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Oprah Chicken Giveaway Wins Friends and Loses Others

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Talk to someone who's worked in a chicken slaughterhouse - or view the footage yourself http://www.kentuckyfriedcruelty.com - and you realize the birds know exactly what is going on.

They struggle when you take them out of their crates and shackle their feet, say workers; they struggle as they hang upside down on a conveyer heading toward the blade; and 180 million a year struggle as they miss the blade and are boiled alive in defeathering tanks-a figure from the mainstream Gourmet magazine.

Many who saw Oprah shows about the cruelty of factory farming and puppy mills were surprised Oprah would offer viewers the "blood gift" of an estimated 40,000 birds in the form of free downloadable coupons for Kentucky Grilled Chicken meals as she did last week.

Many were astounded she wouldn't take her own medicine after shows about vegan diets and trying one herself just months ago.

oprah
Cartoon: Martha Rosenberg
Couldn't the Queen of Empathy think of a better way to help viewers feed themselves during the recession than KFC, targeted by animal groups for six years for egregious cruelty by suppliers captured - repeatedly - on video?

Outside Oprah's Harpo Studios in Chicago a day after the coupon offer, protestors held signs saying "KFC Tortures Animals" and "KFC's Secret Recipe: Animal Cruelty" showing pictures of bloody and Godforsaken chickens in a demonstration organized by Mercy For Animals.

"Birds raised and killed for KFC spend their short lives crowded by the tens of thousands in filthy, ammonia-filled sheds," say press materials. "Many of them endure crippling leg disorders and heart and lung problems induced by being genetically manipulated and dosed with massive amounts of growth-promoting antibiotics to grow to an unnatural size and at a dangerous rate."

Nor do any federal laws exist "to protect chickens from cruelty during their lives on factory farms, during transport, or at the slaughterhouse," adds Nathan Runkle, executive director of Mercy For Animals since chickens, turkeys, and other birds are excluded from USDA humane slaughter laws and not considered "animals." Hello?

As soon as Oprah made her offer, a feeder frenzy for the free meal coupons occurred-pun intended.

A KFC on East 42nd Street in New York City and one in Greensboro, NC had to be shut down by police when they ran out of food and customers at other KFCs perceived "slights" when denied their right to free chicken meals.

At some KFCs, customers got creative and printed duplicate copies of the free meal coupons in violation of one-to-a-customer rules. Hey, when you're out of work there's time to kill.

"We're about to go out of business because of people's dishonesty," a server named Rita at a KFC on Broadway across from Macy's in New York City told Scottland's Sunday Herald as a customer admitted to forging five coupons.

But pretty soon apologies from Oprah and KFC CEO Roger Eaton if not coupons were forthcoming and people were assured they would eventually get their free chicken meal when rain checks were issued.

As they say in Chicago when you can't get on a commuter train at rush hour - "There's a follower directly behind you!"

But not all Oprah fans were satisfied.

30,000 viewers looked at a YouTube video opposed to the giveaway that observed people can't "get health from sick animals."

And writing on opednews.com, Suzana Megles addressed Oprah directly:

"You were probably not moved... by chickens [shown on your show] packed into tiny cages even unable to spread their wings as chickens naturally do. By your giveaway, thousands more chickens will now inhabit the prison cages vacated by those who gave their lives, probably in a cruel fashion."

Note: In previous articles Dr. Michelle O'Donovan was wrongly identified as the Parexel employee (whose name is unknown) with whom Wayne MacFadden, the former US Medical Director for AstraZeneca's drug Seroquel, testified to having an affair in the multi-district litigation, In re Seroquel. Dr. Michelle O'Donovan is not the Parexel employee in question and I regret the error.

Martha Rosenberg is a columnist and cartoonist, who writes about public health

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