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PETA
December 17, 2003 12:33 PM   Subscribe

PETA plans to hand "Your Mommy Kills Animals" flyers to kids at Nutcracker performances. The fliers urge kids to "ask your mommy how many dead animals she killed to make her fur clothes" and include a color drawing of a woman plunging a large bloody knife into the belly of a rabbit.
posted by Irontom (142 comments total)

 
Another highlight: "And the sooner she stops wearing fur, the sooner the animals will be safe. Until then, keep your doggie or kitty friends away from mommy - she's an animal killer.''
posted by Irontom at 12:36 PM on December 17, 2003


"And the sooner she stops wearing fur, the sooner the animals will be safe. Until then, keep your doggie or kitty friends away from mommy - she's an animal killer.''

Wow, that's really fucked-up. Way to go, PETA!

Asshats.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:37 PM on December 17, 2003


i'm not sure if it's justifiable, just so they can put out their message.

but i still think they should do it, just because it's funny.
posted by lotsofno at 12:38 PM on December 17, 2003


On second thought, "...ask your mommy how many dead animals she killed to make her fur clothes" is hilarious.

Dead animal killer, and proud of it.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:39 PM on December 17, 2003


PETA is the one organization which truly understands and embraces the concept that "there is no such thing as bad publicity."

But really, are there very many people who even wear real fur anymore?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:39 PM on December 17, 2003


Here's the flyer from the PETA site. This is completely fucked up. They're insane.
posted by alms at 12:40 PM on December 17, 2003


Nothing the PETA people do surprises me anymore. They are an object lesson in how not to work for a cause, alienating and antagonizing far more often than they convince anyone of anything.
posted by orange swan at 12:45 PM on December 17, 2003


Self-defeating zealous fanaticism at its finest. Look, we all know PETA loves shock tactics as much as your average performance artist: nudity and blood and all that.

But don't bring little kids into your performances, you fuckwits.
posted by kozad at 12:45 PM on December 17, 2003


But, you know what? Minks really are not very nice animals. AND I LOOK SO GOOD IN THIS COAT!

[/Phoebe]
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:46 PM on December 17, 2003


That's it! I am now certain, beyond any doubt, that PETA is run by a bunch of agent provocateurs from the beef industry to make vegetarianism look stupid. This is simply beyond the pale.

But, yeah, I guess it is kinda funny, now that you mention it.
posted by Fenriss at 12:46 PM on December 17, 2003


PETA has learned that the more outrageous they are, the more ink they get. This FPP is a case in point. Remember they're billboard of a recently diagnosed prostate cancer patient, Rudy Giuliani, with the caption "Got Cancer?" The implication being that dairy products cause prostate cancer. PETA is a singularly contemptible group of zealots, and the less attention paid to them, the better. Pretty much like the KKK.
posted by pejamo at 12:46 PM on December 17, 2003


PETA deserves an award for driving those that would support them away from their cause due to how crudely and unsubtle they make their points these days.
posted by mathowie at 12:47 PM on December 17, 2003


You know, I'm not a "think of the children" type of guy - check my posting history. But we're talking about targeting little kids. Not teens or tweens, but little kids. And marring what is intended to be a treasured holiday moment/memory.

I'm not sure exactly how that translates to "funny".
posted by Irontom at 12:51 PM on December 17, 2003


The thing you have to realize about PETA is that they are not a political lobbying organization, they are a performance art troupe. Once you keep that in mind, their stunts are a lot more entertaining.
posted by deanc at 12:51 PM on December 17, 2003


PETA deserves an award for driving those that would support them away from their cause due to how crudely and unsubtle they make their points these days.

No doubt. I supported PETA in the early 90s; now I funnel my support to organizations that DO things - the Humane Society, ASPCA, et al.
posted by tr33hggr at 12:55 PM on December 17, 2003


I LOVE IT!

Someone get jfuller in here, quick!
posted by Ptrin at 12:56 PM on December 17, 2003


Hey mr_crash_davis, weren't you just joshing about the "time for a SUV bashing thread" earlier? Funny to see you fall for this timed delivery . . .
posted by hackly_fracture at 12:56 PM on December 17, 2003


OH MY!
posted by PigAlien at 12:57 PM on December 17, 2003


I'm also more concerned about the kids finding out their daddy kills kittens.

/fark
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:01 PM on December 17, 2003


*wiggles toes in leather boots*

It's difficult to ignore them when they're standing as close to the doors as they're allowed and directly approach people to shove printed material in their hands. If we're trying to protect our kids from violent images than they're definitely not helping with their bunny death stuff. I'm sometimes surprised they don't have people picketing outside the local butcher shops.

*reaches for leather coat*
posted by onhazier at 1:02 PM on December 17, 2003


Much like truth.com makes me want to smoke, PETA makes me want to find some neighborhood cats and make a stole.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:05 PM on December 17, 2003


Just for this disgraceful conduct, I'm eating more steak this month. PETA has jumped the shark.
posted by ed at 1:06 PM on December 17, 2003


( that would be "thetruth.com," not the hardware site )
posted by eyeballkid at 1:08 PM on December 17, 2003


Can we collect a bunch of animals and throw them at the PETA folks?

Like - get a bunch of Mink and release them in their homes? Or at least in their office? Like, several thousand mink?

Wouldn't that be good performance art, too?

My cause is holier than thou's cause.
posted by swerdloff at 1:09 PM on December 17, 2003


I think they could make it even more graphic by acquiring stuffed foxes, minks -whatever- painting them with fake blood, and waving them at the fur-mommies :

"THIS is where your mommy's COAT comes from!"

Maybe the PETA people should dress up themselves as gigantic, bleeding foxes and minks and then writhe around in death throes :

"AAARRRGHHHH...Your MOMMY killed me. Arghhhhh. She wearing my COAT!!......"

Then again, I still like the spray paint trick.
posted by troutfishing at 1:10 PM on December 17, 2003


troutfishing: Perhaps a cue from "Salad Days" is in order.
posted by ed at 1:12 PM on December 17, 2003


swerdloff - only if the mink are really, really hungry.
posted by troutfishing at 1:14 PM on December 17, 2003


If you follow ed's link, beware of the tremendously NSFW banner ad at the bottom. Crikey.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:14 PM on December 17, 2003


That's it. I'm starting a FUPETA.com site to publish photos of people flipping the bird at PETA flyer-distributors. From behind. While no one's looking.
posted by brownpau at 1:15 PM on December 17, 2003


But really, are there very many people who even wear real fur anymore?

Sure there are. Here's a local story I read a few weeks ago about animal-rights activists failing to make much of an impact anymore.

"Fur is back. Free of the politically incorrect stigma of the '90s when supermodels declared they'd rather go naked than wear it, animal pelts this year adorn everything from hats and boots to gloves, handbags and blouses. And that's not counting the coats. Major designers embraced the furry spectrum this fall, especially for trim and accessories. Fluffy flourishes, such as trim, are allowing the fur industry to target a younger, less affluent market than the usual ladies-in-mink. ... Animal rights arguments, in fact, don't appear to be hurting sales anywhere. A Fur Information Council survey shows that fur salons nationwide did about $1.7 billion in sales during the September 2002 to May 2003 selling season, a 13.2 percent increase over the previous year."
posted by Dean King at 1:18 PM on December 17, 2003


That is so incredibly vile on so many levels. In my opinion that is rank child abuse.

And inaccurate too. I don't know anyone whose fur was a do-it-yourself job.

(wonder how long it will take before an irate mom skins a PETA worker. That's one pelt I'd be tempted to wear with pride.)
posted by konolia at 1:18 PM on December 17, 2003


As usual, PETA care more about animals then they do about people. I suspect they're about to find out just how protective parents can be toward their children, when one of these mothers clocks one of them.

Oh, and PETAtypes ... I enjoyed foie gras twice on my birthday weekend last month, and one of those meals included a fantastic veal tenderloin (herb-crusted, served with a Maytag blue cheese bread pudding, applewood-smoked bacon, sunflower sprouts and a Madeira veal jus). I dressed up, too -- wore the beautiful Italian leather belt my sister gave me, and some nice leather shoes too.

Food chain's a bitch, innit?
posted by chuq at 1:26 PM on December 17, 2003


Much like truth.com makes me want to smoke, PETA makes me want to find some neighborhood cats and make a stole.


HAHAHAHAHAHA
posted by a3matrix at 1:33 PM on December 17, 2003


And inaccurate too. I don't know anyone whose fur was a do-it-yourself job.

Yeah, because if someone else does the dirty work, it's okay.

I agree with the sentiment about targeting kids though. I don't care if it's "ask your mommy why she won't quit smoking" or "ask your mommy why she wears fur". Children aren't capable of making a conscious moral decision about these issues.

I did think the PETA "Santa Won't Be Coming For Christmas This Year" billboard was pretty funny though. Crass, but funny.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:36 PM on December 17, 2003


Ooh, they should just instead kick the ever-loving shit out of the kid while standing overtop their contorted and twisted bodies screaming YOUR MOMMY KILLS YOUR MOMMY KILLS.

That'll show 'em.
posted by xmutex at 1:36 PM on December 17, 2003


All I've got to say is that this is so over the top and so ripe for parody that someone needs to Photoshop the hell out of it.
posted by pyramid termite at 1:37 PM on December 17, 2003


While I'm pretty much on the killing fuzzy things for food and fun side of things, I've got to say that that's just about the best cover, ever.

I, for one, am all for traumatizing the small children with lurid graphics, whether their mommies are bunny-killers or not.
posted by majcher at 1:39 PM on December 17, 2003


Do-it-yourself fur. Which I actually see as less obnoxious than letting someone else do the dirty work.
posted by SealWyf at 1:39 PM on December 17, 2003


Food chain's a bitch, innit?

Jesus. Comments like that make me want to puke.

Yep, it sure is. Racism is a bitch, isn't it? Poverty is a bitch, isn't it? Rape is a bitch, isn't it?

It's easy to accept popular opinions as the only truth. Less scary that way, eh?
posted by tr33hggr at 1:48 PM on December 17, 2003


Given marketing messages are being considered on the space where airplane trays come down, over urinals, SPAM, SMS messages on your cellphone, and even on the previously blank inner walls of stores, the PETA thing is just more 'violation' of "your space" to market a message.

They are just making sure their markting message gets out. And, this *IS* the season to target kids to get Mom and Dad to take action (aka Buy Me that Toy for Jebus's Birthday)
posted by rough ashlar at 1:50 PM on December 17, 2003


(wonder how long it will take before an irate mom skins a PETA worker. That's one pelt I'd be tempted to wear with pride.)

Wow, konolia, how Christian of you.
posted by Dean King at 1:52 PM on December 17, 2003


Oh look, another Madonna PETA thread. Funny how those who claim to hate them are the ones doing exactly what they want - giving them any and all possible publicity for their latest desperate, ridiculous shenanigans. Rage on!
posted by soyjoy at 1:52 PM on December 17, 2003


Apparently Jack Chick is making some extra cash doing consulting.
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 1:54 PM on December 17, 2003


Ufez Jones, what I meant was I haven't seen any women stabbing rabbits in their own kitchen.

Look, I myself probably wouldn't wear fur. (Republican cloth coats are fine by me.) I like to eat meat, but if people wish to be vegan, I think that is fine. But targeting small children like that is horrid. Besides, how many six-year-olds do you know that buy fur?

I had to think about that billboard a minute. I can just imagine parents explaining THAT one. Heh. (Not that I approve, but it ain't bloody bunnies.)
posted by konolia at 2:06 PM on December 17, 2003


konolia - what's a "Republican cloth coat"? Can I get my wife a "Democrat cloth coat" - would it be a different color or cut?

Also - I was thinking of writing PETA a letter to ask them - If my wife's 15 year old and incontinent shepherd/doberman cross dog finally dies, can we have her skinned and turned into a coat?

I hate to waste a good pelt.
posted by troutfishing at 2:13 PM on December 17, 2003


Dean King, that is why I said TEMPTED. But I still think some ballet mom is gonna get charged with assault before this is thru.

(actually a more likely scenario is that the auditorium managers would call the police, as passing out literature on private property can be construed as trespassing.)
posted by konolia at 2:15 PM on December 17, 2003


troutfishing, that is a quote from Pat Nixon. I guess you have to be of a certain age to "get" the reference.
posted by konolia at 2:17 PM on December 17, 2003


troutfishing, you'll have to ask Richard Nixon about the Republican Cloth Coat. Pat wore one, you see.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:17 PM on December 17, 2003


RMN as .ram.
posted by jfuller at 2:23 PM on December 17, 2003


I'll take the coat made from his little dog, Checkers, myself.
posted by crunchburger at 2:23 PM on December 17, 2003


Thanks to the wonders of genetic engineering, one day you'll be able to wear a fur coat grown from your own cells. Or if you're not particularly hirsute, at least a leather one.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:28 PM on December 17, 2003


Comments like that make me want to puke. ... Racism is a bitch, isn't it? Poverty is a bitch, isn't it? Rape is a bitch, isn't it?

Racism, poverty, and rape are things that happen to people, not animals. Getting made into a fur coat is something that happens to animals, not people. Attempting to conflate the two is an error.
posted by kindall at 2:28 PM on December 17, 2003


Wait a minute...what the hell does any of this have to do with Nixon? You folks are killing me. And I pledge my dermal coat to the first coatless MeFite who wants it, should I die before Xmas. "Your MeFi Kills Mammals!"
posted by ed at 2:37 PM on December 17, 2003


kindall: Personally, I took tr33hggr's post as a general comment on the "that's the way things are, so tough shit" attitude evinced by chuq. You don't necessarily have to conflate racism, poverty, and rape with the use of animal skins, in order to point out that the same attitude is allowing the perpetuation of all four.
posted by vorfeed at 2:37 PM on December 17, 2003


targeting small children like that is horrid

*cough* sunday school *cough*
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:37 PM on December 17, 2003


I think of PETA as "fundamentalists" in the animal-rights movements, with all of the misguided, close-minded, zealous connotations associated with that word.

PETA used to have a somewhat useful purpose - now, they're a sideshow, fit only for such displays as to demonstrate how far the pendulum can indeed swing.

On the one hand, I'm happy that kids do indeed find out how animal products get to their doorstep. I'm happy when anyone can make an informed decision. IMHO, we've become too detached from the process of acquiring animal protein (hunting, slaughtering, butchering, etc.) A little information would do folks (and, probably, the animals) more good.

On the other hand, PETA's virulent and repugnant approach to disseminating such information as of late is meant not to inform, but to terrify - propaganda is not information. PETA has gone from "the ethical treatment of animals" to "the high-minded moralistic judgement over anyone who would dare to use an animal-based product." As with any other fundamentalist organization, if you're not saved, you're damned, and they believe any method possible is acceptable when attempting to convert.

Morons.
posted by FormlessOne at 2:39 PM on December 17, 2003


BTW, that picture traumatized ME-and I'm a grownup.

But I can imagine seventh-grade boys enjoying it.
posted by konolia at 2:43 PM on December 17, 2003



posted by Blue Stone at 2:44 PM on December 17, 2003


1. Comments like that make me want to puke. ... Racism is a bitch, isn't it? Poverty is a bitch, isn't it? Rape is a bitch, isn't it?

Too bad the food-chain is a natural part of the ecosystem. Rape & racism are created by humans.... poverty is a natural side effect of civilization. Crawl out of your happy happy dream world of butterflies and magic clouds. People like you send other folks flying towards the other side of the spectrum. I'm going to make a "Pave Alaska!" t-shirt. You know what is a bitch... terrorizing poor children who are growing up in a world so fu*ked up already that by the time they are 13 we are feeding them Prozac.

2. Plants have feelings too.

3. Does PETA ever consider the environmental impact their decades long stop fur campaign has had. Where do you think a lot of these fluffy animals come from. Granted we are not living in the golden age of animal trappers but come on. Some of these little animals come from places other than farms. Those places are generally protected from deforestation, etc... because the people who want to make fur coats need trees so our fluffy friends can jump, play and be caught by people who want to wear them.
posted by jasenlee at 2:45 PM on December 17, 2003


See kids? Isn't it wonderful when all the mefi's can unite behind a single cause without arguing and bickering?

Wow.
What a wonderful world.
posted by Espoo2 at 2:51 PM on December 17, 2003


There's another side to this issue. I'm a meat-eater, but I think it is morally dangerous to conceal the process of meat production as much as it is done in our society. This goes so far that there are meat products that are modeled after cute animals -- appealing to children's affection toward animals, while not telling them that they are made of animals. Of course that affection toward animals is promoted through Hollywood movies with anthropomorphic animals.

So on one hand we promote the image that all animals are like us -- they have the same feelings, motivations, intellect etc. -- in films like the Lion King or Bambi. Perhaps as a result of that, we do everything we can to avoid thinking too much about how the meat on our plates (or the fur of our coats) is created.

I think we need to come to two basic realizations:

1) All animals are not the same. A chicken will kill its own young if they don't make the right sound or fight invisible enemies if it gets the right trigger. Lower animals have very simple brains with very basic behavioral programs. Only higher animals like humans, dolphins, whales and chimpanzees are capable of compassion, forethought and reflection.

2) Most animals are capable of suffering. Pain is one of the most fundamental mechanisms of behavior, and some degree of conscious experience thereof is useful for reaction in emergencies.

From this I conclude that we need different levels of protection. On all levels we should minimize suffering. Animals are raised and bred to become meat. That's perfectly OK, they would not exist without us. But there's no need to make them suffer in the process, and in fact it is dangerous to our own health, as the conditions that cause such suffering are frequently the same that lead to disease and poisoning. The highest animals should have at the very least a basic right to life as humans do. All animals should be protected from extinction.

If we do this, we don't need to be afraid to show our children the truth, as we can tell them in good conscience that we do everything we can to minimize suffering. Still, if at all practical, we should give them a choice as to whether they want to use animal products or not.

This is of course a position that is neither loved by animal rights advocates (for their motivation is almost purely emotional) nor by the meat industry (for they are purely profit oriented). Still, maybe there is some hope that as the two extremes battle one another, a reasonable middle ground will emerge.
posted by Eloquence at 3:01 PM on December 17, 2003


Too bad the food-chain is a natural part of the ecosystem.

And what in the name of sweet Fanny Adams does the food chain have to do with wearing fur or leather?

(I disagree with PETA about just ... well ... everything, but the food chain argument is weak, specious and needs to die a quick death. And this comes from a guy who had gloves of rabbit fur, which I made, from rabbits I've killed, by stringing them up by their hindfeet, hitting them sharply in the back of the head with a two and a half pound file, slit their throats, and then skinned 'em. I ate 'em too. Yum.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:12 PM on December 17, 2003


PETA has GOT to be kidding if they are actually going to do this. They will get so badly ripped in the media that they'll lose all their funding and will be reduced to using chalk to ruin people's mink coats.

What an unbelievably stupid bunch of people.

Where are the rights groups protesting the exploitation of the cotton plant?

My favorite part was that Wang Center officials couldn't be reached for comment, hehehe, they said Wang Center!
posted by fenriq at 3:15 PM on December 17, 2003


Racism, poverty, and rape are things that happen to people, not animals. Getting made into a fur coat is something that happens to animals, not people. Attempting to conflate the two is an error. An error of what sort? And thanks vorfeed, that is what I was getting at.

Too bad the food-chain is a natural part of the ecosystem. Bullshit. Prove it. And if so, we are nowhere near the top, with our soft bellies, simple stomach and useless teeth, if you want to talk biology.

Plants have feelings too.Do you have a source for this? Otherwise, bullshit again.
posted by tr33hggr at 3:20 PM on December 17, 2003


Too bad the food-chain is a natural part of the ecosystem. Rape & racism are created by humans.... poverty is a natural side effect of civilization.

Rape and racism and poverty are just as much a "natural part of the ecosystem" as the "food-chain" is. Everything that people do is "natural". Murder, war, genocide - they're all "natural". There's no guiding force that makes these bad things happen - they're a natural result of human society and culture. That's hardly a justification for their existence, though.

People are animals themselves, after all. The only thing that people alone seem to possess is the ability to reason, and derive morality from their reasoning. As a result of this difference, we can decide that something is wrong, and that we shouldn't do it.

Out of curiosity, what makes it ok to eat animals, but not to eat severely retarded people?

Crawl out of your happy happy dream world of butterflies and magic clouds.

While I'm not a fan of PETA's tactics, I think that many of them would say that you're the one in the "happy happy dream world" - they, instead, see a horrific place full of barbaric atrocities, just like fundamentalist Christians see abortion as genocide.

On all levels we should minimize suffering. Animals are raised and bred to become meat. That's perfectly OK, they would not exist without us. But there's no need to make them suffer in the process, and in fact it is dangerous to our own health, as the conditions that cause such suffering are frequently the same that lead to disease and poisoning.

Would it be ok to raise and breed severely retarded humans for food? Would it be better for them to exist in that case?

This is of course a position that is neither loved by animal rights advocates (for their motivation is almost purely emotional) ...

I don't think it's accurate to say their motivation is purely emotional, any more than it would be accurate to describe the anti-slavery movement, or the civil rights movement, or the anti-abortion movement as purely emotional. Belief in right and wrong is not just an emotional matter.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:21 PM on December 17, 2003


People are animals themselves, after all. The only thing that people alone seem to possess is the ability to reason, and derive morality from their reasoning. As a result of this difference, we can decide that something is wrong, and that we shouldn't do it.

You almost nailed it, but not quite. It's not our ability to reason; Chimps, gorillas, even dogs can do that to a degree. It's our ability to choose that lends moral creedance to any action we take. That's why the "food-chain" argument is really full of shit.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:27 PM on December 17, 2003


Plants have feelings too.Do you have a source for this? Otherwise, bullshit again.

Sensitive plants.

the food chain argument is weak, specious and needs to die a quick death.

When you kill it, can you kill it in a kosher manner, as I'd like to eat it.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:35 PM on December 17, 2003


but not to eat severely retarded people?

Simple health reasons. Human -> human pathogens.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:38 PM on December 17, 2003


Out of curiosity, what makes it ok to eat animals, but not to eat severely retarded people?

I have often wondered that myself. In my opinion, it's not a bad idea. Of course, people tend to look at me a bit funny and run away when I bring it up, but...
posted by bradth27 at 3:38 PM on December 17, 2003


Eloquence, you certainly have a fitting name. What you describe is the sort of ethics PETA's name *should* entail. Bravo!

If anyone ever gave a flyer like that to my kid, they'd have my foot broken off in their ass and be spitting out teeth.
posted by John Smallberries at 3:43 PM on December 17, 2003


They are just making sure their markting message gets out. And, this *IS* the season to target kids to get Mom and Dad to take action (aka Buy Me that Toy for Jebus's Birthday)

Yeah, but their message would appear to be that ethical vegitarians or people who care about animal rights are irrational clowns. I'm a vegitarian, but they make me want to eat a cheeseburger.

PETA is supposedly about advancing a set of ideas that they understand to be outside of mainstream thought to one degree or another, but within mainstream abstract ethical codes, right? Who gave them the idea that such ideas are best advanced through rabid evangelism?

I personally happen to think that there are parellels between out current treatment of animals and the way that society has treated (and does treat) certain groups of people. I don't, however, think that working as hard as I can to make myself look like a raving jackass is the best way to communicate that belief to others. Would the American civil rights movement had succeeded if it were conducted by people who ran up and shackled white people? Should we advance gay rights by ambushing straight men with kisses?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 4:27 PM on December 17, 2003


but not to eat severely retarded people?



I was thinking to myself, you know there's no way they are ever going to top these stunts in a movie again unless they start using terminally ill people as stunt men.
"Well, hear me out. I know to some of you this may seem a little cruel. (whiny voice) 'Ahh Bill, terminally ill stunt people? That's cruel." You know what I think cruel is, leaving your loved ones to die in some sterile hospital room surrounded by strangers. Fuck that, put 'em in the movie. Whaaaat? You want your grandmother to die like a little bird in some hospital room? Her skin so thin you can see her last heart beat work it's way down her blue veins . . .
"Or do you want her to meet Chuck Norris?
"Hey, how come you dressed my mother up like a mugger?"
"Shut up and get off the set. Action. Push her towards Chuck."
"sssssssSSSSSShhhhHHHHCRUNCH!" "Wow, he kicked her head right off her body? Did you see that, did you see my grammy?" She's out of her misery and you've seen the greatest film of all time. I'm still feeling some resistance to this, what's up? You and your fake sympathy. Okay, not one of my more popular theories. But just do me one thing. Don't ever say you like film as much as I do. I think we've found your limit."



Bill Hicks
posted by matteo at 4:28 PM on December 17, 2003


So on one hand we promote the image that all animals are like us -- they have the same feelings, motivations, intellect etc. -- in films like the Lion King or Bambi.

No, those are fiction. We have the word "anthropomorphism" because animals aren't really just furry people.
posted by kindall at 4:33 PM on December 17, 2003


Who even wears fur anymore?

Nobody, that's who.
posted by pemulis at 4:37 PM on December 17, 2003


Though I did happen to watch MTV's Room Raiders the other night (its terrible but is like crack, once you get a little you cannot stop) and of the six rooms I saw, no less than three had animal print motifs going on.

Leopard print in a girl's room = sexy.
Leopard print in a guy's room = cheesy fluff nugget.

Thanks MTV I feel stupider than ever before!
posted by fenriq at 4:46 PM on December 17, 2003


Too bad the food-chain is a natural part of the ecosystem.

Bullshit. Prove it. And if so, we are nowhere near the top, with our soft bellies, simple stomach and useless teeth, if you want to talk biology.

I don't need to prove it, the evidence is all around us. Those soft bellies, simple stomachs and (as you say) useless teeth might not be as superior as those of other species but the bottom line is this. I don't walk out of my house with a fear that I will be dinner for some wandering tiger (insert indigenous animal pertinent to your geographic location here) because humans more than any other species have propagated and dominated this place we call Earth, and ultimately we rule it. While that in itself could be argued to death from all sides as well, one simple fact remains. When it comes to the food chain, no other species is making dinner out of me, my friends or any other human for that matter as a regular part of their diet. Point proven.

But what you've ultimately done in your reply is seize upon one keyword from my post, which admittedly... is inaccurate. Perhaps instead of quoting an earlier poster and using his/her term (food chain) I should be pointing more towards animal behavior and the science of ethology pioneered by the likes of Darwin.

Humans, being the parasites we are (quick hit Wikipedia to discredit my exact usage of the word parasites) do things every day which are motivated by greater goals then just survival.

We need food to live... we could all eat celery but for many of us meat tastes better. The power of taste as a motivating factor.

We all need to be warm when exposed to the elements, we don't all need to wear fur (at least in these modern times). But here we see the power of vanity as our motivation.

Those things are just as powerful and inherent to our nature as the need to feed off of other organisms in order to survive. Should we feel guilty about all these little pleasures, maybe, should we try and change our devious ways... perhaps. I argue that these motivations are just as core to who we are as any other factors which have developed our species to the point we are at today.

You likening wearing a fur coat or the natural order of life to that of rape, racism and poverty only take us farther away from the beginning of this whole thing. The terrorizing of children by a organization whose time has come.

As I read back on my own comments I feel that at this point we've stepped so far away from the original argument it makes no sense for me to ramble on.
posted by jasenlee at 4:49 PM on December 17, 2003


No, those are fiction. We have the word "anthropomorphism" because animals aren't really just furry people.

And, the average viewer of The Lion King and Bambi is fully capable of pronouncing that word and understanding what it means, donchaknow.

Kids see Simba talk, and ask parents at the zoo why the lions there just sit and don't talk back.....

If we produce a false reality for our children of fluffy tigers and happy-wonderful raccoon-dogs that crush their enemies with enlarged testicles, why shouldn't we expect those who want to make political statements would seize that false reality and bend it to their own ends?

PETA is only taking advantage of our own disconnect between agribusiness and our children. Take your kid to see an animal slaughtered some day, and see how they react. Did you prepare them for it? Can they deal? Will they eat meat again?

My daughter does. Good kid.
posted by dwivian at 5:44 PM on December 17, 2003


kindall: Personally, I took tr33hggr's post as a general comment on the "that's the way things are, so tough shit" attitude evinced by chuq.

Some things are just the way it is. Nobody likes to admit it, but it's true. Conflating eating animals and poverty is ridiculous, I'd agree, but as Jim Dodge once wrote, "The biggest problem with the liberal mind is it's inablity to handle things too far gone to be cured with good intentions." The conservative mind has it's own problems but that's another story.
posted by jonmc at 5:51 PM on December 17, 2003


Kids see Simba talk, and ask parents at the zoo why the lions there just sit and don't talk back

Well, I sure don't remember ever being confused about that, although perhaps I did when I was very, very young. Kids do know that some things are make-believe, and if they don't know that a particular thing is just pretend, they readily accept their parents' word for it. Certainly no child who knows the truth about Santa Claus thinks that animals are furry people.
posted by kindall at 5:51 PM on December 17, 2003


Too bad the food-chain is a natural part of the ecosystem. Bullshit. Prove it. And if so, we are nowhere near the top, with our soft bellies, simple stomach and useless teeth, if you want to talk biology.

You forgot the superior intellect to create mechanical "teeth" and claws, which puts us back at the top.
posted by jonmc at 5:53 PM on December 17, 2003


I don't walk out of my house with a fear that I will be dinner for some wandering tiger

Yet.

humans more than any other species have propagated and dominated this place we call Earth, and ultimately we rule it.

That's funny, because you say that like it's a good thing. Maybe you're right, human animals have brought so much good into the world.

Goodnight.
posted by tr33hggr at 5:54 PM on December 17, 2003


Too bad the food-chain is a natural part of the ecosystem. Rape & racism are created by humans.... poverty is a natural side effect of civilization. Crawl out of your happy happy dream world of butterflies and magic clouds.

me & my monkey already said this very well, but just thought I'd reiterate: all of these things are natural - in fact, it is only thanks to our ability to see beyond nature, to make choices that aren't purely reactive and instinctual but require reason and reflective thought, that we have been able to begin overcoming these perfectly natural parts of human interaction. Whether or not eating & wearing animals ought to be overcome is a matter for debate, but suggesting that it's "natural" and hence without ethical connotations, is an extremely weak argument.

To those saying no one wears fur anymore, it's definitely made a big comeback in NYC - I see fur coats and fur-trimmed coats all the time - it's totally hip.

PETA's plan is completely ridiculous and stupid, of course.
posted by mdn at 5:57 PM on December 17, 2003


Conflating eating animals and poverty is ridiculous, I'd agree, but as Jim Dodge once wrote, "The biggest problem with the liberal mind is it's inablity to handle things too far gone to be cured with good intentions."

That's a sorry-ass excuse for not caring. But, whatever makes you feel better.
posted by tr33hggr at 5:57 PM on December 17, 2003


Conflating eating animals and poverty is ridiculous, I'd agree

Why? Both stem philosophically from a belief that something Other than us is inferior, weaker, subject to our whims.
posted by tr33hggr at 6:01 PM on December 17, 2003


tr33hggr, didn't you say goodnight like 3 posts ago?
posted by jasenlee at 6:10 PM on December 17, 2003


"Feeling better" has nothing to do with it. We live in an imperfect world. Certain shit (poverty, violence) is a byproduct of human nature and in some form or another is always gonna be with us. Should we work to minimize it? Sure. But let's not delude ourselves that we're going to change the fundamental nature of the universe through the sheer force of our wonderfullness. It's a savage, hostile world and anyone who denies that is asking to be let down.

in fact, it is only thanks to our ability to see beyond nature, to make choices that aren't purely reactive and instinctual but require reason and reflective thought, that we have been able to begin overcoming these perfectly natural parts of human interaction.

Or is that just denial? It's been my experience that we can intellectualize all we want, but ultimately humans are ruled by their stomachs, sex organs and to a lesser extent (and this is what really separates us from the other animals) our egos. Get comfortable in the jungle.


Why? Both stem philosophically from a belief that something Other than us is inferior, weaker, subject to our whims.


Not neccessarily. There's also forces of nature (drought, storms, etc), bad decisions, sheer dumb luck; all factors contributing to poverty. NTM, many of the man-made causes of poverty are controlled by an extremely small subset of the human race, so they are so far out of most peoples hands as to make them forces of nature.
posted by jonmc at 6:10 PM on December 17, 2003


I can't find a good link, but about 3 years ago some PETA folks were opposed to some pigs being sent to the slaughterhouse in Germany. They released the pigs (there were quite a few pigs) and were promptly trampled and killed buy the freed pigs.

That should have been a Darwin Award.
posted by whatever at 6:13 PM on December 17, 2003


Maybe you're right, human animals have brought so much good into the world.


well, Michelangelo and Dante and Bach and TS Eliot and a few other animals managed to kick a little ass, yes

I'm sticking with the humans for the time being


and go back to bed now, tr33hggr! it's late! and wipe that bark off your pj's!


posted by matteo at 6:37 PM on December 17, 2003


It's been my experience that we can intellectualize all we want, but ultimately humans are ruled by their stomachs, sex organs and to a lesser extent (and this is what really separates us from the other animals) our egos. Get comfortable in the jungle.

Oh, so rape is okay in a naturalistic kinda way. Thanks, Jon, I never woulda figured it quite that way.

(That's bullshit and you know it. We have the ability and obligation to choose what we do. Your fatalism simply absolves you from the guilt of making choices you may not be comfortable with. We don't live in the fricken jungle. We live in the hell of having to choose and justify our choices. Justification through fatalism will fail every time.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 7:05 PM on December 17, 2003


We live in the hell of having to choose and justify our choices. Justification through fatalism will fail every time.

Wulfgar, obviously rape is not okay. But do you honestly think that you have much control over most of your life? I still maintain that most of what we do is driven by our most basic desires: survival, sex, ego. And with everybody living that way, that's the fricken jungle we live in. Why do we go out and seek companionship? our sex drive. Why do go to work? put food in our bellies? Why do we create? ego, generally. We can deny all we want, but that's the meat of it when you peel the bullshit away.
posted by jonmc at 7:13 PM on December 17, 2003



Bungle in the Jungle - Jethro Tull

Walking through forests of palm tree apartments -
Scoff at the monkeys who live in their dark tents
Down by the waterhole - drunk every Friday -
Eating their nuts - saving their raisins for Sunday.
Lions and tigers who wait in the shadows -
They're fast but they're lazy, and sleep in green meadows.

Let's bungle in the jungle - well, that's all right by me.
I'm a tiger when I want love,
But I'm a snake if we disagree.

Just say a word and the boys will be right there:
With claws at your back to send a chill through the night air.
Is it so frightening to have me at your shoulder?
Thunder and lightning couldn't be bolder.
I'll write on your tombstone, ``I thank you for dinner. ''
This game that we animals play is a winner.

Let's bungle in the jungle - well, that's all right by me.
I'm a tiger when I want love,
But I'm a snake if we disagree.

The rivers are full of crocodile nasties
And He who made kittens put snakes in the grass.
He's a lover of life but a player of pawns -
Yes, the King on His sunset lies waiting for dawn
To light up His Jungle
As play is resumed.
The monkeys seem willing to strike up the tune.


Couldn't help myself... =P
posted by Stauf at 7:38 PM on December 17, 2003


But do you honestly think that you have much control over most of your life? I still maintain that most of what we do is driven by our most basic desires: survival, sex, ego. And with everybody living that way, that's the fricken jungle we live in. Why do we go out and seek companionship? our sex drive. Why do go to work? put food in our bellies? Why do we create? ego, generally. We can deny all we want, but that's the meat of it when you peel the bullshit away.

All of those things are part of our animal nature. What makes us different from other animals - what makes us human - is the ability to act otherwise based on our will, our reason, our morality.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:39 PM on December 17, 2003


WTF, Wulfgar? I think jonmc has a point here. We are driven by various animal instincts, yet we also have the ability (and yes, obligation) to choose our behavior. Furthermore, we are blessed with the ability to see how our behavior can affect others, and to empathize...so we set up moral codes to self-regulate our behavior, with consequences (whether internal, like guilt and shame, or external, like punishment) when those codes are broken.

Saying that humans are ruled by their various drives is so ludicrously far away from saying that rape is okay that I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that you had typed that. (And this is MeFi, and goodness knows I've seen a lot of extreme points in the blue.) You didn't twist jonmc's words...you just seized something from left-field or Mars or wherever, and ran with it.
posted by Vidiot at 7:44 PM on December 17, 2003


... many of the man-made causes of poverty are controlled by an extremely small subset of the human race, so they are so far out of most peoples hands as to make them forces of nature.

I suspect that the most serious causes of poverty are caused by the actions of an extremely large subset of the human race: fertility rates, resource consumption, and so on. Of course, the tragedy of the commons is simply that these are also so far out of most peoples' hands as to make them forces of nature - even if I change my own behavior, I can't change everyone else's.
posted by me & my monkey at 7:46 PM on December 17, 2003


You didn't twist jonmc's words...you just seized something from left-field or Mars or wherever, and ran with it.

That's not at all true and I think you know it (as does jonmc). What he claimed is that we (humans) are unduly controlled by our instincts and passions. I disagree. If we are to make the assumption that we are at all moral, than we must accept choice as our burden and obligation.

I didn't twist his words, I followed his argument. When you "peel the bullshit away" you are left with hunger and lust, according to what has been presented as our animal nature. Therefore, rape would indeed be a product of our will to procreate, our lust, our natural will to fuck.

But jon agrees that we have choice (as I believe that you do as well, Vidiot). Hence, rape is not okay, because it is counter productive (an argument no one here has yet to make, but I will assert, with which jonmc agrees). Given that, why should we accept that our will to eat meat is any less under our control than our will to rape? Choice. Its very simple logic. Our will to wear the skins of what we kill is just as much under our control as anything else we choose to do. Natural arguments do not suffice for this purpose.

Either way, I'm certainly not pulling this shit out of my ass as you contend, Vidiot.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:21 PM on December 17, 2003


What he claimed is that we (humans) are unduly controlled by our instincts and passions. I disagree.

Not "unduly" controlled, Wulfgar!, just no more and no less than the rest of the creatures roaming the planet. We just waste a lot of time denying them, which is as dangerous as letting them take over completely.

Hell, I've always liked you're stuff here, dude, I'm a little puzzled where the hostility is coming from.

I blame PETA. As usual, they're sowing discord among reasonable people to attract the lunatic fringe.
posted by jonmc at 8:29 PM on December 17, 2003


Hmph. Rape is most emphatically not okay...not because it's "counterproductive" (whatever you mean by that), but because it's wrong. Rape is the single most intrusive, one-sided way to exert power and dominance over another person (with the possible exception of killing them), and that's why it's "not okay."

(I also don't see why you assert that jonmc agrees with your contention that rape is counterproductive -- he may or may not, but I don't see where he's said anything about it.)

And, as jonmc himself said, he didn't claim that we are "unduly" controlled...just that those are the primary driving forces in our lives.

Our morals are just as much a force in our lives as our hungers, though...and they're certainly one of the defining characteristics of humans.

(I still believe PETA must be bankrolled by the National Beef & Fur Council or some such...)
posted by Vidiot at 8:49 PM on December 17, 2003


Some things are just the way it is.

Very true. It's the implied "so tough shit" part that bothers me. Maybe I'm a terrible optimist, but I've always felt that this kind of preemptive surrender is a cowardly way out. Even if there seems to be nothing to be done about a problem, if it truly is a problem, you owe it to yourself to try to do what you can to solve it. Otherwise, how can you be sure that there really was nothing to be done?

Besides, we're talking about problems that could be greatly reduced, even if they can't be completely solved - yet every day, I see people using variations on "that's just the way it is" as an excuse for their inaction. Screw that. You want to eat meat, eat meat, but don't pretend as if the status quo somehow makes that choice inevitable. Instead, have the guts to acknowledge that you eat meat because you choose to, not because "nature" made you do it.
posted by vorfeed at 9:13 PM on December 17, 2003


Hell, I've always liked you're stuff here, dude, I'm a little puzzled where the hostility is coming from.

No hostility at all, my friend, just honest disagreement with the weight that instinct can manipulate our actions. We choose our morality; we're not coerced into it. Natural law doesn't exist, unless we create it, codify it and support it. We have urges, we have choice. That's being human.
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:38 PM on December 17, 2003


1) Eating retarded people: Mental illness is not equivalent to animal intelligence. But if you were to clone humans who are basically brainless, I can see nothing fundamentally wrong with eating them. Of course, there is the basic utilitarian argument that a society which allows this type of thing may be on a slippery slope to complete moral corruption, but if the human-meat production was sufficiently concealed, like animal-meat production is today, I doubt that would be a problem.

2) Kimball's argument that kids don't believe in anthropomorphic animals just because they see them on TV: Yes and no. They know rationally that animals don't talk -- they've seen enough of them, probably. But after seeing Finding Nemo many kids flushed their fishes down the toilet, believing that "all drains lead to the ocean", and that their fishes were unhappy about being kept in tanks, and wanted to be released.

So kids don't necessarily ascribe all human abilities to animals, but they certainly ascribe human emotions to them. And while to some extent this may be justified -- Flipper comes to mind -- to some extent it is simply misleading.

We need more research into animal intelligence. We need better education about it. And we should show children the reality of the process that turns animals into burgers.
posted by Eloquence at 9:58 PM on December 17, 2003


Metafilter: But if you were to clone humans who are basically brainless, I can see nothing fundamentally wrong with eating them.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:01 PM on December 17, 2003


Hmph. Rape is most emphatically not okay...not because it's "counterproductive" (whatever you mean by that), but because it's wrong. Rape is the single most intrusive, one-sided way to exert power and dominance over another person (with the possible exception of killing them), and that's why it's "not okay."

Hmm, lets take a little look see at this, in terms of our grand place in the order of life, shall we? Through most of hominid history, what we as modern folk would define as rape was not wrong, it was the norm, and rather necessary for genetic distinctiveness and our survival. Expression of animal urges in the natural order ... sure it was. Just like choosing to eat meat.

Time passes. Now, rape is no longer an accepted way of choosing or even coercing a mate (like it actually was in the middle ages). Have we biologically changed to make it thus? No. We have decided, through reasoned societal pressures, that rape is not a good thing. It's wrong now. It's immoral. It's counter productive because it leads to societal strife and violence.

Does that mean we are no longer animals? Of course not, though we tend with remarkable regularity to vilify rapists by calling them beasts and animals. What it means, quite simply, is that we have made a choice that transcends our biology. We have discovered that rape is counter productive to us living as a society.

So, simply asked, is the use of animal products for food or clothing a necessity of our survival as animals? No, it isn't. We choose to do so, because it isn't contrary to our success in or as a society. Claiming that there is a biological imperative for us to kill animals for this purpose is disingenuous at best, and a known lie at worst. The food chain argument is absolute crap. We choose to eat meat, and we choose to wear skins.

I have no problem with that. Its a choice we make, and I can live with it. Equating that choice with some kind of biological imperative, however, opens one up to precisely the claim that rape is okay, or cannabilism is okay, or any of the things that have been brought up in this thread or others that attempt to show our hypocricy with the exploitation of other beings. I reject those arguments, not because some God made me to be this way. I reject them because I choose to live as I do.

If one wishes to find that immoral, well okey-dokey. But don't expect me to hide behind the specious idea that its natural for me to do so. I have choice. So do all of you.
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:15 PM on December 17, 2003


By the way ... I work on a college campus. No one here is going to tell me anything about urges that I don't already know. ;-)
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:18 PM on December 17, 2003


"if you were to clone humans who are basically brainless, I can see nothing fundamentally wrong with eating them." (Eloquence) - well, if they didn't have immortal souls, that would be fine with me.

"Newflash - Liberal website advocates cannibalism! "
posted by troutfishing at 10:59 PM on December 17, 2003


I'm with Wulfgar!. That food chain "argument" is, as the homeboys say, "hella weak."
posted by shoos at 12:28 AM on December 18, 2003


Speaking of Simba and PETA, I recently saw an episode of that old Japanese cartoon "Kimba." I didn't realize it when I originally saw it as a kid, but one of Kimba's (the lion character's) main tasks was to get animals to stop killing each other for food.
posted by shoos at 12:34 AM on December 18, 2003


"if you were to clone humans who are basically brainless, I can see nothing fundamentally wrong with eating them." (Eloquence) - well, if they didn't have immortal souls, that would be fine with me.

I've never seen one of these "immortal souls", and I have no reason to believe that I have one while my cat doesn't.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:10 AM on December 18, 2003


Eating retarded people: Mental illness is not equivalent to animal intelligence. But if you were to clone humans who are basically brainless, I can see nothing fundamentally wrong with eating them. Of course, there is the basic utilitarian argument that a society which allows this type of thing may be on a slippery slope to complete moral corruption, but if the human-meat production was sufficiently concealed, like animal-meat production is today, I doubt that would be a problem.

I'm not a professional in the field, but I don't think retardation is an illness at all - it's a condition that you either have or you don't. I feel safe in asserting that there's no bright line between humanity and the rest of the animal kingdom - it's just a matter of degree. So, really, what's the difference between eating, say, a silverback gorilla, or a severely retarded (but not brainless) person?
posted by me & my monkey at 6:14 AM on December 18, 2003


Those PETA lowlifes will stoop to anything. I have no respect for them, or anyone who supports their beliefs.
posted by tomorama at 7:23 AM on December 18, 2003


me & my monkey: I don't think I'll even dignify that with a response. I find that you'd even consider that statement shocking and apalling.
posted by tomorama at 7:24 AM on December 18, 2003


Wulfgar!: Therefore, rape would indeed be a product of our will to procreate, our lust, our natural will to fuck.

Wow, rape is about procreation. I always thought it was about power and control.
posted by whatever at 8:05 AM on December 18, 2003


Do attempt to keep an eye on context, whatever.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:16 AM on December 18, 2003


Those PETA lowlifes will stoop to anything. I have no respect for them, or anyone who supports their beliefs.

I support many of their beliefs, but I don't support their actions. I think there's a difference between the two. But I don't need your respect to feel ok about my beliefs.

me & my monkey: I don't think I'll even dignify that with a response. I find that you'd even consider that statement shocking and apalling.

I'm not looking for dignity - I'm looking for a reasoned response. I don't find my statement shocking or appalling, although I don't necessarily feel like the actions I compared are in fact equivalent.

There's a problem in ethics, which I'm trying to explore by making the comparison - the problem of alienation. We innately feel there's a difference between eating a person and eating some other animal, but it's very difficult to articulate that difference using reason. I can't. Can you?
posted by me & my monkey at 8:37 AM on December 18, 2003


We innately feel there's a difference between eating a person and eating some other animal, but it's very difficult to articulate that difference using reason. I can't. Can you?

Hmmm, nope!
posted by tr33hggr at 8:46 AM on December 18, 2003


Ooh, ooh, me me!!!

It's because eating other people as a habit would mean that it would be okay for someone to eventually eat us. Since we don't want to be eaten, (get your mind out of the gutter) we deliberately say that eating people is "off limits."

So basically, we eat animals and not people because... we like people more than we like animals.

Why am I even bothering? Eating and skinning animals is morally trendy right now, so this argument is already won.
posted by Jart at 9:06 AM on December 18, 2003


So basically, we eat animals and not people because... we like people more than we like animals.

Who is this "we" of which you speak? But seriously, that's a weak argument. Nothing there addresses the need for eating non-human animals. And I'd rather be killed and eaten by a gizzly than end up sucking fluids out of a tube, shitting myself, and slowly dying.

But, that's just me.
posted by tr33hggr at 9:11 AM on December 18, 2003


It's because eating other people as a habit would mean that it would be okay for someone to eventually eat us. Since we don't want to be eaten, (get your mind out of the gutter) we deliberately say that eating people is "off limits."

So basically, we eat animals and not people because... we like people more than we like animals.


That's not a moral justification. It's just a description of the way things are. Try this on for size:

"So basically, we discriminate against black people and not white people because ... we like white people more than we like black people."

Why am I even bothering? Eating and skinning animals is morally trendy right now, so this argument is already won.

I'm not sure what it means to be "morally trendy". Perhaps you could elaborate? Was slavery morally trendy in the early 1800s? If so, was that argument won at the time?
posted by me & my monkey at 9:22 AM on December 18, 2003


I saw a bumpersticker that read:

PETA pours paint on moms wearing fur coats but not leather jackets because no one wants to try pouring paint on a motorcycle gang.

I think that says it all.
posted by Yossarian at 9:41 AM on December 18, 2003


You can only apply ethics to people, because only people are capable of ethical reasoning. It is impossible for, say, a bear to understand that it's wrong to kill another bear, to say nothing of a person. The nature of an animal is fundamentally different from the nature of a human being. Ethics being a system that reasoning beings created out of self-interest for the purpose of getting along with each other, it would be fallacious to apply it to our relationship with animals. Animals are not capable of entering into an ethical situation with us, nor us with them. The term "ethical treatment of animals" thus has no clear-cut meaning.

I would never kill and eat my cat because I like her the way she is, alive and warm and furry and purring. I feel great affection for her and when she dies I will likely be rather distraught. But I can't quite bring myself to say it would be wrong for me to kill and eat her. It is neither right nor wrong -- it is outside the scope of ethics.

Emotion and ethics are two different things. Some things we don't do because they revolt or appall us; other things we don't do because we have reasoned out that they are wrong, by which I mean they are directly or indirectly against our self-interest. (It is in our self-interest to live in a civilized society, which is why civilized society persists and why we are willing to adhere to the ethical systems that support it.) However, we should not conflate the two. For some people, eating meat falls into the revolting and/or appalling category. They are welcome to refrain from eating meat for this or any other reason. Ethics exist to restrain us from engaging in harmful behavior; that doesn't mean that they are the only thing that can or should restrain our behavior. However, when activists mistake their gut reaction for a moral imperative and seek to impose it on the rest of us, they make an error.

It's not "morally trendy" -- it's the way things are.
posted by kindall at 9:45 AM on December 18, 2003


But let's not delude ourselves that we're going to change the fundamental nature of the universe through the sheer force of our wonderfullness.

who's the fundamentalist now, jonmc? imo, we've already changed the "fundamental nature of our universe" in a multitude of ways. there's no going back now.

why shouldn't change be rooted in "wonderfullness" rather than violence and greed?

fwiw, PETA gets $50 from me this year for Christmas. their ability to raise the ire of animal abusers is unparalleled.

too bad it's only a cartoon. i was expecting a disembowelled rabbit. this is hardly shocking for kids to see. i wish the flyer had more information, but at least it grabs your attention.

PETA's productions are great examples of morally inspired free speech. i give thanks that i live in a country that produces stuff like this ... a much needed inspiration.

on preview:

The nature of an animal is fundamentally different from the nature of a human being.

obviously, there are some seemingly intractable "fundamental" beliefs established on the many sides of the meat/fur/leather debate, but i would disagree vehemently with the "animals are fundamentally different" argument, simply b/c they share so much of the same DNA as humans. that's why (some) animal testing works!
posted by mrgrimm at 10:17 AM on December 18, 2003


it's the way things are.

Please just think about how many other situations this reasoning has been applied to. Many have already been mentioned - slavery and racism, sexism, stealing land from indigenous peoples. It holds no water.

Really, I'd rather see PETA do something, as I mentioned before - I'd rather see their publicity come from the animals they've saved and not their stunts. But this thread may have changed my mind. PETA may get a Yule gift from me this year as well.
posted by tr33hggr at 10:25 AM on December 18, 2003


You can only apply ethics to people, because only people are capable of ethical reasoning. It is impossible for, say, a bear to understand that it's wrong to kill another bear, to say nothing of a person.

I would agree that only people can be held to ethical standards, but that's quite a bit different than saying that ethics can't apply to our behavior toward nonhumans.

The nature of an animal is fundamentally different from the nature of a human being.

How so?

Ethics being a system that reasoning beings created out of self-interest for the purpose of getting along with each other, it would be fallacious to apply it to our relationship with animals.

I'm not sure what would make it fallacious. I would agree that the origin of ethics has to do with self-interest and human evolution, but ethics is not natural - we create it, and we can make it into whatever our reason dictates it should be.

Animals are not capable of entering into an ethical situation with us, nor us with them. The term "ethical treatment of animals" thus has no clear-cut meaning.

While nonhuman animals probably can't act as moral agents, there's no reason why our ethics or morality can't proscribe acceptable behavior towards them. An "ethical situation" isn't a contract requiring consideration from both parties - it simply requires one party to acknowledge a duty toward the other.

It's not "morally trendy" -- it's the way things are.

Of course, that could be said about anything which exists today.
posted by me & my monkey at 10:25 AM on December 18, 2003


Time passes. Now, rape is no longer an accepted way of choosing or even coercing a mate (like it actually was in the middle ages).

They also didn't bathe in the middle ages. Oh, and they burned witches. And thought the world was flat. Stupid middle evil people. It's a good thing they're all dead.
posted by ahughey at 10:43 AM on December 18, 2003


After ~125 posts I suppose it'd be a bit of a forehead-slapper for me to note that the food chain line was actually a joke that someone took far, far too seriously. For this person, I recommend camomile tea, a cocktail, a Valium, a vigorous shag or whatever means he or she uses to relax.

What's astonishing to me, in the depths of its utter absurdity and logical fallacy, is that said person would then make the leap to imply that I have a laissez-faire attitude toward poverty, racism and rape, without knowing me or anything about me. Perhaps I'm the one who should be offended.

Ah, I love the dynamics of online communities. ("Dude, you should have included a smiley!")

I eat meat. For that fact I am completely unapologetic. For reasons of health, flavor and environmental impact I do my best to acquire sources of meat products from non-factory farm sources whenever possible. This is my choice. I respect the choices of anyone who chooses not to eat meat, and would very much appreciate it if such people would keep their choices out of my life. That's about all I've got to say on the topic.

Jesus. Comments like that make me want to puke.

May I recommend the plastic variety of barf bag? The paper ones tend to have a problem with the bottom dropping out.
posted by chuq at 12:24 PM on December 18, 2003


fwiw, PETA gets $50 from me this year for Christmas. their ability to raise the ire of animal abusers is unparalleled.

They're saving a seat in heaven for you mrgrimm. I'll be sure to send $50 the Meat Packer's Union strike fund in your name. "Raising ire." Calm the hysteria, and the overheated rhetoric, dorothy. PETA may be the perfect embodiment of everything I loathe-self-righteousness, ideological constipation, egomania, and outright cluelessness. They're like the dingbat goth broad in college who leaned over my table as I ate my cheeseburger, and told me how "barbaric" I was, unsolicited. When I need ethical advice from some twinkie dopefiend dressedlike Wednesday Addams, I'll let you know, sister.

why shouldn't change be rooted in "wonderfullness" rather than violence and greed?

Nature is violent. Get over it.
posted by jonmc at 12:47 PM on December 18, 2003


Wulfgar! I'm not sure what context you're talking about. If anyone is thinking about procreation before or after a rape it would be the female. I just assumed we were talking about a man raping a woman.

From scaring children to a discussion about rape. Are we still on topic?
posted by whatever at 12:47 PM on December 18, 2003


I find it amusing that PETA, and their adherents, believe that it is fine and natural for a lion to bring down a gazelle, but morally wrong and reprehensible for a human to eat a cow (or whatever).

One is "right" and "natural", but the other is wrong.


By refusing to view humanity as "natural," or our meat eating as a variation on the hunt (done by a different sort of "hunter", and now in mass quantities), they reveal instead a hatred of humanity in specific, a self-loathing, a belief that this is only wrong because it's perpetrated by their own species.

That being said, it's their right to believe that a lion is superior to a human, but as for me, I'm just gonna chuckle.
posted by Lafe at 1:06 PM on December 18, 2003


I find it amusing that PETA, and their adherents, believe that it is fine and natural for a lion to bring down a gazelle, but morally wrong and reprehensible for a human to eat a cow (or whatever).

One is "right" and "natural", but the other is wrong.


I can't speak for PETA, but that's pretty much how I feel, although I don't generally get so worked up about it, and get along well with my carnivorous friends. Humans are moral agents, and are capable of reasoning and morality, while lions aren't. Even if lions were capable of this, they don't have a choice, and we do. Lots of people in this very thread have made a big deal about humans being fundamentally different from other animals (to defend the idea that it's ok to kill sentient beings because they're tasty), but if we really are fundamentally different, it seems to me that this difference is that we can decide that something is right or wrong.

And again, why can't we eat other people? I wouldn't think it morally objectionable for a lion to eat another lion.

That being said, it's their right to believe that a lion is superior to a human, but as for me, I'm just gonna chuckle.

I for one don't believe that lions are superior, and I doubt that "they" do either. I believe that humans are superior, because we can improve ourselves and our behavior. I believe that we can choose not to inflict suffering, while the lion cannot make this choice.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:39 PM on December 18, 2003


I refuse to eat bugs. that's just...yuck!
posted by mcsweetie at 3:02 PM on December 18, 2003


whatever: Wulfgar! I'm not sure what context you're talking about. If anyone is thinking about procreation before or after a rape it would be the female.

I never talked about procreation at all, except in terms of ancient hominids and our modern view of what their sexual practices likely were. If you lose the idea that I was writing of making babies, than my argument might become more clear. Rape is a will to dominate and possess, born of our animal nature. I'm not sure where you think we are in disagreement, unless you have another agenda to promote. I was simply making the argument that relying on our animal nature to justify our actions is specious. Was there something you wish to add?

ahughey, though certainly not nearly as educated on the topic as yourself, I am also something of a student of the "middle evil" times. I did kinda overstate with that blanket quote didn't I? If I offended with oversimplification, I apologize. For what its worth, I thought your response was a hoot.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:30 PM on December 18, 2003


What's astonishing to me, in the depths of its utter absurdity and logical fallacy, is that said person would then make the leap to imply that I have a laissez-faire attitude toward poverty, racism and rape, without knowing me or anything about me. Perhaps I'm the one who should be offended.

Ah, I love the dynamics of online communities. ("Dude, you should have included a smiley!")


No, I don't think anyone was doubting you meant it in a lighthearted way - the point was exactly that, that you would never make a similar jokey comment about other issues of ethical importance - in a thread about rape, no one would say, being the weaker sex's a bitch, innit?

Nature is violent. Get over it.

nature may be violent, but human beings have the capacity to make choices. We don't have to simply accept and "get over" violence; we're able to actually make agreements with one another to limit violence. We could have said, get over it, with regard to slavery or rape or pillaging or any number of other parts of society that were previously considered okay in a survival of the fittest kind of way, but we ended up collectively deciding we were all better off changing the way we did things. I'm not saying the same ought to happen with regard to animals - I've said before that although I'm a vegetarian, I don't consider the meat industry any sort of unbearable tragedy. But the arguments for it should be along the lines of, animals have limited consciousness etc, not, ha ha get over it loser.

You can only apply ethics to people, because only people are capable of ethical reasoning. It is impossible for, say, a bear to understand that it's wrong to kill another bear, to say nothing of a person.

But the issue at hand was a silverback gorilla vs. a severely retarded person. A severely retarded person is going to be no better at understanding the ethics of a situation than animals are. Animals "get" the non-rational behavioral part of ethics - they treat those well who treat them well, and exhibit guilt when they do things wrong.

If anyone is thinking about procreation before or after a rape it would be the female.

I think the point was that from nature's perspective, rape is a perfectly good method of enabling the species to continue. It's not the individual's goal; he's just responding to an impulse without any guidance from his rational capacities. But it's still perfectly natural and is normal in the non-reflective instinctive animal world.
posted by mdn at 3:49 PM on December 18, 2003


Wulfgar! If you lose the idea that I was writing of making babies, than my argument might become more clear.

Maybe procreate was the wrong word then, because it's pretty much about making babies. My only agenda is I find the tendency to see rape (as we know it today) as a sex act is wrong. It's an act of violence and control. Somewhere in man's primordial core there is probably some truth to your assertion, we are after all animals. It just bugs me to read that a "will to procreate" is part of rape in today's world.
posted by whatever at 4:20 PM on December 18, 2003


whatever, quite seriously I assure you, that was my very point about modern humans.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:34 PM on December 18, 2003


chuq - Whoa, seriously. Meat, and my choice to not eat it, is shoved in my face every day. My position is constantly being questioned. I'm always on the defense. I would say 80% of the commercials I see are about meat. It is an issue when we have a departmental celebration, lunch with coworkers, or on the road where there's nothing for us to eat except cheap salads. My girlfriend had a going away party luncheon today, and in a group of 80+ people, with three vegetarians, there was nothing for her to eat. I've had people shove burgers under my face and say, "Mmmm, don't that smell good?" I had a redneck at a bar spend 20 minutes trying to convince me that he'd make a steak that would make me want to eat meat again.

It's something I hold dearly, and am fucking sick of having to defend. No one, no one, has to apologize for eating animals in our society. Yeah, that really saddens me.

The idea of eating flesh, to me, is repellant, so I'm sorry I cannot understand your position.
posted by tr33hggr at 7:07 PM on December 18, 2003


1. I would say 80% of the commercials I see are about meat.

What channels are you watching?

2.
The idea of eating flesh, to me, is repellant, so I'm sorry I cannot understand your position.

Plants have feelings too!
posted by jasenlee at 8:32 PM on December 18, 2003


It's us or them.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:45 PM on December 18, 2003


Gee whiz, shocking news at the filter: another PETA thread turns into therapy for vegatarians. By all means, lash out against your fellow man, dear herbivore, for we meat eaters understand your build up of angst when all you ever get to cut with a knife are vegetables. It must be maddening.

I'd rather see their publicity come from the animals they've saved and not their stunts.

I think you mean the animals they've killed in order to continue funding their stunts.

But seriously, who's got time to find homes for animals when there are so many flyers to print? Just know your money goes toward future publicity stunts and does nothing to actually help animals. Not to mention that with all the eco-terrorism legislation hitting the books, you might want to avoid a paper trail and send anonymous cash. If PETA crosses the line in the near future, that gift could technically be construed as funding a terrorist organization, and that would suck for you.
posted by David Dark at 1:26 AM on December 19, 2003


What channels are you watching?
Any of them. Pay attention sometime.
posted by tr33hggr at 7:04 AM on December 19, 2003


One thing I've always wondered -- do PETA activists make any kind of effort to determine if someone's fur coat is real fur before dousing them with paint and handing flyers to their kids? Or is anything that looks like fur considered equally objectionable?
posted by nickmark at 7:12 AM on December 19, 2003


What channels are you watching?

He's not just talking about the beef industry commercials - remember all ads for mcdonald's, KFC, olive garden, hot pockets, etc etc, are ads for meat.

Plants have feelings too!

people constantly make this joke when it comes to vegetarianism, but would never apply the same way of thinking to their pets. Would Old Yeller have an emotional impact if it ended with them having to pick petunias?

I agree that animals are not humans - it's much worse when a friend dies than when a pet does. But it's much worse when a pet dies than when a plant does. And everyone knows this. Animals have nervous systems; they feel pain and fear; they respond to you, become familiar with you. They do not have extended consciousness - they will not create works of art or literature, nor appreciate them. But they do have a limited, "core consciousness" which allows them to navigate the world, grasp certain basic regularities, and form relationships with other animals (us included).

To some people, that's enough to suggest we shouldn't willfully end their lives if it's possible to avoid. To others, it doesn't seem important enough to forgo tasty meals. That's fine. But to equate it with a concern for the well being of flora is disingenuous.

By refusing to view humanity as "natural," or our meat eating as a variation on the hunt (done by a different sort of "hunter", and now in mass quantities), they reveal instead a hatred of humanity in specific, a self-loathing, a belief that this is only wrong because it's perpetrated by their own species.

by that reasoning, we ought to still be living in caves or huts in the desert. We are the one species that lives in the artificial - that is, artisan-created - world. We have the capacity to comprehend, to remember the past and to imagine the future, to evaluate our actions and determine their repercussions. We are animals, with emotions and instincts like other animals, but we also have a quality most other animals don't, which is our extended consciousness which gives us the ability to make choices.

Other animals simply respond to instincts; they will kill, rape, steal, and eat their young in a pinch, because they don't have the capacity to consider the long term, or to contract with one another not to do these things. It doesn't mean they're bad creatures - we kill, rape, steal, and in a pinch resort to cannibalism ourselves, but we know it's wrong (most of us, anyway), we don't like doing it, we do our best as a society to limit its happening. The point is, just because something is natural doesn't mean it's right; you have to evaluate the action itself.
posted by mdn at 7:48 AM on December 19, 2003


I would say 80% of the commercials I see are about meat.

Buy a TiVo. We have one, and since we bought it we've never had to watch another commercial again.

tr33hggr, what I'm hearing is that you're bitching at me (and the world) because you are unhappy with the situation resulting from the choice you've made not to eat meat. I think you need to try to do a better job learning to live with the consequences of your choices.

Your friends should be sensitive to this. I were your friend I would respect this and wouldn't be shoving meat under your nose. What else do you want me to say? Stay out of redneck bars?

If you're going to be a vegetarian in a society that is massively non-vegetarian, you're going to have to occasionally put up with there being nothing for you to eat at a buffet. Patronize restaurants that suit your diet. Ask chefs what they can do for you -- they're generally talented folks, and you're not bound only by what's on the menu.

I have a few vegetarian and vegan friends, and I've always been able to eat my burgers, carnitas, steaks, foie gras, veal tenderloins, what have you, in front of them. They choose not to eat meat, they know that I do eat meat and that's fine with them. Nobody I know is questioned or forced to be defensive for their being vegetarian; 99.9% of the time, in my experience, the statement "I don't eat meat" is followed by a response of something like, "Oh, okay." People who question your choices are just being rude.

If you're repulsed by eating meat, then don't eat it and you're fine and dandy, but if you're repulsed even by the idea or sight of other people eating meat within your field of vision, then you've got a serious problem. If you're unable to stomach the sight or thought this, then perhaps some therapy or counseling to help you with this problem of might be a good idea. I'm not being facetious or sarcastic, I'm being serious. Get some help, because I suspect that nobody around you is going to want to listen to you bitch about their dinner being "in your face."
posted by chuq at 11:23 AM on December 19, 2003


Chuq, I'm not repulsed by other people eating meat. I live in the midwest, central Illinois, and believe me I am surrounded by it all the time. And yes, some of the people I know (not quite friends) are assholes. I try to avoid them, but sometimes work situations forces me to do otherwise.

I know it's a choice, my choice, and I do live with it. And I imagine much of my constant defensiveness has to do with geography; there are literally very few places to eat here that offer us more than a pasta meal, or the standard veggie burger.

So, look, I'm not trying to come down on you. Perhaps the conversation hit at a bad time for me, and for that I apologize. I really try to be understanding and easy-going about it, but snide comments like the above made my Mr. Dark (for we meat eaters understand your build up of angst when all you ever get to cut with a knife are vegetables) get under my skin. And, I think, justly so.

So, thanks. I don't believe I need therapy just yet, but we'll see what a few more years of living in cattle country do for me eh?
posted by tr33hggr at 6:43 PM on December 19, 2003


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