10 Degrees Cooler
GrayAugust A Protest
By Joann Deutch
Aug 24, 2013 - 3:39:09 AM

LAUREL CANYON—When you get an email from Tommy of the Canyon Country Store, it gets priority.  I’ve only known Tommy as a person who gives to the community and cares about the locals, so when he asks for help you help out.  He sent out a link to Gray August, a non-profit that is protesting a food festival in China.  What was Tommy upset about?  The food at this festival is all about dog meat.


Tommy asked that people join him at the Fryman Canyon Overlook (Nancy Pohl Overlook) wear gray clothes to participate in a silent protest.  Befitting that this was right near the plaque dedicated to Betty Dearing.  She chained herself to a bulldozer to frustrate the developers.

Tommy as a Persian cat with whiskers.


My brain zipped to horrified. There are always the jokes about dog meat.  Yes, other cultures eat food that we have a hard time wrapping our brains around.   Is this just a gut reaction to dog meat that Tommy is having or is there more to it than visceral revulsion?


I did some checking and the GrayAugust.com protest has been brewing all over China for a few years, with animal advocates protesting, and politicians doing nothing to halt the Yulin Dog Meat Festival.  People I spoke with at the protest said they’ve been in touch with others all over the world through Facebook. The Huffington Post did an article, but mostly our press has been silent on this debate.  


What kind of place is Yulin City?  I thought maybe it’s a small town, which might explain the tradition.  Nope.  It’s a thriving metropolis, known for its rich mineral deposits and agriculture; beautiful scenery and tourism.  Safe to say that this is not a backwater place with an ancient tradition of the Dog Meat Festival held on the Summer Solstice (mid June) is just a quirk of history.


Protests in China seem to be firm, but polite, and focus on the unsanitary nature of the preparation of the dog meat used in this festival.   There are tons of websites you can visit to learn more. Here is where the Tommy’s outrage seems to be well-founded.  Apparently, and there are pictures to provide it, people steal dogs, and pick up strays to be slaughtered for this festival.  The specialized butchers are not shy about their meat sources.


Mang Changxue, deputy mayor of Yulin, said it would be difficult to stop the event, as it concerns the lives of millions of local people.  Seems they don’t much care about the health of the people who eat meat which can be contaminated.  The people who consume this butchered meat- what do they tell themselves?  Remember Bird Flu?  


The dog is part of the Chinese Zodiac.  Doesn’t that give dogs some sort of status in Chinese culture such that they would not become a specialty snack food?  Chinese symbolism for the dog is so controversial that it is praised and despised. On one hand a dog, a friend of human being symbolizes loyalty, kindness and gratitude. On the other hand, it symbolizes ignorance, cruelty and guile, which frightens us.


Be sure you’re sitting down when you read this next part - The cruel torture of the dog before its butchering (often flayed alive) is said to release adrenaline, making the meat taste better.


It’s beyond comprehension.  Tommy is totally right.

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