Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Animal Holocaust

I responded to a Facebook post regarding a so-called animal holocaust.
One respondent to my post stated that, "Youre assuming that humanity and its ways are superior, why?"
In order for the reader to understand my response to this question, it might be helpful to know what I posted that prompted the question. I include the text of that post here: Yes, cows and pigs and sheep and so on are living creatures with whom we share the planet. I am sympathetic to the argument that humans should be mindful in our stewardship of the resources of the Earth. However, the lives of our ungulate planetmates were not tragically cut short before they could pen the next great symphony or discover a new anti-viral, or figure out how to end poverty. They weren't going to settle down with a beloved family and send their offspring to livestock college for the upward mobility. They were converted into food for humans. One could reasonably choose not to participate in that cycle. One might reasonably argue about the conditions under which that happened. I've also read a bit of Temple Grandin's work and found it thoughtful. But with all due respect, comparing this activity to any human genocide does not elevate the livestock. It demeans the survivors of those atrocities, the memory of those who perished in them, and their families.

I am blogging on this because I thought if wasn't right to dominate this poor fellow's Facebook page with my response.

My response to the superiority question above.

The case

I don't assume humanity is superior. I state it outright on the basis of evidence. It is clear that humans ponder over these matters because they are (and I can't overemphasize this) able to do so. If I had any substantial evidence that say, sheep, were pondering over similar matters, this would give me pause in my dinner choices.

I consider myself an ominivore. Further, I suggest the scientific evidence clearly indicates that humans evolved as omnivorses. With that said, I do ration the amount of meat I consume based on a number of factors including health risks associated with excessive consumption. Also, I would not consider eating another primate or a cetaecan. These creatures appear to be too close to human style thought processes for my comfort level. Also. I would not consider eating some sentient alien from another world simply because it was not "human".

The challenge.

Here is my challenge to those who daily lay claim to the high ground with their compassion and concern for animals. Examine the boundaries of your own concern. Where is the "bright line" for you?That is to say, I've yet to meet anyone for whom this compassion is boundless. (Don't get me started on Buddhists, as we haven't the space here.) Mostly such compassion extends to higher order mammals. Below that folks have the same "kill-as-many-as-needed-so-I-don't-need-to-step-over them-in-the-grocery-store-or-shoo-them-from-my-bed" attitude as everyone else. So, where is the line for you? Is it rodents? If you were around for the bubonic plague (caused by the fleas that lived on the rodents) would you have clamored for the "rights" of the rats? Are rats still a bit too furry and cuddly for you? How about parasitic worms? A substantial fraction of the world's population are infested with and debilitated by such creatures. Why do we not see folks chanting with protest signs outside the clinics devoted to killing these animals by the millions? In the interest of brevity, I will not bother with single celled animals.

The olive branch.

In the end, if a person feels that not eating meat is a good choice, bless your heart. I have no issue with you. Shouting into the public marketplace of ideas that there is a ongoing "holocaust" is a different matter.