Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: BC, Canada
BURLINGTON, Ont. — A trial for a woman charged with giving water to a pig on its way to slaughter took on grand proportions Thursday with the treatment of pigs equated to the extermination of Jews in Nazi Germany and the accused being compared to some of history’s greatest human rights champions: Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Susan B. Anthony.
In making closing submissions in the case against Anita Krajnc, who is charged with mischief after giving a roadside drink to a pig packed in a truck outside a Burlington slaughterhouse in 2015, her lawyer Gary Grill evoked the Holocaust.
He told a story from a supporter whose parents were in Hungary in 1944, he said. They “had to witness helplessly as the Jews of that town were herded by gendarmes into cattle cars and how the gendarmes threatened and drove off local citizens, including his mother, who were trying to give them water,” Grill said in court.
“The Nazi forced Jews and gays and gypsy and those they saw as others, into trains and trucks and carted them off to slaughter. Is it the same right that the Crown now argues that (the farmer) has, that it was legal?”
As Grill spoke, Assistant Crown Attorney Harutyun Apel sat shaking his head and looking bewildered.
Grill continued: “It is the same justification for the historical mistreatment of others,” and humanity “consistently forgets or ignores these hard-fought lessons of the past.”
Outside court, Krajnc, 49, said the story about the Holocaust was “really, really moving.”
“I really respect that comparison,” she said. “Everyone knows that giving water to thirsty Jews on a cattle train is a small act of charity and what really should have happened is they should have been saved, you know, from being gassed and murdered. And what I did was a small act of charity to that pig who was slaughtered.
“I feel guilty. If I’m guilty of anything it’s for not doing enough and I’m sure the people who didn’t do enough for the Jews and for others, that’s the guilt that they feel.”
After court, Grill said the Holocaust argument was important.
“There are many important parallels that we can draw from the two things. One is our inability to have emotional contagion, somehow. Why don’t we feel the suffering of others? How do we close ourselves out to that, whether it be Jews being herded into a train or whether it be pigs?” he said.
It highlights the strong vision of animal rights held by Krajnc, who was supported by about 120 activists crammed into the courtroom, spilling out of chairs and, with the approval of Justice David Harris, sitting in rows on the floor.
Instead of merely asking the judge to acquit Krajnc on a paucity of evidence brought by the Crown of any harm stemming from her actions, Grill encouraged the judge to strike a legal precedent — to accept her actions were justified for the public good.
Grill and co-counsel James Silver asked for the alleviation of animal suffering to be seen alongside such Good Samaritan acts as breaking the speed limit when rushing someone to hospital or pushing someone away from attacking another person.
“Anita is acting in the public good when she applies those very same principles to non-human animals,” Grill said in court.
“The scale of suffering defies comprehension,” he said. “How we treat these pigs, how we treat these persons,” Grill said before being stopped by Harris, who interjected: “Let’s pause for a moment. There is no evidence before me, there is no legal basis for finding that a pig is a person.”
Grill retorted: “There is a scientific and moral basis.”
In his no-holds-barred defence, Grill summarized testimony from the five days of evidence that factory farming damages the environment and that “bacon is potentially lethal” and that feeding bacon to a child is child abuse. He said animal farming practices helped create “an existential threat to the species.”
He also said Judge Harris should see his client like those who have also found themselves before the courts, unfairly charged but facing the consequences to provoke change.
“History is sweeping with stories of great souls who have devoted themselves to changing the world,” he said, naming Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Susan B. Anthony.
“What do these people have in common,” Grill asked, but before he could answer his own rhetorical question, Harris again interjected, answering: “They did something for the common good and were all convicted.”
"We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form." - William Ralphe Inge