Sunday, August 28, 2005

This is me trying a Different Approach!

` As you may know, I am trying out different approaches to how I write things. I've decided that part of my current problem is that while I enjoy comparing rumors and facts, I don't do this very much with points of view.

` Well, who wants to be seen as egotistical?

` In a past post I rambled on about - I mean... 'examined' - why people use animals for things they don't need to, like eating. One of the main reasons given is that 'animals are stupid'.
` But the truth of it is that some human beings are actually less mentally developed than cows, chickens, and goats, so why is it that we don't eat drooling babies and equally drooling adults?
` Also: Why don't we Americans usually eat dogs or cats while many gladly eat the more intelligent pig?
` My conclusion was that these opinions largely come from the surrounding culture, which tells them that eating or mistreating certain species is bad, and eating or mistreating certain other species is more or less okay, as those are their assigned roles in our society.
` I do, however, agree that eating one's own kind is not a very smart idea.

` However, the article was not very engaging. So, let me try this over again, using my proposed method.
` Now, first, I could briefly set up my argument, like so:

` EdgeWalker once said that he's only met two types of people who eat meat:
` One type never really thinks about what it's like to be livestock, and the other practices some level of apathy.

` First of all, is there any scientific basis that shows us it's like anything at all to be a pig or a cow? In other words, are they even conscious?

` It is true that human beings have a number of neurological systems that allow them to be aware of their surroundings, thoughts and feelings. It is also true that cows, dogs and pigs have essentially the same systems.
` When a dog, for example, shows the same outward behavior and other signs of being depressed, its brain also shows the same kinds of problems that humans have in that situation.

` How do you help the dog? The same way that you help a human! Giving dogs special attention and therapy is always a good idea, and the way their brains work is close enough to ours that Prozac or another antidepressant can have the same kind of desired effect as it can with us!
` The same is true of other animals, of course: Sadly, this is because drugs for human mental illnesses are usually discovered by testing them first on other species (and why do you think that works so well?).

` What this means for our Laboradors and Beagles, however, is still foggy. But the mere idea that dogs actually
suffer from depression is not at all out of the question, according to much brain-scanning and measuring of brain chemistry.
` The same kind of thing goes for livestock, and
given any choice in the matter, they will take steps to avoid situations that cause them what in humans is perceived as 'fear', 'anxiety' 'boredom' and 'pain'.

` It certainly does seem that some animals, because they are capable of solving problems, visualizing what they are planning to do, etc., are really aware of their thoughts and senses, and therefore aware of their feelings, too.
` Therefore, many species (especially mammals), can probably feel pleasure as well as suffer. The only reason we cannot be sure is because we are
not them, we are only very similar.

` After all, it is not an anthropomorphization to say 'some animals are aware of things, too!' (of course, we are animals!). Just because we're conscious doesn't mean that saying the same of other species involves projecting ourselves on them!
` Indeed, what science is telling us is that 'being conscious' and 'having feelings' might be normal for other species, including those we evolved from! So, if monkeys were somehow found to be conscious, this would explain why we are - it's just something that's expected among primates!

` After all that, I could go directly into the meat of the issue (no pun intended):

` That aside, there's not much public controversy over this 'animals being aware of things' business. (Scientifically, however, it is hard to say, but it seems reasonable to give them the benefit of the doubt.)
` Again, one of Phil's co-workers at Boeing once illustrated the typical rationale for anti-vegetarianism when he said; "Animals are stupid - that's why I eat them!"
` Another meat-eating employee interjected with; "So, you would eat a person who was brain-damaged, just because they're stupid?"
` The first said; "Of course not!"
` So he asked; "Why?"
` The answer? "Because they're human!"
` In other words, the answer is actually not 'because they're stupid', but 'because they're not my own species'. And yet the rationale 'because they're stupid' continues to be used - self-deceptively - because of some stupid stereotype about all other species being stupider than all humans - even when they know it isn't true! That's called doublethink, and it serves as yet another illusion that creates a perceptual rift between humans and the rest of the animal species.

` Can you actually tell me I'm wrong about this?

` Accepted by our society as it is, discriminating against creatures perceived to have thoughts and feelings just because they're not a member of your own species is upsetting to me. Why?
` Let's put this another way; someone like Larkin the Nazi might say; "It's okay for me to hurt other people, just because they're not Aryan like me."
` That's right. They're very similar examples of bigotry.
` Other rationale for this bigotry are: "Animals are made for us to use. So we should." Why? "Because it's a sin not to," or, "Because an organization that keeps its livelihood by keeping the meat indusrty going told me to," or, more recently, "Because I'm a free citizen and exploiting animals as I choose is one of those freedoms."
` Yes, and the exact same thing can be said of early American citizens vs. slaves. This is why many people say that treating mammals and birds like robots that exist specifically to serve free citizens is basically the same as treating other people in that way.
` Therefore, it is no wonder that so many people advocate 'animal rights'; if they were citizens, they couldn't be treated like slaves.

` I suppose this may seem to some people like a radical idea, but much of that may be because they are simply not used to it. The same thing is true historically of people's attitudes about human slaves, back when the whole economy depended on them!
` The only people who could envision a world that didn't revolve around using slaves were the type of people who put an end to it. (But don't think that I am about to join an animal rights organization - I'm envisually-impaired.)
` Really, it's not that I'm trying to push my beliefs on others so much as I am trying to get my reasons across to other people. I know that some people do understand all this, yet continue with their cow-eating ways.
` Well I guess if they understand it, then they are at least making an educated choice. Generally, I will only argue if someone doesn't understand my point; that is what's most important to me.

` On the other hand, you have five more fingers.

` Let me try that again; on the other hand, you have meat-eaters who try to ignore the fact that 'a dead animal' is 'a dead animal' (an easy thing to do if you don't have to slaughter them yourself).
` Yet other meat-eaters have just never thought about what they're doing at all.

` Now, one especially pointless argument I've heard is; "Meat tastes good, so who cares?" from some people, including the Swill Man
, who sometimes teases me by eating meat and telling me how good it tastes.
` I take it all in good humor, though.
` However, the Swill Man's directed me to one of (what is known as) the 'Best' pages 'in the Universe' of some obnoxious guy named Maddox, who I gather likes to write nasty criticisms of other people, whether they deserve it or not.
` The page in question is; "For every animal you don't eat, I'm going to eat three."
` I read it, and even though none of it has anything to do with vegetarianism, I think I'll include this in my post since one of my major readers was the one who said that this Maddox guy had some good arguments.

` Before I get started - and stop going 'awww!' - if you think my idealism is only about needlessly eating animals, you are mistaken. As an example, it doesn't even bother me so much when people pointlessly eat other species which they agree have the ability to suffer! I mean, simply being killed and eaten is only the least of their problems: The fact that most of these animals are made to live their entire lives in conditions that are very similar to Nazi concentration camps is actually something I have a bigger problem with!
` My previous 'anti-cruelty' article, Clockwork Chicken, is a fairly abbreviated example of the life cycle of female egg-factory chickens: Hatching in a machine, having a beak amputation by a machine, made to live as components of a machine, and eventually being ripped apart by a machine. (The male hatchlings are either ground up alive - also by a machine - or suffocate to death in a dumpster out back.)
` This is because animals that are born and raised in factories are literally treated like expendable machine parts (and by-products!) instead of having their basic needs met. This is why I get my eggs from chickens that are tucked in every night by their owners.

` I could go on, but first let's find out what Maddox has a problem with. Let's see... snootiness?

'As if when someone stops eating meat, they suddenly become holy and dignified and it excuses them for the years of inconvenience and frustration they inevitably inflict upon their friends, family and co-workers who just want to go to a restaurant and order a damn steak without constantly being reminded that they're going to hell for eating an animal that spends most of its life shitting in a field.'

` Okay... so this is basically an attack on really bitchy people? Not vegetarianism at all! And it doesn't even have anything to do with me!: If I go into a restaurant with someone who orders meat, I don't even say anything! Why would I? That would be so dumb!
` Besides, if their hunk of cattle muscle tissue actually came from the body of a creature that did spend 'most of its life 'shitting in a field', then I might actually congratulate them for choosing it. Really, I would, because at least it didn't come from a steer that was raised like a veal calf and kept alive in the same stifling conditions even longer!

` However, I still don't think that it is fair to kill and eat decently-treated animals, either. I mean, are you nice to your pet? Would it be 'fair' to kill it just so someone could eat it? To raise an animal the way it needs to be raised all the while plotting its demise just doesn't quite add up to me.
` Anyway, Maddox goes on to say:

'"I can't eat meat." The four worst words to hear when you're going to a restuarant with someone. I literally cringe every time I hear those words because I know it means that we have to drive around the city for 2 hours looking for some restuarant that serves "friendly" burgers, which ironically look and taste exactly like hamburgers--which vegetarians object to eating because it's either A) gross or B) murder.'

` Notice that he's not talking about whether or not vegetarianism makes sense. He's just complaining about someone he's evidently had trouble with. It also doesn't even apply to me, because why the hell would I go out of my way just to find veggie burgers?
` Also, what city does he
live in? Honestly, restaurants that don't serve vegetarian meals are getting hard to come by these days.
` Maddox continues:

'If it's so gross, then why go out of your way to eat something exactly like it, asshole? It's funny how vegetarians suddenly stop bitching about murder as soon as you point out their fancy leather belt or shoes, or that they drive a car and use electricity which contributes to polluting the earth and contaminating everything including the precious animals that they refuse to eat.'

` Okay... so what does that have to do with my idea of not eating animals? Maddox is saying that some people who are vegetarians can be hypocritical. So? Not all of them are, anyway: There's a little thing called 'vegetarian shoes' that allow people to not need to wear leather, even on their feet! (Actually, I think the leather industry depends more on animals being slaughtered for their meat, anyway: Why raise animals just to skin them, and then throw everything else away?)
` I also don't see what pollution has to do with being cruel to domestic livestock whose habitat is not threatened. He also fails to realize that pollution hurts me too! (Of course, I'm also a domestic animal, aren't I?)
` I do what I can, anyway - my sources of electricity are relatively clean, I recycle practically everything, and I don't drive anywhere I can just walk to. (My car barely gets enough use to keep running!)
` Still, this point has nothing to do with whether or not vegetarianism makes sense, although I guess it does have something to do with whether or not many vegetarians make sense.
` That's different. Anyway, he says;

'Well I'm tired of it. So what I've decided to do is sponsor a vegetarian! It's easy and spiteful, and we all know how much fun spiting people is! I'll explain...'

` Evidently, that's what Maddox is all about - spiting people! Therefore, I don't actually care what he thinks.

'What does it mean to sponsor a vegetarian? It means that you have to find someone in your life who's a really big pain in everyone's ass every time you want to go out to eat, and then you commit yourself to eating THREE times the amount of meat you'd normally consume to make up for all the meat that your vegetarian buddy isn't eating. It's that simple! That way, you can reverse the guilt trip that they've been laying on us for years by not only neutralizing their cause, but making it actually worse by eating more animals than would have ever been eaten had they not chosen to become vegetarians!

....89,475 vegetarians have been sponsored by people who don't give a shit about them or their stupid crusade.

` You see, this guy's ranting has nothing to do with the question of 'should we eat animals or not?' All it has to do with is how much some vegetarians piss him off. That is his problem, and I don't see what it has to do with me, anyway! Or a lot of people!

` So, yes, I'm still waiting to hear a good anti-vegetarianism argument from anyone. And just so you know, this is an example of how people normally make arguments against animals being treated better, etc.:
` "The animals are living in our society - they didn't have a hand in building it! Therefore, why should we give them protection under our laws? Laws are human constructs - dumb animals cannot make them, so why should they have them?"
` My inevitable rebuttal;
` "If we bring other species into our society and make them live with us, how can you justify imposing our abuses on them, but then completely turn around and deny them our protection from us hurting them? That just gives humans all the advantage, since the other species have no way to defend themselves against us!
` "It is only when you allow them to have protection from cruelty (and perhaps someday, from being compulsorily killed), that they can be treated more equally to us. That's why I say it's fair.
` "Who cares if they're not intelligent enough to make laws? Brain-damaged individuals get protection from use and abuse - don't they? - even though they do not make laws!"

` That is the kind of argument I'm talking about, but might I point out; they tend to be about as inane as that Maddox guy's bitter ranting.
` Anyway, if at any point in time someone comes across this post and wants to make an argument that's relevant, let me know!


Anonymous said...

I can think of one thing, but I am afraid you will drown me in text.

S E E Quine said...

` In case you haven't noticed, my responses to each individual argument are reasonably short. I just have too many of them.
` Which begs the question: Why did I even bother putting up arguments I know are not relevant to vegetarianism? I forget...
` ...Maybe it was because some people don't differentiate between them. Ah, yes, that was probably it.