Roger Cohen Realizes Dogs=Pigs, Sort Of
"Dog Days in China" is a small piece with no gruesome slideshow. But it's also remarkable in that Roger Cohen, a 50-something man who writes for the New York Times, wonders:
But do pigs have any more or less of a soul than dogs? Are they any more or less sentient? Do they suffer any more or less in death? Are they any more or less part of the mysterious unity of life? I think not.
There is a rational, and for some people a spiritual, case for being a vegetarian: Killing animals is wrong. However I cannot see a rational argument for saying eating dogs or cats is barbaric while eating pork or beef is fine. If you eat meat you cannot logically find it morally or ethically repugnant to eat a particular meat (I’m setting cannibalism aside here.).
I repeat: If you eat meat (I'd say: products that come from animals), you cannot logically find it morally or ethically repugnant to eat a particular meat (i.e., product that comes from an animal).
The theory is sound. There's no way out.
But as Cohen experiences, humans don't live "in theory." The theory that the mind finds inescapably well-formulated is often overwhelmed and overturned by human emotions.
I must confess I’ve been having a hard time. My bout of anguish began a few weeks back on a wintry night in central China, in the restless megalopolis of Chongqing. I was cold, wet and seeking refuge.
His "anguish" leads him to a dog restaurant where he dines on dog. His "refuge" could easily taken the form of the Sichuan noodles he likes, sans dog. Or pig, or duck, or fish. "Dog was not easy for me," he writes. "The memory has proved hard to digest."
When it comes to the legislation (which may or may not mean anything for dogs and cats), Cohen sides with the people who recognize that cats and dogs are no different from chickens and geese. He writes, "I’m not happy that I ate dog. But I’m happy China eats dog."
This is a good news/bad news story. It's great that someone realizes that there is no real difference between dogs and cows. However, remember that he understands that emotion ("the heart") is what ultimately governs what most of us do, and certainly what he does, so he won't be eating any more dogs.
And, presumably, he will continue to eat other animals. And that's the bad news.
Stay tuned tomorrow as I question setting aside cannibalism.