The latest multicultural controversy feels entirely manufactured, but I’ll bite anyway. Apparently, Pizza Express is serving Halal chicken to its customers, but not announcing this fact on its menus. The Sun is outraged, and the story was on the front page yesterday.
Unfortunately the entire article is behind a paywall, but I read it on paper and its a sneering, conspiratorial piece that seems to imply that this choice by Pizza Express is evidence of some creeping Islamic takeover of Britain.
Which it most certainly is not. Pizza Express have formed a view (based on actual customer feedback, apparently) that more of their customers would either prefer Halal, or do not care. That’s a commercial decision that the company has every right to make. It is not a pander to a minority, at the expense of what the majority of people prefer.
In its Fact Box, The Sun makes much of the fact that an animal with its throat cut will take a minute or more to die. The implication is that those who practice this procedure are barbaric and backward.
But are they? My understanding of Kosher and Halal practices is that (whatever reasoning Yahweh or Allah supposedly gives in the Holy texts) they contributed to the public health of the nomadic, desert tribes that first established the practices. Bleeding an animal or avoiding certain types of meat was surely sensible and hygenic in those days. So the original reasons for the practice are civilised ones, and not evidence of blood-lust in Islamic culture.
Second, white British culture also treats animals barbarically. We pump animals full of hormones, feed them other animals, keep battery hens, and run mega-farms. And yet editors at The Sun feel no need to be outraged by any such practices.
Finally, is there not an inherent barbarity in the very act of eating animals? Many vegetarians think so. In order to eat, we must kill. Why do we enjoy our burgers, our bacon, and our chicken wings, when we are so sqeamish about the deaths of the animals that supply the meat? Why are we happy to order lobster in a restaurant, but baulk at the idea that the chef boils it alive? Many people say that they could never kill an animal for food: I say that if you’re not prepared to look an animal in the eye and then stab it to death, you’re living in a state of denial and should not be eating meat at all.