Sunday, August 31, 2008

why unwilling?

Ugh. I need to gain control over my posts, they’re getting too long. I’ve just discarded another overly long post and this one isn't short.

The situation Trevor describes in his last post sounds pretty familiar to me. Throughout our discussion, Trevor has been very keen to focus on assertive animal rights types but in my experience what Trevor describes is far more common. The comments section over at Megan McArdle’s blog is about representative of people who actually care about the subject. There are a few passionate animal rights defenders, but mostly people who are positively irritated by the fact that McArdle blogs about it at all or thinks ethics is involved. They are not much soothed by her repeated assurance that she doesn’t think meat eaters are bad people.

Otherwise, I think it’s very strange that there’s such pressure on people not to stand up for what they honestly believe. I mean it’s not like people are shy about invoking morality when promoting their cause. Imagining that we’re bravely speaking truth to power is also popular. Seen An Inconvenient Truth or Wall-E? Spoken about the Iraq war?

Seriously, don’t we admire people who used moral arguments to battle slavery, apartheid, sexism etc etc? If we abstract away from any particular issue, don’t we think it’s desirable that people think carefully about the issues and then argue for what they think is right? Why should this be different in this case? Why should anybody care if it makes people feel uncomfortable?

Telling our kids that they should stand up for what they think is right isn’t the same as telling them to stand up for this list of things that I think is right. Surely the main reason people object in the case of animal rights is not because of principle but that they happen to disagree.

Trevor says
Effectively you are saying, I believe it is wrong to eat [farm-factory produced] meat and by eating it you are effectively endorsing cruelty to animals
Umm... isn’t this what’s actually happening? Or if not endorsing, saying that it’s okay. Doing business with a company is a sort of endorsement of its practices. We shouldn’t buy stock in "Confederated Slave Holdings" (a favourite of Mr Burns) and we shouldn’t sell arms to the Sudanese government. I don’t know Trevor’s position on this for sure, but I’d guess that he approved when people refused to do business with Apartheid South Africa. Whatever meat we choose to eat we’re essentially saying, “I am willing to tolerate this much [indicating size using hands] suffering for my enjoyment”. We should be explicit about this rather than pretending that meat grows on trees.


Stacy said...

Seriously, can't everyone just agree that certain things are more important to some people than they are for others? I definitly don't look down on my family or friends for eating meat. However, I would certainly not start eating meat because I think it's ok for them to do so. This is a personal choice that's extremely important to me. That doesn't make me MORE moral! That just means that not eating meat it a core principle of mine and I'm sticking to my principles. Women's rights in the United States is NOT something that is an important principle (for me) so I don't engage in it. That doesn't make me LESS moral. I do wish more people were vegetarian but I'm sure more feminists wish more women cared about their principles as well. The two are not one and the same, just throwing out an example....

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