Thursday, September 08, 2005

Charlotte's Web

My son has been loving Charlotte's Web, reported to be the best-selling children's paperback of all time. He listens to the whole book on tape over and over. Whole scenes now come into my head unbidden at random times. The scene where the girl realizes why her father is going to the barn with an axe, and then wears him down gently with her simple moral clarity, is priceless.

As you probably remember, the pig, after surviving the usual fate, is befriended by Charlotte, an atypically literate spider. Charlotte weaves comments about the pig into her webs: "Some Pig" and other words of praise. In the passage most likely to cause me to draw stares in a crowded subway car, by suddenly laughing out loud to myself, the farmer and his wife discuss their prodigious animals. The wife, quite astutely, thinks that the spider is the clever one. The farmer, however, is more literal minded: the web says very clearly that this is Some Pig.

The attack machine in the restaurant industry's fake public interest group, the Center for Consumer Freedom, specializes in demonizing those who come to think animal agriculture could be more humane. But what does it mean if the Center must expand its list of villains to include George Will, Henry Thoreau, and E.B. White?

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