Last fall, a story went viral about a California 4-H member who refused to give up her 4-H market goat after it had been sold at auction. The girl’s mother was quoted in the Sacramento Bee newspaper saying her daughter bonded with the goat “as she would have bonded with a puppy.” It wasn’t until the goat had been sold at the county fair’s annual 4-H auction that the girl decided she didn’t want the goat to be processed for food, which is the purpose of 4-H market animal programs.
The girl’s family made an offer to reimburse the goat’s buyer, but couldn’t come to an agreement with fair officials. Consequently, the family removed the goat from the fairgrounds and placed it at an undisclosed location. The goat was ultimately retrieved by county sheriff’s deputies and subsequently slaughtered, per the agreement with 4-H and the fair. The 4-H member’s mother then sued county officials with support from an animal rights extremist law firm.
California Case is an Exception, Not the Rule
4-H was established in Ohio in 1902 with the motto “To Make The Best Better,” and has become one of the most prominent, and successful, youth development programs in the United States, with nearly six million active members and 25 million alumni as of 2016. Administered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 4-H was originally focused on agriculture and homemaking. Over time, the organization evolved to include responsible citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering and technology programs.
While additional programs have been added to 4-H over the past century, animal breeding and corresponding marketing projects remain the organization’s foundation. Over the decades, [millions] of 4-H members have raised, trained, and sold market animals. When they sign up for market animal projects the objective is clear: the animal(s) raised will be auctioned and humanely harvested for food.
4-H members learn firsthand the true meaning of world-renowned animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin’s point of view: “I think using animals for food is an ethical thing to do, but we’ve got to give those animals a decent life, and we’ve got to give them a painless death. We owe the animal respect.”
Since the program’s inception, 4-H market animals routinely bring significantly higher prices at auction than current market prices, helping to fund college educations and other expenses for members. 4-H members are taught to properly care for their animals, yet they have no illusions about the ultimate end result of their project, nor do they expect special treatment. The California case is currently an isolated, extreme, and perplexing incident created by an unusual set of decisions and circumstances by the involved parties.
Highly Publicized Incident Hijacked by Animal Extremist Movement
Despite the situation being somewhat unique, it has been highly publicized by media entities leveraging emotional elements that support the animal extremist movement. While biased, unfortunate, and exploitive, yet utterly predictable, animal rights extremists have embellished the story as a means to criticize, attack and denigrate 4-H in particular, and animal agriculture as a whole. The vegan/animal extremist agenda is evident.
A recent article in left-leaning Vox was titled “The viral story of a girl and her goat explains how the meat industry indoctrinates children.” The article states:
“But the whole affair reflects a bigger point about how programs like 4-H, the largest youth organization in the country, train generations of children to act against their better moral judgments. Implicit in 4-H’s livestock projects is the view that farm animals are fungible commodities with one correct use — food — a belief that also undergirds the politics of meat in America. Put simply, it takes quite a bit of hard work to convince people to treat animals as nothing but meat, but hundreds of billions of dollars a year depend on it.”
The article was written by Gabriel N. Rosenberg and Jan Dutkiewicz, both of whom are established critics of the American agriculture system that hundreds of millions of Americans rely upon.
Dutkiewicz is a visiting fellow at Harvard Law School. He has penned articles with titles like “China’s Pig High-Rises are Horrifying. So Are America’s Factory Farms” and “How the Meat Industry Undermines Effective Climate Policy.” His advanced degrees are from the New School for Social Research.
Rosenburg teaches women’s studies at Duke University, and in 2015 released a book titled “The 4-H Harvest: Sexuality and the State in Rural America.” The book description reads: “Rosenberg argues that public acceptance of the political economy of agribusiness hinged on federal efforts to establish a modern rural society through effective farming technology and techniques as well as through carefully managed gender roles, procreation and sexuality.”
Vox is a news and opinion website, billing itself as being “noted for its concept of explanatory journalism,” even though it is routine for them to only explain one side of any issue.
Vox Is Just One Branch of Massive Media Conglomerate
As of February 2023, the largest shareholder of Vox is Penske Media Corporation (PMC), and founder Jay Penske joined the Vox board of directors. PMC also includes a number of prominent popular culture outlets, including Variety, Rolling Stone, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Dick Clark Productions, WWD, SHE Media, Robb Report, Deadline, Sportico, BGR, ARTnews, Fairchild Media, Vibe, IndieWire, Dirt, Artforum, Gold Derby, Spy.com and Luminate. Vox Media generated $600 – $650 million in revenue for 2022.
A Los Angeles Magazine story about PMC stated: “It’s not just a business monopoly, but a cultural one.”
“Cultural Monopoly” in the “Culture War”
References to the culture war taking place in America today are plentiful, and can be broadly summarized as being traditional versus progressive values.
With only three percent of the United States population practicing veganism, and a slightly smaller subset of that group being animal extremists, it’s clear their movement is afforded a disproportionate volume of coverage by mainstream and online media organizations and sites. Messages that align with the various aspects of the progressive movement are routinely given the vast majority of airtime, which creates the false perception that ideologies such as veganism and animal extremism are more widespread throughout our population than they actually are. This happens largely because the majority of modern media outlets are affiliated with conglomerates controlled by relatively few individuals. PMC is just one example of the media’s “cultural monopoly.”
Consider the Source
Today, more than ever before, it is vital to carefully consider sources of information and reporting, and be aware of underlying agendas. The personal ideologies and biases of media personalities, from owners and executives to freelance contributors, are ever-present and, unfortunately, largely disconnected from the values and beliefs held by the vast majority of Americans. The way media covered the California 4-H goat story is a prime example of distorted, biased, incomplete, and agenda-driven “advocacy journalism” so prevalent in 2023.
Animal extremist propaganda is prominent in the mainstream media HERE
News media launches attack on beef industry HERE
Harpers Magazine props up animal extremism HERE
News media helping PETA push agenda HERE