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Friday, June 30, 2023

Surprising win for animal rights - and democracy

"Just shut up and eat your bacon"

By Jim Hightower 

It’s an odd marketing strategy for an industry to assail its own consumers.

Yet, that’s what the monopolistic meatpacking industry — led by such huge conglomerates as Tyson, Smithfield, JBS, and Hormel, which control nearly 70 percent of America’s pork market — is doing.

“Just shut up and eat your bacon,” the industry shrieks.

The target of their corporate tantrum is the growing grassroots movement of consumers, animal rights advocates, farmers, chefs, retailers, and others who are dismayed and disgusted by Big Pork’s profiteering on animal cruelty.

“None of your business!” shout the executives, lobbyists, lawyers, and for-rent politicians who run the tortuous system.

But gutsy groups like the Humane Society made their way inside the industry’s animal factories, videoing such mass horrors as thousands of pregnant sows locked for 16 weeks at a time in gestation crates so small the animals can’t even turn around. In 2018, such exposés prompted 60 percent of California voters to approve a ballot initiative outlawing the use of the inhumane crates.

Adding plutocratic stupidity to their greed, the pork barons then sued the people of California. Yes, the pork profiteers actually asserted that democracy must not interfere with “sound business practices.”

Never mind that few of us uncorporatized commoners consider animal suffering to be a sound practice. Even the corporate-coddling Supreme Court gagged at the industry’s claim that it has the sovereign power to dictate what type of pork chops are available to the public.

This May, in an odd-fellow 5-4 decision rendered by two progressive judges and three corporatists, the Court ruled that “policy choices like these usually belong to the people.” Well, yes — and to the animals!

This is an example of how grassroots activism matters in important ways. To stay involved in this issue, go to 

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. This op-ed was distributed by