There are several common-sense reasons anyone would oppose allowing the backyard slaughter of chickens in Oakland.

A few of these include issues of hygiene (it is after all slaughter), noise, disease, smell and not to mention the possibility of attracting other animals such as rats and predators who are attracted by the presence of both chickens and slaughter.

This means if you have ever been bothered by a neighbors' pet's noise or hygiene issues, imagine how much worse it would be if it was changed into a backyard full of chickens your neighbor wasn't just raising, but also killing.

A My Word contributor says the ongoing slaughter of chickens in Oakland needs to come to an end. (Karl Mondon/staff archives)
A My Word contributor says the ongoing slaughter of chickens in Oakland needs to come to an end. (Karl Mondon/staff archives)

However, as a student and teacher of philosophy, these are actually not the issues I want to focus on. For throughout philosophy, there have been a host of thinkers who were opposed to the killing of animals because of the way it would harm human compassion. Immanuel Kant, for example, cites the British law against butchers serving on a jury.

And psychology research has borne out this same moral intuition. For example, a 1997 Northeastern University and Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals found that people who hurt animals were five times more likely to commit violent crimes against people and than people who did not.

And, as reported by the Humane Society, a 2001-04 study by the Chicago Police Department "revealed a startling propensity for offenders charged with crimes against animals to commit other violent offenses toward human victims."

Nor is indoctrination of violence reserved for only adults. As Joel Salatin, the most famous advocate for backyard slaughter, phrased it: We have not found any child under 10 that's the least bit put off by it. They get right into it. We'll even give them a knife and let them slice some throats.

Therefore, while the backyard slaughter movement frequently tries to wrap itself in a cloak of increasing compassion, the reality is exactly the opposite.

There is nothing compassionate about having 10-year-old children engage in slaughter and, if either philosophy or psychology is to be believed, no way to guarantee that this slaughter won't just keep growing. And the more people engage in regular killing, the greater the effect and the danger.

Therefore, as academics, activists and, most important, neighbors, I think the most common-sense reason we should all oppose backyard slaughter is to keep this wholly unnecessary and unneeded violence out of own backyards.

Vasile Stanescu regularly teaches a course at Stanford University titled "Eating Animals" and coedits the Critical Animal Studies book series published by Rodopi Press. He lives in Oakland.