Bending Toward Justice

Let us realize that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.
—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

These words keep me going. Sometimes, like today, they even seem true: Pretty Good Things just happened in California and Ohio.

In California, Schwarzenegger just signed a bill that will make California a cage-free hen state by 2015; hens will be able to stand up, lie down, turn around, and fully extend their limbs without touching one another or the sides of an enclosure. Of course, any enclosed large-scale animal operation is not ideal, but getting rid of battery cages is a giant step in the right direction and I’m not going to be a buzz-kill today. Let’s hope California, with its forty million consumers, really is the harbinger state.

Arnold signed the bill just days after Ohio imposed a moratorium on new battery cage facilities in Ohio, the nation’s second largest egg production state. That was only part of Ohio’s broad range of important animal welfare reforms, including a ban on veal crates by 2017, a ban on new sow gestation crates in 2011, a ban on strangulation of farm animals, mandatory humane euthanasia methods for sick or injured animals, and a ban on the transport of cows too sick to slaughter. It also includes enactment of legislation establishing felony-level penalties for cock fighters, cracking down on puppy mills, and a ban on the acquisition of exotic animals as pets.

The arc of the moral universe usually feels too long, but sometimes you get a glimpse of its eventual destination. It will be great to live there someday, especially if you’re a hen in California or Ohio.