04/23/02 World Book Day

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Animal Friends' campaign on the occasion of World Book Day

After the protests of Animal Friends, a book called Na seoskom imanju (At a Farm), published by MOST, has been withdrawn from children's department of Ivan Goran Kovacic Library, the biggest library in Karlovac, with over 10,000 members. Other libraries have informed us that they are soon to follow its example!

A bloody picture-book or a manual for a cold-hearted killing?

Animal Friends protests on the occasion of World Book Day, April 23, against the publishing of books that convince its readers that animals are "useful" only in the form of steaks and sausages. We are especially against the publishing of picture-books for children in which "innocent" stories impose an attitude that animals are "created to be eaten," which very crudely develops ambivalent relation towards animals at an early age: on one hand, children are advised to be friends to animals, and at the same time they are confused with a lesson deprived of mercy - that animals are intended for killing, and that the best animal is the one on the plate.

That is the impression of the picture-book At a Farm, published by MOST, a publisher from Zagreb, within a collection of edition called Stories About Animals (for publisher: Vladimir Vucur, editor: Josip Laca, translation from Spanish: Ksenija Jancin, original edition Editorial Roma Barcelona Spain), situated in Majevicka ulica 12a. What is there to say about a picture-book with attractive pictures that offers the following statements about animals on a farm:

ON RABBITS: "We have a lot of rabbits on our farm because they breed in great numbers. Rabbits are very useful animals because people use them for food. They have a tender and delicious meat. (...) Their fur is used for making coats and imitations of fur of some wild animals that are hard to catch."

ON TURKEYS: "I'm sure that you ate a turkey for Christmas. There are a lot of turkeys on the farm. I take good care of them and I feed them well so that they could grow fat and end up in a cooking-pot during the holidays."

ON PIGS: "Pigs like to eat fruit, especially acorns, but here on the farm we feed them with what is left of our food and this makes them fat and strong and we can make nice ham and sausages out of them. (...) I would like you to learn that pig, among other domestic animals, is not useful to us when it is alive."

ON HENS: "You must have heard hens' cackling. This is a sound a hen makes when she wants to let us know that she has laid an egg that we can fry or make bread with it. But we can also leave it to hen to sit on it so that a chicken can be hatched and become a beautiful rooster when it grows up. (...) Hen is a bird that is very esteemed in a farm-yard. Not only because it lays eggs but also because its meat is a very delicious food. We can make delicious chicken soup that is very nutritious for children and old people."

Those are the words in the picture-book At a Farm with which children are tricked to "love" animals. Is it possible that a grown-up with a common sense is the author of this sad and horrible confession for children?

Animal Friends appeals to Croatian publishers to avoid publishing of literature that exalts the sufferings and killings of animals because it hurts children who, instead of being shown peacefulness, are being shown hidden, but also direct hostility and hatred towards animals that depend on our mercy, care and protection.

Animal Friends' activists are going to hand this protest letter by the end of the Book Week, celebrating World Book Day - April 23 - with a number of events, to responsible people in publishing houses, libraries and book-shops with the intention of inciting them to avoid printing, selling and borrowing of literature having the characteristics of the above mentioned "picture-book." They are also going to inform literary societies and individual writers about the context of the protest in order to stimulate them to write books suitable for education and upbringing of mentally healthy and balanced generations - our own children, thus contributing to the world with less suffering and more joy for people and animals.

And finally, an instructive story that could be titled "At a farm of a farm psychologist."

Lawrence Kohlberg, a psychologist from Harvard, famous for his work on development of moral consciousness, tells a story about his son, then a 4-year old, making his first moral judgement and refusing to eat meat because, as he said "it isn't right to kill animals." Kohlberg needed six months to convince his son to let go of this attitude, for which he claims that it was based on the failure to make a correct distinction between justified and unjustified killing, and which (according to Kohlberg) shows that his son has only been at the most primitive level of moral development.

First lesson: if you reject a widely spread human prejudice (even at the age of four!), it is possible that you "will not be able to develop morally." Is it really, father Kohlberg?


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