September 25, 2013

Letters to the editor: Lobster industry should end cruelty

I was shocked at the revelations of horrific abuse of lobsters at Maine processing plants.

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There are humane ways to kill lobsters and Maine processors should be using them, readers say.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

I have been a vegetarian for many years, and at the top of my list of reasons is the inhumane treatment of most animals raised for meat.  

I make occasional exceptions for fish, since they lead free and natural lives at sea and many of them are doomed to be consumed by larger predators anyway.

In recent years, however, I have minimized my consumption of lobster meat because I can't bear the thought of all those lobsters being dropped into boiling water -- or at least that was what I assumed happened in the factories. The reality turns out to be unimaginably worse, unfortunately.  

It is appalling that the lobster industry has no qualms about this documented cruelty, and only repeats the same tired argument that they don't believe lobsters can feel pain. Uh-huh.  

While it is true that a lobster's nervous system is less highly developed than ours, anyone who gives the matter a moment's honest thought has to admit that the experience of pain is basic to all creatures who are able to move about independently.

If this were not the case, that species would have no reason to avoid bodily harm and would rapidly perish (in fact, the "pain line" is usually drawn below shellfish).  

And lobsters are a species that has been proven to recognize each other as individuals. Does anybody out there really believe they don't feel pain?  

Maine lobster processors should do the right thing and adopt humane methods of slaughter.  

To ensure this, our animal protection laws should include all animals slaughtered for human consumption. It is shameful that one of our Maine signature products is based in such hideous cruelty to defenseless creatures.

Mary Wheeler


Patrice McCarron, executive director of the Maine Lobstermen's Association, misunderstands or misstates the real issue discussed in your article "State denies PETA claim of cruel lobster 'kills'" (Sept. 18). 

Although I am not a PETA member, it seems clear to me that PETA is not trying to "humanize a lobster," as Ms. McCarron puts it. PETA attempts to humanize the humans who eat the lobster.

If there is a controversy, it is not between animals and humans, nor between different groups of humans.  It is a question of respect for life.

Life is precious, and we are all demeaned if we brutalize the animals that we kill for food.  

All religious traditions call for respect for life and teach that if we must kill, it should be done humanely: that is, with respectful awareness.

We must not allow the drive for profit to cause us to forget who we are.

Scott R. Scribner


Eliot Cutler has been active since 2010 race for governor

The Press Herald recently published Mike Michaud supporter Stan Spiegel's letter critical of Eliot Cutler for somehow not being active enough since the last gubernatorial election ("Cutler silent as LePage dismantles government," Sept. 16).

For starters, that's simply not true. Mr. Cutler has been involved in a number of important public policy debates -- marriage equality, election reform, health care coverage -- and written a book.

Secondly, my guess is that Mainers will not be surprised at Rep. Michaud's lack of political activity. Mike Michaud has been a social conservative in Congress for the last 10 years. Over that decade he has authored a grand total of just two bills that became law.

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