Final Project!

picture above shows a few of my pet chickens

For my Final Project, I will be expanding from my Mini project 1 and 3, that can be found on my blog,  but adding a twist. In my mini project 1, I explained how we use animals, I chose cows, but it can apply to chickens, as a standing reserve-for our own goods. In my mini project 3, I explained the sources of the chicken and how the egg became what it is, and all that went into producing that egg. 

A typical person  may think a chicken is just a source of food; chicken nuggets, fried chicken legs, chicken breasts, or eggs. For me, a chicken is a pet and a part of my daily life. When I walk out of my front door, I see about 30 chickens and their home, a 20’x15’ coop. They have about 6 acres for roam on, and will always return back to their coop at sunset. Fun fact: chickens cannot see in the dark like some other animals. In a day, we (any member of my family), will go out two times a day to give the chickens water, feed, and gather eggs. About once a month, we will need to empty out the dirty straw and replace it with fresh straw, so they can have a clean living space. Our chickens are a part of our daily lives, and they are cared for like any other pet. When one of our chickens is injured or sick, I feel remorse and try to help. When one of our chickens passes away, I will feel down. We do not use our chickens for meat, but we do eat their eggs. When the pandemic hit and it was a challenge to find eggs in the stores, we gave away dozens of egg cartons to our neighbors and family close by. Conveniently, it was spring which is the time where we get more eggs than usual, due to Spring being a season where chickens lay the most eggs. Another benefit of having chickens as pets, is that they will eat bugs and kill snakes that are in our area, reducing the amount around our house. I care for my chickens like another person will care for their  dogs or cats. So, the question is, why are chickens treated so poorly in other places?

An estimated 9 billion chickens are slaughtered for food and 305 billion Hens are used for their eggs each year. The vast majority of these animals spend their lives in total confinement—from the moment they hatch until the day they are killed.More chickens are raised and killed for food than all other land animals combined. Chickens are inquisitive, interesting animals who are as intelligent as mammals such as cats, dogs, and even some primates. They are very social and like to spend their days together, scratching for food, taking dust baths, roosting in trees, and lying in the sun. But chickens raised on factory farms each year in the U.S. never have the chance to do anything that’s natural or important to them (PETA). 

I must provide a trigger warning, as this video attached contains very disturbing content, but it will give a sense of the sad reality of what chickens are put through when in big factories. Do not feel as though you HAVE to watch it in order to proceed with this post, as it is just a visual perspective. Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-RwqjtQmm8

Relating to readings from this class, Philosophy and Technology, I will use Roger J. H. King’s reading,“Eating Well: Thinking Ethically About Food”. In this reading, he basically says something along the lines of, we are what we eat. “Our habits of eating also create relationships to animals and to the soil”. He talked about how we are killing millions/billions of animals each year for our own good. “The meat industry is the largest consumer of freshwater in the country and a major consumer of land and grain crops. The conditions in which animals can be housed profitably for mass- market consumption require extensive use of hormones and antibiotics, relating both the meat industry and consumers of meat to the pharmaceutical industry. The concentration of animals in feedlots before they are slaughtered creates vast amounts of waste that can pollute local waters, poison fish, and harm human health”. By mass-housing and slaughtering these animals, we are doing more harm than health. Though you may think it is worth it, due to chicken and other animals being food at the dinner table, there are always other options and resources to fulfill these needs. 

Now, looking into the article, PUPPIES, PIGS, AND PEOPLE: EATING MEAT AND MARGINAL CASES, by Alastair Norcross at Rice University. In this reading, the author discusses how people see such a difference in the mistreatment of puppies, but not pigs. “Consider the case of chickens, the most cruelly treated of all animals raised for human consumption, with the possible exception of veal calves. Suppose that the industry is sensitive to a reduction in demand for chicken equivalent to 10,000 people becoming vegetarians. For each group of 10,000 who give up chicken, a quarter of a million fewer chickens are bred per year. It appears, then, that if you give up eating chicken, you have only a one in ten thousand chance of making any difference to the lives of chickens, unless it is certain that fewer than 10,000 people will ever give up eating chicken, in which case you have no chance. Isn’t a one in ten thousand chance small enough to render your con- tinued consumption of chicken blameless? Not at all. While the chance that your behavior is harmful may be small, the harm that is risked is enormous. The larger the numbers needed to make a difference to chicken production, the larger the difference such numbers would make. A one in ten thousand chance of saving 250,000 chickens per year from excruciating lives is morally and mathematically equivalent to the certainty of saving 25 chickens per year. We commonly accept that even small risks of great harms are unacceptable”. We look at these numbers, and selfishly think to ourselves that we do not make a difference, yet we do. We can make a difference, but it has to be one person at a time.

What if more people had small farms? What if we all had a chicken.. or 5..or 50? It would be ideal, but impossible for some, like those living in HOA controlled neighborhoods, apartments, in the city, etc. It will never be possible for everyone to play their part in stopping this, but we can all play a part. Shopping at local farms or farmers markets, where the livestock is cared for and not all of their animals are shoved into cages, malnourished, and/or mistreated can help this. By supporting big industries, we are supporting all the harm that they bring. Personally, my family gets their meat from a local farm about 10 miles down the road from us. Though we will never fully know how they treat their animals, we can easily view their entire farm from the road. The animals there are cows, pigs, and chickens. We can see that there is about 100 acres to roam, a variety of chicken coops, barns, and shelter for them to live, which is reassuring. 

Though there is no plausible or possible ‘solution’ to this issue, we can all play a part in making a small impact. What I would recommend to everyone, is to check into where your chicken on your plate is coming from, or even make a change as to where you buy it, or even, if you can consume less. In 2020, about 25% of people opt for vegan substitutes for meat (dealsonhealth). Why not give it a try? Personally, I find vegan substitutes tasty and filling, and the more I think about it, the better I feel. I am in no way on a vegetarian or vegan diet, but this substituting every once in a while makes me feel better and will make a very small difference, but if I can make even the smallest difference, I do not see the harm in it. Another option in which I believe is very possible, but may be challenging for some, is to give up “Americans favorite chicken fast food restaurant” (not naming any names).

Back to my original point, chickens are my pets, and they are a part of my daily life. When I look at them, I do not see a dinner plate, I see a living, breathing, peaceful animal. It is often hard to determine the line between humanity and greed, especially when it becomes a part of our daily life, and that is something that the technologies have proved to us and will continue to show.

Sources:

https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/factory-farming/chickens/

https://philtech.michaelreno.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/King-Eating-Well.pdf

https://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/readings/norcross.pdf

https://dealsonhealth.net/vegetarian-statistics/

Mini Project 2

For my Mini Project 2, I am going to combine the two topics of social media surveillance and those incarcerated. 

One of the most popular social media platforms in our generation is Facebook. As we explore Facebook, we find “groups” that we are interested in. For this example, I will alter the name of the group, as it is a “private” group (all you have to do is answer one question to join the group, but it is still considered private). I will give it the name, “The Fredericksburg “Hall” of Shame”. There are approximately 38,500 members in this group. The page can be posted on by any member, and most of the time it is full of unnecessary drama, but there are some helpful posts, like missing person information, or searches for missing cars in the area. 

To get to the specifics on what this post is about, I will tell you something that is posted every week. A woman posts screenshots of arrests from the Rappahannock Regional Jail (usually within the past 2-3 days) on this facebook page. The screenshots include the mugshots, full names, and their pending charges from their arrests. Though this is all public information that anyone can go look up on their computer, these posts are broadcasted to all 38.5k members of the page. As if their arrests being broadcasted on this platform wasn’t enough shame, people also get pretty rowdy within the comments. 

Some comments found under the mugshot posts:

“Oh wow, first one. I did not know she was going down that path”

“Damn. Brittany again? I hope girl gets her life together.”

“Hope he rots in jail”

Though some of these comments can be “justified” because of the charges they were accused of, what if they were wrongly accused? What if they are actually innocent?

Now, let’s tie this into Focault. “Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power. So to arrange things that the surveillance is permanent in its effects, even if it is discontinuous in its action”. These individuals who have been incarcerated are not only seen and, in a way, “watched” by the system, but also to the public. Posting the inmates gives the lady control over who gets shamed. But, why? 

Blog 4

For this blog post, I watched “Arkangel”, from the Netflix series, Black Mirror. 

In this episode, a mother got a “chip” inserted into her child which allowed her to track her by GPS, view the world from her eyes, and “filter” out things that she did not want her child to see. The mother had a tablet in which she could control all of these features. Things seemed to work out in her favor as she could protect her daughter, until around age 10. The daughter became curious as to what she could not see, because of the “filter” being on. When the mother decided it was time to turn off the filter and pack away her tablet, that is when the daughter felt free. She became more open to the real world and was exposed to “bad” things for the first time. As years went on, she became a teenager, and as we all know, that is when we become more exposed to things that mothers wish they could know about. Long story short, and in my attempt to not “spoil” the episode, her mother began surveillancing her daughter again, without her knowing. She saw things that she wished she didn’t, and decided to be the overprotective mother that she is, and try to control things again. I would even say that she was being watched in one of the most extreme ways, as in her health was being closely surveilled as well. 

This episode made me think about Panoptican. As the guards in the jail are surveillancing the inmates, they know they are being watched, but not when. As the girl grew up, she did not know that she was being watched, but she in fact, was. When the daughter was young, she was to act as though she was always being watched, because she knew that she was, which is the same concept as the prisoners. Is this a good thing, though? For the prisoners, maybe. It gives them a sense that they should all be on best behavior at all times, but that makes sense for them, as their rights have been taken away, for the reasoning of being a criminal. But, as a free human, I believe that is an unhealthy way of living and can do serious damage to mental health, leaving a person in a constant state of being on edge. 

https://philtech.michaelreno.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/FoucaultPanopticismKaplan.pdf

Blog Post 3

“The overall aim was to make the prison a place for the constitution of a body of knowledge that would regulate the exercise of penitentiary practice. The prison has not only to know the decision of the judges and to apply it in terms of the established regulations: it has to extract unceasingly from the inmate a body of knowledge that will make it possible to transform the penal measure into a penitentiary operation; which will make of the penalty required by the offence a modification of the inmate that will be of use to society. The autonomy of the carceral régime and the knowledge that it creates make it possible to increase the utility of the penalty, which the code had made the very principle of its punitive philosophy: “The governor must not lose sight of a single inmate, because in whatever part of the prison the inmate is to be found, whether he is entering or leaving, or whether he is staying there, the governor must also justify the motives for his staying in a particular classification or for his movement from one to another. He is a veritable accountant. Each inmate is for him, in the sphere of individual education, a capital invested with penitentiary interest”. (Foucault, 13). 

When reading this passage, many thoughts run through my mind, as I have known people close to me who have gone in and out of the system. I have heard stories of guards abusing their power, and some who use their power as good to try and correct the behavior of inmates. I feel as though inmates are used as “puppets” often. Someone I know who was in the system, has told me stories that I thought only happened in movies. One story was, while she was incarcerated, she was taunted and denied her daily medication, because the guards claimed that they should all be treated like murderers since they were all in jail. Another, was that they would make the inmates get on their knees and beg for toilet paper, for the purpose of enjoyment from the guards. 

While there are “good” guards, there are also those who abuse their power. Why is this? I believe there is a view that the guard is the superior (in a way, they are), but they want to make sure that the prisoners believe this. The system has lost track of what they should be doing. Instead of, in a way, wasting the time the inmates are in jail, why not try to use this as a way to help them? As stated in the passage above, the inmate should be modified to be a use to society. For example, if a person is in jail for DUI’s, why not set up programs for alcohol abuse? If a prisoner is in for drugs, why not set them up for substance abuse? The list goes on. Why use the time as a way to degrade or worsen a person, rather than attempt to better them? Is the reason of this human greed or is it because we have been brainwashed into believing that degrading is the best form of technology to use on the inmates?

https://philtech.michaelreno.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/FoucaultPanopticismKaplan.pdf