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February 2007
In Memoriam

Light and Life: Virgil Butler


We were saddened to hear of the untimely death of Virgil Butler, who worked for years on the kill floor of a Tyson slaughterhouse in Arkansas, but had a profound change of heart, and subsequently dedicated his life to educating others about the horrors of factory farming. Virgil battled the poultry industry with courage and limitless patience. He gave news conferences about his experiences and spoke forcefully about animal and human rights issues on his blog, The Cyberactivist ( He died on December 15, 2006 at the age of 41. His legacy is one of kindness, hope and perseverance, and his loss is deeply felt.

We hope people will find it in their hearts to offer moral and financial support to his life partner and best friend, Laura Alexander, who will need help to keep their home/sanctuary for abused and orphaned animals running. She will be in our thoughts during this difficult time.

The following are excerpts from Virgil’s blog and biography:

A New Beginning
After a number of years, all the things I had seen and been a part of started to haunt me. It got harder and harder to keep going to work every night and kill defenseless birds and watch them suffer. It got harder to be around all the negativity that hung over that place and the people who worked there.

Now, I am using all that knowledge to spread the word to others of how bad things really are in the industry. I am hoping that if I can help educate people to the horror that is factory farming, they will rise up and demand change. I know that things can be different because I have been there.

Finally Feeling (3/1/06)
You see, it wasn’t that long ago that I had forgotten a very important part of life. That part was called feeling. I had completely shut it off because it made what I did for a living down at Tyson every night so much easier. By feeling, I mean love, empathy, and just a general sense of well-being. Oh, I said the words and, in some cases, even went through the motions (I was a very good actor back then), but I never really felt the true feelings.

Well, it’s kind of hard not to feel the feelings when you hold that little life [a rescued puppy] in your arms and feel his/her (in this case his) heart beating against your chest. I have learned it more every day, but especially since I have been taking my turn bottle-feeding our littlest one who just hasn’t grasped the ability to lick from a dish yet.

And, to tell the truth, I hope it stays that way for a while. I really am enjoying caring for my little brood.

“ Ecoterrorist” or Activist? (8/21/06)
Unless you have been under a rock, you have heard of the term “ecoterrorist,” seen how much it is flying around these days, and how many people are being accused of being one. Even I have been. Yep. Little ol’ me—out here in the woods, hurting no one. Just rescuing animals and speaking my mind—telling ugly truths about those who would wish I would just finally shut up, once and for all.

What’s funny (not!) is that there was a time I really and truly was a dangerous criminal, and even a killer, but not anymore. I am so damned peaceful that I don’t even eat animals that other people have killed! I have actually changed so much that it has apparently manifested physically so much so that people who have known me for years don’t recognize me when they see me. Quite a few people have just blankly looked at me when I say “hi” to them, even though they knew me for a long, long time. So, it seems that more than just my mind and spirit have changed—my physical appearance seems to have changed as well. Laura says that she can see it, too, though, mostly in my eyes—that they aren’t dead anymore. I know that she has helped me open a part of me that I had closed off a long time ago—my heart. As much as it hurt to do it, I have opened it again and experienced emotions—some hurtful, but mostly just loving and caring ones. I have had more than enough of violence and killing, thank you very much. And, now that I have changed my life, been living right, and haven’t hurt a soul, now is when I am harassed and attacked by the law the most!

Keep fighting for those who can’t and don’t ever—ever—give up!

Might does not make right.

Love and light do.

One tiny candle conquers a whole LOT of darkness...

Keep on lighting them, folks.

I will, too.

To learn more about Virgil’s commitment to animal and human rights read: “Whistleblower on the Kill Floor: The Satya Interview with Virgil Butler and Laura Alexander,” Satya, February, 2006.

To send condolences or donations to Laura Alexander, mail to General Delivery, Pine Ridge, AR 71966, or visit


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