From Animal Abuse to Prisoner Abuse?

by Brendan Lalor

Alexandra Dadlez brought to my attention a disconcerting possibility: might the infamous Iraqi prisoner abuser, Pfc. Lynndie England, have worked at the chicken processing plant recently exposed by PETA for abuse? Dadlez pointed out that according to one report, “Pfc. Lynndie R. England[,] married and divorced before she was 21, worked at a chicken-processing plant in West Virginia.” Dadlez calculates that work at the plant in question would have given her a commute of a little more than an hour from her hometown of Ft. Ashby, WV to Moorefield, WV, where the chicken plant is located.

While neither I nor Dadlez are prepared to defend the causal claim that abuse of animals was a gateway to abuse of prisoners, there may be some less direct causal relationship. Dadlez points out that “serial killers often begin by torturing and murdering animals.” The philosopher Emmanuel Kant argued for the humane treatment of animals roughly on the ground that their mistreatment could create a character in the abuser that is less respectful of human persons.

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