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Thursday, June 12, 2003

Review - Liberation: Songs to Benefit PETA

Artist: Various Artists

Posted on Thu, Jun 12, 2003 at 4:00 AM

Say what you will about PETA's tactics, but it's really hard to argue with their point: the process through which animals (living, breathing, sentient beings) become food is harsh and cruel. It typically involves squalid, cramped conditions. It typically involves brutal and callous use of electricity, violence and blood. It is not pleasant, no matter how the meat industry tries to spin it. Unfortunately, PETA's penchant for stunts has done more to diminish their credibility than it's done to actually raise awareness of the problem they're attempting to correct. Sure, they'd be happy if everyone went vegan. But you know what, I bet they'd be equally happy if live pigs weren't thrown off the backs of trucks or if live chickens weren't beaten within an inch of their life for, well, acting like chickens. I mean, meat "is" food. But the mass production that the meat culture demands to sate its hunger is what leads to unthinkable cruelty and purely evil treatment of animals. And that -- I'd venture to guess -- is what truly offends PETA. And it's what should offend you whenever you pull a cleanly wrapped package of ground round out of the grocery cooler. This way-cheap collection is actually the right kind of benefit record to help with that. Sixteen bands -- NOFX, Desaparecidos, Hot Water Music, Anti-Flag, The Faint, Frenzal Rhomb and others -- that are actually good (or, in the case of Good Charlotte, at least popular) contribute songs that are, for the most part, previously released. (Thankfully, it appears that very few of the bands opted to contribute pro-cause songs; that's good, because message songs done for benefit albums typically suck.) It's a kick-ass mix tape, in other words. But, the inclusion of "Amateur Video of Professional Killers" (a Quicktime movie "bonus") is what should galvanize you. It's a graphic -- and totally real -- depiction of what animals endure before their death and it's incredibly upsetting. Everyone understands that an animal must die before you can eat it. And everyone understands that death usually involves blood and a none-too-small amount of pain. Yet, does Farmer Brown really need to beat an errant chicken until it can't walk? Does Old MacDonald wonder what happened to his cow's oozing, empty eye socket? Does the pig say "What the hell did you do that for?" when his "master" lets him get caught in the dissembly-line slaughterhouse machinery? All unnecessary. And that is PETA's point.

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