Don’t cloud the issue

Sometimes I despair of people. There isn’t going to be a sensible discussion of the welfare implications of halal meat and I’m starting to think a plague on the lot of them.

You’ve got those who are using the issue to vent their annoyance at the presence of members of visible ethnic minorities among the population. They rail against Muslims, but it’s not really the religion they’re thinking of.

Then you’ve got the types who think any faith should be a get out of jail free card. Their idea is that as soon as you announce that any practice, no matter how awful, is (according to them) part of a major religion, it should be exempt from any scrutiny.

Somewhere in there you’ve got the labelling junkies as well. They dream of a world in which books will be unnecessary. Reading the back of a packet of fish fingers will pass the boredom of a long winter evening or a three-hour train journey through an uninteresting area at night. Labelling will solve every problem, they reckon. Consumers only need screeds of irrelevant small print to work through and they’ll be able to make an informed choice on any issue. If not, give them a picture of it, which is why those traffic lights have appeared amid all the print. Is there really anyone who takes any notice? I don’t.

I might be getting into conspiracy theory territory, but I always suspect the hand of the militant veggies in any discussion of the ethics of meat. The ‘meat is murder’ crowd are always hanging around whenever there is any controversy over livestock.

It’s an important issue for us. “What everyone can agree on is that Britain’s Muslims eat lots of meat,” the Observer said last week, quoting an EBLEX study which said they ate about 20% of the country’s lamb.

“Small wonder that people in the meat industry are being attentive to their Muslim customers,” the paper said. It quoted ‘a slaughterman at a Birmingham abattoir who asked not to be named’ as saying “Supermarkets killed the fishmongers and the bakers. They’re trying to ban halal because of the stunning issue. If they do, every English sheep farmer is finished.”

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