Thursday, December 17, 2020

  • Thursday, December 17, 2020
  • Elder of Ziyon
A Belgian law that prohibits slaughter of animals without stunning - which renders any slaughter afterwards to be meaningless from the perspective of Jewish law  -was upheld by the Court of Justice of the European Union today.

Its legal reasoning is a textbook example of how to be biased while using the law to justify it. 

The opinion frames the tension between animal and religious rights correctly:
This question leads the Court, for the third time, 2 to seek a balance between freedom of  religion, guaranteed by Article 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’), and animal welfare, as set out in Article 13 TFEU and given specific expression to in Regulation No 1099/2009.

Then is describes the logic of the ruling: 

As regards, specifically, the question whether the decree respects those fundamental rights, the Court points out that ritual slaughter falls within the scope of the freedom to manifest religion, guaranteed in Article 10(1) of the Charter. By requiring, in the context of ritual slaughter, reversible stunning, contrary to the religious precepts of Jewish and Muslim believers, the decree thus entails a limitation on the exercise of the right of those believers to the freedom to manifest their religion. In order to assess whether such a limitation is permissible, the Court finds, first of all, that the interference with the freedom to manifest religion resulting from the decree is indeed provided for by law and, moreover, respects the essence of Article 10 of the Charter, since it is limited to one aspect of the specific ritual act of slaughter, and that act of slaughter is not, by contrast, prohibited as such.
This is blatant doubletalk. It is like saying, "We aren't prohibiting Jews from going to synagogue on their Sabbath - we just require them to drive there. So we really aren't violating freedom of religion."

In its examination of the proportionality of the limitation, the Court concludes that the measures contained in the decree allow a fair balance to be struck between the importance attached to animal welfare and the freedom of Jewish and Muslim believers to manifest their religion. In that regard, it states, first, that the obligation to use reversible stunning is appropriate for achieving the objective of promoting animal welfare. Secondly, as regards the necessity of the interference, the Court emphasises that the EU legislature intended to give each Member State a broad discretion in the context of the need to reconcile the protection of the welfare of animals when they are killed and respect for the freedom to manifest religion. As it is, a scientific consensus has emerged that prior stunning is the optimal means of reducing the animal’s suffering at the time of killing. Thirdly, as regards the proportionality of that interference, the Court observes, first of all, that the Flemish legislature relied on scientific research and that it sought to give preference to the most up-to-date method of killing that is authorised. It points out, next, that that legislature forms part of an evolving societal and legislative context, which is characterised by an increasing awareness of the issue of animal welfare. 

Quick question: if animal welfare is of such paramount importance, then shouldn't all animal slaughter be banned?  Isn't raising animals specifically for being slaughtered, no matter how humanely, a violation of the so-moral European sensitivity to animal welfare? 

In short, why is it OK to limit the ability of Jews and Muslims to eat meat and not all Belgians?

The ruling is implicitly drawing the line that the way Christians raise and eat animals is moral, and the way Jews and Muslims do the same thing is immoral, based on a "science" that says that one method is somewhat more humane. How much more - 10%? 40%? It doesn't matter, as long as European Christians can continue to enjoy their Christmas ham.  Banning that is unthinkable.

And it is not as if Belgian slaughterhouses that use stunning are humane. This article and video shows one that is horrific - and legal, of course, under moral Belgian laws. (The screenshot on the right shows a pig getting repeatedly stunned because the first time didn't actually cause unconsciousness.)

That proves as much as anything that animal rights are not at all what animates these restrictions on ritual slaughter.

The hypocrisy doesn't end there.

The court ruling states that animal welfare is of paramount importance - there's science behind the use of stunning as being the best method for slaughtering. We must minimize animal pain, and it is worth inconveniencing Jews and Muslims to uphold that moral imperative! 

But then the last part of the ruling shows that animal welfare is suddenly  not nearly as important as the previous paragraph implies:

In addition, the Court upholds the validity of Regulation No 1099/2009 in the light of the principles of equality, non-discrimination and cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, as guaranteed by the Charter.  The fact that Regulation No 1099/2009 authorises Member States to take measures such as compulsory stunning in the context of ritual slaughter, but contains no similar provision governing the killing of animals in the context of hunting and recreational fishing activities or during cultural or sporting events, is not contrary to those principles.

In that regard, the Court points out that cultural and sporting events result at most in a marginal production of meat which is not economically significant. Consequently, such events cannot reasonably be understood as a food production activity, which justifies their being treated differently from slaughtering. The Court draws the same conclusion with regard to hunting and recreational fishing activities. Those activities take place in a context where conditions for killing are very different from those employed for farmed animals.
Hunting is different -  it isn't food production, so European Christians can torture animals all they want as long as they call it recreational. 

Suddenly, science and morality and animal rights don't matter. There are technical reasons that humanely slaughtering an animal with a knife sharp enough to cut a hair lengthwise is proscribed, while shooting an animal in the leg and letting it bleed out for hours is perfectly OK. 

Perhaps the solution is for Belgian Jews to turn ritual slaughter into a sport, where teams of shochtim compete to see which one can slaughter the most animals in an hour and families can cheer them on. After all, killing animals is fine for recreational purposes, right? The entrance fee would be high but the meat would be given to the audience for free afterwards. 

Would the EU allow that activity, or would it come up with a technical distinction allowing killing animals with bullets and disallowing anything the Jews could eat? This ruling already shows the answer - Jewish and Muslim rights are less important than the rights of good, white Europeans to enjoy their hunting and their meat. 

Whether the excuses given for discrimination are based on pseudo-science or on "law," in the end they are all nothing but excuses for what is fundamentally bigotry.

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