Skip to content

On Ignorance and Low Levels of Discourse

Dana Herbert, whose fascinating blog is a must-read, apprised me of "Pigs as ‘Patients’ Draws Protest," which describes a protest at Hartford Hospital, where surgical trainees pay $1,500 to repair stab wounds in/on pigs. The pigs are anesthetized and stabbed "multiple times with the goal of damaging the bowel, bladder, kidney, stomack, pancreas, liver and other organs. . . . When the course is over, the surviving pigs are put to death."

What many people don’t know is that the vast majority (over 85%) of medical schools have discontinued the use of live animal labs and that the UK has banned the use of live animals for medical training purposes. Nevertheless, when you read the 124 (as of now) comments, the overwhelming ignorance of the commenters regarding non-animal alternatives and the reality that fantastic doctors can come from programs (and entire countries) that don’t use live animals, is shocking.

Furthermore, the dreadfully-low level of discourse–the lowest being from pro-vivisectors who name call and rant virtually incoherently–is disconcerting, at best. What is happening to the way we conduct ourselves in public discussion?

Among the comments, one of the most helpful and insightful was from "Smith" of East Hampton, CT:

It seems as if these animals are treated with more dignity than most of the animals raised for food in this country. I wonder if any of the posters here eat meat, and if so, are aware of the conditions of life and death of their food. Animal testing is a difficult, emotional issue, but we shouldn’t overlook the fact that most animals in this country live horrible lives and die horrible deaths all to pad our waistlines and the pockets of agribusiness.

But then there are people like Dr_Earl_Duke_PHD, who writes:

Don’t these "protesters" have jobs? The people who are protesting are the same types of people who next will want to be able to "marry" their pig or dog, cat, etc. They need to be put in their place – in the mud with the rest of the dirty pigs.

And there’s the very next message (#39), from GMB, who writes:

I’ll have some bacon with my eggs.

Please cut he bone out. I like boneless
"pig" chops.

I think my new quest is going to be to attempt to raise the level of discourse regarding animal rights in the United States. It’s clearly an enormous job, but I’m not sure I can participate in a discussion that’s rude, obscene and based in ignorance. Mainstream America needs to learn the facts about animals and what we do to them for our various non-vital uses such as food, clothing and sport, and we need to have an intelligent discussion, without cursing and name calling, and preferably with complete sentences that attempt to be grammatically correct.

"Smith," above, may or may not be an abolitionist like I am. However, because of Smith’s respectful expression of his/her beliefs, I would be willing to have a discussion. But Dr. Earl and GMB have already wasted my time and precious energy because I’ve chosen to acknowledge them (really, I’ve wasted my own time and energy).

Torture, slavery and suffering are emotional issues. Let’s not allow our emotions to override reason, respect, and decent communication.

Finally, I believe animal rights is the issue of our time, but it cannot progress without education. The reality is that most people have no idea what we do to the tens of billions of animals we kill each year. And they won’t ever learn if we don’t educate them in a respectful, non-condescending manner. It’s difficult, as it seems so obvious to some of us and we’ve known the facts for so long, but that makes respect all the more crucial. Let’s not "fight fire with fire." Instead, let’s meet every moment of ignorance and disdain not with judgment and ridicule, but with acceptance for where the person is coming from. Our job is to educate. If we’ve done it well, change will likely follow.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Great story Mary. As for the 'doctor' (Dr. Earl Duke PhD), unfortunately we also have a HUGE problem with doctor (even non-medical doctor) arrogance in the state of Connecticut. My apologies.

    May 26, 2007

Leave a Reply

You may use basic HTML in your comments. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS