When I first heard on the radio that Rev. Al Sharpton had done a video for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) encouraging people to boycott Kentucky Fried Chicken because of cruelty toward the chickens, I thought it was a joke. Come on, this Black preacher is talking about not eating fried chicken. As my friend Ambra Nykol wrote, Rev. Al has "the face of a man who would secretly send his assistant to buy him some KFC on the down low." Hardy, ha, ha!
After I stopped laughing, I decided to see why Rev. Al was doing this, so I watched the PETA video, read the related information, and checked out KFC's response. In researching this issue I found myself disgusted by KFC, determined to join the boycott, and motivated to donate to PETA. That's right. Until they do better, I'm giving up KFC, Long John Silver's, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and A&W Restaurants -- all owned by KFC's parent company Yum! Brands.
A statement by PETA says:
Black community leader the Rev. Al Sharpton has never been shy about raising his voice—whether it’s on the pulpit or on the presidential campaign trail. Now, Sharpton is speaking up for the nearly 800 million chickens raised and killed each year for KFC, which announced plans at its investor meeting to market more heavily to African-Americans.
Rev. Sharpton has filmed an appeal to be screened at KFC in urban centers across America, calling on the black community to boycott KFC until the company makes basic improvements in animal welfare. In the video, Sharpton outlines the abuses that chickens raised for KFC suffer and takes KFC to task. Sharpton says, “KFC is not black owned, but it sure knows to market heavily to African Americans … obviously hoping we won’t care about what they do the underdog, or in this case, the underchicken … So, if KFC wants to take our money and use it to pay for sloppy practices that hurt animals—I say we send them a message that this is not going to happen. I’m calling on people to boycott KFC until they adopt animal welfare systems recommended by PETA and until they stop the worst abuses of the birds they raise for their restaurants.”
Rev. Sharpton isn’t the first civil rights leader to endorse PETA’s campaign. He joins comedian and activist Dick Gregory, former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, scholars Derrick Bell and Cornel West, author Alice Walker, and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, as well as Pam Anderson, Sir Paul McCartney, the Dalai Lama, and others in condemning KFC’s cruelty to animals. Click here to add your name to the list and let KFC know that its cruel treatment of animals will not be tolerated.
Yeah, but so what? I'm not joining some boycott just because the PETA folks come up with some picture of a deranged, knife-wielding, blood-stained Colonel Sanders slaughtering a poor defenseless chick and come out with a list of high-profile supporters. My support is based on the serious and documented allegations of animal cruelty I found.
Chickens are probably the most abused animals on the planet. They have their sensitive beaks seared off with hot blades and are crammed into tiny cages with the decomposing remains of other birds. Hundreds of thousands are left to starve to death, and huge numbers die as a result of long journeys in extreme weather conditions. Basically, any and all abuse is allowable when it comes to chickens, who are, in fact, remarkable animals with distinct personalities and intelligence that, if allowed to develop, is as advanced as that of cats and dogs. Most importantly, they feel pain, just as we do.
That's enough for me, but there's more. According to PETA, KFC’s present method of killing chickens involves snapping their legs into metal shackles and cutting their throats open, often while they are still conscious; KFC suppliers scald millions of fully conscious chickens to death every year; pick up chickens by their broken or crippled legs, four or five birds in each hand, and slam them into transport crates; and breed and drug them to grow so quickly that their legs break and their organs fail.
How anyone can watch the video, listen to the facts, and still buy chicken from KFC is beyond me.