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Monday, January 5, A.D. 2009
Giving Vegetarians a Bad Name

It is bad when insinuations of vegetarianism are enough to ruin a political campaign . . . In Montana last fall, Democrats accused the Republican gubernatorial candidate Roy Brown of being a vegetarian, which Mr. Brown vigorously denied. According to the Billings Gazette:

“I am not and have never been a vegetarian,” Brown said.

“I am disgusted by the baseless allegation that I am a vegetarian and that my personal eating habits should somehow be construed as opposed to the economic interests of Montana’s livestock industry.” . . .

“If this was a simple misunderstanding, that would be one thing, but this is clearly an attempt by Gov. Schweitzer and his political hacks to discredit me amongst livestock producers, and it’s beyond offensive,” Brown said.

Well, Roy Brown lost. False accusations tanked his candidacy. Just imagine what it must be like for those of us who truly are vegetarians. We can only pray that we can keep to “Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell” environs lest we be outed. Then, the haters come knocking . . .

However, certain extremist animal rights whackjobs want to ruin our image in the public’s mind even more. You may know of P.E.T.A. through their antics and their whorish celebrity supporters. Being the incentive to get Pamela Anderson to agree to a comedy roast was probably the only good deed ever accomplished by those insane people. Now, P.E.T.A. wants everyone to refer to fish as “sea kittens” so that people will become more sensitized to the plight of our piscine neighbors.

Anyway, I may have found a group even more deluded than P.E.T.A. As far as I know, P.E.T.A. has no problem with your having dogs and cats as pets, as long as you treat them humanely. As far as that goes, I entirely agree with P.E.T.A. In contrast, Animal Freedom condemns pethood as a form of animal bondage. “Animal dependency” is unethical exploitation. The goldfish bowl is an instrument of torture. Pet owners are psychologically disturbed. Though not dealing with pets, I learnt that angler fishing is a form of rape:

With their fishing rod, a type of extended penis; men wait by the side of the pond until a fish takes their seductive bait. The animal is hooked, reeled in, sometimes admired for a minute and then measured, shortly thereafter to be released again. Multiple contacts at the waterfront, you might say. And afterwards the fishermen brag to each other about how big it was and what a struggle it was to reel it in.

And the fish? The fish (if it survives) swims away wounded, to chance becoming another fisherman’s victim.

The fisherman is another one of those people who has not freed himself from the wish for confirmation. He angles for compliments. Had he been given enough love and attention as a child, he would feel no need to experience time and again if the fishes would bite. Not for nothing is fishing an activity mainly carried out by mischievous children and boring old men. Which is precisely the category that doesn’t score well with women. However, mothers play a dual role in this. They hate being used by men and they hate that men fish. But still they would rather see their men spending their time on the waterfront and directing their energies towards fishes than towards chasing women.

I wonder what my fisher-mother would say . . .

Animal Freedom’s writings are fascinating. I enjoy reading them in the same way that I find Mormon catechetical works to be quite fun. It is like fantasy literature—but really believed!

As one who cares for animal welfare—and as a vegetarian—I probably agree with the Animal Freedom folks far more than the average omnivorous Joe. However, I believe in a hierarchy of creatures, with man at the top—at least among Earthlings (or Terrans, for you weirdo geeks). As such, I do not mind the human exploitation of nature—as long as such exploitation respects nature. That is a vague guideline, but I basically mean that we can reap benefits from the land and from its creatures as long as we are responsible and ethical in our relations with them by ensuring their continued health and existence. In other words, we should not drive species to extinction through our exploitation. We should be mindful of natural resources—not only for selfish reasons, for the sake of calculated future goods, but also out of respect for natural things’ inherent worth. When species vanish due to our actions (we cannot answer for natural extinctions), when beautiful places turn ugly from callous development, when men subject a creature to treatment that does not respect the dignity fitting to it, then the world is worse from human action. Moreover, we should not engage in actions that render our souls ugly or perverse, as animal cruelty definitely does so. Rather, as with our fellow human beings, we should aim for the flourishing of all.

I do not think that having pets—at least animals who have been domesticated since the dawn of history—violates the aforementioned principles. Dogs have co-evolved with human beings for so long, we belong together. To use language that must be familiar to the Animal Freedom folks, pets celebrate and encourage interspecies understanding, love, and tolerance. Why would we want a homospecist society when we could benefit from diversity?

Some “animal rights” folks find zoos to be no better than cheap circus-style exploitation. However, zoos are among the conservation movement’s most effective instruments. They instruct people about the natural world and cause them to care about conservation efforts. Just think how many people donate to and become members of the World Wildlife Fund because they fell in love with wildlife at their not so wild city zoo. Imagine how many write to elected officials with regard to environmental policy because of their experience in zoos. Furthermore, for the last several decades, zoos have also been instrumental in breeding and reintroduction programs that save endangered species. The world is a much better place today because of zoos.

So, note that not all vegetarians are kooks. Well, you might think that I am a kook, as well, but I assure you that somewhere, out there, live unkooky vegetarians with whom you might someday share a train ride or a moment of leisure on a park bench. Do not be afraid. They do not believe in eating you.

Posted by Joseph on Monday, January 5, Anno Domini 2009
Nature | AnimalsConservationVegetarianZoosComments
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