On Autism, Activism, Compassion, Love and Slaughter

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Bitch Magazine has a critical post (here) inspired by the Temple Grandin HBO biopic starring Claire Danes.   Here is an excerpt of the review by Brittany Shoot:

I wondered why Grandin, understanding how out of control factory farming has gotten in the last forty years (thanks in part to her own work?), has continued her work in the same field without reevaluating present conditions. Coming from such an intelligent person, her striking lack of analysis troubled me.

I also tend to be confused by Grandin’s stated bond with cattle when her actions seem to imply the opposite. As someone who also has deeply empathic bonds with animals:and also has a photographic memory:I’m genuinely bewildered by her ability to create systems that enable further slaughter while stating that she feels connected to animals. If you feel connected:and when your mind can replay life events as vividly as mine can:I truly don’t understand how you can live with that knowledge, with those mental images, of murder by your own hands. Maybe I misunderstand autism, despite having worked with autistic adults in the past. Maybe I also misunderstand myself. Anything is possible, but I remain troubled nonetheless.

In the past, I’ve said that Grandin’s work might bring people closer to understanding animals as sentient beings, deserving of our compassion and protection. But maybe I was wrong, and I’m definitely unsettled by HBO’s description of her as an”activist.”Grandin’s work may shine a much-needed light on autism:particularly adults living with autism, who remain largely misunderstood in society:but must that come at the expense of other lives? Jim Sinclair, an animal rights activist who is also autistic, has responded to Grandin’s work in slaughterhouse design with a beautifully simplistic statement:”If you love something, you don’t kill it.”* * *

Will ordinary folks think twice about the theory that”human slaughter”is an oxymoron or that Grandin believes quality of life is somehow more important that preserving the life itself? Can her work actually shift perspective, or does it simply make allowances for the continued use and needless killing of animals?

Shoot has several recent posts over at Bitch that might be of interest to those interested in the intersection of animal law and feminist theory, including,”Ecopsychology,”“Intro to Ecofeminism“and”Reclaiming Cow.’”

-Bridget Crawford

(cross-post from Animal Blawg)

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