- McSpotlight -

ideal forum to redress the balance a bit

Posted by: Gideon Hallett ( n/a, UK ) on September 17, 1997 at 12:20:38:

In Reply to: Choice posted by Mike on September 16, 1997 at 12:20:03:

: I have read the McSpotlight page many times, but I have one thing to say. Vegetarianism is fine and ok, but why is there such a drive to get others to not eat meat? I mean, meat eaters don't shove meat down vegan's throughts, why must vegetarians interfere with meat eaters? Meat is a choice, just like everything else in america. Please E-mail me, I don't check back posts.

Well, I'm copying this to the page in case the mail didn't get through.

Mike, I wouldn't personally foist my views on anyone. When I started reading this site, I ate meat, albeit very rarely, and I made sure it was organic "cruelty-free" stuff. The things I've learnt about the case in the last year-and-a-half have pretty much put me off the stuff, even though I still admit to liking it.

Why do McLibel and McSpotlight exist?

They exist because a small London-based green group wrote a Factsheet on McDonald's food to counter the bias they perceived in the mass media. They felt that companies like McDonald's were distorting the public's view of meat consumption on a number of important points:


    Meat eating is good for you.

Most nutritionists would be ready to point out that meat can be very bad for you in excess - the overconsumption of meat contributes to much of the diet-related ill health in the Western world. I don't want to sound superior here, but vegetables just don't have the same health risks in them.


    McDonald's animals are well cared-for.

Evidence in the case has shown this claim to be misleading at best and utterly false at worst. Their hygiene standards are patchy and all too often lead to the public being exposed to unnecessary risk. Of course, the public are not told this.


    McDonald's provides good, cheap food.

With respect to the "good..." bit, see #1. As for cheap, it is cheap for the Western consumer. It's cheap, because someone or somewhere else in the world is being exploited - either through the mechanics of food production (see the Jungleburger case). They also keep the food cheap by paying their staff a near-minimum wage. So the cheapness to the end user is supported by a heirarchy of exploitation.

I could go on and rewrite the entire Factsheet, but you get the picture. McDonald's mislead the public on the truths of meat consumption and spread their view of things by targeting children under five (in the knowledge that children under five have considerable influence over their parents). That was the main thrust of the Factsheet.

If you didn't agree with the above, or knew and didn't care, you might consider it a "normal" reaction to say "so what?" or "who cares, people still buy the stuff".

This isn't what McDonald's did. They hired private detectives to spy on the group and served libel writs on them (as they had done over thirty times before to various other people who criticized their practices)(apart from the detectives).

They expected London Greenpeace to back down as had all the others. However, two of the five London Greenpeace members decided not to; they decided that they would fight it on a point of principle.

Again, I could go into the huge odds against the Two (having to defend themselves against Britain's top libel lawyer, no jury, etc) but it would take too long and you can find all the relevant info on this site.

What the case generated was a large amount of support across the world for the Two: it was seen as an act of corporate bullying on the part of McDonald's. It also brought a huge amount of the (fairly sordid) details about the meat industry in general out into the open.

To some extent, the verdict (partial victory for McDonald's but no money) was irrelevant, as the real triumph of the case was that McD's had to open their production line to the scrutiny of the courts.

As for myself, a quick glance at these rooms will show where I stand on this case. I would say this: can you make an informed decision about whether or not to eat meat when one side controls the airwaves and the newspapers to the exclusion of the others?

As I understand it, the net was seen by the McLibel Support Campaign and others as an ideal forum to redress the balance a bit. Hence McSpotlight - a place for the alternatives to be heard.


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