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Danish Radio Station Defends Host Who Clubbed Rabbit to Death During Animal Welfare Debate

MAY 26, 2015

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    Supported by Photo Allan the rabbit, shortly before he was killed during a live radio broadcast in Denmark on Monday. Credit Radio 24syv, via Facebook

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    By ROBERT MACKEY

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    A radio station in Denmark argued on Tuesday that it was merely fulfilling its public service mandate to provoke debate when the host of a morning show beat a baby rabbit to death with a bicycle pump this week during a live discussion of animal welfare.

    Jorgen Ramskov, the editor in chief of Radio 24syv, a private station supported by fees from listeners, explained in an email that the killing of a nine-week-old rabbit named Allan during a broadcast on Monday was intended to highlight the Danish public’s “hypocrisy when it comes to animal welfare.”

    Audio of the killing during the Danish-language program was made available on the broadcaster’s website.

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    News of the rabbit’s killing inflamed opinion on social networks, perhaps in part because Asger Juhl, the host who clubbed and strangled the rabbit, was pictured with Allan before and after the killing in two video clips posted on the station’s Facebook page.

    In the first clip, Mr. Juhl was seen petting the live rabbit in the studio.

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    I dag dræber vi kaninen Allan på Radio24syv Morgen!Han er sund og rask, 9 uger gammel og skal senere på middagsbordet hos Asger Juhl og Kristoffer Eriksen. Indtil da diskuterer vi hykleri ved dyrevelfærd.For er det mere synd at slå en kanin ihjel end en gris?

    Posted by Radio24syv on Sunday, May 24, 2015

    The second clip showed what the station described as meat from Allan’s body cooking on a stove before Mr. Juhl and Kristoffer Eriksen, the morning show’s co-host, ate it.

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    Så er Asger Juhl og Kristoffer Eriksen ved at tilberede kaninen Allan, som de slog ihjel tidligere i dag.

    Posted by Radio24syv on Monday, May 25, 2015

    “At least in Denmark,” Mr. Ramskov said Tuesday, “we seem to regard animal welfare as a nice thing for certain animals — and frankly don’t care when it comes to normal livestock: cows, pigs, lambs, chickens.”

    Danes, he added, have a voracious appetite for meat, but “consumers do not hesitate to buy cheap meat in stores without asking questions about the life or death of the animal — meat from chickens, pigs, cows and sheep that have not led dignified or pleasant lives.”

    “To take the life of an animal brings about a strong emotional response in vast segments of the public,” Mr. Ramskov noted. “It was important to us that the rabbit would not suffer, and it was put down according to careful instructions by a professional animal caretaker from a Danish zoo.”

    Speaking to Britain’s Sky News, he argued: “I think this rabbit had a very decent life. It was taken good care of, it had a nice life and it was killed in a decent way.”

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    An interview with the editor of Denmark’s Radio 24syv on Tuesday. Sky News, via YouTube

    The station’s high-minded description of the debate was perhaps undermined slightly by its choice of Linse Kessler, a Danish reality star known for her enormous fake breasts, to argue the animal-rights case during the show. After Ms. Kessler realized that Mr. Juhl intended to kill Allan, she chased the host around the studio, trying to free the rabbit, but ultimately failed.

    In a Facebook update headlined “R.I.P. Little Allan,” translated by The Local, Ms. Kessler said that she understood the point the station was trying to make about the hypocrisy of meat eaters, but still called the stunt “wrong.”

    While there was quite a bit of fury online about what quickly became known on Twitter as #Allangate, there was also some support for the station’s point.

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    First the Copenhagen zoo murdering animals and now a radio DJ there killing a helpless rabbit on air?! Is Denmark evil or what?!

    — Atheria (@Atheria) May 26, 2015
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    #JusticeForAllan #Allangate #radio24syv Please sign and share. There has to be consequences for this. https://t.co/x77VYEzvEk

    — Daniel Armstrong (@DanielDma1989) May 26, 2015
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    If you can't handle one 9-week-old rabbit getting killed on a radio station, then you shouldn't eat any animal meat at all. #allangate

    — Andy Pyburn (@andypybrah) May 26, 2015
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    As a vegetarian, I'm always amazed that it's ok to kill animals -- billions of them -- as long as we don't see it http://t.co/GuRNTjPAk9

    — Benjamin Moser (@BenjaminFMoser) May 26, 2015

    Reaction in the Danish press was more positive. The Copenhagen newspaper Politiken featured an interview with Erling Jepsen, an author and former rabbit breeder, who said he was puzzled by the revulsion from some quarters at the live kaninslagtning, or rabbit slaughter.

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    Erling Jepsen om kaninslagtning: »Bare jeg havde vidst, at man kunne gøre det med en cykelpumpe« http://t.co/gcYWH8sl4P

    — Politiken (@politiken) May 26, 2015

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    Mr. Jepsen, who estimated that he had killed perhaps 1,000 rabbits himself, suggested that people who were agitated by the broadcast had no relationship with nature. “It’s the animals who are there for us,” he said. “Not us who are there for the animals.”

    Among the most widely shared comments on the case was a joke posted on Twitter by Ricky Gervais, a well-known supporter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

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    I just battered a Danish DJ to death with a bicycle pump to show how terrible murder is.

    — Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) May 26, 2015

    That comment brought a direct response from Mr. Juhl.

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    @rickygervais I dont think killing an animal and eat it AND killing a human is equally bad. Do you? Regards, the danish radio host

    — Asger Juhl (@asgerjuhl) May 27, 2015
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    I killed a rabbit. It didn't suffer. I ate it. Why is that wrong? Simple question, can you answer? Regards, the Danish radio host.

    — Asger Juhl (@asgerjuhl) May 27, 2015

    Addressing the reaction on its website, Radio 24syv argued Tuesday: “We wanted to expose the vast hypocrisy surrounding our relationship with animals. So far we have succeeded. We wanted and want to have a debate about animal welfare — for all animals.”

    For his part, Mr. Ramskov, the station’s editor, observed that there was “a lot of interesting debate going on in social media – at least in Denmark — regarding animal welfare.” He added, “Unfortunately the discussion abroad only focused on the killing of a single rabbit.”

    #auto

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