A Big Win For Animal Abusers As Student Paper Censors Cruelty Ad

Animal Abusers win by using censorship in a free-speech North Carolina student newspaper. Apparently, lobbyist requests and the almighty dollar are more powerful than standard University policy.

The Technician, the official student newspaper of North Carolina (NC) State University, says it’s “a public forum for student expression” and that “students determine the content of the publication without prior review.” The same, however, cannot be said for its advertising policy – or students’ right to know the shocking research conducted by their own university.

What research? According to Animal Outlook, in a statement to the Intercept, in 2016, North Carolina State University researchers studied the effects of ventilation shutdown (VSD) on chickens – “a controversial method of mass-killing farmed animals in which barns are sealed, airflow is cut off and the hundreds or even tens of thousands of animals inside slowly suffocate and die of heat stress or suffocation over extended periods of time.”

Hours of Torture Documented and Recorded

“In the NCSU study, researchers subjected chickens for each phase of the experiment – plus additional birds for pilot phases – to VSD in various forms,” wrote Animal Outlook, in a statement to the Intercept. “The birds’ suffering was documented and, in some instances, recorded on video, in graphic detail. Each video depicts a single hen enclosed in a small box with a glass/plastic front panel for observation.”

“As the boxes get hotter and the air inside more stagnant, and as carbon dioxide is sometimes added, the chickens writhe, gasp, pant, stagger and even throw themselves against the walls of their confinement in a desperate attempt to escape. Eventually the birds collapse and, finally, die from heat and suffocation,” continued Animal Outlook, in the Intercept.

Millions of birds continue to be killed every day by poultry producers in an attempt to contain bird flu which many say they, through their intensive farming, cause and perpetuate. Nor is it a surprise that VSD research funding came to NC State University from the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, an industry trade group. A group of veterinarians and American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) members who asked the AVMA last summer to remove support for the mass kill method was ignored.

Animal abusers, censorship and dying chicken. Photo c/o Animal Outlook.
Animal abusers, censorship and dying chicken. Photo c/o Animal Outlook

Ads Pulled as the Editorial Board’s “Prerogative”

An ad about the research sponsored by United Poultry Concerns (UPC), a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl, was scheduled to run on the back page of the December 1 issue of the Technician says Karen Davis, UPC president. The ad described the VSD experiments and asked students to “email W. Randolph (Randy) Woodson, Chancellor & Provost at [email protected] and Professor Peter Ferket, Interim Head of the Poultry Science Department at [email protected] in protest.

united poultry concerns website snapshot.
United Poultry Concerns website snapshot.

Days before publication, Miracle Chin, a student working at the paper, assured United Poultry Concerns that the “spot for the back page for Technician Print” was reserved and that UPC would soon receive, “a formal proposal with the ad publication, dates, pricing, and ad specifications” and “3 physical copies of the publication and email the online copy for your records.”

But, the Big Ag-funded poultry interests at NC evidently had other ideas. Right before the ad was to run, Zanna Swann, the paper’s business and marketing adviser and manager, told United Poultry Concerns that, “During layout, the editorial board pulled the ad, which is their prerogative.”

“Actually, I was surprised the ad was accepted in the first place given its exposure of animal torture in the NC poultry science department,” commented Davis after the 180 degree turn.

Is it also the editorial board’s prerogative to override the paper’s commitment to be “a public forum for student expression” when that expression conflicts with its high level and unethical financing? How can students express their views about an experiment deliberately hidden from them by “their” newspaper?

Have the animal abusers won, or is this just one battle in an ongoing series of engagements? Right now, at North Carolina State University, it stands at Animal Abusers 1, Student Freedom of Speech, 0.

Martha Rosenberg is the Investigative Health Correspondent for NewsBlaze. Martha illustrates many of her stories with relevant cartoons. She was staff cartoonist at Evanston Roundtable.