The cops kicked in the door. He immediately came off his room, shaken by the screams and noise. He found himself pointed at by a host of guns and cops’ fingers.
-That’s him, get him! – A policeman shouted.
He soon understood what was going on, and that he’d most likely be away for a while. However, he was calm, convinced that he did nothing wrong and that anything done against him would just be a consequence of social prejudices.
Handcuffs were put on his wrists, and his rights were read to him while being arrested.
A group of officers rushed to the backyard. This was huge, over 4,000 square metres. A three metre-high metal fence surrounded it. Seeing what was there from the outside was not possible.
At first they could not see anything, as it was very early in the morning. They found a barn and moved towards it. Soon they started hearing some sounds, some sort of growls. They opened the door and were shocked as they were never before. There they found them: hundreds of young people lying in tiny beds close to each other. When pointed at with the torches most got scared and moved together to a corner. Two of them got frightened and defensive, as they were not used to night visits. They attacked some officers, biting and kicking them. It was not long before their mates helped them, although one was injured, bitten on his neck.
They did not seem undernourished, they were actually somehow chubby. But something soon called the attention of the “intruders”: most were children or teenagers; and of the older ones, all but a few were female. It was warm inside the shed, and many of the children had clothes on. They started bringing them one by one to the cars and vans outside. They were terrified, screaming and trying to escape. It seemed as if they preferred staying there! It took almost until midday to manage and bring them all out. Psychologists were called to help, but they were unable to do much with these little beasts who behaved in a savage manner. They would not say a word, only growl and scream. The scenario was becoming increasingly worrying. No one could quite understand what this evil man had been up to.
Back in the house, the man would not answer any question without seeing a lawyer and he was brought to a patrol car. They searched the house. They expected something somehow creepy, like sinister paintings, sculptures or even human taxidermy. Nothing of the kind. It was just a normal house, with normal furniture and normal pictures on the walls. There was nothing remarkable; maybe a slight predilection for riverside landscapes, if anything.
Several hours later, horrified lawyers and chief officers became aware of what they were truly facing: the first case known of human farming for food. The detainee, Howard Patterson, realised no matter what he declared he would spend the rest of his days in jail, so he made things easy by saying the truth.
Howard, well into his sixties, had been fulfilling a demand for human meat in the black market for the past 40 years. He had not been discovered until recently, when a helicopter happened to fly over his home and backyard, and the documentary-makers on it spotted a group of people in the field surrounded by the high fence. They seemed to move erratically and their behaviour was somehow suspicious. It was then when they informed the authorities and the investigation began. His property was far into the woods, so hardly anyone passed by there in all these years, and those who did only saw a high fence, not even dreaming for a second what could be really going on behind it. They were usually weekenders who were enjoying a beautiful walk in the woods of West Virginia.
No missing people had been reported on the area, because the farmed humans were actually produced for that very purpose. In the first place, a few people, who were potential customers, created a clandestine co-operative and had some children, which were then donated to the farmer when only a few weeks old. In turn, they enjoyed huge discounts on the price of the meat they got years later. The farmer himself and his wife had four children they used for the purpose. His wife had passed away three years before the raid from a coronary disorder.
When children were old enough to be fertile, they were artificially inseminated. In nine months the Pattersons had more fresh meat to sell. Some customers wanted young babies. Others preferred waiting a bit longer and get more meat for a relatively not much higher price, although it was less tender. The oldest killing age was around 16, as after that the growth tended to be lesser and made it not worth waiting. And, anyway, as raising every girl or boy needed resources (food, clothes, space, electricity…), it would start to be unprofitable to wait longer.
They were fed a high-protein diet, so that their growth happened faster. They were also given plenty of fat, to increase their weight. The formula was a Patterson’s invention, made out of meat from nonhuman animals, soya, nuts, seeds, cow’s milk, eggs… and some veggies, to add some taste and make it more appealing to the farmed ones. At the end of the day, the more they ate the better!
The larger males and females were kept alive for longer and used to produce more children. These were kept separate from children. In total, about 30 children and teenagers, and 6 adults, were found to be the living victims of the atrocious farm. None of them could speak or communicate in a similar way to most people. Children had no one to teach them how to speak.
Among the few customers, human meat (and milk) was such a delicatessen that the extremely high price was worth paying, as they were considerably wealthy people.
The discovery appalled people all around the globe. The so much awaited court case eventually started, some months after Howard’s detention.
First, the description of the farm was read and pictures shown, together with images of the children raised in it. Four of the children and two of the adults were also brought in the court room. Disgust and shock were the most common reactions. Most just could not believe someone could do something like that.
The helicopter pilot and co-pilot statements were relatively short, as they only had seen some people from very high, roaming within a fence. As there were no previous witnesses apart from them, Howard was promptly called to declare. Everybody was anxious, wanting to know what kind of perverse and twisted mind this man would have. But the profile of the Devil’s Farmer, as many rushed to call him, was far from that of a psychopath.
The judge, Albert Hall, started the interrogation
– Mr Howard Patterson, would you please explain the Jury what sort of activity you carried out within your property?
– I was a farmer, sir.
Many considered this cynical and the room became noisy.
– What kind of farm, Mr Patterson?- the magistrate raised his voice, presumably due to the existing noise, although he could not conceal his feelings of anger and repulsion.
– It was a human farm, a human free-range farm – replied Howard, with an honest and calm expression.
This time the noise was extreme, and it lasted for so long that the room had to be evacuated, so that only those essential for the trial were allowed in. After half an hour the trial continued.
– Can you explain what you mean by “free-range”, Mr Patterson? – Hall asked in an inquisitive tone.
– My animals were kept out of the shed for most of the day, they had access to sunlight, they could interact with each other… – he could not finish, as he was interrupted by an increasingly annoyed Mr Hall.
– They are humans, not animals!
– Humans are animals, sir – clarified Patterson.
– But they are not like other animals, it is not justified to farm and kill humans! – The magistrate was just so outraged that he was behaving far too emotionally to be in his position.
– In what sense they are not like other animals? – Howard appeared sincere in his question.
– Well… we have a more developed intelligence, we can express our feelings in complex ways, and this allows us to have experiences other animals can’t have. We also have responsibilities, other animals don’t.
– That is why I made sure my animals didn’t learn how to speak. This impedes fluent communication, and I am aware that many studies reveal children who have not learnt how to speak before becoming teenagers have a much lower degree of intelligence, which is impossible to reverse. In addition, these children had no contact with adults, and their sense of responsibility and moral duty is extremely underdeveloped. Many nonhumans have more complex moral thoughts than these individuals. These children behave quite similarly in many senses to the pigs or cows we eat.
– Are you saying that you value these people’s life as much as a pig’s life? –the judge didn’t expect the following answer.
– Yes, indeed, sir. Both have a similar nervous system and a similar capacity to experience life. If we justify farming some, why not do so with the others?
– Your words hurt in my ears and heart, Mr Patterson. These children have had their lives ruined and you are telling us they are just like pigs! – The judge was frankly concerned by a statement that seemed to lack any sensibility.
– I agree with the fact that now they might suffer, when trying to integrate them in society. However, before you raided my home, these children didn’t know anything but that, and did not miss other things in life, as they didn’t know them.
They were kept in humane conditions, fed tasty food and killed painlessly.
– So you are actually saying you treated these people well? – Mr Hall’s eyes opened like umbrellas.
– Not only that, they should actually be thankful, if they had the capacity to. Were it not for me and my customers they would not exist. We did not kidnap any children form anywhere, it was our own production. These children had the opportunity to enjoy each others’ company, sunlight, delicious food prepared by myself…
– But they were never free, Mr Patterson!
– They were protected from the dangers of the outside world. They have never feared being robbed on the street, getting bad marks at school or being punished by their parents; they have never faced poverty or hunger, never been run over, assaulted, bitten by a dog… they have lived in almost absolute immunity! – assured a proud Howard.
– Except immunity from you, of course. Your statements are insane. How can someone justify eating their own kind?
– Other animals do so too. Crocodiles, for example, eat other small crocodiles. This shows it is something natural.
The case went on for several days, in which biologists, anthropologists, paediatricians, psychologists, psychiatrists and many others were called to declare. Eventually, everything seemed to be coming to its end. The judge asked Howard whether he pledged innocent or guilty.
– I can pledge responsible, but not guilty. Thousands of farmers around the world have their businesses respected due to the very arguments I have been offering throughout the hearing, sir. I think what I am suffering is an arbitrary discrimination. We could just bring any other animal farmer to court and ask how he can justify his own business. You’d most likely hear the very same reasons I gave. Still, while they are allowed to keep on with their business I am treated as a criminal. There are no characteristics that make human lives more valuable than the lives of other animals. Why turning me into a victim of this nonsensical bias society has? I have offered arguments and I have not been confuted, only dismissed as callous and treated condescendingly. Why, if I am to be jailed, are not all animal farmers imprisoned too? Other animals can feel just as much as these children! – Howard had proven throughout the whole procedure to be aware of what he did and had actually defended his behaviour at all times.
– I am not here to get into philosophical debates, Mr Patterson; I am here to apply the law. And, by law, nonhuman animals are property, while humans are right holders. To farm an animal is legal in this country, while it is not if done with a human.
The Jury went to deliberate and soon came out with the verdict: life imprisonment for a Mr Patterson who already didn’t harbour any hope for a different outcome.
Time to think
The magistrate went home pretty disturbed that day. He was confused and it took him a while to fall asleep. He didn’t know if he did the right thing, although in his charge he had not much of a choice. He just did not know…
Nevertheless, there was something he knew. He would never buy animal products again.
Andressolo (Andrés Cameselle)