- McSpotlight -

That's a complete cop-out

Posted by: Mike on August 25, 1998 at 18:35:46:

In Reply to: Defending against moral judgement posted by Stuart Gort on August 24, 1998 at 00:03:21:

: I'll concede every item related to the excesses of the meat industry if you withhold any moral judgement of my diet. Sound fair?

C'mon Stuart. We all make moral judgements every single day. Every time you deem something to be right or wrong, you're making a moral judgement. What would you prefer, amorality? As for your deal, I won't take it. Are you telling me that you will acknowledge the "excesses" of the meat industry (as you put it -- that's like Clinton denouncing the "excesses" of the Chinese gov't in Tianneman Square) only if I withhold judgment of meat-eating? Do all your personal beliefs come from the same quid pro quo process?

:It should to any reasonable person.

Debating 101, Stuart?

Eating meat requires the death of an animal at the hands of a man. If you only argue for a more humane way to do that then we can live together without too much animosity. If you continue to regard me as immoral for my dietary choices, as you do with statements like "If you want a better world, act like it" and your subtle use of the wife beater analogy then understand that your sermon falls on deaf ears.

Stuart, have I yet called you a bad man for eating meat? No; I've called eating meat bad. You seem fixated on this notion that I'm judging YOU, and not just your diet. It's a whole other discussion, what makes a person good or bad, and I'm not sure I want to engage in such a profound metaphysical debate over the cold impersonal medium of the Internet. For a glimpse of it, though, we can ask if the commitment of a sin (for want of a better word) makes a person bad.
Mr. X steals a watch from the store; in all other respects, he is a model citizen -- helpful, friendly, generous. Does this one sin - stealing - make him a "bad" person? How much sin is needed before one is bad? Big, metaphysical question, which I don't think we need to resolve for the purposes of this debate. Suffice it to say that when I condemn meat-eating as wrong, it is the practice of eating meat, and not the practitioner, which I consider immoral.

: With regard to your emotional reaction and therefore repulsion to
: the meat industry; I am not so concerned with animals as you are.

That's obvious, though why I do not know. I am genuinely puzzled by your limited concern.

: Ponder this; A meat worker spends his whole day in this environment.
You or any other vegan type would not be able to do this. It is a good bet that the vast majority of meat workers eat meat and that the
environment they work in does not kill their appetites for it.

I'm not sure you're right about that. Maybe some meat workers finally stop eating meat in horror of it all. I do know that one of my favorite authors, Isaac Bashevis Singer, was a meat-eater when he moved to Chicago from Europe. He tells a biographical story of how his apartment overlooked the (in)famous Chicago stockyards. For weeks he watched the workings of the slaughterhouse, until it grew so revolting to him that he stopped eating meat altogether. If that could happen to a casual onlooker, then certainly it could happen to a participant. Conversely, as with prison guard work, warfare, or any other violent activity, daily exposure to brutality coarsens one, numbs one, and makes one brutal -- which is why factory farm animals are often beaten and brutalized by factory farm workers.

:Your position is founded in emotions which emmerge when contemplating the horror of death.

No, that is not so. Read on.

: I'm also pretty sure that your principly opposed to meat regardless of whether or not the animal is killed in a humane fashion. Let me know if I'm wrong on this.

First, let me say that in addition to my ethical reasons for vegetarianism, I also have health and environmental reasons, but let's leave those aside for the time being. As I have said to others on this board, if animals were raised and killed in traditional farm settings -- i.e., they lived relatively free and painless lives until the very end, when the farmer would take them aside and suddenly shoot them or chop their heads off - I'd be far less concerned than I am now. My concern comes from the suffering that animals in modern factory farms endure their entire lives. They are treated not as living beings, but as commodities, and I think that all of us, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike, can join in saying that if animals must be used for food, they should be raised and killed as humanely as possible. The current system of factory farming is an abomination.

Convincing me and everyone else of what is proper and right to eat then is not going to make the world a better place because death will still be at hand as something for you to deal with because your death is at hand.

Stuart, death is indeed at hand for us all. But I ask you -- would you prefer to live your life as freely and painlessly as possible and to die in your sleep, or would you prefer to be locked in a dungeon, tortured, and then killed brutally? As moral and, allegedly, compassionate beings, we ought to apply the golden rule to animals as well. Having said that, we rarely apply the golden rule to people, so maybe there is no hope -- but I'm not ready to give up just yet.

:Deal with the big stuff before you go off on the small things.

To me, ending manmade cruelty to animals is a very big thing. I believe the world would be better off for all of us, not just animals, but people to, if we were all vegetarian. And even if it weren't, I'd still consider saving animals from human oppression to be a very big and important and worthwhile cause. I care about animals.

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