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If I read in the newspaper that the local chapter of the National Rifle Association had scheduled a pig roast, I wouldn’t be too surprised. After all, among other things, they promote the hunting and killing of animals.

But a women’s crisis center?

Evidently, the people who run New Beginnings, a women’s crisis center in Laconia, New Hampshire, don’t see the hypocrisy in killing helpless animals to raise money, while at the same time trying to change cultural attitudes about domestic violence. They are planning a pig roast this coming Saturday at “The Looney Bin” in Laconia, NH.

I am familiar with this program and have long supported the important services that they provide to women — and, in an educational way — to many men in my community. My town has often threatened to cut off funding to New Beginnings, a decision that I oppose. They deserve funding, but they need to raise money in a way that is consistent with their overall mission and philosophy.

Here’s their mission as posted on their web site (emphasis mine):

The mission of New Beginnings is to provide direct services in Belknap County, including short-term refuge and a supportive place for sexual assault survivors, battered women and their children; to educate survivors about the choices they have; and to educate the community about the history, causes, and methods of confronting violence against women, including physical, emotional and sexual assault, thereby promoting change. We recognize that men are not excluded from victimization and we therefore seek to provide direct service and peer support to men who have experienced domestic and sexual violence. We choose to use non-hierarchical structure that promotes equity and empowerment.

As agents of change, the management and Board of Directors of New Beginnings need to educate themselves about the abuse and killing of animals as a culturally accepted form of oppression. New Beginnings has a moral obligation to set an example and show its concern for ALL creatures that are defenseless. At the very least they should not promote events that perpetuate stereotypes in which one group oppresses another. 

Tolerance of violence of any kind perpetuates the attitude that one group has the right to control and harm another. New Beginnings says that domestic violence happens “when one person believes they are entitled to control another.” That’s exactly the point: they should set an example to the rest of the community by extending that definition to the most defenseless among us.

For most people, the killing of animals is so abstract and removed from their personal experience, they can’t imagine the depth of cruelty and abuse many animals have to endure. For those thinking of enjoying the New Beginnings pig roast, here are some of the abuses PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) found at a typical pig farm.

“The following are just some of the abuses that were documented:

A supervisor shoved a cane into a sow’s vagina, struck her on the back about 17 times, and then struck another sow.

Multiple pigs were beaten with metal gate rods, and lacerations were found on more than 30 sows – which is probably evidence of more abuse.

A worker hit a young pig in the face four times with the edge of a herding board, and investigators witnessed dozens of similar incidents involving this worker and 11 other workers.

Two men – including a supervisor – were witnessed jabbing clothespins into pigs’ eyes and faces. A supervisor also poked two animals in the eyes with his fingers.

A supervisor kicked a young pig in the face, abdomen, and genitals to make her move and told PETA’s investigator, “You gotta beat on the bitch. Make her cry.”
A worker who weighed an estimated 315 lbs. punched a sow on the back three times and said that he sat on a sow’s head.”

For more information about PETA’s investigation of pig farms, click here.

No, I am not equating the abuse of women with the abuse of animals. But just as TV violence can affect children by making them more prone to aggressive or violent behavior in other areas of their lives, violence directed towards animals makes it easier to treat people whom we think as “less human” in an inhumane way. It is the nature of all oppression.

I hope that New Beginnings has a successful fundraiser. My suggestion is that people who want to help the organization should go to the pig roast, eat veggies and snacks, and gently suggest to the organizers that perhaps next year they could raise money in a manner that is more consistent with their mission.