Skip to content

On The Respectful Emperor

4206738308_c2e8fe1d46 I've been having a difficult time blogging both here and at Animal Rights & AntiOppression lately because I feel like my thoughts are like "Groundhog Day." Not the day, the film, where Bill Murray experiences the same day over and over again.

There are few animal rights stories in the news. We are not people who are interested in discussing animal rights, as in, the right of sentient nonhumans to not be used by humans for potential profit, for sport or for lunch.

That leaves us with animal welfare, which I do think we are genuinely interested in, mostly because of the myriad videos, documentaries, books and websites that have made it tough to avoid over the past few years. People are talking. And acting. Of course, what they are talking about and how they are changing their behavior is very frustrating for someone who doesn't believe we should be using animals at all. Most of the talk and the action is about treating animals differently—better, allegedly–while not addressing what is of paramount importance to all living creatures: staying alive.

When I think about the language that has been used by people who kill animals or have someone else do it for them, a couple of years ago the "compassionate" trend began. Farmers were bragging about how much they "loved" the animals they would soon betray and slaughter, and many omnivores who had discovered how animals are treated wanted to assuage their consciences a bit by "at least" giving the animals a better life prior to their untimely slaughter. I wrote often about such farmer/authors and found their rationalizations quite creepy. (Here's "On THE COMPASSIONATE CARNIVORE" from September of 2008.)

In short order it was clear that The Compassionate Emperor had no clothes, however. You didn't have to think too deeply about that one before you reached its fatal flaws. It wasn't long before The Humane Emperor came on the scene, and is still around, telling folks that with a little mental acrobatics you can include forcible breeding, captivity, separation of family, killing of day-old chicks, and of course, untimely death in the definition of "humane." The Humane Myth debunks any definition of humane farming you can create though, and it would help animals enormously if we coached more people in the deconstructing of the notion of humane.

Maybe "humane" is already on its way out for the folks trying to convince themselves and others that humane killing isn't an oxymoron. Yesterday I saw what could be the next such attempt in The Atlantic's "Last Clucks: The Death of a Chicken," by Sara Lipka. Lipka introduced me to the idea of killing "respectfully." There's so much to deconstruct here, but after this lengthy intro I'm feeling the need to go in the opposite direction and just provide the highlights. And by highlights, I mean sentences that made me want to scream.

  • "Our friend Miranda had her eye on Tina, the only bird distinctive enough to be named." That one left me speechless.
  • "My boyfriend, Daniel, wanted to kill his hen, quietly and respectfully, and eat it." Wanted? His? Respectfully? It?
  • "Our friend James caught our hen and put it in a hay-lined waxed-cardboard box. It calmed down and sat quietly in the box, on the floor of my car's backseat." Our. It.
  • "the chicken waited with me, its head sticking through a gap in the top of the box. It was funny, maybe even cute." Its. It.
  • "We took the chicken to Daniel's parents' house and left it in the box in the garage overnight." It. Okay, I can't keep doing this. There are more than 15 more "it"s.
  • "Blood splattered on my pants and on Daniel's face, which made him, in a hooded sweatshirt, look like a murderer." He had indeed just murdered a chicken.
  • "Feathers: animal. No feathers: food. I didn't feel sentimental anymore." That's an honest observation.
  • "I'm still glad we did it. I confirmed my weird personal right to consume chicken." I find it sad that Lipka views the killing as some sort of right of passage that gives her permission to pay to have others kill other chickens and who knows what other animals when she in fact does not need to eat (or wear or otherwise use) them.
  • "Our little chicken was very much on my mind as we ate her." What was on her mind, I wonder?

The stories we humans create for ourselves to justify–or even glorify–our behavior are fictions. If we really want to respect chickens, and if we really want to be "mindful" of them, we would remove them from the table and allow them to live their lives. That's respect.

–Photo from Flickr user gunp0wder

31 Comments Post a comment
  1. Every single time I read these accounts, I think of a calm, sociopathic serial killer (killer of humans, that is). The thought process is chillingly identical. The only difference is that the sociopath *usually* does not eat his victims. The only thing separating Sara Lipka and her associates from sociopaths is that the insanity of Sara, et al, is socially sanctioned, while sociopaths’ insanity lack social sanctioning (or they wouldn’t be called sociopaths).

    Further, the people who look to society for their moral guidance (sadly, the vast majority) are the same people who would blithely go along with a socially sanctioned genocide, especially if they thought they had something personally to gain from it.

    Compassion, unfortunately, has become another nonsense word that means everything, and therefore means nothing. “Respect” is following closely behind compassion in a parade of meaningless words.

    Justice is what we owe nonhuman animals, not our compassion or charity. In the same way it is nice to hear chamber music in our execution room, it is also nice to have the compassion and mercy of on-lookers as we’re heading for an execution that we did absolutely nothing to deserve. But compassion doesn’t compare to the justice of not being unfairly on death row in the first place.

    February 26, 2010
  2. Hi Mary,

    It was your twitter feed which linked me to that ridiculous article on The Atlantic. I took Sara's words and tuned her story a little:

    I'm not sure if what I wrote is the best way to get people to think about speciesism, so any feedback you can give me would be great.

    You are absolutely right in this article. Respecting a living being begins by not murdering them. This is so basic.

    February 26, 2010
  3. Cyndi R #

    Stories like these nauseate, terrify, and rob me of speech. I've no idea how to counter this pathology.

    February 26, 2010
  4. On deconstructing of the notion of humane – My take:

    Nothing "humane" happens in the bowels of a kill floor.

    "Humane" means to be concerned with the alleviation of suffering. These beings are not ill, maimed or otherwise "unhealthy". They are not in an aging pain. They are delivered "fit for living", so there is no "suffering to alleviate". Nor do they go willfully to be extinguished. They are physically forced to their early, unhappy and unjust end. They are being slashed from this earth by a perpetual machine that must be fed… This machine is run by a conniving, yet intellectually lazy culture that says to so is "necessary". And to do so for profit is even better…

    From the time we're born we're taught that animals are our irreplaceable "food". This false and archaic idea of "necessity", along with dogmatic social habits and demands, is what is required to believe the myth of "humane slaughter". Indeed the entire notion of animal use, is an idea that must be rationally inspected and rightfully discarded for the bung that it is!

    And as far as Lipka and her ilk… They have my pity – They are dead and don't even know it.

    February 27, 2010
  5. I agree with Bea's last sentence the most. Such killing is symbolic of the need to repress the authentic self. The living chicken is really a referent for Lipka's true, whole self, seperate from society. Lipka's attempts to rebel/individuate from society(spoon feeding her) by being a 'locovore'.However, her real self never becomes independent or comes to life because she embraces society's view of animals as food. Carol Adams speaks of the absent referent, the animal that is not there (even in our minds) because we only see the parts/as food. When Lipka kills the chicken she removes the reference to animal (defeathered). But in addition her own true self becomes an absent referent as well, re-absorbed into society as 'she' connects with the dead female as a merely the familiar(societal)visual of 'food'.

    February 27, 2010
  6. One extra observation i've been making of what locovores 'accomplish'with getting their own 'meat'and eggs. They love to fantasize that they are freeing themselves of the pallid reliance on urbanity. What they really accomplish is tantamount to kids camping out in their parents backyard, enjoying a little sense of freedom and excitement but never being very far from the reassuring light of their parent's home(societal indocrination).

    February 27, 2010
  7. Daniel L. #

    Hello all,

    I'm Daniel from Sara's article, the murderer of the chicken. I understand the sentiments expressed by Mary Martin, PhD, as well as those of the commentators. However, the supposed deconstruction of the article seems slightly superficial. How about a deconstruction of the word "respect"? In war time, cultures across the globe have spoken of an "honorable death" or receiving a "respectful execution". I would anticipate that one might respond that war is barabaric, bad, not worth bringing up. But I think we can agree that an "honorable death" is preferable to a holocaust, a "respectful death" better than a tortuous, vicious murder without compassion. When Sara and I killed the chicken, we didn't do so with glee or excitement. We felt that as occasional meat eaters, we should be capable of carrying out the act that makes that possible. We did so solemnly and thoughtfully.

    Obviously Mary Martin and the followers of this blog believe that killing is wrong, but I think it's important to recognize degree. This article has made a George Bush-style dualist distinction between good an evil. Do you really not recognize at all the efforts of those who are trying to become more conscious of our meat eating culture in a way that is perhaps less enlightened than yours? Or is the consumption of the most poorly treated animals who live short, agonizing lives before a savage death–in large quantities seven days per week without a single thought to its origin–exactly the same? Do you expect to convince people of the virtue of your ways by calling them sociopaths, saying we are "dead" because we don't follow your philosophy exactly? I believe that a little compassion and camaraderie with your fellow humans would go a long way in your quest to do the same for animals.

    February 28, 2010
  8. Hi David, and thanks for stopping by.

    You write we "believe that killing is wrong, but I think it's important to recognize degree." I get stuck here (among other places) because I don't believe that there are degrees of killing. Either you kill someone or you don't. Whether you are consuming the body of someone from a factory farm or a small family farm you are still consuming their body.

    I think the difference is this: You are looking at it from your perspective, and you feel better about the way the killing was performed–and it did read like a performance–because of the way you were thinking about it. The description of the "solemn and thoughtful" nature of the event comes from *you*. Meanwhile, I am looking at it from the point of view of the chicken. No matter how it goes down, the chicken dies. And the most important thing to the chicken and every other sentient human or nonhuman animal–is to stay alive.

    Almost all of us were once people who ate animals. One of my favorite foods was always charred, medium rare filet mignon. It doesn't make me sick to look at it or to smell it. But I have to recognize that I don't need to kill anyone, and that to do so simply because I like the taste of his or her flesh is selfish to the extreme.

    Finally, what irks me most is the idea that this has anything to do with respect. It sounds to me like just another attempt by humans to feel a bit better (and you do) about killing someone or having someone killed when you don't need to. And for the record, I do not believe in the death penalty for the same reason: it is barbaric no matter how it is done. At the end of 2009 I wrote about a NYT editorial I agreed with called "There is No 'Humane' Execution" . It's not how you kill someone that's most important to them, but *that* you're killing them.

    Thanks again for stopping by.

    March 1, 2010
  9. Daniel,

    Thank you for posting here. It is rare that those who advocate "compassionate killing" (I put that in quotes because I'm not sure what it means) are so willing to wade into debate.

    I don't speak for Mary, but I do speak for myself when I say that you may have misinterpreted the overarching / underlying philosophy of the blog post. Those who kill animals for food often think that vegans believe that killing is wrong… Though true in some cases, nothing could be further from the truth for myself and many others. When my cat kills a mouse and brings him home to my doorstep, I don't scold her. She's doing what cats do. By the same token, I (personally) don't see anything wrong with people who hunt for sustenance. Though I would never do it myself (and don't really think other people should if they have the choice), I recognize that for some Northern aboriginal nations, it's virtually impossible to live without some use of animal products. Many animals kill other animals. There is no moral judgment to be made about that, unless you want to change how nature is structured. I'm not terribly interested in that.

    What I (and many others) would oppose in your compassionate carnivorism is the insistence on ownership, which is at it's heart a relationship of control. Your analogy of war is not at all accurate, as it precludes that there are two parties that showed up for a fight, an "honourable" fight as you put it, maybe a fair fight? I can give you the benefit of the doubt that you killed the chicken in your story solemnly and thoughtfully, but perhaps you failed to recognize in this solemn thought that you took away the one and only purpose of that chicken's life (and all chickens' lives): to be a chicken. Instead, that chicken was your property from day one, and the whole reason it was born was to die at your hand later on. Was there even ever any hope that the chicken would "win" the honourable war, and come away with his life? If you're honest, I think you know the answer. The game was rigged, and in that sense, "compassionate" farming (the word farming is key here) is no different from the holocaust you would like to differentiate from. Even a deathcamp disguised as a holiday resort is still a deathcamp, and the fact that the end result is pre-determined and the same only adds to the sick irony, don't you think?

    We live in a world where other animals' lives matter less than ours, and so no, you don't need to follow this philosophy exactly. There are no consequences if you don't. But I hope you can recognize that the way you frame your desire to eat meat as a "choice" that should not be judged adds a further layer of irony to your compassion: The one choice that you took away from the chicken (YOUR chicken, the one you owned to kill and eat later) was the pretty obvious choice not to be killed.

    Yes, perhaps given the chance to live in the wild and actually BE a chicken, he would have been eaten by a predator, and no, there would be nothing wrong with that. But at least that would've been an honourable death, free of ownership, commodification, control.

    Thank you again for posting, and hopefully you can read my response with an open mind.

    Karol Orzechowski,

    March 1, 2010
  10. John Carbonaro #

    Daniel said :

    "…is the consumption of the most poorly treated animals who live short, agonizing lives before a savage death–in large quantities seven days per week without a single thought to its origin–exactly the same?"

    In some ways, the disconnect makes the act more understandable. The intimacy of seeing the whole being and then each conscious step that follows only shows the depth of objectification that you allow yourself to indulge in.

    March 1, 2010
  11. Peter #

    Why do humans have meat-cutting teeth? Hasn't anyone ever heard of the food chain?

    Dr. Martin's self-righteous drivel is intolerable. Cruelty to animals is wrong, but one animal eating another is an inherent part of life. Get over it.

    March 1, 2010
  12. Peter,
    Most would agree that humans are omnivores. Some claim we are herbivores. None claim we are carnivores.
    The classification of our teeth is in no way related to whether or not killing someone when you don't need to is the right thing to do.

    As for the food chain, there really isn't one where we are concerned, but let's pretend there is. If you were to meet a lion, you would be his prey, would you not?

    Next, we have the ability to choose whether we will kill an animal. And in the developed world in 2010 we have plenty of nutritious, delicious options that don't involve killing any animals. The kind and just thing to do is to refrain from killing.

    And finally, you say "cruelty to animals is wrong." Killing someone is wrong if it cannot be considered self-defense or euthanasia. There's nothing I need to get over.

    Just for your personal edification, I don't publish comments that are abusive or that don't add value to the conversation. Your questions/issues are not new and I'm happy to entertain all of them if it appears that they are a legitimate attempt at discussion.

    March 1, 2010
  13. John Carbonaro #

    Well Peter, if we are 'just animals', why would we perceive 'cruelty' and experience it as 'wrong'?

    Why do we justify eating animals? "because we are like them"
    Why are they not subjects of full moral consideration? "because we are not like them"

    So convenient.

    March 1, 2010
  14. babble #

    So much to get to, here.

    1. We don't have "meat-cutting" teeth. Our "canine" teeth are short and blunted, like a herbivore's. We don't fit neatly into any of the taxonomical classifications but we're usually described as "omnivores" based simply on the fact that we've adapted to meat eating over time. This is essentially as flawed as claiming that all cats or all dogs are herbivores because *some* cats or *some* dogs have adapted to eating vegan food. It's irrelevant. We can choose. Most of the time, we simply choose to ignore suffering because we like the way animals taste. That's still insufficient justification for optional, easily avoidable killing, though.

    2. Of course, it's a gross oversimplification to claim that the act of intentionally killing an animal is the one and only ethical consideration here. Is what Daniel is doing "as bad" as factory farming? In one sense, no, it's not *as bad*. But it's still entirely optional. It's still the murder of an animal for utterly trivial reasons, in this case: Daniel enjoys the way chickens *taste*, and wishes to excuse the fact that killing chickens is (for him) entirely optional by faffing around and calling this *particular* death "honorable."

    This is very much a first-world, very ABSTRACT human perspective.

    Would the chicken consider this a "noble sacrifice" of her body to please your tastebuds?

    She'd simply get away from you, given the chance. Given that you absolutely DO have a choice, and the ONLY reason you're eating animal products is trivial – you're not starving, you have easy access to non-animal foods – there's absolutely no REASON for you to kill this particular animal, no matter how many different ways you try and dance around the notion of this animal's death being made somehow "honorable" because you did it *this* way instead of *that* way.

    Yes, slaughter on factory farms is worse. Yes, it's much, much worse, in simple terms of the scale of suffering caused.

    But what you're doing is no less optional (and therefore, no less unethical), just because something else IS worse.

    March 2, 2010
  15. Daniel L.,

    I did distinguish between you and a sociopath. I'll distinguish again: You are (very likely) socially well-adjusted and would not hurt a human. If you were raised in a vegan society that looked on unnecessarily killing the innocent as murder [1], I’m sure you would find your behavior deplorable and your thinking very similar to a sociopath.

    Sociopaths think of and plan their killings in a detached, calm, rationalized manner, seeing the victim as a thing, very much like you and Sara did. They lack appropriate empathy for their victim. If they had appropriate empathy, they could not kill. They lack a sense of justice or fairness. If they had an appropriate sense of justice, they could not kill. They may say they kill with “respect”, but such “respect” is quite shallow. Nobody intentionally and unnecessarily kills innocents with real respect.

    You were socialize to be detached and calm and to rationalize the killing similar to the way a sociopath would a human, and that's why you are not a sociopath.

    When you and Sara put your names and killing story out for public reading, you should expect some thought-provoking blog posts and comments. I generally don’t post comments for camaraderie (as Mary and regular readers of this blog will confirm with a grin or a laugh, I’m sure). I post comments to provoke thought and challenge speciesism. Speciesism is an irrational cultural prejudice that is identical to racism, sexism, and heterosexism in its favoring morally irrelevant criteria while ignoring morally relevant criteria in determining whether we should take an “others” interests seriously. In my experience, provoking thought by speaking and writing very directly about the matter has been vastly more effective than camaraderie.

    [1] Except for the narrow and speciesist legal definition, which restricts the term “murder” to apply to humans-only, murder really is the unnecessary killing of the innocent.

    March 2, 2010
  16. babble #

    "Do you really not recognize at all the efforts of those who are trying to become more conscious of our meat eating culture in a way that is perhaps less enlightened than yours? "

    One other bit to get to here:

    Do you really think this is a meaningful distinction?

    The issue isn't the degree of my supposed "enlightenment" (or yours, for that matter). The issue is simply this:

    Given a choice, the chicken you killed would get away from you. She would act in her own self-interest. You overrode that interest for selfish, trivial reasons. This has nothing at all to do with any effort to become "more enlightened" about meat consumption. That's as meaningless as claiming that rape or torture (of humans) can be done in a "more enlightened" or "civilized" way – the rapist or the torturer may tell himself these sorts of things, but in the end, the raped person is still raped, the tortured person is still tortured. The chicken you killed is still dead, for no good reason beyond "Daniel thinks chickens taste good."

    The whole question of how you're performing the (again, entirely optional) act is irrelevant. It's irrelevant entirely BECAUSE it's optional.

    Can you honestly not see this?

    March 2, 2010
  17. Daniel L. #

    I had written an elaborate response yesterday, but due to some technical error it wasn't posted and was lost as a result.

    What seems strangest to me is the certainty of moral convictions expressed here. Where do you draw the line on sentience? A mussel? A shrimp? A jellyfish? If not there, then why not a plant? As a biologist, I think one would be hard pressed to draw a strong distinction between the sentience of a plant vs. a "lower" animal. It's a slippery slope so far as I can discern.

    At any rate, morality is ultimately an expression of preference. You might say "harming animals is wrong", but what you mean to say is "I prefer that animals not be harmed". Any attempt to "prove" that harming animals is categorically wrong will fail because morality is a human construct with no basis outside of our cultures and minds. Dan wrote, "Speciesism is an irrational cultural prejudice that is identical to racism, sexism, and heterosexism in its favoring morally irrelevant criteria while ignoring morally relevant criteria in determining whether we should take an “others” interests seriously". To call it identical is incorrect, as it represents a different preference. I would agree that it falls within the same group of preferences (the preference to have a certain prejudice), but by your definition, prejudice against the interests of rapists, murders, and war criminals is also an identical "irrational prejudice" because moral relevance is being defined by your preferences.

    I encourage people here to encourage others to develop the same preferences, but I can assure you that very few people will be convinced by cocksure (no pun intended) moral intimidation.

    Babble: Of course I see that killing animals is optional, that I don't need to kill animals, and I do so only to satisfy my desire to eat animals. You distort my use of "enlightened". I was only suggesting that you might be right and I might be wrong, but somehow you've altered that quite significantly; nor was "enlightenment" at all the topic of my comments, so why you responded as if it were seems strange. At any rate, I do think it's a meaningful distinction, and I can't see why you wouldn't think it is when the result is less meat consumption of animals with far better lives. You seem to suggest that 10 chicken deaths after a nice life is equal to 10,000,000 chicken deaths after a hellish existence. I see that killing is killing and the choice to do so is not necessary, but the two scenarios are not equal.

    March 2, 2010
  18. babble #

    "If not there, then why not a plant? As a biologist, I think one would be hard pressed to draw a strong distinction between the sentience of a plant vs. a "lower" animal. It's a slippery slope so far as I can discern."

    Not really.

    1. The chicken you chose to kill is every bit as sentient as your dog or your cat; those animals you choose to see as worthwhile (i.e. not food), while the chicken exists *solely* as a thing, as a piece of property you can keep, or kill, as is your desire. That desire is selfish, and trivial, where killing her *in order to eat her* is concerned.

    2. Now which of us is being fuzzy? Define "lower" animal, please. Mussels are more sentient than plants. You're not actually suggesting otherwise, are you?

    I'm willing to go with the notion that not absolutely every animal possesses sentience or abstract thinking capacity equivalent to humans, but the reason we draw the line at plants is because there's a leap in sentience – a clear one – between plants and animals. Plans – so far as we know – are insentient. It's possible – not likely, but possible – that plants possess some as-yet-undefinable rudimentary awareness of their surroundings, but that's a far cry from the *very clear* sentience evidenced by cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs or cats. You just arbitrarily choose to see some of those animals as "food."

    "At any rate, morality is ultimately an expression of preference."

    Perhaps, but you're edging close to claiming here that moral relativism is ideal. No, it isn't. Some things are simply wrong, period, or society stops functioning. What we're doing in the animal rights movement is working to expand the sphere of moral regard to most other animals, because there's simply no good reason *not* to.

    "To call it identical is incorrect, as it represents a different preference."

    Again, that's a moral-relativism dodge. Some things are simply wrong, period. It's wrong if I choose to break into your house and kill you and eat you. That's not a matter of my personal preference, and it's not defensible on those grounds no matter how many different ways I choose to claim it as a preference. Why is killing and eating you different from killing and eating a chicken? What makes humans deserve special moral consideration that other animals – possessed of at the very LEAST very similar sentience – do not also deserve?

    "I was only suggesting that you might be right and I might be wrong…"

    No, I think you're being disingenuous here. I think you used "enlightenment" for exactly the same reason you chided Dan for comparing your actions to the actions of a sociopath: you're attempting to shame us for taking a hard moral position that eating animals is wrong, because you want to continue eating animals, and for some reason, you expect vegan, animal rights advocates to make a exception, just for you, because you killed a chicken one way instead of another.

    That's silly.

    "…but somehow you've altered that quite significantly"

    Not really; what I'm saying isn't all that hard to understand. Is what you did to that chicken different than the typical factory farm scenario? Yes, it's different. No, that difference isn't significant. The mere fact of its difference does not make it acceptable for you to kill and eat chickens.

    "…and I can't see why you wouldn't think it is when the result is less meat consumption of animals with far better lives."

    Because what you're essentially arguing here is that "a little" rape is okay. No, it isn't. If eating animals is entirely optional (you've already allowed that you're neither starving to death or a subsistence hunter), then there's no moral justification for murdering animals for your selfish pleasures, even if you only do it "a little."

    "I see that killing is killing and the choice to do so is not necessary, but the two scenarios are not equal."

    The simple point you keep dancing around is that nobody disputes that the contexts are different. What you're unwilling to really consider is that that difference doesn't make optional, easily avoidable killing for selfish, trivial reasons acceptable.

    March 2, 2010
  19. babble #

    Let's try a different tack on this:

    Daniel, I'm going to beat you over the head with a lead pipe.

    Yes, you may object. That doesn't matter. It's my personal preference to beat you over the head with a pipe, even though there's simply no good reason for me to do it. I'm going to do it anyway. That you may object, that I can very easily assume you would not consent to my doing this (if I cared about your consent) is irrelevant: I don't care about your consent, whether or not it exists. I'm doing this. You have no particular say in the matter.

    Now then: I'm going to beat you seven times.

    Not 17,000 times.

    Yes, as a simple matter of rhetorical argument, it's "better" that I only beat you seven times, instead of several thousand. Yes, as an abstract issue, I'm causing you "less" suffering.

    But the mere fact that there's arguably less suffering involved in this scenario doesn't make the fact that I chose to do it in the first place *acceptable.* The fact that I'm doing it *at all* is trivial, and morally unjustifiable.

    This is what you did to that chicken: you killed her in such a way as to tell yourself that what you did was ethically different from what happens on factory farms. Yes, it's different, but only as a practical matter; the context is different, and there's very likely "less" suffering involved.

    But that doesn't make it okay that you *did it in the first place.*

    March 2, 2010
  20. Daniel L.,

    We may be hard pressed to draw a precise line somewhere between bacteria and mollusks, but certainly no more hard pressed than you to draw a line between humans (particularly certain humans) and dolphins, dogs, pigs, and even chickens. (Plants? C’mon, you’re a biologist? You can’t possibly be serious about plant sentience.)

    In fact, that is precisely what speciesism is: looking at species membership to draw some bright, cocksure line of moral certitude that ignores morally relevant characteristics like sentience. The point is that because characteristics like race and species, per se, are utterly irrelevant, we should not use them as criteria to determine, for example, 1) whether one should be given an opportunity to obtain a higher education if, say, “black” (intelligence is the relevant criterion regarding such an opportunity, not “blackness”), or in our case 2) whether one should be spared unnecessary, intentional killing if, say, a chicken (sentience is the relevant criterion regarding such avoidance of unnecessary, intentional killing, not “chickenness”).

    Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on to your claim that morality simply doesn’t exist except as an expression of any given individual’s (or group’s) preferences. Under your meta-ethics of pure subjectivity, what any tyrant or violent regime did in any given genocide in the world is not necessarily wrong. That is, it’s wrong to the victims and those who empathize with the victims, but it’s not wrong to the tyrants or violent regime. And of course that would go for all of the most hideous acts of torture involving vast power differences between individuals or groups. Such a meta-ethics implies that a genocidal tyrant’s moral statements are true (because everyone’s are true), that moral disagreement is impossible (because “we’re both right”), that all agents or cultures are morally infallible (because everyone is right), and that arbitrary feelings generate obligations.

    Morality does not fail “because [it] is a human construct with no basis outside of our culture and minds” any more than mathematics, logic, or color evaluation fail because they are human constructs with no basis outside of our culture and minds. Moral, logical, mathematical, and color concepts all have roughly the same ontology. None exist empirically except color and some geometry; that is, we cannot touch, smell, taste, see, or hear them, and even color and some geometry we can only see. But all exist perceptually, intuitively, and cognitively. And all are extremely useful and very real, each in their own way, in navigating our way through our world.

    As for epistemology in these subjects, if you point to sky blue and say “that’s red”, I’ll say you’re wrong, and be cocksure that I’m right. If you point to purple and say “that’s red”, I’ll be less certain, and claim that it seems to have some blue in it, too, so maybe it’s purple, but who knows? Geometry and morality are the same way. If you say “unnecessarily and intentionally killing an innocent being is at least moral permissible”, I’ll say you’re wrong, and be cocksure I’m right. If you say “there are times when intentionally killing another being is morally permissible”, I’ll say you may be right, depending on the situation; and depending on the complexity of the situation, I may not know the best answer (not to say that there is not a best answer; only that I couldn’t know that I had it).

    I challenge you to re-think your own certitude regarding 1) your “justification” for killing that or any chicken; and 2) your moral subjectivism. Regarding your “justification”, consider putting yourself in a less culturally and personally biased condition; be more objective. Regarding re-thinking moral subjectivism, consider reflecting on how moral subjectivism implies that a genocidal tyrant’s moral statements are true (at least for him), that moral disagreement is impossible (because “we’re both right”), that all agents or cultures are morally infallible (because everyone is right “for themselves”), and that arbitrary feelings generate obligations.

    March 3, 2010
  21. Porphyry #

    “I've been having a difficult time blogging both here and at Animal Rights & AntiOppression lately because I feel like my thoughts are like “Groundhog Day.” Not the day, the film, where Bill Murray experiences the same day over and over again.”

    Mary, sounds like you could use a pinch of Salt.

    ‘Perhaps the most laughable thing about the poor spavined Fallacies was the entire confidence with which they were trotted out. They were very old and very silly; they had again and again been refuted; yet they were always advanced in a manner which seemed to say: “Surely this is an argument you have never heard before? Surely you will give up your humanitarian sentiment now?” As the frequent oral exposure of such inveterate sophisms was a tedious task, we found it convenient to print them, tabulated and numbered, each with its proper refutation, under some such title as “Familiar Fallacies,” or, borrowing from Sydney Smith, “The Noodle’s Oration”; and then, when some opponent came along exultingly with one or other of them, all we had to do was to send him the list, with a mark against his own delusion. Trust one who has tried the plan: it is more effective than any amount of personal talk. The man who will bore you to death with his pertinacious twaddle, in the belief that he is saying something new, will soon tire of it when he finds the whole story already in print, with a “See number — “ written large in blue pencil against his most original argument.’

    Henry Stephens Salt – Seventy Years Among Savages
    p173-174 (Published 1921)
    The OCR text versions have too many errors, I suggest the PDF files. It’s worth a read, though it has some slow spots in the beginning. It’s shocking how relevant it still is today.

    ‘Who but a savage, for example, would include the keeping and killing of pigs as a feature of a model homestead? Yet in that establishment of which I have spoken, where the avowed aim was to be “natural,” the pig-killing was a festive event. “Father sticks 'em, brother cleans 'em,” was the description vouchsafed by a charming young “land-girl” (to use a later-invented term), who dwelt with delight upon these unsavory divisions of labour in her Blithedale Romance.” Well might Tolstoy use this pig-killing process in illustration of his argument that, in any advance toward civilization, a disuse of butchery must be “the first step.”

    March 3, 2010
  22. Daniel L. #

    Here's an article about plant sentience:

    I think plants show as much sentience as lower animals, i.e. corals, bivalves, jellyfish, sponges, etc.

    It's correct that certain preferences would cause society to cease functioning. For better or worse, eating animals or even torturing them isn't one of them, as is self evident. I don't think moral relativism is ideal, nor do I even think it's a choice, I think it's the way things are. We tell ourselves killing (humans) is wrong, but most people are perfectly okay with doing so in wartime or to egregious criminals or whatever. This is not a preference that I share, but it's a case in point. Whether or not I think it's "good" is irrelevant. If you think things are inherently wrong, please prove it to me. I've studied ethics at length and have never found that to be the case.

    I never asked anyone to make an exception for me. I'm perfectly fine with your viewpoints and I have no interest in convincing anyone to eat meat. I'm not seeking permission. Furthermore, I'm not trying to convince you that what I did was okay or acceptable. I was simply trying to get an acknowledgment that it is different, which is already forthcoming. Again, I agree that eating meat is selfish and trivial.

    Do you drive a car or live in a house made of wood? If so, that is easily a more selfish and trivial act than my choice to eat meat. The amount of animals killed due these processes is very high, but I doubt anyone posting here is living a life doesn't result in the death of thousands of animals through a choice to consume products that do so. I believe that those who focus on animal rights in a test tube often forget that our entire culture is built around selfish, trivial actions that destroy the planet and kill the animals in it. The meat industry is only one part of this. Having worked on an organic vegetable farm, the amount of animals and insects killed in the process is quite high. When farmers find rabbits or groundhogs living in their fields, they usually don't allow them to continue doing so. Pest infestations result in insect holocausts. Plowing the fields kills hundreds of worms per acre. Clearing the land obviously results in the death of many "higher", "sentient" animals. Windows in houses and the power lines feeding your computer kill staggering amounts of sentient birds. Your homes were surely built in a process that led to the agonizing starvation of the animals who used to occupy the land where you now comfortably live. The medical products that we take for granted were all tested on hundreds of thousands of rats and mice, killing countless numbers of them in the process. These actions too are selfish and trivial (we simply want to have electricity in nice, windowed homes, and we desire to cure our diseases and eat vegetables), and the choice involved is no different from my choice to rarely eat meat. If you don't accept moral emotivism (relativism), then you must acknowledge hypocrisy and irrationalism, unless you eat food that falls to the ground and live in a cave while somehow managing not to step on bugs while going about this existence. If you believe that causing animals suffering is categorically wrong in all cases, than this is your only option.

    March 3, 2010
  23. babble #

    "I think plants show as much sentience as lower animals, i.e. corals, bivalves, jellyfish, sponges, etc."

    No, they do not.

    In any case, you didn't eat any of those animals. You killed a chicken.

    "I don't think moral relativism is ideal,"

    It is, nevertheless, what you're arguing for here. That's simply wrong, as a moral question, whether you like it or not.

    "We tell ourselves killing (humans) is wrong, but most people are perfectly okay with doing so in wartime or to egregious criminals or whatever. "

    What most people think about killing is neither here nor there. Most people find it acceptable to kill and eat animals, as well. They're wrong.

    "If you think things are inherently wrong, please prove it to me."

    Given that you're claiming that there is no standard of proof that will ever satisfy you, demanding proof is a dodge, and you know it. Reread your responses to Dan and put yourself in my place: WHY are you asking for "proof" when you've already stated emphatically that any attempt to "prove" any moral question to you is going to fail. You can pretend that you're giving a fair hearing to what we're saying here, if you like, but you're not, and you know it.

    "I've studied ethics at length and have never found that to be the case."

    I sincerely doubt this.

    "I never asked anyone to make an exception for me."

    Yes, you are. You're here demanding that we tell you that because you killed a chicken differently from the norm that there's no reason for any of us to object to your choice to kill chickens. You hint at that below, with a classic troll argument further down.

    "I was simply trying to get an acknowledgment that it is different,"

    You keep seeking an "acknowledgement" that has been made over and over again. What you did WAS different. But it's not different in any way that matters, no matter how many times you try and claim otherwise. You, yourself allow for this when you say…

    "Again, I agree that eating meat is selfish and trivial."

    So, stop doing it.

    "If so, that is easily a more selfish and trivial act than my choice to eat meat. The amount of animals killed due these processes is very high,"

    This is the classic troll argument. Because we cannot rule out any and all ancillary animal death in any and all situations, your choice to kill when you have a clear and easy option *not to do so* is okay? No, it isn't. Whether you like it or not, and no matter how many ways you try and obfuscate around the fundamental truth, here, that fundamental truth remains: you are neither starving nor a subsistence hunter. You choose to ignore animal suffering because it *does not matter to you*, regardless of any claims you may make to the contrary here.

    "The meat industry is only one part of this. Having worked on an organic vegetable farm, the amount of animals and insects killed in the process is quite high."

    More of the classic troll argument. When it becomes possible to farm plant foods without any ancillary killing whatsoever, I and other ethical vegans will promote it as the better ethical position. It's not possible NOW. But it remains true that it's entirely possible for you, right here, and right now to omit killing the animals you DO choose to kill. You just choose not to. This is why I don't believe you when you claim to have "studied ethics." You're arguing your position with incredibly weak fallacies, that wouldn't pass muster in a first year philosophy class. Just because some killing is practically unavoidable at the present doesn't mean that ANY AND ALL killing is morally equivalent. But you already know that, don't you?

    "If you believe that causing animals suffering is categorically wrong in all cases, than this is your only option."

    This is a straw man, and you know it. Reread Karol's post. Just because we cannot eliminate any and all killing doesn't mean that the easily avoidable killing is okay. But you keep telling yourself that it is, because, after all, you've "studied ethics." You may have studied something, but you didn't learn much from it, if this is your ethical position.

    March 3, 2010
  24. Daniel L,

    First, the plant sentience essay (and the related studies) you linked to is humorously naïve and unscientific. I highly recommend it as an example of very poor, unscientific thinking. There is no doubt that plants “react” and “behave” differently depending on hereditary survival mechanisms. After all, such survival mechanisms are inherent in virtually all carbon life due to natural selection. But to postulate intention or sentience as the basis of the mechanisms rather than much simpler and parsimonious non-sentient hormonal and chemical explanations is laughably naïve (and downright embarrassing if you’re a scientist who postulates it without qualitatively different evidence). If you want to read a far more sophisticated and scientific account of the likelihood of plant sentience, consider this one:

    If you studied ethics at length, it appears you ignored a large swath of the subject in your studies, because your analysis lacks depth (to put it politely).

    What is morally right and what is actually carried out are often, if not usually, disparate. But to say that “what happens” is “what ought to happen” is moral imbecility. We should always attempt to evaluate with careful reasoning where lines should be drawn, and ignore those who can’t be bothered to think of anyone but themselves in the process.

    Further, I’m just as cynical as almost anyone else about human capacity for moral behavior. As I’ve said elsewhere, genuine morality in humans is rare, as the number of vegans in society today demonstrates. What passes for "moral behavior" is actually herd behavior motivated by social approbation and fear of social rejection.

    But others’ lack of moral capacity has nothing to do with how I (or anyone else) should think, speak, or act. No matter how cynical I am, I’ll always take the morality of my behavior and the reasons supporting it seriously.

    I see now that since you couldn’t successfully shame us for taking a moral stand, that now you’re attempting to shame us for being hypocrites because we have fallen short of utter perfection in the art of (unintentional) non-harming. Yet I assume you are against human chattel slavery and the unnecessary and intentional killing of humans. Shall we bring back human chattel slavery and legalize murder (at least of some humans excluding ourselves) because we pay taxes in a country that kills innocents in morally dubious wars? What about human fatalities on highways and people who we let die because we won’t (can’t?) provide them health care? Shall we legalize murder because society has fallen short of perfection? Shall we stop attempting to draw lines because we can never achieve perfection?

    Vegans draw regarding nonhuman animals lines very similar to lines drawn against human chattel slavery and murder. Vegans ask, what if the victim was human? Because in the end, there’s no moral difference between humans and sentient nonhumans. All of your examples, Daniel, are examples of going to extraordinary lengths to achieve perfection. Ought implies can, and when evaluating what we can do, we ought to be reasonable. Veganism is reasonable. Your proposal of absolute perfection is unreasonable whether we’re discussing humans or nonhumans.

    For more reading, consider the following links. (The essays linked were written because I hear the same tired old claims ad nauseam from people trying to justify excessive, intentional, and unnecessary harm and violence):

    Veganism as a minimum standard of decency:

    Do vegans violate animal rights?

    Contrasting harms: vegan versus non-vegan

    March 3, 2010
  25. Daniel L. #

    This will be my last post as I feel that this discussion has much less to do with reasoned argument as it does with ad hominem attacks, putting words into my mouth, and conveniently attempting to pigeonhole my views. I have stated many times that I in no way condemn veganism, yet I am continually told that I am trying to shame you, or that I want an exception, etc. I believe veganism is a commendable practice and I think there is nothing wrong with an objection to meat eating. I believe that I have expressed my views in a courteous manner. In return I have been called a troll, had my educational background questioned, been told that I didn't learn anything in that process, been accused of "dodging" whenever I make what seems to me a well-reasoned argument, among other mean, hurtful comments irrelevant to the subject matter. Dan even accused an article based on papers published in the American Journal of Botany and Biology Letters (a publication of the UK's national academy of biology), both highly respected, peer-reviewed biology publications, of being unscientific.

    My arguments seem to be typically refuted as if I'm saying veganism is wrong or as if I condone murder (of humans), rape (of humans), slavery (of humans), etc.. Moral emotivism does not conclude that murder, rape, slavery etc. are morally acceptable positions, it merely states that morals are preferences. As 99.9% of people share the preference to not murder (humans) or rape, these practices become de facto "immoral", but the system rejects this label. I believe the argument that I have put forth is robust and has not been well refuted. Either one has to accept moral emotivism, which would account for ancillary animal death but would be an acknowledgement that veganism is a preference, or one would have to be a perfectionist if one truly thinks that killing animals is wrong. Saying ought implies can is not sufficient because you can go live in a cave if you want to, it's just that your "herd behavior motivated by social approbation and fear of social rejection" is preventing you. You can easily stop driving a car or stop using electricity or grow your own food in such a way as to minimize animal deaths. Calling it a "troll argument" also fails to refute it.

    Unless someone can present a moral system that arrives at the conclusion that 'killing animals is wrong except in certain cases in which some unspecified judge [presumably you] determines them to be ancillary or unreasonably difficult to control', then you have to accept an emotivist position. I don't think this is undesirable, it just requires a bit more humility about one's views and a willingness to approach morality as a constructive dialog. In all of the ethical systems that I have encountered (which obviously Dan and Babble believe to be very few), I know of none that would arrive at the above conclusion, except perhaps theological, commandment-style dogmatism. Please, if you choose to respond to this post, spare me the nastiness and get to the point. Describe a logical system which reaches the above conclusion without resorting to preference based morality. Considering my lack of an education in ethics, and, by extension, Dan and Babble's wealth of knowledge therein, it should be an easy task.

    I sincerely hope that you will go on to convince more people to be vegans as I believe it significantly reduces stress on the planet and reduces the amount of suffering in the world, but I am quite sure that if you go about it as you have here that you will only reinforce the contrasting views that people hold.

    March 4, 2010
  26. Daniel L,

    Since we’re now onto meta-argument (evaluating the arguments presented rather than adding new points or making new arguments), I’ll throw in my evaluation of the discussion over the past few days.

    Nobody has even implied that you think veganism is morally wrong. Indeed, even the most violent sadists would admit that veganism is no worse than morally neutral. You’re the one putting words into others’ mouths here.

    You were, however, accusing us of too much certainty in our claims that consuming or using animal products, or exploiting animals is wrong. You were claiming that what you do, and we find reprehensible, is morally permissible. You were implying that our claims are hypocritical because we don’t live in a cave or kill ourselves in order to achieve perfection.

    Perhaps if you stepped back to the 19th century and put yourself in the position of abolitionists debating with slave owners who were claiming that you, as an abolitionist, are too certain of your claims, that slavery is morally permissible, and that you are a hypocrite because, while you’ve freed your slaves and gone as far as you can reasonably go to rid yourself of the products of slavery, you still haven’t achieved perfection by dropping out of society to live the life of a monk. Consider listening to this nonsense repeatedly from different slave owners over years. You might start to get a sense of how much it sucks to live in a world occupied by people who are so beyond honest and rational dialogue when it comes to their personal habits, trivial pleasures, and cultural prejudices against innocent others. When I say you are exactly like a very polite racist to me (and you are), I really don’t mean to insult or attack you personally; it’s just that that’s literally the truth about how I see your position, your stubbornness, and your obvious inability or blatant refusal to see your own prejudice.

    If that article was in a respectable biology publication, all it shows is that humorously naïve and unscientific thinking occasionally (but not too often) makes it into otherwise respectable publications (which shouldn’t surprise us if we are critical thinkers; I’ve seen it happen at least a few times). Appeals to authority don’t impress me, Daniel.

    I’ve already annihilated your moral emotivism and moral preference meta-ethics earlier in the discussion and you never even attempted to refute it, so I won’t say too much about it here. I will repeat that what really is right or wrong is *independent* of our judgment of the matter. In other words, we can think something is right when it is actually wrong or vice versa. We have certain basic moral intuitions that are just as certain to us (assuming we have the mental capacity) as basic logical and mathematical intuitions. We are usually on firm ground about these basic intuitions reflecting what is truly right or wrong. We are on much more uncertain ground when our basic intuitions conflict, such as in a moral dilemma. It’s not that there is not a right (correct) answer, it’s just that we may never know if we have judged a complex situation properly to get the right answer.

    Just because we have such basic intuitions doesn’t mean we all take such intuitions seriously, and I’ll admit that just like there are people who cannot intuit very basic logical connections, there are also people challenged in the same way regarding moral intuitions. But the vast majority of us have them, and they are not necessarily accompanied by any emotion or preference. Seriously harming innocent others when there is no reason for it provides an example of such an intuition. Placing ourselves in the situation of another is also a basic moral intuition. We can then reason with consistency to reach more complicated conclusions. In genuine dilemmas, we cannot know we’re right, but we can know that some answer is the best one, and therefore the right one. There is no theology or dogma about it any more than there is theology or dogma about basic logical intuitions. (I’m about as far removed from religion-based or theological morality as one can possibly get, which is subjectivism, btw (something is right or wrong because god says it is)).

    Anyway, since you did indeed miss a major part of ethics in your studies, I highly recommend reading W.D Ross’s book “The Right and the Good” and Michael Huemer’s book “Ethical Intuitionism”. Both are professional philosophers. (W.D. Ross is now long dead.) Neither writer, to the best of my knowledge, was/is an animal advocate, but both have a superb grip on meta-ethics and moral reasoning in general.

    Finally, I do think emotivism is plainly false as a matter of fact, regardless of whether or not it is “desirable” (and desirability is utterly irrelevant). However, I do happen to think it would be highly undesirable if it were true. It would literally entail universal moral absurdity because Hitler would be morally right about thinking the Holocaust was right (or at least permissible) and so would the Jews be morally right in thinking the Holocaust wrong. Emotivism entails millions of similar absurdities. It also would entail the absurdity that claims about itself were both right and wrong, depending on any given person’s emotions about it. Further, it would be undesirable because, if it were right, I’d honestly have to say that genocide is not really wrong. It’s only wrong to some people who get weepy or angry about it. No, there is right and wrong. We may not always know we have the right answer, but we can always reason through it by putting ourselves in the place of others; considering their interests equally with ours; and ridding ourselves of irrational prejudices such as race, sex, and species membership in objectively and impartially assessing the moral reality of the situation.

    March 4, 2010
  27. babble #

    The only thing anybody is *guilty* of, here, is refusing to play the game you're trying to play, Daniel.

    You're here demanding approval for your choice to kill an animal completely unnecessarily, because you think the WAY you killed that animal makes some sort of ethical difference. ALL of the rest of this sturm and drang is just an intentional distraction from that core, fundamental truth.

    If you feel you've been insulted by having the simple truth pointed out to you – by necessity, over and over again, because you keep trying to obfuscate around it, of which your latest post is just another example – that says far more about your own lack of respect for a) what we're saying, and b) your own lack of certainty in what *you're* saying, than it meaningfully says anything about Dan or myself (or any other regular poster, here).

    YOU were the one who introduced a troll dodge, specifically after it was addressed by Karol. You tried to play games with it, ANYWAY. YOU were the one who claimed at the OUTSET that there was no standard of proof you'd EVER consider personally compelling, and then proceeded to rant about how we haven't proven anything to your satisfaction. What a surprise.

    That makes your actual motives suspect, here.

    I'm sure this will result in another round of whining from you, should you choose to post here, again, but the simple truth is what it is.

    You're not here because you think veganism is ethically better than whatever you're doing. You're here demanding that we pat you on the head and tell you that what you did was okay.

    We're *never* going to do that. Why should we?

    March 4, 2010
  28. babble #

    Now then: the one thing you're either strawmanning or you've honestly missed (it's difficult to discern which) is this:

    "My arguments seem to be typically refuted as if I'm saying veganism is wrong or as if I condone murder (of humans), rape (of humans), slavery (of humans), etc.. Moral emotivism does not conclude that murder…"

    No, Daniel, that's a *comparison*, intended to get you to think.

    No one has said (or implied) that you *condone* the rape, torture or murder of humans. We're drawing comparisons between the rape, torture and murder of humans and the rape, torture and murder of nonhumans *in an effort to get to you think* in a less speciesist way. The simplest way to do that – which you've either intentionally ignored, or you're so mired in speciesism that you simply don't see it – is by drawing obvious comparisons between your treatment of the oppressed class ("food" animals) and having the *same* treatment happen to you or another member of the non-oppressed class, i.e. humans in general, that we *presume you have some empathy for*. This doesn't say you condone horrible things being done to humans. It says *exactly the opposite*.

    Think it through: I've asked several times, which you've dodged again and again and again:

    What is the moral difference between a human and a dog, a cat, a pig, a cow or a chicken? Is it intelligence? Are stupid humans acceptable to eat? Is it language / self-advocacy? Are infants or comatose humans acceptable to eat? Is it tool use? Is it some claim to inherent *human-specific* rights? If so, why should those be limited to just humans?

    We've been asking you serious questions, in an attempt to take your presence here seriously. In return, you've claimed that you've studied oodles of ethical systems and concluded that moral relativism is the best we can possibly hope for, and that plants are every bit as sentient as shellfish.

    Sorry, kiddo, but that's simply inane, on both counts.

    Rather than rinsing, lathering and repeating, here, why not take a chance and try answering the real question: WHY are chickens food, and not humans with similar IQ's?

    March 4, 2010
  29. babble #

    Here's the thing: Dan made a version of this point earlier in the thread, Daniel L. ignored it (or it flew over his head). "Shall we legalize murder because society has fallen short of perfection?" (Perfectly eliminating murder).

    That animals are going to die as a result of my lifestyle is a true thing. It's regrettable, and I do what I can to a) live in the world, and b) minimize it, but some animal death is going to happen.

    But that STILL doesn't mean that choosing to kill animals when I *don't have to* and *can avoid doing it* is okay. This doesn't require living in a cave in order to live an ethically PERFECT life. It means that choosing to eliminate animal consumption is ethically BETTER than choosing to eat them.

    Even Daniel L. agrees with this: he's comfortable supporting veganism on environmental grounds.

    So, fine: go vegan. Ditch the AR argument, in your own mind, if that's what flips your wig, here. Go vegan for your OWN stated reasons – it's better for the planet, right? – rather than mine.

    Because the net result will still be a good thing, in my view, whether or not I think you're doing it for the right reasons.

    But you're not actually going to do that, are you? You're going to attempt to shame us for the way we advocate this (still playing the troll game, here) and warn us that we're not going to convert OTHER people, but you still get to do whatever you want.

    How terribly special.

    If you don't give two flaming figs about animal suffering (I contend you don't, but that's neither here nor there), go vegan ANYWAY, because it's STILL better, by your own standard.

    Do it anyway. Do it now. Rather than just posting ever more fluffy justifications for your own choice to kill animals absolutely NEEDLESSLY, go vegan. Save the planet. Do it for your reasons, if not for mine.

    But please, for the love of $DEITY, quityerbitchin about how I'm not changing your mind. That wasn't ever going to happen, here, and you KNOW it. You KNOW it. If you come back with more of the same, and you still aren't going to commit to veganism for *whatever* reason, we'll know you're just desperately looking for that pat on the head and that approval you claim you're not actually seeking.

    We are never – EVER – going to tell you that killing and eating animals is okay. It's not okay. It will never EVER be okay. Stop doing it.

    March 4, 2010
  30. Wow…the lengths some people will go to justify their behavior is incredible. I'm reminded of a quote from Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals:

    "Killing an animal oneself is more often than not a way to forget the problem while pretending to remember. This is perhaps more harmful than ignorance. It's always possible to wake someone from sleep, but no amount of noise will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep." (102)

    March 11, 2010
  31. Dan #

    Sounds like JSF needs to go vegan and encourage others to go vegan so he can fit comfortably into that quote.

    March 11, 2010

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