The Law of Cows

status: contentious


The law of cows regulates the exploitation, maltreatment, cruelty, and yearly murder of over three hundred million cows worldwide. (Pigs top the slaughter list, with more than 1.5 billion heads). In many countries, livestock laws are ineffective or remain unenforced. The cattle furnish the meat, milk, and cowhides supply shoes, wallets, jackets, belts, and furniture. “Mother cow is as useful dead as when she is alive.” Gandhi. Most states exempt cattle from animal cruelty laws, allowing the branding, removing of horns and tails, and castration of male cattle. Nature has endowed cows with milk to feed their young, but humans control the cows, constantly impregnate them, and ween off their calves quickly to divert milk for human consumption. Some humans prefer the tender meat of the young over that of their parents.

The laws prohibit the bludgeoning of cattle and require rapid electrical and mechanical methods to render them unconscious before slaughter. Kansas Code. Religious laws bring God into the reckoning, cutting off the animal’s carotid arteries with a sharp instrument while chanting sacred verses unfamiliar to the cattle. The longest sura in the Qur’an is al-Baqarah (the Cow). Some faiths and states maintain that the cow is divine and, by law, prohibit its slaughter. Some believers drink cow urine for antimicrobial healing as an alternative to antibiotics. The cow vigilantes bludgeon the cow traders and meat eaters to unconsciousness and death. “Sacred cows make the best hamburger.” Mark Twain. The First Amendment does not shield sacred cows from ridicule.

Since cows produce methane via burping and pooping, a factor in global warming, humans are developing feed additives to reduce bovine methane production. The matador kills the bull after a good fight while the spectators celebrate the victory of human intelligence over the beast’s power. Since acquiring frontal brains, humans have become a species of sophisticated carnivores, mixing festivity and violence.

This is part of a work-in-progress called 501 Laws. CounterPunch will publish one or two “laws” a month. 

L. Ali Khan is the founder of Legal Scholar Academy and an Emeritus Professor of Law at the Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas. He welcomes comments at