Back when I still liked watching news programs like 60 Minutes or 20/20 I remember seeing a segment on one of those programs about a woman with autism who developed a better slaughterhouse. I may have been a vegetarian at the time, so the idea of slaughtering cattle was not as upsetting to me as it is now that I eat the end result.
Having worked with autistic children during my tenure as a teacher and having read a number of books about autistic individuals, I found this woman’s story fascinating and kept it tucked in the back of my mind ever since.
That’s why my visceral reaction to the preview of the HBO film, Temple Grandin, surprised me. I adore Claire Danes and I find Temple Grandin’s story amazing but I was dead-set against seeing this film because… why? I’m not sure, but I think it was the whole cattle slaughtering thing and the fact that a gentle hug made the cattle less upset about their death. I didn’t want to think about the cattle’s last moments. I just wanted to buy meat at the grocery store and pretend it grew on trees. Or just materialized there in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Hey, magic!
I recently commented on a post by Lali that, when I was a vegetarian, I vowed that if I ever ate meat again I’d first have to kill an animal — to prove I was not a hypocrite*. Since I’ve never killed an animal, I am a hypocrite and while, on a day-to-day basis, that doesn’t bother me, occasionally it does. Perhaps that’s why I refused to even consider watching the film. I didn’t want to confront my hypocrisy.
Last night I did watch the film. It was excellent. It changes nothing. I’m still a hypocrite but at least I admit it.
*when I was young and had not had that many life experiences, being a hypocrite was probably the worse thing I could imagine being — it ranked up there with murderer in my mind.