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Earthlings
June 24, 2007 4:00 PM   Subscribe

Earthlings (1 hr 35 min Google video) is "a feature length documentary about humanity's absolute dependence on animals (for pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and scientific research) but also illustrates our complete disrespect for these so-called 'non-human providers.'" Also in three parts on YouTube.
posted by homunculus (71 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
It'd be nice if there was a standard tag for movie length video posts...maybe 'feature'?
posted by acro at 4:07 PM on June 24, 2007


a much better documentary is Our Daily Bread

though do go and watch Earthlings, it's still ok, in a way.
posted by Substrata at 4:13 PM on June 24, 2007


Britain's Environment Agency: Go Vegetarian to Stop Climate Change
posted by homunculus at 4:14 PM on June 24, 2007


I made it to the live dog getting crushed in the trash compactor, and had to turn it off.
posted by jayder at 4:24 PM on June 24, 2007


I CAN'T HAS CHEEZBURGER?
posted by rob511 at 4:28 PM on June 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


I made it to the live dog getting crushed in the trash compactor

GAH!
posted by Alex404 at 4:30 PM on June 24, 2007


I still think the best pro-vegetarian documentary is Peaceable Kingdom, but Earthlings is pretty powerful, though I can't watch it all.
posted by cmgonzalez at 4:50 PM on June 24, 2007


Seven comments on an internet forum about something pro-vegetarian and not ONE "LOL I love eating meat people eating tasty animals" comment?

It's a record.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:00 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


At least animals have a chance to run away or fight back. Vegetarians are the ones preying upon the helpless.
posted by BeerFilter at 5:17 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Curiously different from another project once called Earthlings.
posted by Martin E. at 5:25 PM on June 24, 2007


LOL if gawd dinnint wanus ta eat aminals he shuddnt a made em outta meet.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:26 PM on June 24, 2007


is "a feature length documentary about humanity's absolute dependence on animals (for pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and scientific research) but also illustrates our complete disrespect for these so-called 'non-human providers.'"

This is what I can't stand about lions. Those fuckers NEED the gazelle, but do they ever say thank you or even acknowledge the sacrifice of their non-lion providers? Cold hearted sons-a-bitches.

Don't even get me started on the AIDS virus. That flaky little shit just chews threw us and we don't even get card at Christmas.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:36 PM on June 24, 2007


Just because the world fell together a certain way doesn't mean that's the best we can do.
posted by Twang at 5:50 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


What's with people suddenly using "threw" all the time when they mean "through" (or at the very least "thru")?

I hope that someday a documentary like Earthlings will receive the same kind of renown and publicity given to An Inconvenient Truth. Could we perhaps find another jilted former presidential candidate to front this cause? People seem to be a lot more willing to accept that they can do something about animal cruelty than climate change. Unfortunately so many of them go through life blissfully ignorant of the conditions their food inhabits before arriving in their stomachs.
posted by Saellys at 5:55 PM on June 24, 2007


Could we perhaps find another jilted former presidential candidate to front this cause?

Why not? Dennis Kucinich isn't doing anything useful.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:01 PM on June 24, 2007


Don't even get me started on the AIDS virus. That flaky little shit just chews threw us and we don't even get card at Christmas.

I've never heard humans compared to the AIDS virus before, but you may have something there. [NOT MISANTHROPIC]

Unfortunately so many of them go through life blissfully ignorant of the conditions their food inhabits before arriving in their stomachs.

We like it that way, but thanks. I've killed and eaten my own rattlesnake (chicken fried), havolina (wild pig), ect. but that doesn't mean I'd like to do it on a regular basis. Do you haul your own trash to the city dump, too? Maybe you've even set up your own water supply, power plant ...
posted by IronLizard at 6:06 PM on June 24, 2007


I just watched a 60-minute program about venomous snakes, scorpions, frogs, and lizards. They didn't seem to give a damn about the animals they were paralyzing and then eating whole.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:13 PM on June 24, 2007


Just because the world fell together a certain way doesn't mean that's the best we can do.

Tell that to the lions.

Most people would probably prefer more humane methods of raising and slaughtering cattle. But the animal rights side is so outta synch, so seemingly radical that most people are quicker to say "get lost" rather than "I don't understand what you mean, could you explain more."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:19 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


The teeming masses might be willing to accept legal marijuana and same-sex marriage some day, but trying to get them to give up bacon? Are you fucking kidding me?
posted by mullingitover at 6:23 PM on June 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


wendell
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:32 PM on June 24, 2007


We like it that way, but thanks. I've killed and eaten my own rattlesnake (chicken fried), havolina (wild pig), ect. but that doesn't mean I'd like to do it on a regular basis. Do you haul your own trash to the city dump, too? Maybe you've even set up your own water supply, power plant ...

Last I checked, the people who supply my garbage service, water, and electricity are paid fair wages and generally treated like valuable members of the biological world. They aren't beaten, kept in cages barely bigger than they are when they're not performing their duties, or otherwise mistreated because they're "not human". I expect that since you're so happy with blinders on you probably won't read this for fear of spoiling your blissful existence, but your oh-so-convenient commercially purchased food suffers horribly before you get around to eating it. Frankly, the least you could do is be conscious of what other beings go through just so you don't have to eat your vegetables.
posted by Saellys at 6:37 PM on June 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


They aren't beaten, kept in cages barely bigger than they are when they're not performing their duties, or otherwise mistreated because they're "not human".

Neither are butchers.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:39 PM on June 24, 2007


Gosh Xenophobe, you sure got me there! Hyuk.
posted by Saellys at 6:50 PM on June 24, 2007


Frankly, the least you could do is be conscious of what other beings go through just so you don't have to eat your vegetables.

Right. Like you and your ilk haven't pushed pictures of slaughter at everyone for years. Enough so that most everyone has seen them. Obviously, we like our bacon more than we like your animal utopias. You just don't seem to accept that the methods proposed by animal rights activists to produce stock would make it completely out of reach for most people. Yes, it's all about the money. You're obviously out of touch with the rest of America if you think making meat something only the rich can afford will go over well. You can pry my reheated animal carcass out of my cold dead hands and so forth.

Frankly, the least you could do is be conscious of what other beings go through just so you don't have to eat your vegetables.

Vegetables, now there's a horror story. Did you know they're forced to live in dirt their entire lives before being callously uprooted from what has now become their home, thrown on the back of a truck and left to die? Thank God we don't have to hear the ultrasonic screams of the carrots.
posted by IronLizard at 6:53 PM on June 24, 2007


Not Human = Potential Food.

Does the chicken, asparagus or flounder have to suffer a horrible existance and death to get to my plate? Probably, but why should I care? When there's a chance of a chicken setting up a human farm to feed itself, I'll start thinking about it.
posted by blaneyphoto at 6:55 PM on June 24, 2007


Last I checked, the people who supply my garbage service, water, and electricity are paid fair wages and generally treated like valuable members of the biological world.

Clearly you've never worked for municipal government. Sadly, that's not a joke.

And you DO realize you're turning people off with your attitude, right? The message is worthwhile and one most people can agree with. But the attitude is self defeating.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:56 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


IronLizard, I don't have a motherfucking "ilk" and I haven't pushed pictures of slaughter at anyone. If you insist in lumping me in with PETA extremists who want to make meat a luxury only the rich can afford, I guess I'll just have to lump you in with the morons who think that just because we are intelligent enough to make cars and build houses we can treat every other species on this planet however we damn well please.
posted by Saellys at 7:02 PM on June 24, 2007


Meat is bigger than crack, and about 4.5 billion times more addictive (give or take).

People eat meat not because it "is good" but because we were raised on it. It's cultural.

"MMM-mmm, but I DO love it," is just the meat talking.
posted by humannaire at 7:05 PM on June 24, 2007


How is "but I love bacon!" a good answer to the problem of how livestock are treated?
posted by jayder at 7:06 PM on June 24, 2007


IronLizard, I don't have a motherfucking "ilk"

Sounds like a rap song. Lump me in with whomever you like, I'll still BE EATING YOUR PET COW FOR DINNER.
posted by IronLizard at 7:07 PM on June 24, 2007


we are intelligent enough to make cars and build houses we can treat every other species on this planet however we damn well please

Clearly you've never seen a cat play with its food.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:19 PM on June 24, 2007


I made it to the live dog getting crushed in the trash compactor, and had to turn it off.

Yeah, that was sickening. But then, it all is.
posted by homunculus at 7:20 PM on June 24, 2007


I'm sure there are many people out there who don't know what goes on in the meat industry, and would forgo meat (or at least the mistreated meat) rather than support it. But what about the people who do know and are okay with it, or who don't know but would be okay with it if they found out? What do you say to those people? What happens if you successfully inform everybody, only to find that you're still outnumbered?

Ultimately, I don't think this business about documenting/informing/whatever addresses the real issue: some people think animals should have rights, and some don't. Movies like this aim to shame people into demanding change, but that's just not going to work on people who feel no shame about any kind of animal treatment. I think a better strategy would be to focus on the health risks of the meat industry--didn't someone link to a study a few months ago that found salmonella or campylobacter in 90% of supermarket chickens? Address the public safety concerns, and I'll bet you can get some more humane treatment thrown in for free.
posted by equalpants at 7:21 PM on June 24, 2007


What happens if you successfully inform everybody, only to find that you're still outnumbered?

Having been vegetarian since the age of nine, I've been outnumbered continually for nearly two decades and I still don't know the answer to that question beyond "keep going."
posted by Saellys at 7:36 PM on June 24, 2007


People eat meat not because it "is good" but because we were raised on it. It's cultural.

So what about that huge portion of the kingdom that eats other members of the kingdom but doesn't have what one would call a culture? Did the red tail that I saw carting off some prey or another today just fall victim to homo sapien's snappy marketing hyperbole?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:38 PM on June 24, 2007


I think a better strategy would be to focus on the health risks of the meat industry

This is an argument I can stand behind 100%. Your sanity and excellent diplomatic skills are much needed. No, really, excellent idea. I also hate the thought of those chemicals and antibiotics required to keep the current system in place being fed to my family. If animal rights organizations got behind this angle, they would receive exponentially more support than they currently do, IMHO. Temporary alliances are better than bickering amongst each other, no? But it won't happen. It's a jungle out there.

How is "but I love bacon!" a good answer to the problem of how livestock are treated?

Because, if you make any significant change to the process, you'll price bacon right out of my reach (well, that's a slight bit of hyperbole, but you get the idea). It's very much like the gas prices.
posted by IronLizard at 7:41 PM on June 24, 2007


the morons who think that just because we are intelligent enough to make cars and build houses we can treat every other species on this planet however we damn well please.

But every organism on Earth does whatever it damn well pleases with every other organism. Heterotrophism isn't immoral.

I mean, I'd prefer that food industries treat animals reasonably well. But when push comes to shove, there's some inescapable amount of suffering inherent in killing an animal to eat it. And it's as okay for humans to inflict that suffering as it is for bears or snakes or any other animal.

(and yes, snakes and cats can't choose. But if inflicting suffering is wrong, we can make that choice for them and alter them into herbivority)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:03 PM on June 24, 2007


Tell that to the lions.

Why? They won't listen, they're dumb animals. People, on the other hand, have the capacity for change. That's the only thing that makes us different from other animals. Moral agency, right from wrong, etc. Fratricide is not a crime among dumb animals, either, but we reject it as wrong. Why is that?

Most people would probably prefer more humane methods of raising and slaughtering cattle. But the animal rights side is so outta synch, so seemingly radical that most people are quicker to say "get lost" rather than "I don't understand what you mean, could you explain more."

Well, yeah, they're out of sync. They aren't interested in more humane methods of killing as an end; perhaps, as a means to an end of no more killing, but no more than that. If you believe that killing animals is wrong, how exactly can you get in sync with people who think it's perfectly ok?

I just watched a 60-minute program about venomous snakes, scorpions, frogs, and lizards. They didn't seem to give a damn about the animals they were paralyzing and then eating whole.

Is that a justification for human behavior?
posted by me & my monkey at 8:20 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Through all this, animals in America still have more rights than the people held captive Guantanamo. This is a sad state of affairs, as I would very much like to slowly torture the cats who howl outside my bedroom window and keep the dog barking all night. Damn ter-roowwrr-ists.
posted by IronLizard at 8:21 PM on June 24, 2007


It seems barbaric to attempt to deprive nature of its soul, only because it is unlike our soul. Barbaric seems to me a materialism according to which a purely external mechanicality, an outwardness devoid of an inwardness runs through nature.—Constantin Brunner
posted by No Robots at 8:29 PM on June 24, 2007


This is what I can't stand about lions.
...
Clearly you've never seen a cat play with its food.

The cat comparison isn't the rhetorical heavy hitter you seem to think it is, B. The situation we're trying to address is not a state of nature. It's a product of man's art. So if you're desperate for a metaphor on this, take culottes- They make you look retarded, and no one wears them anymore.

Having zero regard for the animals we choose to eat is a choice you make every day. And it's my contention that, like pulling on a pair of culottes and leggings, you look like an idiot doing it.

Oh, and starting a response with "clearly" is a pretty good indication that you put virtually no effort into writing anything that's going to stand on its own.
posted by kickback at 8:31 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think the argument that the fact that animals are incapable of making ethical choices is somehow justification for human choosing an option known to be unethical is completely absurd. If eating meat is ethical, you shouldn't need to resort to that argument, and if it isn't, that's a horrible, horrible justification.

For myself, I accept that the causation of suffering is unethical, but not the death of (most) animals. Towards that end, I try to minimize the animal suffering created as a result of my food choices, but I don't cut out meat entirely, not yet at least. I think the idea that it's a binary choice creates more animal suffering than it prevents. If you tell people that it's a fight between meat-eaters and vegetarians, then you're unnecessarily alienating meat-eaters, like myself, who are willing to moderate the amount of meat they consume, resulting in a net decrease in suffering, which is just as valid as the decrease that results from someone forsaking all meat.

Ideally, I would like to stop meat consumption, but it's not something I'm likely to push myself towards anytime soon. I look forward to commercially available in vitro meat, which is continually rumored to be on the brink of coming to market. I wish it would hurry up and get here, because that will be an easy way to get off meat which is tied to animal suffering.

In the longer run, I think the vast majority of people will stop eating meat which has come from an animal. I see it as part of a rising moral zeitgeist which will eventually come to widespread acceptance, after in vitro meat becomes popular. Short of legislation though, we'll always have some animal consumption.

It's sort of a wait and see thing for me right now.
posted by Arturus at 8:39 PM on June 24, 2007


Is that a justification for human behavior?

In the end we're just tool using animals with relatively high intelligence. Being careful with our natural resources is one thing. Pretending we're somehow better than that reeks of religion.

And it's my contention that, like pulling on a pair of culottes and leggings, you look like an idiot doing it.

And it's my contention that you look like an idiot comparing out-dated clothing to giving a crap about how the ham sandwich you're eating was treated before you sink your incisors into it.
posted by IronLizard at 8:44 PM on June 24, 2007


a few things i haven't seen mentioned in regards to the similarities of other animals playing with their food or giving them a slow and agonizing death--

animals do not do this to their prey on a MASS scale. they do not HARVEST their prey and keep them immobile their ENTIRE life to serve their subsistence (in our case, a luxury choice). this prey being killed by another non-human in its natural environment has generally lived the functional life its body was meant to carry out. our stock gets diseases because its body is not meant to live in the conditions we provide or to withstand the chemicals we pump them full of. when killing the prey, the quantity number is to support itself and its family and this choice is life or death. what separates us from these animals is our non-necessity dependence on the kill for survival. we have more choices than any other animal. we are omnivorous with cow-like molars more appropriate for chewing fruit, nuts, and vegetables. we have food technology that has eliminated our need for seeking out meat.

if man's intellect and is so great, why do we not take full advantage of the technologies we've created and aim to not subsist on breathing, reactive beings that live on our planet with us?
posted by moonbizcut at 8:49 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


In the end we're just tool using animals with relatively high intelligence. Being careful with our natural resources is one thing. Pretending we're somehow better than that reeks of religion.

Every time we choose nonviolence when dealing with other people, we're "pretending we're somehow better." By your cold logic, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with me killing other people. Good to know!
posted by me & my monkey at 9:05 PM on June 24, 2007


Are you autistic?
posted by IronLizard at 9:08 PM on June 24, 2007


Sounds like your problem is agriculture, moonbizcut, not meat-eating.
posted by nonmerci at 9:14 PM on June 24, 2007


Sounds like your problem is agriculture, moonbizcut, not meat-eating.

your statement makes no sense in response to my previous post.
posted by moonbizcut at 9:18 PM on June 24, 2007


Are you autistic?

No, just able to follow your statement to its logical conclusion. You should try it sometime. It's fun!

My point is simply that the behavior of animals isn't a justification for the behavior of people, otherwise people would be able to do simply anything. I don't see why that's so hard to understand, but every time this subject comes up, people of your ilk have no trouble pointing to the animal kingdom and saying "look, they're doing it themselves, so it must be perfectly ok for us too!" Well, they're doing all sorts of other things that we've decided aren't for us, like cannibalism, rape, child-killing, etc, etc.
posted by me & my monkey at 9:22 PM on June 24, 2007


Sounds like your problem is agriculture, moonbizcut, not meat-eating.

your statement makes no sense in response to my previous post.


It sort of does, if you gloss factory farming as a specific agricultural practice and thereby conflate it with agriculture in general. It's not necessarily even a complete misread of your post, just a rather badly put response to it.
posted by Arturus at 9:30 PM on June 24, 2007


it only doesn't make sense because meat-eating is a sub-element of agriculture: one product or result of it. therefore my problem is with both and so nonmerci's statement: "Sounds like your problem is agriculture, moonbizcut, not meat-eating " did not make sense from my perspective.
posted by moonbizcut at 9:34 PM on June 24, 2007


Valuing ethical treatment for animals is not extremism. It is moral and compassionate. As Ghandi pointed out, a society can be judged by the way it treats it's animals.
posted by chance at 9:57 PM on June 24, 2007


American leather goods manufacutured with the hides of sacred cows-- idol worship meet century of the self.
posted by acro at 10:33 PM on June 24, 2007


Even the meat industry doesn't mistreat animals for the sheer glee of it. They are fully aware of the immorality of their actions. It's done for money, and if you think there are moral limits on what will be done, by someone, somewhere, for money, then you're wrong. This is really the core problem, and fixing it goes far beyond animal rights.

This fact, however, gives a ray of hope: Vat-grown meat, over the next twenty years or so, should become cheaper than farming living animals, especially given the relative simplicity of the nutrients, the space efficiency, the ease of portion-shaping, and the lack of the expensive requirement of butchering to remove bones, skin, and inedible organs from the meat, and less disease-ridden, less disgusting, less dangerous working conditions. Growing meat has clear and strong advantages over farming animals. See also www.new-harvest.org.

At the point at which more profit can be made from vat-meat than from butchering cows, then the meat industry will embrace vat-meat. And then of course, as part of the marketing exercise, the cruelty of the previous process will be shown to the slack-jawed masses, who will be shocked and saddened. As if it was somehow a surprise.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:37 PM on June 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


I too am looking forward to vat meat, as I'm basically certain I'll never be a vegetarian. I simply love meat too much to stand not eating it. I have a near-flawless ability to discern all meat substitutes I've come across, and I've even accidentally consumed my own flesh and blood (careful with the inside of your mouth, kids) and not been particularly grossed out....I don't know if it's genetic or not, but I'll be here eating other animals till the headless cows come home.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 10:54 PM on June 24, 2007


animals do not do this to their prey on a MASS scale. they do not HARVEST their prey and keep them immobile their ENTIRE life to serve their subsistence (in our case, a luxury choice).

Ignoring the glaringly obvious that animals do exactly this, by definition, as we are animals...

Human societal development has existed in conjunction and co-evolution with agricultural and domestication. Which is to say, there would be no such thing as "chickens" or "cows" if not for the selective breeding. These animals, left alone, would have difficult surviving - for better or worse.

There are certainly many valid arguments for not eating meat. But the descriptors which bash human intelligence and level charges of "unnatural" are trite and hollow.

Devaluing mankind, just like its corollary, only serves to separate us from nature.
posted by iamck at 11:29 PM on June 24, 2007


As Ghandi pointed out

So compasionate, yet still such a racist. Those dichotomies, never can figure them out.
posted by IronLizard at 11:30 PM on June 24, 2007


iamck- you actually pose good counters that can help me better explain my point:

Ignoring the glaringly obvious that animals do exactly this, by definition, as we are animals...

you obviously ignored the glaring context of my statement ..."other" animals is the importance of the context. in fact to stress, ALL other animals do not do this.

to address your other points: human societal development manipulates and tramples all other species sense of development, which could be in fact considered natural to the idea of evolution. does that really mean we should do it when we have the capacity to reflect on it and act otherwise? yes, certainly these new agriculture species would not survive well in not in nature's options of environment, but if you had watched the video you would notice that current survival conditions are not fit for any living being could hardly be considered a better alternative to making an attempt at the great outdoors. i would hope that we could see our release of these newly created species similar to a child that we've brought into existence: don't give it hideous living conditions and a tortuous death.
AND it's unnatural because NO living thing should be forced to live as a NON-living thing. it is not that we kill them and eat them, it's the methods we use to do so.

Devaluing mankind, just like its corollary, only serves to separate us from nature.
REALLY? giving animal life ANY shred of value is NOT devaluing mankind.

in all seriousness....i'm pretty convinced that there are many that commented without even watch the video. if they had...they would not be making many of the comments that have been made.
posted by moonbizcut at 11:53 PM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


@brandon blatcher:

"Tell that to the lions"

We sure have showed them, haven't we? And those f'ing whales, too.

I don't base my ethics on how animals behave. I also don't believe that the homeless deserve what they get. Ayn Rand disease notwithstanding.
posted by Twang at 1:41 AM on June 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


in all seriousness....i'm pretty convinced that there are many that commented without even watch the video. if they had...they would not be making many of the comments that have been made.

Respectfully, I think this is the fundamental misunderstanding here. I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I think it's safe to assume that when you watch this video, your conscience tells you that what you're seeing is wrong. When I watch this video, I get no such feeling. My conscience differentiates between humans and other animals in a way that yours doesn't. I don't think that mine is superior, I don't think that yours is crazy; they're just different, and that's the way it is. I'm a speciesist, you're not.

So that's why I think the tone of this video is misplaced. Its attitude seems to be, "people must not know about this, or else they must be suppressing their consciences", and so it shows pictures of cruelty and exploitation in an appeal to conscience. But that's just not going to have any effect on a speciesist like me. You can't guilt-trip me over something I feel no guilt about.

You wouldn't try to convince someone to stop having premarital sex by showing them statistics and saying "All these people are having sex! Isn't that terrible?" They'll say, "Nope, it's not terrible at all." And you certainly wouldn't try to convince them by showing them how much premarital sex the Nazis had; they'll think you're crazy.

This video is definitely unpleasant, but it's not persuasive. It says, "humans should stop exploiting animals, because it's wrong". Most people will just think, "sure, it's ugly, but I don't see what's so wrong about it", and then move on. If you really want to be persuasive, make a practical argument, like "humans should stop slaughtering cattle this way, because that's how BSE gets spread". Changing a conscience takes forever, but most people are open to practical arguments about personal benefit.
posted by equalpants at 1:48 AM on June 25, 2007


If you really want to be persuasive, make a practical argument, like "humans should stop slaughtering cattle this way, because that's how BSE gets spread". Changing a conscience takes forever, but most people are open to practical arguments about personal benefit.

Practical arguments about personal benefit are irrelevant to someone concerned about the morality of their actions (or the actions of others.)

But that's just not going to have any effect on a speciesist like me. You can't guilt-trip me over something I feel no guilt about.

Most people aren't positioned at one end of the scale or the other, they're in the middle somewhere. Most people, for example, would disapprove of putting dogs in trash compactors, because they feel empathy for dogs. For the animal rights advocate, there is always the hope that these people will slowly extend their empathy in larger circles.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:48 AM on June 25, 2007


Practical arguments about personal benefit are irrelevant to someone concerned about the morality of their actions (or the actions of others.)

Practical arguments are irrelevant if your goal is changing people's minds, but not if your goal is stopping the abuse. You don't necessarily need to change people's minds to stop at least some of the abuse.

there is always the hope that these people will slowly extend their empathy in larger circles.

Sure, but it's that "slowly" that's the killer. There's no need to wait for it; animal-rights and public-health people could make common cause today.
posted by equalpants at 3:10 AM on June 25, 2007


The cat comparison isn't the rhetorical heavy hitter you seem to think it is

eh, it's mostly a joke illustrating my thoughts on the matter:

We treat animals in a shitty way because we are animals, who happened to come out on top of the food change. Had the cats come out on top, I don't they'd be some paragon of virtue about all this.

Could we do a better job of handling animals? Yes. Should we? Probably.


Having zero regard for the animals we choose to eat is a choice you make every day. And it's my contention that, like pulling on a pair of culottes and leggings, you look like an idiot doing it.


Well, I'm convinced now of the righteous of your cause.

Most people probably don't have have zero regard for the animals we choose to eat. It's just low on their radar.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:31 AM on June 25, 2007


if man's intellect and is so great, why do we not take full advantage of the technologies we've created and aim to not subsist on breathing, reactive beings that live on our planet with us?

Please stop saying crazy shit like this. Animals kill each other food.


I don't base my ethics on how animals behave.

No one is basing their ethics on how animals behave. Just pointing out that all is not nice and has never been nice in the animal kingdom, of which we are part.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:55 AM on June 25, 2007


> The situation we're trying to address is not a state of nature. It's a product of man's art.

Profoundly false dichotomy. Man is part of nature, man's art is part of man's state of nature exactly as much as chimpanzee toolmaking is part of the chimpanzee state of nature.
posted by jfuller at 4:43 AM on June 25, 2007


Humans are animals.

The difference between us and other animals is that we can choose to change our instinctive behaviour.

I've chosen to change my behaviour and not eat meat. I think meat eating is savage. I've also chosen not to be savage.

This is the next step in our evolution, guys.
posted by humblepigeon at 4:46 AM on June 25, 2007


BB, using the defense that our past behavior has not been nice is either irrelevant or a claim that we are unable to change ourselves, something that not all of us believe.

Arturus, thanks for your post. I would like to publicly support you in where you are in the issue. It's true that people who are like you really don't get much credit. As someone who doesn't believe animals should be killed for food or clothing I think that each time someone chooses not to eat meat it is a good choice that makes a real difference to a real animal (that didn't come out well but I hope you get my point :-)

for those of you who feel that you just enjoy meat too much to give it up, I can offer my own experience. I've been vegetarian for 11 years now. For several of those years I sort of missed meat at times and enjoyed the smell of cooking meat and assumed it still tasted as good as it always had. I didn't really like vegetables all that much when I started. But I've found that my body has a connection between getting what it needs and telling me what I like. As my body figured out that it was getting its nutrition from things other than meat, my tastes changed. I now love vegetables and recently I've realized that I'm just no longer interested in meat. Without wanting to be judgmental about it, meat is just quite unappealing once you lose the taste for it. It did take several years to get to this point but I can't imagine ever wanting to go back. But my point is that if I ever do go back, my body will adjust again and I will think meat is yummy again. So, for me anyway, basing an ethical decision or what my tastes are at the moment, even though they feel so strong, is far less a factor that I used to think it was.
posted by sineater at 8:46 AM on June 25, 2007


Why has this argument devolved into a comparison of morals?

Non-vegetarians are suggesting that a practical argument pushing personal benefits be put forward, and yet none of them seem to have acknowledged the environmental angle in the article homunculus posted, which would have been beneficial in the original post.

More beneficial at least than more footage of that dog in a trash compactor. Which I've seen. Yes, it's horrifying, but it is another dumb tear jerker piece of footage and because America isn't filled with dog-hunters in garbage trucks, ultimately is unimportant. The environmental effects of animal raising are.

Which of the consequences of global warming is more effective in convincing the popular audience- drowning polar bears or the loss of our coastal cities?
The cities. People don't care about the animals- and that's OKAY. I don't care about lab animals being used cruelly for medical testing because it can help humans.
I do care about animals being raised on a massive scale because it's destroying the environment.
posted by Esoquo at 11:13 AM on June 25, 2007


I've been a vegetarian for 14 years. In high school, we were given the option to read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle or not, because the teacher felt some students might find it disturbing. I read it, and I had been a vegetarian for two years at that point; I didn't find it disturbing because I didn't eat what those plants packed anyway. This video, though, is much closer to home, with its mentions of clothing and pets and so forth. As for the dog in the compactor, I'm scared to watch the video now.

I do appreciate that they captioned it on Google Video, though!
posted by etoile at 8:11 PM on June 25, 2007


Arturus has it right, and it's incredibly hypocritical of people to point out apparent "inconsistencies" of those who choose to navigate a middle-ground and then in the next breath ridicule those who go to "extremes" of consistency.

For those of you not too put off by the whole new agey feel of a Zen-inspired piece, I always liked "one less act of violence", which recommends just that course: moderation, and trying to do without meat, not forever, not for a year, just for this meal. It's a real animal that's going in the pot, not some abstraction. It reminds me of people who argue the issues of giving to charity while the person in front of them could benefit from help. Of course, we are well-accustomed to thinking of animals on the species level, not the individual. This is part of the problem.
posted by dreamsign at 11:36 PM on June 25, 2007


Dreamsign, I think your link is spot on, and I'm going to forgive it the rather silly and wrong linguistic argument in the middle.

The story of Penn in this context makes perfect sense, and wasn't a connection I'd made explicitly, but I'm wondering why he cut it short. Usually, the story has one more section, the next time that Penn and Fox meet. Penn is no longer wearing his sword, and tells his friend, "I took your advice. I wore it as long as could."
posted by Arturus at 7:33 AM on June 26, 2007


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