Friday, September 29, 2006

what's your vice?

A while back Tyler Cowen wrote about the libertarian, (US) liberal and conservative vices. He has this to say about the lefty vice:
The modern liberal vice is to think that everyone can be taken care of, and/or to rule out foreigners from the relevant moral universe.
This is why my posts on immigration are normally directed at leftist types (of course those on the right are evil and cannot be reasoned with). Leftists enjoy being on the side of the poor and oppressed, they are keen on giving truck loads of their tax money to poor countries yet they scream bloody murder if you suggest loosening immigration restrictions because it depresses the wages of local unskilled workers. A leftist will often not be able to understand that a $2 an hour job could be a desirable step for some people. They think keeping them out is much better than allowing them to be "exploited".

Anyway... what was my point? Oh yes, the vegetarian vice.

Vegetarians can be pretty confrontational and self righteous, but so can just about every religion or cause you can think of. Vegetarians often apply their ethical standards inconsistently; I am more concerned about consistency than exactly where I draw the line between what is acceptable and what is not. Vegetarianism is also almost indistinguishable from environmentalism. I think the connection between animal rights and carbon emissions is pretty loose, but some people are surely put off vegetarianism because of its association with activism.

4 comments:

treehugger said...

I'm sorry you've had such experiences with vegetarians. I have been a vegetarian for about 12 years. I wouldn't impose the lifestyle on anyone. It's a personal choice. My children who live at home eat meat. I am a liberal and an environmentalist. But I believe each person needs to make his/her own choices. Peace.

stuart said...

thanks for the comment. i actually dont know any vegetarians like this, but they're out there! i was thinking more of animal rights vegies, they tend to be more hostile, religios or taste vegies are more relaxed.

in my experience, people sometimes react in a slighly defensive/hostile way to my vegetarianism. maybe i should write about them instead!

Tracy Leigh said...

I was going to ask but you have already answered, exactly how many vegetarians you know? Since you only really know me, my mom, your sister and yourself, it did seem like a strange thing to say. You must be refering to my mom and myself who are both concerned about the environment and animal welfare.

What I don't understand is why it is necessarily a vice to care about animals and the environment? I think perhaps you should rather investigate why people feel some defensiveness towards vegetarianism and what they may incorrectly associate with it.

Secondly, vegetarianism is a behaviour which can result from preferences, health reasons, beliefs, ethics, etc. Simply being vegetarian doesn't indicate a particular belief-system.
I don't know any studies on how many people choose to be vegetarian based on different factors. In fact that was one survey I wanted to conduct on my webpage, but since I'm not that gifted in webprogramming and noone visits my site, I probably won't get that information.

stuart said...

"What I don't understand is why it is necessarily a vice to care about animals and the environment?"

I didn't claim it was a vice.

I visit your site :)