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On Killing Without Necessity

Killing without necessity is morally unjustifiable. No American in 2007 needs to eat animals to survive. They do it because they want to. This is not my opinion–this is a fact.

Killing animals for clothing is morally unjustifiable.  No American in 2007 needs to wear leather, fur, wool, cashmere or silk. This is not my opinion–this is a fact.

Bringing animals onto this Earth to use them for your sport or entertainment is morally unjustifiable. We have plenty of animals already, and if you really want to take care of one for the rest of the animal’s lifetime,  I’m sure one of the millions of homeless animals will be happy to have a loving home.

Most nonhuman animals, including mammals, birds, and fish, have emotional lives. They feel pleasure and pain, they experience terror, they flee from danger, and they use tools. Some have monogamous, lifelong relationships–some do not. They play games and they tickle each other. They have unique personalities. They recognize their friends and have names for them, as well as names for their enemies. They have their own systems of communication: their own language.

If you honestly think that there is a God and that God decided that everyone and everything was put here for human consumption, read Matthew Scully’s Dominion. He is a former speech writer for President Bush and a very religious man. Dominion was a bestseller. If you honestly think that animals are nothing but creatures with instincts, there are dozens of books written by animal behaviorists that you can use to educate yourself. Among them are books by Harvard Ph.D. and bestselling author Jeffrey Masson, such as:

Another bestselling author with a different style and focus (more spiritual) is Susan Chernak McElroy. Try the following books:

If you’re feeling up to something very intellectually and philosophically challenging for you, go to Professor Gary Francione’s website, and watch these flash presentations:

If you want more from Francione read Rain Without Thunder or Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog? A better book for kids (and with a more general focus of kindness) is 50 Awesome Ways Kids Can Help Animals: Fund and Easy Ways to Be a Kind Kid.

On the nutrition front, anything by Dr. Neal Barnard, President of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine will be most helpful, including Breaking the Food Seduction. Of course, there’s nothing like reading John Robbins, who was the heir to the Baskin-Robbins fortune (and who walked away from that fortune). Of particular interest is the oldie but goodie, Diet for a New America, and the more recent The Food Revolution and Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Heathiest and Longest-Lived Peoples.

And for you farmers and ranchers out there, check out Howard Lyman, a 4th-generation family farmer in Montana for almost 40 years who is the author of Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat.

My message? Whether you’re a parent or child, educate yourself about the lives of animals, the impact of raising animals for food on the Earth (here’s a great study
on that from the University of Chicago), the health issues, and the moral issues involved. Get the facts.

Finally, if I’m ultimately going to kill you or have you killed (and profit from it), does it really matter–morally–if I beat you along the way or if I play Mozart while you’re walking to your death?

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.—Mahatma Gandhi

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. The Porkinator #

    This is probably the last time The Porkinator will show himself. I just wanted to make a simple point and ask a simple question. Lets start with the point. Jesus Christ, the son of God, ate fish, if he ate meat then it's all right with me. Wether you believe in God or not.

    Question time, I was just wondering where you stand on the issue of abortion.

    The one and only,
    Nick Schovanec the Porkinator

    March 1, 2007
  2. Nick,

    Please remember that the Bible is a book of stories, written hundreds of years after the life and death of Jesus, by many different people, and rewritten many times in the subsequent hundreds of years. Though there probably was a Jesus, and I'm sure he was a great man, the part of the story that says he was the son of God, and the part that he was resurrected, and the part about Noah, the Garden of Eden, and practically the rest of the story, are metaphors. They did not happen. They are fables. Even Catholics will attest to this, although the part of the story they must believe in (have "faith" in) is the resurrection. That's what makes people Catholic (and Christian).

    What Jesus ate or didn't eat is immaterial (and there are plenty of people who find evidence that he was a vegetarian). Buddha was not a vegetarian, yet modern-day Buddhists consider not harming others without necessity part of their spiritual practice.

    The way I look at it, it doesn't matter if there is a God, a heaven, a hell, or even reincarnation. I do the right thing (harmlessness or non-violence, which is known as ahimsa) because it is the right thing–not out of fear or to please some other being.

    As for the abortion question, I am pro-choice because I do not believe anyone should be allowed to tell you what you can do with your own body. I'm a Libertarian at heart, meaning I don't believe in big government. Eating meat shouldn't be illegal. People should stop doing it, which will decrease the demand for animal flesh and increase the demand for other food sources. Then again, Libertarianism doesn't really exist in any meaningful way in this country in 2007.

    With that said, evidence suggests that late term fetuses are sentient, while early term fetuses aren't. For me, when in doubt, I wouldn't choose to cause suffering to a sentient being.

    I hope that helps.

    March 2, 2007
  3. Joe #

    I guess I just want to know how "The Porkinator" managed to end up on an intelligent website in the first place…

    March 4, 2007
  4. Joe,

    The Porkinator is a child, and I didn't want to be dismissive or rude. I wanted to take the opportunity to educate him, as there is clearly something sorely missing in his education. I can always hope that a small part of my message, and my compassionate treatment of him, will positively affect him.

    I know, I know, I'm insanely optimistic. But I'd prefer that over the alternative.

    Thanks for reading, Joe.

    Mary Martin, Ph.D.

    March 4, 2007
  5. Mike Grieco #

    Mary Martin – Thank you, I wish I had "teachers"like you when I was in school.This world NEEDS MORE HUMANS like you Mary.
    I also believe that Nick Schovanec is a intelligent person and will some day absorb your words of wisdom and apply your wisdom to ALL LIFE…

    *Peace and Health to All Life*

    May 6, 2007

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