The rainy morning is normal, people are driving to their jobs, the city does not quit this morning routine of Tim Hortons coffee, radio stations in the car and school buses. The city of Longueuil, predictable and organized, hosts a historic event in the fight for animal rights, the Pigtrial of Porgreg.
As I drive towards the Longueuil courthouse, I watch life unfolding normally. If only people knew what these 12 activists are about to go through today and for the next two weeks, if we knew that the heroic acts that we seek in movies and series are also part of the real world, but ironically take place in a room with an administrative atmosphere and without major media coverage.
On December 7, 2019, 12 individuals entered the Porgreg pig farm in Quebec. Inside, they documented the deplorable conditions of the animals, which words fail to describe the extent of the suffering. Hidden behind these walls: hell on earth. These animals, legally taken hostage, are rendered invisible via the concept of “private property”. They have no chance of being seen, heard, helped, represented, much less liberated. They are born in a place where any living being would find it difficult to spend more than an hour. They bathe in their droppings, which are everywhere and fill the place with an unbearable smell. Their eyes are infected, their bodies are tainted, their life is hell. Dead babies are left on the ground next to their mothers, the metal cages are so narrow for many that it is impossible to move.
The photos and videos show the pitiful state of these innocent victims, but those who had the courage to infiltrate this farm also talk about the smell, the unbearable smell that prevents breathing, which enters the nose but also the memory, because the mixture of excrement, confinement, death, suffering and despair remains imprinted in the head forever.
Denouncing and documenting oppression are fundamental pillars of a just society, which is constantly improving, which knows how to choose better and act better. How can we deny citizens access to this information, how can we deny them the possibility of evaluating their consumption on an ethical basis, while we punish those who do what they can to expose abuse?
Justice should watch for righteousness, but what is righteousness without truth? I would turn in my tomb if any of my ideas ever served as a justification for condemning innocent individuals to a life of hell and punish those who try to give them a voice. We must see the brutal truth: punishing those who denounce this hell in favor of those who create it is a serious mistake. The right to denounce must weigh more than the concept of private property. Let's not let our system of laws be the joker behind which we can subject victims to the greatest injustice, without consequences.
We take our children to harvest apples and strawberries, we watch the extraction of maple syrup, animal sanctuaries offer visits to unexploited animals, but at the farms no one can approach, no one can film, no one can talk about it, much less in slaughterhouses… why? Because the average citizen would think twice before continuing to support and fund such places.
Oh how easy it is today to look to the past and say “this was awful” “I can't believe it was legal” “It's absurd that the law punished this person who fought for decency and justice.” One day The 12 will be seen collectively as the heroes that they are and these courageous acts will mark the history of the fight for animal rights. We will also keep in mind the verdict given at the Longueuil courthouse as visionary and tilted towards a more ethical and just world or as a stick in the wheels of an unstoppable train: Animal liberation.
Today is another rainy day in Longueuil, another day of Tim Hortons and morning school buses, a day that seems like nothing and yet so important. I have my cup of coffee in my hand and I raise it in greetings and respect for these 12 brave and strong people. I see you, I support you, I respect you. You are on the right side of History, you represent Justice, regardless of what justice dictates, you represent strength, even though sometimes the legs tremble and tears come to your eyes, you represent the truth, even when the media try to ridicule or minimize the obvious, you represent true union, even when you are accused of dividing, for there is no real union when what unites us is apathy and superficiality, there is no truth when the walls that hide it are protected by the State, there is no strength if we recoil from social pressure and the status quo, and ultimately, there is no justice in a society where the most vulnerable sentient beings on earth are oppressed in a legal and organized fashion.