposition is so grotesque, it looks like it came out of a Monty Python sketch. The fact that this didn’t occur to Palin makes her seem like even more of an idiot than she seemed before.

  • http://www.blueglowy.com Mike B

    I actually tried to find the gruesome, but couldn’t find it. Looked like a clean efficient operation for the purposes of providing me a tasty tasty dinner.

    That said, it was a STUPID place to hold an interview.

  • http://www.cvaas.org R.C. Moore

    “But non-vegetarians know damn well where their meat come from.”

    But do vegetarians know where the fertilizer for their vegetables comes from?

    That’s right, the industry that raises animals for food.

    Removing yourself one step from the problem does not mean you are not part of it.

  • Miko

    It’s much less disturbing that what you see in your standard vegetarian leaflet.

    Actually, I think the location was perfect: many of the problems in our society stem from the fact that people like to get the results without acknowledging the costs behind them.

  • http://dergeis.livejournal.com/ Geis

    People typically don’t think about, nor do they want to think about, the process that actually puts meat on their table. It is one thing to know that the steak came from a slaughterhouse but quite another to actually see a cow being killed and butchered. It can be quite disturbing to the uninitiated.

  • http://thebitchreport.blogspot.com/ Milena

    Well, I didn’t find it awfully gruesome. Then again, I’ve seen chickens slaughtered the old-fashion way, and this looked infinitely better. Still, Palin definitely should’ve picked a butchered-turkey-free spot for her interview.

  • Shane

    Well, they’re not actually being slaughtered in the video. They’re just dunking them in hot water so they’re easier to pluck. I’ve butchered chickens (although in the video they are turkeys–close enough) dozens of times and this is just one of the steps, and probably the least gruesome. The most gruesome being the evisceration–pulling the guts out.

    And, sure, you don’t want to be eating while you do it and it makes for a questionable interview backdrop, but it’s hardly “disturbing”. I think it just reflect the naivete of modern urbanized living where people are so disconnected from the land, nature, and the realities of biological life.

    Biological life is a zero sum game: more human consumption means less energy and resources left over for animals regardless of whether you actually, directly eat them or not. If you’re alive, something else out there isn’t. For every shiny, useless toy you have some defenseless animals just died a horrible, lingering death. It’s probably impossible to calculate the actual numbers, but I’m guessing that animals that people kill through directly consuming them is merely a microscopic fraction of the total ecological and environmental toll we’ve taken on the planet. It’s this same shallow, first-order thinking that makes it logical to “ban guns”, or “get tough on crime” (two ideologically opposite ideas that are equally useless for their intended purpose–but I digress). At least the chickens my parents butchered had the privilege of a comfortable life and a humane death.

    One would actually kill fewer animals (and kill them more humanely) by giving up one’s car, plasma TV, designer clothes, and iPhone and simply growing a garden and raising a few chickens. But that would actually inconvenience one’s lifestyle and one wouldn’t have the moral superiority of being a holier-than-thou vegan/vegetarian. [end anti-morally-superior-vegetarian rant *cough* Jay Phillips *cough*].

    And, for the record, I’ve dealt with enough three-day-old sheep corpses, wheelbarrows full of maggots/guts, and flat-on-one-side rigor mortis cats with an eye popped out to really not see the big deal about some guy dunking a turkey…

  • johnb300m

    yeah it didn’t bother me. i’m like a fair weather vegetarian and am very picky where my meat comes from if i eat it….i digress.

    what i think the big deal is about this vid is how naive it is for Palin to do an interview with that going on behind her. If she was just 10 feet to the left, there’d be no noise about this at all.

    Just one more thing to laugh at her for.

  • http://adventuresinmultiplicity.blogspot.com Heidi

    I’m vegetarian, but what I find disturbing is her lack of “I” or “my”.

    “What are your plans?”
    “plans are…”

    etc.

    She says “the administration” and “we” as though a part of that, but never ever says “I” or “my.”

    Is this some defect of certain kinds of politicians?

  • Shane

    Okay, I actually looked at the video again, and it looks like I was wrong about what that guy was doing: he does seem to be actually killing them.

    In my defense, I had just glanced at it since I really wasn’t really interested in what Palin had to say with her nasally, grating voice. I thought the thing in the background was something different.

    Anyway, my general opinion of the whole thing is pretty much the same.

  • http://jicksta.com Jay Phillips

    Shane, just because you have a long history of cruelty to animals doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.

    I understand you don’t think it’s morbid but it’s only by a societal conditioning that you’re capable of looking at “three-day-old sheep corpses” and think nothing of the unnecessary suffering. I imagine after enough encounters in Iraq, you get used to maggot-filled bloated children with bulging eyes but, hey, it’s not so bad once you fill up enough trucks with them. In fact, you highlight yet another common enemy between atheism and vegetarianism: desensitization.

    Also, I don’t know how you managed to oversimplify unnecessary suffering in these terms:

    Biological life is a zero sum game: more human consumption means less energy and resources left over for animals regardless of whether you actually, directly eat them or not. If you’re alive, something else out there isn’t. For every shiny, useless toy you have some defenseless animals just died a horrible, lingering death.

    What the fuck are you on about? Where did you get that idea from? Does that truly make sense in your head? The “oh, it’s a wash!” argument is straight from the Republican playbook.

    It’s probably impossible to calculate the actual numbers, but I’m guessing that animals that people kill through directly consuming them is merely a microscopic fraction of the total ecological and environmental toll we’ve taken on the planet.

    Your source of apathy is now totally apparent. It’s the ignorance I mentioned in my first comment.

    Here’s something that is possible to calculate: what do you think the ratio is of animal weight in an average acre of land to, say, an industrial fishing net? Considering the enormous amounts just one batch pulls in, I’d say the net outweighs or at least paces with the number of animals killed by deforestation, etc. And that doesn’t even count land animals harvested for food! Indirect killing of animals for a modern lifestyle is a result of insufficient technology to replace their more primitive counterparts. How about trying to solve the problem and advance our still primitive and embarassing species?

    “One would actually kill fewer animals (and kill them more humanely) by giving up one’s car, plasma TV, designer clothes, and iPhone and simply growing a garden and raising a few chickens.”

    Again, I don’t know how you rationalize this in your head. Raise chickens? On average each person in America eats 230 pounds of animals per year. Did 230 pounds of animals (or, rather, 16,000 pounds if you account for a lifetime of meat eating) die to make everything you own combined? NO.

    Ironically, your self-deception is exactly what fuels atheists’ fires against religion.

  • http://toomanytribbles.blogspot.com/ toomanytribbles

    i wanted to comment but greta christina expressed my reaction to her lack of empathy perfectly.

    palin is terrifyingly clueless — and if her ‘camp’ is saying she didn’t know what was going on, so much the worse.

  • http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/ C. L. Hanson

    Actually, I think the location was perfect: many of the problems in our society stem from the fact that people like to get the results without acknowledging the costs behind them.

    This is an excellent point. The location would have been reasonable if the point of the photo op had been “Let’s go to a turkey farm and see where Thanksgiving dinner really comes from.” Tacking this on to a cutesy photo op about “pardoning a turkey” makes it gruesome, though. It’s like saying “Don’t worry, my little turkey friend, I’ll spare your life. Just kidding! Here’s where you and all your family are headed.”

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ hoverFrog

    R. C. Moore asked:

    But do vegetarians know where the fertilizer for their vegetables comes from?

    I know where the fertilizer for my small garden comes from and that is the composters that I discard my vegetable waste into every day. If I’m lucky enough for a horse to go by and leave some manure then I can always use that too.

    Shane mentioned the problems with calculating animal deaths through a modern lifestyle. I can’t help I’m afraid but there are some well known numbers on reducing the volume of land use through crop growing as opposed to animal rearing. These are something like 6 times the land is needed to raise an animal for food as it is for crops to feed the same number of people. A meat heavy diet uses more land than a vegetable heavy diet. Reducing land use by eating less meat is one option available if you are concerned about the damage that you’re life style causes.

    I don’t need to eat the horse to gain a benefit from it’s manure though. The fact that animal farming sells waste to crop farmers is great. We also turn human waste into fertilizer pellets. There are fields near my house that use a rotation of cattle and horses through them so that the ground is regularly deposited with fertilizer. My sister in law keeps chickens for eggs and they use the waste as fertilizer.

    I just don’t see how this is an argument for the consumption of meat.

  • MH

    That video has gone viral and I’ve seen it on several websites. As someone who eats turkey I’m not shocked to see someone actually kill one. However, I grew up in rural upstate New York and saw this sort of thing growing up.

    Salon had an interesting take on it. They said that there is no way the news crew failed to notice what was going on in the background. So they felt it was something of a set up of Palin.

  • Jeff

    Well Sarah now has the turkey farmer vote locked up. Yet another voting block going to the GOP!!!

  • RobL

    Strange demographic she’s going after there. The fox and coyote vote? I’m vegetarian because of heath issues only so I really don’t have a problem with what’s going on in the background I just find it representative of the bad judgment her PR people have shown. Maybe she should tour a sewage treatment plant next.

  • http://george1001.livejournal.com/ George

    What I’m wondering is, what was the guy in the background thinking? He looks tentative, like he’s not sure he’s supposed to be working on camera while the governor is being interviewed. Did the reporter check with him?

  • http://quarkscrew.wordpress.com B.T. Murtagh

    According to one report I heard Palin was actually asked “Are you okay with this as a backdrop?” and replied “Oh sure, fine.”

    What strikes me as peculiar about that is that is not so much that she didn’t think about it, as that someone else did and deliberately chose that as background imagery. I’d be really interested to know who made that choice and why.

    All that said, I have to weigh in with those who don’t think it’s a particularly gross visual (city boy, long ex-vegetarian here). It was funny in juxtaposition though, especially when she’s talking about the ‘brutality’ of a national political campaign, apparentlly oblivious to the literal slaughter behind her.

  • http://www.cvaas.org R.C. Moore

    “These are something like 6 times the land is needed to raise an animal for food as it is for crops to feed the same number of people. A meat heavy diet uses more land than a vegetable heavy diet”

    But not the same land. The world has very little land capable of supporting a vegetarian diet. But animals can live almost anywhere, off of stored resources, and supply much more protein for the amount of water required (the more critical resource)

    But I have had this argument before, vegetarianism it the religion of the well fed, and the dogma is not relinquished willingly.

    I have nothing against vegetarians, it is a healthy choice. But like religion, asking others to believe in your delusion is still irrational.

  • Awesomesauce

    Yeah, try living as a vegetarian in the Philippines. I’d give you a month before your body eats itself.

    Damn rich people and your ability to live of of supplements.

  • http://jewishatheist.blogspot.com JewishAtheist

    And it somehow didn’t occur to her that you don’t want the turkey equivalent of the Invasion of Normandy scene in Saving Private Ryan going on in the background in your cutesy photo op.

    I LOLed.

    We meat-eaters know how the animals die. I don’t see how that implies we want to watch it being done, though. I don’t particularly want to see my carrots covered in dirt and bugs before they’re cleaned off either.

  • Brian Garrett

    If meat is murder, then all I have to say is-

    nothing puts the “mmmmmm” in “murder” like homemade stuffing and cranberry sauce.

  • AnonyMouse

    I used to gut dead chickens when I was three years old. This year I helped to cut and process two half-beefs. Why would I be disturbed?


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