Letters to the Editor

Letter: Turkey abuse

December 27, 2012


To the editor:

On Dec. 14, the Kansas University Beta Theta Pi fraternity gained unwanted national attention as a result of alleged abuse and killing of a turkey who had been “rented” for a party. According to band members and witnesses, the bird was chased and choked and thrown like a football.

According to witnesses cited in news reports, when the turkey’s wing snapped, and then its leg, the animal began screaming. After this abuse, the innocent, defenseless bird was killed. KU officials, the Interfraternity Council, and the Beta Theta Pi office have expressed their dismay at this cruel, violent crime.    

If we find this conduct disturbing and cruel, I believe it is because this is one turkey with whom we can identify and for whom we can feel empathy. We might imagine what it would be like to be in the hands of a mob that finds it amusing to torture us. 

And yet, the anonymous turkeys whom we eat are just as innocent and defenseless. If we are capable of feeling compassion for this one, then our hearts are telling us to have the same concern for all turkeys. We can save them from the torture and death they endure every single day on farms and in slaughterhouses by refusing to eat them.    


Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 6 months ago

Many of us feel the same way about unborn children.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 6 months ago

Nah. He just thinks people through them across the room and laugh about it.

fiddleback 5 years, 6 months ago

Just ate some today.

Any vegetarian seizing the pulpit needs to pick the battle wisely. Of all the animals to discourage people from eating, poultry and fish are at the bottom of the list. Much easier to discourage eating fellow mammals: pigs have high intelligence; cattle create greenhouse issues. Decrying poultry or fish consumption likely just drives otherwise open-minded omnivores further away from vegetarianism...

More annoyingly, we keep hearing false equivalencies from both sides: people like the author who claim that all modern poultry production is unethical, and those on the other end who seem to suggest that a turkey's prolonged agony is sufficiently commonplace so as to make it irrelevant.

Both extremes deny some very easy distinctions: birds raised for food are slaughtered as swiftly as possible according to industry requirements. It's not to say most have much quality of life, or that there aren't cases of injury, but they're typically not subjected to anything like what this bird experienced.

I highly doubt the band members on stage were vegetarians. Plus, they had played this gig at this house for several years and knew what was normal tone and behavior. The cruelty that they saw unfolding prompted them to intervene -- even if it's "just a turkey"...

Noweigh 5 years, 6 months ago

Liberty One.... Don't forget turkey sandwiches......the absolute best any time!

LadyJ 5 years, 6 months ago

This is too funny. The advertisement at the bottom of the page was for chicken coops. Probably could be used for a turkey or two.

RoeDapple 5 years, 6 months ago

Yup, terrible what they do to turkeys. Have you tried veal?

skinny 5 years, 6 months ago

Give me a break! Next it'll be pork and beef!

Linda and Bill Houghton 5 years, 6 months ago

The same could be said about chickens, hogs, cattle and other animals we use for food. It has been more than fifty years since I spent time on a farm, but at that time the chickens and cattle on that farm were not tortured before they were killed. That is the problem with the actions of the fraternity. If they had bought the turkey to eat and had put it quickly to death without the torture they would not have been condemned.

bad_dog 5 years, 6 months ago

Have you ever tried throwing a cow like a football? Only their sheer mass saves them from such a fate. Only pigs are suitable for throwing like footballs and pulled pork, of course. Oh, almost forgot bacon...

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 6 months ago

Folks like you concern me. I mean, do you seriously not see a difference between a feedlot and a fraternity? I mean, they both begin with "f", but still...

Or how about not seeing the difference between moving animals along for slaughter where some might become injured during the process...and "playing" with them and repeatedly injuring them just for fun?

I don't agree with Judy in terms of "we shouldn't kill any of them"...but there really is a difference between slaughter and sadism.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 6 months ago


The 1978 episode of WKRP in Cincinnati called "Turkeys Away," in which the radio station staged a Thanksgiving giveaway has become a classic holiday memory -and one of the funniest TV shows ever! It's also the subject of today's Lunchtime Quiz at mental_floss. How many details can you recall from that show?

LadyJ 5 years, 6 months ago

Wild turkeys can, but they are not near as fat.

KayCee 5 years, 6 months ago

I've seen a few wild turkeys flying, but most of the time they are walking across the back yard.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 5 years, 6 months ago

Only wild turkeys can fly, and they do it well.There is no excuse for abusing or torturing any animal, besides it is against the law. Many murderers started by abusing animals.

Unreal 5 years, 5 months ago

I find it truly sad that not one person commenting on here has acknowledged the fact that these drunk frat men literally tortured and killed this living being for the sheer fun of it. I dont care if it was a turkey, cat or dog. This was an innocent creature that did not deserve what happened to it. And any human being with an ounce of compassion and empathy would understand this. But instead, I'm reading through a bunch of idiotic, heartless comments. I thought Lawrencians had more compassion than this. Cruelty is cruelty, no matter who it is perpetuated against.

ahimsaforall 5 years, 5 months ago

I'm always shocked and saddened that people are so "proud" and mean spirited when an animal is tortured. It's not about satisfying your insatiable appetite for eating meat, it's about saving a life, a precious life. "The greatness of a nation and its' moral progress can be judged the by the way its animals are treated." -Gandhi

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