Phone Message Transcript: August 1, 1997
[appearing on Anne's fan phone line]
"O.K. Today is August 1, 1997. I just want to give you an update. The machine may cut off at any minute, the machine is breaking. You can still leave me a message. My voice may die but there will be a beep, and you can leave me a one minute message.
Basically, I threw out a lot of questions last time and you've given me back answers. I got one very, very negative response from someone in Canada. I don't want to say the name because it would be a violation of this person's privacy, but it starts with a "K". And this person said, "you know I was under the impression that the fan messages were a way to get closer to you and help you connect to them. Forgive me this message but I was wrong about that. The thing is I don't know how you could use the phone line to isolate your fans from you. I don't know who you are now that you believe that you have the right to knock what I believe in." O.K. well that's all of the message I'll quote but basically I want to answer that person in Canada and I want to tell you exactly who I am--I am an American, and I respect your right to your opinion and I expect you to respect my right. If you don't want to hear my opinion, don't call my line. But that's who I think I am.
Now what we were talking about was animal rights, obviously, and that was what concerns, as you said in your message. I still maintain, as I did a week ago when I put a message on this machine, that cock fighting is not a cruel sport. Since I attended the cock fight last saturday, I have become a vegetarian, and it has nothing to do with the cock fight. What it has to do with is what animal activists have told me about the way domestic poultry is treated. Now if you don't want to be really hurt, don't listen to the following, you know--shut down the phone. But this is what happens to domestic poultry. Chicken are packed nine to a cage. Their feet grow through the wire, their beaks are clipped off, they never see the sun rays or the grass. I mean they're harvested. When they're ready to go to the chicken place or whatever, they're ripped right out of the cage so their feet stick in the wire. now believe you me, that is a vastly different experience happening to millions of chickens every day compared to what happens to a few game cocks down in the south. The game cocks live on grass, they're farmed, they're feathered, they're well fed, they're pampered, they fight for three minutes, they don't suffer very much. and if they win, they get to be breeders and they have a ball (no pun intended!).
Now, if you don't like cock fighting that's fine but don't tell me it's cruel when that's the way they treat chickens. I haven't been able to eat meat since I heard that. I have this animal activist friend of mine--she actually works for me--getting me all of the books on this, because I want to see if it's that bad, you know, slaughterhouses all over America, too. If it is, then the hypocrisy of the people who have outlawed cock fights and the people who don't want you to wear mink coats is all the more horrendous to me. It's all the more ugly and vicious. Now if you feel I'm isolated from you by saying this, I tell you that I don't. I feel like I'm connecting with you. I say exactly what I think. My words are not being watered down by a journalist. You're getting the straight dope from me--that's what I think. I think it's important that we take take a hard look at some of the habits that we formed in this society. When I was a little girl, you could buy chickens on Magazine Street--they were live. you reached the market, you could buy chickens from a farmer, they stuck them in a machine. You could pull off all of the feathers while it was alive. They wrung it's neck and you took it home. O.K. that wasn't very nice, but you saw it. You had to see it. You didn't get to eat it unless you saw it; because now you don't have to do that. You can just go to a giant market and buy something wrapped in plastic that, to your knowledge, was never capable of suffering. So, I'm going to check this stuff out. I don't...I liked the cock fight. I believe in it. I believed in the people and I think also that a lot of the people who object to cock fighting, object to it for different class reasons. They object to it because it's poor people who have the fights, it's country people. Now, the middle class in this country wants to hide everything. It wants to hide it's slaughter houses. It wants to hide the way it processes it's veal. It wants to hide what it does to chickens or eggs. It wants to hide all of that behind closed doors. And it wants to pretend that everything is clipped grass and Brooks Brothers suits and everything is O.K. Well, that's not really true. And when I was out there in this place, in Louisiana, watching this cock fight I felt it was real. I felt something really happening, and I liked it. I didn't want either chicken to lose--I mean I'm totally a warrior. I wanted them both to win. But I liked the direct contact with the earth and it's people and it's personalities. And I'm really fed up with America's lies about what really goes on in the world of animals and animal cruelty.
Now, to move on to pit bull fighting. all of you have told me that it is illegal everywhere in the country and a few people who have seen it have told me that it is very cruel, that the dogs fight until death, and so I don't want to see it. That's enough for me right there. I thought it was more of a sporting thing and perhaps the animals were protected and were withdrawn from the fight at the appropriate moment or something like that. O.K. I don't want to see it. So I agree with you completely on that.
Regarding the snake handlers, I asked you what church had the people that drank strychnine and handled snakes. Well, I am determined to find those churches and I'm am going to. I'll keep asking. I know they are in Tennessee. I think they are in Florida. But I'll keep asking until someone invites me to one of those services. I just want to stand there, with respect, and watch what goes on. What I'm looking for is the way that people express their piety, their love of God, their entire roots. I want to see it; just like I want to see it in a Catholic Mass or a Russian Orthodox service or even in a Protestant church. Sorry, I betray a prejudice there, I regard protest families as rather limited. But that's why I want to see them. Some of you ask me why I'm getting into these things. I'm getting into these things because I want to see relation. I want to know. I learned at that cock fight. I learned about those people out in the country. I learned how they talk, I learned how they acted. I learned a lot of stuff then. I was really interested. I really met gentle people. They weren't drunk. There were no beer cans there were no beer bottles. There wasn't a lot of cigarette smoke. Nothing is rougher than Texas fraternity. Nothing like I had seen in Texas youth, or middle class youth of a certain kind. Nothing like that going on at all. It was a sport--it was cock fighting and it was a sport.
O.K. I have one other thing I want to bring up. We do have the Coven Party scheduled for November 1, and we will get information about the signings. Knopf, our publisher, is asking us to wait on the signings because we'll probably have one or two singings. I'm not going to tour this year, I'm going to stay and write. I have too many things to write this year, and I just can't go out. And so I'm not going out. But I'm certainly not trying to isolate myself from my readers. Believe me, I'm not trying to do that. I wish I had time to speak to each one of you and I wish I could do that. You'd be amazed when I pick up the phone myself the person on the other end hangs up.
O.K. I just read a book I recommend. It's called THE DEADLY FEAST by Richard Rhodes. The book centers around a man named Carleton Gajdusek. Carleton Gajdusek is a Nobel Prize winner and he's in prison--apparently for fondling a 14 year old in a shower. I have not seen the court record and I'm not in any way qualified to judge what goes on. All I want to say is that I highly recommend that you get the book. That the contribution of Carleton Gajdusek to medicine and to science has been fantastic and that I personally am looking into the whole question of child molestation, children's rights, because it concerns me. I remember being a young adult, and I remember being real angry that I wasn't allowed to do things that other adults were doing. I was working full time and I was living in a rooming house and I didn't like being classified as a teenager, because somebody wanted to sell me something expensive. I know I sound angry--I am. I am angry. But we've got to revise our concept of teenagers in this country. If we want to stop the crime in this country we've just got to realize that 14 and 15 year old people are adults, they are not children. And leading them to believe that there is a fundamental difference between play killing and real killing.
O.K. I'm going to sign off because I think the machine is about to cut me off anyway. I've told you everything I have to say. I urge you to read THE DEADLY FEAST. I urge you take an interest in Carleton Gajdusek. VIOLIN is coming out and I'll keep you posted about the signings. I read all your messages and I thank you again for many of the things you recommended. Yeah, I loved MICHAEL. Loved the film. I urge you again... "
[out of time]