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On Allegedly Funny Videos, Turkey Pardons and Grace

Isn’t that interesting . . . See what culture can do? (Thanks to Mark from Reno for pointing out the video.) I found it odd that the man with the dog gave what he then thought was dog meat to his dog. So his dog can be a cannibal, yet he can’t eat a dog?

As for the turkey pardon, did you know that the first turkey to actually be pardoned was in 1989, by George H.W. Bush"? You know that famous photo of Harry Truman beginning the alleged tradition from 1947? Well, it turns out it was really of Truman "receiving a turkey, kicking off an annual tradition of presidents receiving turkeys from the National Turkey Federation." Check out "Turkey Pardons, The Stuffing of Historic Legend," by Monica Hesse, who doesn’t think this story will be a big deal. "[I]t probably won’t make a difference to the public, who has grown used to swallowing flexible history."

And speaking of swallowing flexible history, if you haven’t seen No End in Sight, check it out.

Finally, a message of thanks and giving. Tomorrow, after I thank my hosts for inviting us and going out of their way to be accommodating, I will express my gratitude that we are all healthy and live comfortable lives. We often take for granted driving in a car from a beautiful home to another beautiful home, on the ocean, on this day or any day, to dine with wonderful friends. Everything that is involved in making that happen is a luxury for many people. We are grateful for the opportunity to have built the lives we’ve built, and we acknowledge and appreciate the significant advantages we were born into, as well as those we earned. We honor those advantages by making service a significant part of our lives. Most of all, we are thankful for all the hearts and minds that have opened to considering the impact our actions have on the Earth and all of its inhabitants, and who are willing to alter their lives accordingly. May you all have a peaceful day full of love and laughs, and eat food you are proud to eat, that nourishes your mind, body and soul.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Roger Yates #

    Although done in a very flippant way, the video appears to expose the moral schizophrenia that Francione identifies.

    The same response would have happened in the case of whales and horses, although not in Japan (at least for many in older generations) or France!


    November 21, 2007
  2. I know it's not popular in some circles to disagree with Francione about anything, and I know what he's trying to say with moral schizophrenia, but as someone who grew up with therapists, I've developed a pet peeve about using the term schizophrenia when you really mean dissociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder. Plus, the former may or may not be genetic or familial, and the latter is usually brought on by severe childhood trauma, so the analogy doesn't work for me. Our morals are at first innate, then destroyed (or not) and replaced with those of our parents, and perhaps the culture, and then later we either re-evaluate them or not. I don't think bringing any mental illness into the conversation, particularly one which develops completely differently, is helpful. But that's me.

    November 25, 2007
  3. Disagreeing with Francione is fine by me, and I don't think abolitionists need the specific phrase to be effective (the concept is a different story). But the term schizophrenia seems to have broken out of the confines of psychiatry.

    Check out these two second definitions from…

    2) A state characterized by the coexistence of contradictory or incompatible elements.
    2) A situation or condition that results from the coexistence of disparate or antagonistic qualities, identities, or activities: the national schizophrenia that results from carrying out an unpopular war.

    But you certainly aren't obliged to help propagate the term outside the context of psychiatry.

    Francione seems to be ultimately responsible for a good chunk of the phrase's usage. Check out these google search results (lots of limitations here, but still interesting). Does anyone know exactly when he began using the term? I think it was around the time of "Introduction to Animal Rights".

    "moral schizophrenia" = 1090 pages
    "moral schizophrenia" -francione = 787 pages
    "ethical schizophrenia" = 228 pages
    "ethical schizophrenia" -francione = 228 pages

    On another topic, I disagree with the idea of innate morality. My background is in sociology, so this shouldn't be incredibly surprising. I believe that socialization and the acquisition of norms begins at a very early age, and to some extent immediately upon birth. Feral (or severely isolated and abused) children that are reintroduced to society, have not usually demonstrated anything we would likely recognize as an innate morality, or even humanity for that matter. I don't think morality can be separated from socialization, which is what the word "innate" suggests to me.

    When it comes to learning rules of behavior, I wouldn't say "perhaps the culture", but *definitely* the culture (along with numerous other factors), without doubt… unless it is a case of very severe isolation. I see nothing innate about morality. I see morality as developing in very young children largely through the personal observation and experience of punishment (or negative consequences) and rewards (or positive consequences). When young, morality is conditioned by our social interactions, and taught to us. Moral development is a topic within social psychology. Much of what I am saying is derived from that. If when you mention innate morality, you are imagining something along the lines of: "all young children instinctually love or respect animals… and then their parents (and maybe society) come along and corrupt or contort this love or respect"… well, their are empirical problems there. Many young children abuse and torture non-human animals.

    If you are so inclined, could you please describe what you mean by saying that "our morals are at first innate"? Kohlberg's model of moral development suggests that "preconventional morality", our first stage of moral judgement, is based upon the external and physical consequences of actions. Do you believe that our first stage of moral judgement is present at birth; irrespective or independent of conditioning by (or influence from) personal experience, society, peers, parent(s), other authority figures, religion, media that we view, and so on?

    Also, in the future, you might want to say "our parent(s)" as opposed to "our parents". I'm sure you can understand why.

    November 25, 2007
  4. Common usage is what leads to concepts morphing and language changing, and that is natural yet irksome sometimes. Irregardless is now in dictionaries and moving toward standardization, much to my dismay. Using "schizophrenia" is like saying "retarded," to me. There are people who have a serious condition and that condition has come to mean something negative in a different context (due to usage). For me, that is demeaning and insulting to people who suffer. But that's me.

    Thanks for pointing out parent(s).

    I think of language when I think of moral development. I don't believe we are blank slates, but then again I studied Applied Linguistics, which recognizes nature and nurture, so that makes sense. Morality is very much like language, complete with Chomsky's "universal grammar," which is innate. I believe we are all born wired for certain beliefs and behaviors, and our parent(s) and the larger culture either support or contradict how we're wired, and the conditioning begins. Many young children torture and abuse animals, yes, but many raised by meat eaters also are reluctant to eat animals and make connections naturally, early on that are in contrast to how they are about to be raised.

    There's an unexplained element in the mix that results in different individual paradigms for morality, and that element, for me, is karma. I don't believe we're all wired for the same morality (unlike with universal grammar). You come into this life pre-wired morally, but that can be changed, depending on another trait that is karmic: how strongly you hold your beliefs. That explains temperament, personality and behavior when we're very young, say, in completely new situations that we have had no coaching for.

    I too studied Kohlberg, and of course prefer Gilligan, for obvious reasons (like she actually studied females). I have learned that nature, including karma, is responsible for setting up your life with certain parameters, and what occurs after that is what largely dictates the result, but the result won't fall outside the parameters.

    These are just my lessons, though, and you have your own! 1998 was the first usage of moral schizophrenia by Gary.

    November 25, 2007
  5. i think the most jarring thing about that video was the scary-loud laugh track. well, that and the dog being fed "dog meat," you're right about that. bleah.

    November 25, 2007

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