You’re on Candid Camera – and it’s nothing to smile about
As a boy, I rarely watched Allen Funt’s Candid Camera on TV. I was always uncomfortable with hidden cameras, even though the series couldn’t air the footage without the subject’s consent.
Not quite the scenario with recent hidden camera stunts pulled by animal rights advocates. Rather than the good-humored deception of the TV show, these new videos are viciously malevolent and morally and ethically reprehensible. Moles, under the direction of big-money animal rights organizations, lie to get jobs in order to use sophisticated electronic gear to gather “evidence” to destroy their employer’s reputation and business. Sometimes it takes weeks, possibly months, to gather enough video for a few minutes of carefully edited propaganda which is unveiled at a highly self-congratulatory media event. The images are chosen and edited together in order to be distressingly visceral and emotionally inflammatory.
So here’s a question: How much of this is real and how much is staged for the “hidden” camera? Also, how many such forays go unreported because there wasn’t enough “abuse” recorded to make a case? Far too many viewers are willing to accept these media events at face value without questioning methods or motives.
Fortunately one of the most recent victims of just such an attack immediately turned the tables. Smithfield Foods, Inc. began an immediate audit, requesting the assistance of none other than Temple Grandin, world-renowned animal welfare advocate and humane animal handling pioneer. They are going to great lengths to cooperate with appropriate authorities to substantiate or dismiss the alleged abuses and have in place a zero-tolerance policy for offenders.
General James Bickford, former secretary of Kentucky’s Cabinet for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection once spoke to a group of responders working one of the Commonwealth’s most serious environmental disasters. His message? “Don’t try to hide the ball.” I think that’s the level of transparency Smithfield is now trying to employ.
Smithfield has implored the organization responsible for this episode to assist in their investigation and hand over the raw video so that it may be more closely examined. Their request has been refused. Now, if you’re not part of a solution, doesn’t that make you part of the problem? It is yet to be determined if there is a problem, other than the obvious defamation campaign that began all this.
Perhaps it is an effort on Smithfield’s part to do a reverse spin, but I don’t think so. I hope they feel, as do I, that if you’re not doing anything wrong you have nothing to hide. If you are doing something wrong, admit it, fix it and learn from it.
It looks, in this case, as though Smithfield is making lemonade from lemons – or possibly a silk purse from a sow’s ear.