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Killing your own cows

In Nepal people are apparently killing half a million animals for religious reasons. Celebrities are protesting. Animal rights activists want me to email the Nepalese government to “to ensure this is the last time it ever happens”.

The trouble is, “ensure this is the last time it ever happens” is just a polite way of saying “jail people for killing their own cows”. In fact, thanks to an Indian interim law banning the transportation of animals to Nepal, 114 people have been arrested and 2,500 animals stolen by the Indian government.

I do not find this event aesthetically pleasing. I do approve of reducing the suffering of animals; but not at the cost of doing violence to humans.

I have also come across the suggestion that, since the sacrificed animals will not be eaten, stopping this event may do something to help with poverty or starvation. But interfering with people’s private property only ever makes poverty and starvation worse in the long term. Update: And in any case it seems like the meat and hides do get used.

15 comments to Killing your own cows

  • Paul Marks

    This is one of those occasions when one despairs over the nuttiness of people.

    Whether it is discriminating against people on the basis of the colour of their skin, or killing ones cows and leaving them to rot, sometimes human behaviour just makes no sense.

    But should the state violently intervene to stop such behaviour? The libertarian (indeed any supporter of liberty) says “no”.

  • Mr Ed

    Well if you want to know why Nepal is such a poor and crap country to live in, regardless of the wondrous feats of many of its people, this is a prime example of ideas in people’s heads not being conducive to quality of life. The health risks of this practice are stupendous, the waste of resources (utility apart, if they prefer rotting livestock, disease risks (but winter?) and a happy Goddess). Still, if one were to them starve and should they do so, the ideas would die with them.

    I suppose the question is whether on a quia timet basis, one may say that this practice is so hazardous as to amount to a nuisance-type tort and be preventable by injunction.

  • Jerry

    ‘I do approve of reducing the suffering of animals; but not at the cost of doing violence to humans.’

    You’d be amazed at the number of people who disagree with that position.
    Start with some of the more rabid members of PETA !!

  • Tedd

    Ever the optimist, I would point out that, whereas this sort of thing was once common, it’s now rare. I would agree that the potential to slip back into that kind of barbarism still exists, but most people today probably regard that behaviour as unacceptable, if not disgusting.

    I’m not sure how much this is a property rights issue. Some of the animals mentioned in the article are types that are typically domestic, but not all of them. It appears that some portion of the animals may be captured purely for this purpose. Does capturing an animal make that animal a product of your labor in a way that confers unrestricted right of property? I’m ambivalent about that.

  • Mr Ed

    Those particular religious people are slaughtering cattle the way that Communists slaughter religious people, or anyone else they dislike, given half a chance. Given the prevalence of Maoist movements in Nepal, this lot of Buffalo killers are not the greatest worry.

    In respect of laws on religious discrimination, it has always struck me as odd people saying e.g. that they cannot work as they have to have time off to fast, pray, do nothing, attend a festival, whatever.

    They don’t have to do anything because of religion, they choose to do so, on the basis of their own ideas and values. And if they don’t do what their religion prescribes or what they understand themselves to be required to do, nothing will happen to them at all, apart from a possible reaction from 3rd parties, which is truly no business whatsoever of an employer and should not be any concern to an employer, unless the employer wishes to retain staff or maintain morale.

  • Dom

    Are you sure the animals will not be eaten? I came across the story first on Mick Hartley’s blog, who quotes Wiki to say that the animals are shipped to Indian companies, I assume to be eaten and to have the hides processed or whatever.

  • Laird

    Mr. Ed, any quia timet action would have to be brought by someone who would actually be harmed by the practice, i.e., a local, not some foreign do-gooder. And since the risk (of disease) is somewhat speculative, I doubt that the action would lie.

    Indeed, I think the practioners of this activity should avail themselves of the ancient writ of “mind your own business”.

  • s sustad

    I’ve been in Nepal a number of times during this festival. Typically a family will kill and consume a chicken. It’s a big treat. The buffalos are sold to restaurants. I must admit that after a weeks time i become a vegetarian. Considering how much food is wasted here over Christmas it’s a bit hypocritical to judge others.

  • Mr Ed


    I raise you Public Nuisance.. The Collective’s response to what it does not like.

  • staghounds

    It’s a shame that Nepal’s deities don’t consider giving a cow to a hungry family a worthy sacrifice.

  • Laird

    Mr Ed, “public nuisance” could indeed work. However, as I understand it, that is a quasi-criminal action which can only be brought by the Sovereign (the Crown or the State), not by an individual or private group. (So it wouldn’t be of much use to Peta and other such professional busybodies.) And as such I don’t think it could form the basis for an equitable remedy such as injunction (although I could be wrong about that).

    Anyway, I’m sure that if the Nepalese government truly wanted to stop this practice it would have plenty of other tools at its disposal with which to do so.

  • Thanks for that link, Mr Ed. It is now clear to me why Nepal is poor.

  • Mr Ed

    Laird, in England and Wales Her Majesty’s Attorney-General may seek an injunction from the High court against a party to prevent a criminal offence being committed, a rarely used (and never guaranteed) tool in the Crown’s arsenal.

    Rob, the politics of Nepal are truly horrific, the People’s Front of Judea are no laughing matter when they get that big. Why do we recruit Gurkhas from such a politically suspect country?

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Why do we recruit Gurkhas from such a politically suspect country?

    Presumably because they are anxious to leave.

    Joking aside, I have heard from people who have been there that the people of Nepal are very likeable. I’m hoping that the popularity of Maoists there is, as in India, merely a symptom of being so remote that the memo about the collapse of Communism hasn’t reached them yet. After all, election results in Italy or France would have had similar results for various Communist parties in the 1970s.

  • Mr Ed

    Now a Devon farmer is killing his own cows, but he is only giving orders and they are ‘Nazi super cows’ who are too aggressive.