Stile has managed to finally offend the world
August 23, 2001 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Stile has managed to finally offend the world Now, I like odd things, but this was the last straw. For those who haven't seem it, it is an mpeg of a man cutting the head off of a live kitten and then eating it. The best part of this link ( I couldn't watch the vid all the way through ), are the e-mail responses. Anyway, we all seem openminded here, was he in the wrong to post the vid? (Link not safe for work)
posted by remlapm (154 comments total)

Stile has managed to finally offend the world?

No, no, no. Stile has managed to finally offend you. Stile has been offending the rest of us for a long-ass time.
posted by dogmatic at 2:03 PM on August 23, 2001

I couldn't get through it either.

Before I condemn it, I would want more information... who is this man and why is he eating a kitten? If his culture allows such a thing, then video taping it is simply a gross thing to do (everything is alive before we eat it).

If it is an artistic statement made by someone in a country like the US, then this person should be found and prosecuted.

Art is one thing -- cruelty for the sake of art is illegal.
posted by o2b at 2:05 PM on August 23, 2001

illegal in the US, i should say.
posted by o2b at 2:05 PM on August 23, 2001

Dogmatic: am I really that thick skinned? I suppose being on the internet since the early Prodigy days numbs you a bit. You are right though, this was the last straw for me. Not a moral straw, but a gag-reflex straw.

O2b: I don't think it was an artistic statement any more than videotaping a chicken getting it's head cut off is.

I'm all for the posting of the vid, I just can't imagine anyone actually wanting to watch it.
posted by remlapm at 2:09 PM on August 23, 2001

was he in the wrong to post the vid

While there's no way in hell I'll bother to waste my time watching this, it's an easy question to answer. He's not in the wrong, because there aren't any rules binding his site (that I know of) or the internet.

If you want the entire web to be free of any control, you have to allow "good" things like political dissidents publishing online or a university putting their research archives online and "bad" things like, stileproject, and videos of people shitting on each other. On specific sites, people can impose any controls they want, but there can't be any controls coming from the top down.

Haven't we learned this with printed materials, art works, recorded sound, and recorded moving pictures in the past?
posted by mathowie at 2:10 PM on August 23, 2001

You go, Matt! Freedom of Speech, baby...

However, comma, *is* the vid real or not? I know, I know.... it may look real (and no, I'm not going to watch it), but Stile has also posted some "snuff" films and other vids that I wouldn't normally want to see either, but they were faked. That boy's got some problems. If it is real, then I'm against it because of the whole animal cruelty thingy; but if it's fake then I revert to my old saying: "Do what you want to do, but don't do it to me or mine!".

It's gotta make you wonder why someone would want to make stuff like this anyhow.
posted by crankydoodle at 2:17 PM on August 23, 2001

ok, the worst thing about this is not the whole freedom of speech issue, or the possibility of a culture shock, but the 'jackass syndrome', i.e, more stile fans sending in the same kind of shit.

now it's all fine and well if the f*cktard runs himself over, or sets himself on fire, but it's reprehensible when they focus their tendencies on other creatures. especially other creatures that can't say 'no'.

i remember a year or so ago, someone sent in pictures of a skinned cat that had 'stile sux' carved into it, and he refused to post it for fear of said 'jackass syndrome'.

looks like he changed his mind. either a) this is yet another (*yawn*) prank, or b) it's real and stile is getting desperate.

f*ck stile. and f*ck him for not even having a damned 'you must be 18 to continue'. and f*ck him for being an eWhore.

but i've been saying that since he sold out and turned into stile, inc.
posted by jcterminal at 2:24 PM on August 23, 2001

I'm pretty sure the video is real, but then you never know, it's very troubling, I have to say that it's the most disturbing thing I ever saw. I really mean that.

I then thought the issue over and don't think Stiles really did that much wrong. He didn't make the video, or even commissioned it. He just posted it. I can see a problem if say someone were to find a video through him, or several people, and then creating a demand for such things. Ofcourse the demand has been there and those that enjoy these things have had access to it and other disturbing material. So, I'm not sure if anything will come of it.

I think where Stiles is wrong, and this is in general is distributing this material, or making it easier to attract new people and such. Hmm... but then maybe I'm thinking of violence against humans. Is violence against animals illegal? I think it is against dogs or cats or such? But I'm not sure.

The greater picture here is the message, is it justified to post the video? Certainly there are many, many animals, cats and dogs that are killed each year because no one bothers to neuter, and then there are cows and pigs and all that. This has a fetus stem cell issue feel to it, if they will be destroyed at any rate, why not use them? Ofcourse here there is no pay off, just animal abuse.

Argh. Now this ruined my day.
posted by tiaka at 2:31 PM on August 23, 2001

I do want to know why this is morally different from cutting the head of a chicken and eating the chicken, or bolting a cow and then grilling it on the Weber. Or putting anchovies on pizza, or tossing a live lobster into boiling water.
posted by NortonDC at 2:33 PM on August 23, 2001

don't people feel silly about getting worked up over the bonsaikitty thing? this is the bad stuff.
posted by moz at 2:40 PM on August 23, 2001

It's morally different because 'them kitties is cute.'
posted by sexymofo at 2:42 PM on August 23, 2001

Norton: two reasons;
1) it has fur and is cute. People aren't supposed to look at cats and dogs (kittens and puppies) in the same way they do cows and pigs (burgers and bacon). Everyone would be vegan if they did. Either that or we'd eat cats and dogs...
2) I didn't watch the video but I would imagine it is done in a kind of "look at me, look how fucking gross and radical I can be. Top that you bitches" kind of way. Not the kind of thing that polite society wants to encourage. Also not the way cows are bolted or chicken's heads severed. I would imagine showboating and spectacle are kept on the DL in those situations.
posted by TiggleTaggleTiger at 2:43 PM on August 23, 2001

NortonDC- well, what it all comes down to is the whole "Save the dolphins, fuck the tuna" dilemma... Dolphins are cute, Tuna, well....we can eat those, what the hell. They just don't have that much personality.
I hope PETA sees this..... what fun that would be...
posted by bradth27 at 2:46 PM on August 23, 2001

You are right TTT, a spectacle like this should have been kept on the DL. I kind of regret posting the link.
posted by remlapm at 2:50 PM on August 23, 2001

TiggleTaggleTiger, some quick notes:

- Some people/cultures *do* eat dogs/cats,
- Some people/cultures do *not* ea cows/pigs,
- Cows have fur, and some people find them cute,
- No, I am not vegan/vegatarian, etc. Me likey beef jerky!
- It's all relative as far as what's good/bad to eat.


However, let me again say that I am not condoning the video; it's just that I know people who aren't down with eating moo-cows or swine.

I agree with your point #2... I don't want to see a kitten being eaten, but then again; I didn't watch the video, so I didn't. :)
posted by crankydoodle at 2:51 PM on August 23, 2001

Kitten in Korea = Veil in the US

I see nothing wrong with the video. The Stileproject has always been a mind-bending experience. The moral questions it raises on a daily basis are enough to defend its existence. This is yet another attempt to 'push the envelope' and see how people react. I actually find the reactions more interesting. The hypocrisy and the idiocy are overwhelming. That's what the video is really about: human reaction to moral dilemma.
posted by BazookaMoses at 2:56 PM on August 23, 2001

"The moral questions it raises on a daily basis are enough to defend its existence. "

yeah, i like my moral questions surrounded by a soothing buffer of 'CLICK HERE FOR THE HOTTEST TEEN PORN!!!'.

that makes it worth it.
posted by jcterminal at 2:59 PM on August 23, 2001

Whether it's morally right or not, or whether it's a custom/tradition/whatever in the country it was taken in, it's still pretty gross. Of course, I wouldn't want to take a tour of a slaughterhouse, either. But that's just me.
posted by spyke at 3:01 PM on August 23, 2001

Christ. I'm going home and hugging my cats. (Count me in the "no way in HELL I'm watching this video" camp.)

Cats and dogs and other pets aren't the same as cows because we've domesticated cats and dogs and they depend on humans for care. To do this to a domesticated animal is a betrayal of that trust and the social contract. It is thoroughly unconscionable and everyone connected with that video and its posting should be prosecuted as far as anti-cruelty laws allow.
posted by gsh at 3:04 PM on August 23, 2001

...a man cutting the head off of a live kitten and then eating it.

Well, actually it shows him stir-frying it... you never actually see anybody eat it. Yes, I watched it all the way through.

Sure, this thing is in bad taste (no pun intended), but it could easily have been faked too. I don't see any reason to get all upset over it.
posted by spilon at 3:13 PM on August 23, 2001

In response to NortonDC et al, my opinion is this: there is *no* difference in killing a kitten versus throwing a lobster into boiling water or (ouch!) an anchovy onto a pizza...or a cow into a meat grinder.

Why kill animals? It is not necessary for our own well being, and it causes suffering.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:16 PM on August 23, 2001

Jeeze. Way to ruin a perfectly good nick by applying too much reality.
posted by frykitty at 3:18 PM on August 23, 2001


i think this is real.
posted by jdc at 3:21 PM on August 23, 2001

eats shit.
posted by quonsar at 3:21 PM on August 23, 2001

Why kill animals? It is not necessary for our own well being, and it causes suffering.

Um... cause some are tasty, especially with peanut sauce and some pahd thai noodles?

But that's neither here nor there. I'm against kitten killing just as much as the next guy/gal. Cows, pigs... well; I eat them, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Beef jerky & pork rinds: mmm-mmm-good.

Yes, Stile can post things that are wrong (IMHO), but it's his prerogative to post what he wants on his site. I didn't watch it and in some small way, that's my own protest against it. But I believe he should have the right to post it.
posted by crankydoodle at 3:32 PM on August 23, 2001

Really puts those bumper stickers that say "I (heart) cats! Let's trade recipes!" in a new and disturbing light, dudnit?
posted by Hildago at 3:33 PM on August 23, 2001

I agree with Norton all the way. If you're complaining that this is sick, and wrong, and you eat meat, you're being silly. You might as well get all worked up over Emiril Live.
posted by Doug at 3:35 PM on August 23, 2001

This is a simple documentary video demonstrating the preparation of a particular dish.

If you find it offensive, it's because you have an emotional separation between animals-as-cute-furry-things and animals-as-food. If you are a carnivore, it's really quite silly to get upset about this video and not similarly upset about dinner.

Personally, I find the suggestion that Stile should not have posted it to be quite offensive. Where's the should? Why is there an obligation? Why can't he do what he wants? He's paying for the bandwidth, after all; it's not like it harms you.

-Mars, more bothered by the response to the video than by the video itself
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:36 PM on August 23, 2001

I don't watch movies of slaughter houses killing cows, butchering them and then cooking them up. In the same, I don't watch Bob kill and cook up kittens. Eitherway, regardless of whats cute and whats not, there's something to be said about putting it in the 'fridge first for a while, before you cook it up.

I didn't watch the video, but since the guy didn't eat it, I assume this is a shock video. If you're going to do it, eat the damn thing, dammit.
posted by tomplus2 at 3:38 PM on August 23, 2001

i can understand the argument that people dislike meat because they feel it's unhealthy (or find the preparation disgusting). i don't buy the argument that eating meat is somehow unethical -- other animals eat meat, so i don't feel too bad about it. i certainly have no hangups over trying to prove my superiority over other animals (of which humans are as well).
posted by moz at 3:39 PM on August 23, 2001

Have any of you ever been to China? They sell *anything* for food in the markets. You name it, cats, dogs, owls, snakes, anything with meat on it. When people are hungry, it's hard to push morals like animal rights on them.
posted by Hackworth at 3:45 PM on August 23, 2001

gsh: Cats and dogs and other pets aren't the same as cows because we've domesticated cats and dogs and they depend on humans for care.

Cows are domesticated, furry, large-brained mammals.
posted by NortonDC at 3:45 PM on August 23, 2001

If you click through to the posted HTML page it's just text, tho with porn banners and popups everywhere, but Stile explains his rationale for having posted it (minus the "it's all about my site traffic" part) and provides a link to click to actually see the video.

Not that I would click that link if it were the last website on earth. Free speech is lovely and so is cultural relativity but I love both cats and nightmare-free sleep.

Stile is the Fox network of the web, proving over and over again that vast numbers of humans have a vast appetite for repugnant and revolting shit like this in the name of Entertainment. What's sad isn't that this video exists, or that some guy posted it to his website, but that that video's going to bring him a heap of traffic and yet more notoriety, and that now he's set a new standard of perversion he'll have to beat next time the referer traffic dips. Who's for some depressed teenage fangirl killing herself by carving "fuck me Stile" into her belly with a kitchen knife and broadcasting it on her Stile-portal webcam to be archived prominently on self-same site? ---oh, hey, what's wrong with that? she was gonna off herself anyway.
posted by Sapphireblue at 3:46 PM on August 23, 2001

other animals eat meat, so i don't feel too bad about it.

moz, male lions will kill the offspring of other male lions to restart the fertility cycle of the mother lions, which will then mate with the male that just killed their offspring.

Look for better support than "animals do it, so it's ok."
posted by NortonDC at 3:51 PM on August 23, 2001

How about: "Animals aren't people, so it's OK."
posted by kindall at 4:06 PM on August 23, 2001

Independently, that is insufficient. Couple that with "People are more important than animals" and you'll really be on to something.
posted by NortonDC at 4:10 PM on August 23, 2001

Yeah, well, that goes without saying, doesn't it?
posted by kindall at 4:15 PM on August 23, 2001

My only problem with this is his complete lack of description on the file. There's a million "offensive things" it could be and I'm just glad it had "kitty" in the filename. Thanks remlapm for describing it so curiosity didn't make me download it. That aside, he's got a right to do whatever he wants. Obviously there's a demand for this stuff or his site wouldn't be so popular in the first place. Freedom of speech, and all that; even disgusting speech. I'm gonna go pet my kitty now.
posted by kevspace at 4:20 PM on August 23, 2001

The reason it's moral to kill cows and not to kill kittens is that the impulse that protects kittens is the same one that protects human babies from ending up on the dinner table. Cuteness is an evolved reaction to an animal's resemblence to a human child: large head, round face, big wide-set eyes, tentative movement, and helplessness and vulnerability.

It wouldn't be hard to argue that if you accept that eating babies is wrong, then cultural differences notwithstanding, a person's rejection of cuteness in deciding what to eat and what to love is a valid measure of their moral depravity.

Now, I love my cat more than just about anything. On the other hand, calves are kind of cute, and I sure do enjoy veal... So how depraved am I?
posted by nicwolff at 4:23 PM on August 23, 2001

kindall--You'd think that, wouldn't you?

I was having a discussion with a person who was, and still is, a dear, trusted and valued friend of mine. In the course of that discussion about a choosing between one's pet and one's mate, she asserted that she values animal life equally with human life. I proposed scenario:

You're driving through a narrow curving tunnel. As you come around the corner, you clearly see both a baby and a group of two cats in the road. You are going too fast to stop in time, even if you scrape along the wall. They are spread out so that you must hit either the baby or the cats. Which do you choose to run over?

She never answered. As for myself, I do not eat meat. I found killing animals enormously terrible. Given any viable alternative, I will not not kill animals for my own consumption. Since it is not necessary for my survival and is so terrible that I would never do it myself, I can not justify, to myself, putting that off on someone else.
posted by NortonDC at 4:30 PM on August 23, 2001

I don't think you're depraved, Nicwolf, but you sure did just disprove your whole theory.
And why is it offensive to say that someone shouldn't post something? That's silly. For instance, we can all agree it should be legal, but wouldn't it be in bad taste if gary Condit went on national tv to say how sad he is that Chaundra Levy is missing, cause she was such a good lay? That's something that is entirely legal, but pretty much shouldn't be said because of the circumstances.

Saying that someone shouldn't do something is different than saying it should be illegal for them to do it.
posted by Doug at 4:36 PM on August 23, 2001

Some of you are amazing in both your hypocrisy and your obliviousness to it.

Neotony evolved because it successfully provokes a response in most that facilitates survival. There is NO morality inherent in it!

If this footage was a documentary-style filming of someone preparing his meal, it is no more objectionable than any cooking show on tv. Get over yourselves.
posted by rushmc at 4:46 PM on August 23, 2001

but wouldn't it be in bad taste if gary Condit went on national tv to say how sad he is that Chaundra Levy is missing, cause she was such a good lay?

Personally, I would find such an honest, human response a great deal more refreshing than the actual charade of shame, politeness, and evasive politicking.
posted by rushmc at 4:49 PM on August 23, 2001

bah, as much as i detest stile, i'm directing most of my disgust at the guy who chose to make the video. sure, to some extent, one could be called a hypocrite if he eats meat and is disgusted by the video, but it isn't the norm to kill and eat an animal for it's shock value, knowing it'll offend others. i should really watch the video without saying anything but i have a feeling my stomach won't be able to handle it. i could barely listen to howard this morning when they had that guy eating the raw cow parts.
posted by lotsofno at 4:50 PM on August 23, 2001

rushmc--Since kittens aren't sexually mature, I don't see the application.

Please elaborate.
posted by NortonDC at 4:54 PM on August 23, 2001

we don't eat people because it tastes bad.

too fatty mostly.

we eat animals because we have opposable thumbs, therefore we can handle a wok.

wait... what was the question?
posted by jcterminal at 5:31 PM on August 23, 2001

I know of two American heroes (who you are going to hear much more about in the next four years) who ate dog, bought pet dogs to eat, and preferred dog meat over venison. Do the names Lewis and Clark ring a bell? They were surrounded by a zillion pounds of salmon and continued to buy and eat dogs. Actually Clark never liked the flavor but admitted that his men were much healthier when on the dog diet than other grub.

To dote on a kitty and eat a burger does not make sense. We're all food for something.
posted by wiinga at 5:33 PM on August 23, 2001

I'm most interested by how we're all wading through our contradicting beliefs as if through a thick mud: I love tasty food, but I hate to see suffering; suffering is okay in dirty animals, but not okay in cute; how is beef jerky like a kitten like a human baby, etc etc. We're so confused! We think we understand ourselves enough to discern right from wrong, but things become more difficult when we have to compare them to our actual lifestyles, for fear of realizing you're an unwitting hypocrite.

When it comes down to it, it's easier to come up with convoluted moral structures that aren't always consistent or even ideal (by pointing fingers at extremes, and knowing who we don't like and therefore believing in the opposite of what they believe) than actually re-evaluating our long-held beliefs and maybe either becoming a vegetarian... or else trying to overcome your first reaction and realizing that suffering is okay in this world, it's part of the create & destroy cycle and to push the idea of no suffering too far would create unbalance and the suffering would just have to find other outlets.

It's okay to admit that new evidence and thinking might lead to an actual change in the way you lead your life. Why guard a random fort just because you happen to be standing there? I'm thinking of eating my cats tonight for dinner myself.

btw: frykitty, your stance is strangely ironic considering your name. :)
posted by mockerybird at 5:37 PM on August 23, 2001

I just spent several days rescuing a feral kitten from under a neighbor's house, and have a loved cat of my own - but you know what, I don't find this video appalling at all.

Sure it's graphic, but I honestly don't think the filmmaker's (or the person in the video) intent was to shock. It looks like a strange documentary bit that Stile has grabbed for his own purposes - its shock value to our eyes.

Maybe the time I spent growing up on a farm and seeing animals slaughtered on a regular basis (and turned into meat, which we ate) has numbed me, but I think it's just made me more of a realist.

If I died in a locked room with my cute little kitty, you can bet she'd be munching on me before long. Probably start with the nose. We're all meat.
posted by kokogiak at 5:54 PM on August 23, 2001

Further questions related to NortonDC's demolition derby scenario involving kittens and kids:

Your choices are to collide with and kill 100 (or 1000, or how about a million kittens?) with the car, versus striking a glancing blow and just breaking (or how about severing?) the baby's arm. In other words, how many kittens do we sacrifice (if any) for the sake of a child's arm, or even a child's temporary discomfort?

Your choices are to collide with and kill a mentally retarded child versus running over a "normal" child.

Your choices are to collide with and kill a human in a persistent, permanent vegetative state (eg in an irreversible coma) versus running over a healthy chimpanzee.

Your choices are to collide with and kill a stranger's child or your own child.

Your choices are to collide with and kill [insert favorite human demon, e.g. GW Bush, Clinton, Hitler, "Satan", Britney Spears], or else run over a healthy dog.

Personally, I find it less than compelling when we as humans, with some power over the fate of other animals, justify our use of animals in terms of "we're more important". More important to whom? Why, to ourselves of course. I'd rather kill someone else's child than my own, but that hardly makes my own child intrinsically "more important".

We have our own suffering to do: why drag other sentient beings into it?

Getting back to the original thread, would anyone have any objection to watching a video of an anencephalic child being filleted and wokked on the Stiles site? (I'm not sure how they taste with peanut sauce, though...)
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 5:57 PM on August 23, 2001

fold_and_mutilate--How would you answer the original question?
posted by NortonDC at 6:08 PM on August 23, 2001

spindle, fold, then mutilate.
posted by clavdivs at 6:14 PM on August 23, 2001

o2b wrote:If it is an artistic statement made by someone in a country like the US, then this person should be found and prosecuted. Art is one thing -- cruelty for the sake of art is illegal.

I first found out about this video through filepile and until I read more details (no, I don't want to see the video myself), I thought it might be the video associated with a well publicized but still mysterious case of cat torture here in Toronto.

In the Toronto case, a video was made of 3 men torturing, skinning alive and killing a cat. Somehow news about this video filtered out to the community, although it was apparently never displayed in any art gallery. Two of the three accused are artists, and one or more of them are vegans and animal rights activists.

"Mr. Power has gone on record in a local newspaper defending the video as a work of art -- a comment on the death and suffering of animals used for meat.

"Toronto Police Detective Gordon Scott said the 17-minute videotape is the most difficult thing he has ever watched.

"'After a couple of minutes, I was actually rooting for the cat to die to avoid the cruelties being inflicted upon it,' he said."

Another notorious local artist has been criticized for saying: "I don't support the killing of animals for food or art. But whether it is art is not for us to answer. ... We're against cruelty to animals, but these people want us to issue a statement that would define the limits of artistic freedom," he added. "It's extortion."

(All direct quotes are from this story in the National Post).
posted by maudlin at 6:17 PM on August 23, 2001

(All direct quotes are from this story in the National Post).

Sometimes there is a fine line between "art" and "assinine"... these folks cut the line, spit on it, and jumped *way* the hell over into the Land O' Assinine!!!
posted by crankydoodle at 6:23 PM on August 23, 2001

Er... I mean "asinine".

posted by crankydoodle at 6:28 PM on August 23, 2001

my response to fold_and_mutilate's list of questions?

i'd drive down one side, stop, then back up over the rest.

there. dilemma solved.

(heh. don't mind me. just throwing monkey wrenches.)
posted by jcterminal at 6:37 PM on August 23, 2001

100 (or 1000, or how about a million kittens?)

That's a lotta kittens. Given the sheer number, I'll bet one or two of them would try to eat the baby, so I'd better save the baby. I can only hope that I get to the two danger-kittens through all the others... Otherwise I would have killed a bunch of innocent kittens for nothing! Oh dear... I can see where the moral dilemma comes into this, now.

I'm with mockerybird, this is whacky.

I say we all standardize our values, right away. And we can redirect people with non-standards-compliant values to a webpage telling them to ugrade.
posted by whatnotever at 6:39 PM on August 23, 2001

I re-read your list of questions, hoping to find one relevant to the issues discussed here, but each one was quality of life issue, with the possible exception of the single one you answered. My question is about the value of a life as whole. Perhaps you wish to invalidate that framework, but if so, you'll need to be more explicit.

Or, maybe you could make quality of life issues relevant by announcing the grand opening your line of beef products harvested by the surgical removal of single cow leg. Or maybe you ranch features one-legged chickens, hopping about. I hear chickens are quite resilient.
posted by NortonDC at 6:56 PM on August 23, 2001

Okay, this is ridiculous.

The offense in this video (which I won't watch) is that many, many people have profound emotional connections to cats (also added to by emotional connections to kittens-not-just-cats). You can pretend that's not true, but it is. This sort of brutal act is not so much brutal to the kitten but to the feelings of people who feel (irrationally or no) a caring for cats. It's a fuck-you to a form of loving that's very important to many people.

If you want to decide that anyone's deep attachment to dogs or cats is childish, go ahead. If you skin a dog and eat it to show dog lovers how childish they are, you're vile.
posted by argybarg at 6:56 PM on August 23, 2001

The answers to fold_and_mutilate's question seems pretty simple to me. If you believe in pure evolution, then humans are simply animals. Killing one form of animal to save another is then morally neutral. Part of being "the fittest" is the ability to choose to save your race at the cost of another.

If you believe that God (or some other higher force or moral law) has given man a higher value than animals, then you kill an animal to save a child every time. If you believe that God (or some higher force or moral law) has given man a distinct value over animals, then you kill as many animals as are necessary to save the life of the child.

In other words, the universal resolution of this problem is impossible, because people all believe so many different things about God and the nature of morality. But the personal resolution of this problem is simple: answer the question, "what is man?" and you've pretty much got your answer.
posted by gd779 at 7:02 PM on August 23, 2001

a person's rejection of cuteness in deciding what to eat and what to love is a valid measure of their moral depravity.

Huh? It almost sounds like you mean that people who make ethical decisions by thinking, rather than by gut reaction, are somehow defective.

If you believe in pure evolution, then humans are simply animals. Killing one form of animal to save another is then morally neutral.

Well, no. You're more closely related to the baby than you are the cats, so from an evolutionary standpoint you should spare the baby, since by doing so you are (slightly) more likely to benefit your own genes.
posted by kindall at 7:04 PM on August 23, 2001

mockey: that was the joke.
posted by frykitty at 7:23 PM on August 23, 2001

We think we understand ourselves enough to discern right from wrong, but things become more difficult when we have to compare them to our actual lifestyles, for fear of realizing you're an unwitting hypocrite.

I think it's just easier to own up to the fact that if you regularly eat meat, you're accepting and supporting all kinds of barbarous practices that brought the meat from the world of the living to your dinner table. I'd rather admit I'm a bad person than try to pawn off the ludicrous theory that eating a kitten is immoral but eating veal parmesan is a treat.
posted by rcade at 7:24 PM on August 23, 2001

I watched it, I read Stiles comments, and those posted here, and I must say that I have seen far worse on PBS. A special on China a while back showed a live car being scalded alive in boiling water to remove the fur, then left to die slowly while the cook prepared the other ingredients. That is what happens every day, hundreds of times. This kitten was killed quickly and humanely, far more humanely than an average restaurant cat. You may not be aware of it, and ignorance is bliss as they say, but the fact is that the only uncommon thing about this act is that you saw it. If you READ his comments or WATCH the video, you'll see that it's not a shock thing, it's a food thing. It was sent by someone who taped it in Korea, where kittens are meat.

I don't like the idea of killing kittens, but I can hardly condemn it when I eat cows and chickens. If it was a cruel death, I could speak out against it, but it wasn't. It was probably a lot cleaner and more humane than the death of the cow who provided my dinner tonight, sad to say.

Stile didn't post anything worse than what I saw in PBS. True, kittens are loved by many, and this act is of particular offense to those people, so what? Hindus probably feel the same about the fact that we have hamburger joints on every street corner in America. Get over yourselves, because unless you want to make this a debate over eating meat at all, there ire no grounds to condemn this video or Stile's posting of it.
posted by Nothing at 7:35 PM on August 23, 2001 [1 favorite]

A live CAT, not car. Sorry.
posted by Nothing at 7:36 PM on August 23, 2001

Here here, Mockerybird (and rcade, as I hit preview).

We love our cats. Sweet kitty who tortures mice and birds, leaving headless bodies at the foot of our beds. People love their steaks from Safeway or McFastFood made of animals that have at best have been treated with the same care and respect as a widget in a factory.
posted by spandex at 7:39 PM on August 23, 2001

bah. One too many haves in the last sentence.
posted by spandex at 7:52 PM on August 23, 2001

Why do people keep mentioning just China? Lots of local provincial Filipinos eat cats and dogs, too. Dogs more than cats, though. Dog meat (called azucena) tastes a lot like pork, and -- I've heard -- goes well with beer. A few days ago, a tabloid TV-news report showed how meat vendors in Baguio sell gutted-and-hung dog carcasses, right alongside the pork butts and `taters. Other rural natives catch stray cats and even mice, then skin them and pan-fry them in a deep wok.

Myself, I eat meat. I eat roast beef, roast pork, roast chicken, fish, and, a few times, pork brains. I fully understand the extent to which civilization has established the slaughterhouse and butcher shop as instituionalized shields to protect society's mind against the gory reality of meat-eating.

But I won't eat the meat of something to which I -- or another person -- have an emotional attachment. I can eat stray-dog-meat (but not necessarily enjoy it) -- but not mine or someone else's dog. And I will not eat my poor kitten's head.

Besides, cat meat is sinewy and sparse, not quite as meaty as dog.
posted by brownpau at 8:02 PM on August 23, 2001

You're more closely related to the baby than you are the cats, so from an evolutionary standpoint you should spare the baby, since by doing so you are (slightly) more likely to benefit your own genes.

Kindall: Okay, I'm a computer geek with zero background of philosophy, so maybe this will be foolish. But in my view, that's not a moral question, it's a practical one. What made the propagation of your genes a moral imperative? In my opinion, a universal morality cannot exist outside some 3rd party (ie, God) simply because we individuals don't have the right to tell anybody else how to live. If you don't believe in God, then it seems to me that you can establish moral guidelines for your own life, but you lack authority over anybody else. We don't have the power to tell the lions in Africa what "right" and "wrong" is. Sure, maybe we can get part way there via some implied consent (social contract theory), but it should be pretty obvious that the animal kingdom never submitted to the social contract.

In other words, it seems to me that if you accept pure evolution (meaning evolution absent any form of God or higher power), then the murder of this cat must be morally neutral. When survival of the fittest is the only goal, then the life of another species has no inherent value. Kittens are only valuable because we choose to give them value as our companions. That's a form of morality, I suppose, but surely it's a dynamic and personal form. It's certainly not absolute.

Of course, I believe that God created kittens the same as he created man. Therefore, while I have no problem with the mass slaughter of animals for food or some other productive reason, I condemn pointless cruelty (which this appears to be).
posted by gd779 at 8:10 PM on August 23, 2001

Lots of local provincial Filipinos eat cats and dogs, too. Dogs more than cats, though.

when i was 16, my uncle and cousins who took care of my dogs (i used to live in the phillipines, and when i moved, i had to leave them behind.) ate one of them. they really couldn't understand how i was attached to it and laughed at the thought... it was definitely one of the sadder moments in my life.
posted by lotsofno at 8:11 PM on August 23, 2001

Another notorious local artist has been criticized for saying: "I don't support the killing of animals for food or art. But whether it is art is not for us to answer. ... We're against cruelty to animals, but these people want us to issue a statement that would define the limits of artistic freedom," he added. "It's extortion."

see, i don't agree with this at all... the 'art' bit anyway. i wander in and out of the fine art realm, and i often find that when artists attempt to thwart the idea that they actually have to defend their work, there really isn't much for them to defend. art is a natural reflection of human history (oh go on, i'm not even going to try to address why cats paint) and as such, as humans, we've every last right to pick at, dissect, debate and voice our opinions either high or lowly educated. we still have that right, and why shouldn't we? 'art' by it's nature should be debated, wrestled over, and thought provoking. be suspicious of any artist who tries to claim, 'you just don't get it,' because usually there really isn't that much to get.

of this particular 'art,' i find it just 'non-art.' it's more likely something to be discussed as a symptom of our ridiculous and grotesque society. it isn't 'art' just because some ass 'ArTiSt' claims it is (you know them, right? they're those slugs that wear black to cover the custard stains, scuffle about in the dark reading joyce by candle light, and claim everything they do -though without merit- is so profound). it displays neither a superior technical ability, or a clear visible message that *couldn't have been accomplished better, more interestingly in another manner.* not that i want to promote snobbery, because there are tons of pieces of 'great art' done by those whose technical abilities are raw, but in that work there usually is a clear and happy bell of communication or vision to elevate it. while this erm... 'work' well, just because it has procured a large emotional response from people, doesn't mean that by it's essence it is 'art' ... hell, i can get into a heated debate about judge judy and the brady bunch, but who in their practical mind would desire or legitimate these as 'art?'

naw, even 'shock art' isn't so decidedly bland and isn't always 'art' by it's nature. in my opinion, this is just some sick, silly, and totally misguided idiots looking for a quick fix to make a fleeting name for themselves. their method is base, and their message - if there is one, maybe on pain? or injustice? or the stagnant situation of the color blue in a paternalistic society? - is unclear at best. i'd be more willing to try to legitimize judge judy.

just my 2 cents.
posted by eatdonuts at 8:13 PM on August 23, 2001

Kindall: Okay, I'm a computer geek with zero background of philosophy, so maybe this will be foolish. But in my view, that's not a moral question, it's a practical one.

Exactly. That's why I said "from an evolutionary standpoint" rather than "from a moral standpoint." Evolution is morally neutral.
posted by kindall at 8:24 PM on August 23, 2001

I bet kitten taste just like chicken. I'm just saying.
posted by justgary at 8:53 PM on August 23, 2001

good question brownpau...

why do people keep mentioning china when the man who is in the video is purported to be korean?

just a thought.

i did view the video. i did not enjoy it. but you know, i have a korean friend, who is a doctorate student here in the states. he is not from an extremely wealthy family, but not from an extremely poor one either. they swap pets with their neighbors to avoid any guilt when they eat them, which is actually a much more common practice than stile himself (and as has been pointed out, many people in this forum) realizes. and that may sound cruel in and of itself, but i'll bet there are some american cattle farmers who have a hard time giving up animals for slaughter sometimes because of emotional attachments that they've made with the animal.

i'm not saying it's right or wrong, i'm just saying that that is how it is. and stile's right to post it should be obvious.

and i'm almost surprised that factions of the mefi community would think otherwise.
posted by basmati at 8:53 PM on August 23, 2001

four things:

1) toward the end of the video there's a very lovely flower-print tablecloth visible in the background

2) you don't see anyone's face, or do you see anyone eating

3) stiles didn't shoot the video, but he did add the queen song

4) unless the cook added the rest of the litter, there's too much meat being fried in the pan to have come from one skinny kitten
posted by double+good at 8:54 PM on August 23, 2001

Whatever... I had bratwurst for dinner tonight. Yum.

Seems to me that the people most outraged by the kitty vid are the people who haven't even spent the 2 minutes it takes to watch it. Seems like that's usually the case when people get outraged over a movie/video game/tv show/whatever.
posted by spilon at 8:58 PM on August 23, 2001

This seems like a good time to ask a question: how many of you have actually killed an animal for food? I guess hunting, fishing, and slaughtering would all count. And how does that experience affect your views on issues like this?

I'll start: I grew up in the Texas Hill Country, and my family hunted (90% for food; 10% sport) and fished, and I even made a good chunk of money at age 12 or so by trapping and selling the furs of small fur-bearing animals. Though I'm not particularly proud of the trapping business, I feel that these experiences helped to shape my view of issues like this. I love my pets (dogs, cat) dearly, but I'm pretty clear that the value of their life is not equal to the value of human life.
posted by tippiedog at 9:27 PM on August 23, 2001

Sure, some of the folks in this thread seem repulsed by the idea and description of the video without having viewed it, but I haven't seen anyone (correct me if I'm wrong) say it should be censored or banned or whatnot. Just as this video being hosted by Stile is a legitimate form of freedom of expression, those disturbed by the idea, myself included, have a legitimate claim to their opinion -- but not to forcing it on others. That's the difference between some of the points above and your average Lieberman-esque campaign.
posted by jess at 9:32 PM on August 23, 2001

I'm weighing in pretty late here, but thought I'd share my thoughts nonetheless.

First of all, the way this video is being presented is WAY out of context - I envisioned a typical american male, cutting off the head of a domesticated cat, and then eating that head as if it were an apple.

This, of course, is very far from the truth. Rather than something truly disturbing, the film appears to be excerpted from a documentary about the dining habits of a foreign cullture.

It's not unlinke those films depicting other social customs that seem strange to those removed from them. Lip plates and neck rings come to mind . . .

Imagine what those from other cultures might think were they to see a film documenting the production process of Chicken McNuggets.

Now then, the morality of this film is a separate issue from the morality of Stile himself. As a person, he's proven himself to be beyond reprehensible. Of that, there can be little debate.
posted by aladfar at 9:37 PM on August 23, 2001

In response to tippiedog: I have caught and killed of a number of trout while backpacking. I treated them in much the same way as this cat was treated. A swift killing followed by a brief stint in the frying pan.

Somehow, I'm still able to live with myself.
posted by aladfar at 9:40 PM on August 23, 2001

I have a cat. I love my cat.

But really, that wasn't nearly as disgusting as I expected it to be after reading about it here.
posted by kindall at 9:44 PM on August 23, 2001

The offense in this video (which I won't watch) is that many, many people have profound emotional connections to cats (also added to by emotional connections to kittens-not-just-cats).

So. What.

Some people have profound emotional connections to shoes, too, but I'm still throwing away my old Nikes when they wear out. I am not responsible for other people's irrationalities, nor do I feel obliged to cater to them. You may keep a chicken for a pet and raise it all the way up from an egg, but that's not going to keep me from deep frying mine.
posted by rushmc at 9:55 PM on August 23, 2001

It's been said above, but it's worth reiterating:

Anyone who did not watch the video has no right to comment on it.

Either have the courage (and decency) to find out wtf you're talking ABOUT, or keep your baseless views to yourselves.
posted by rushmc at 9:57 PM on August 23, 2001

watch video so i can add my two cents, AGAIN... or keep my job...


/me ponders.

i'm gonna rock on with my 'baseless views'.

if my views are baseless, then who are belong to-

just kidding.
posted by jcterminal at 10:03 PM on August 23, 2001

Ok, it's disgusting and whatnot to see something being murdered, but only because we do not see what happens to the meat that we eat. I am sure, just as others have said, if you saw how that nice fat Burger King whopper was made... and I do mean from scratch to the end, you would feel pretty revolted, but then again, humans have killed and eaten since waay back in the day.. dunno if any of you remember. Like.. when we first appeared on this plant.
posted by spidre at 10:03 PM on August 23, 2001

I don't have to watch it to know I don't want to watch it. I don't have to have a carefully defined moral framework to think that stile is an asshole for posting it. I would never say he shouldn't be "allowed" to post it, I just immediately lose all respect for someone who would do so. Why? Because there is no purpose to watching such a videotape except to satisfy prurient (yes, by my standards!) interests, and anyone posting such a video is pandering to those interests. Stile's punishment is the only one I can inflict - I won't patronize his site or watch his movie.

I just got back from Africa, where some native dancers from the local village performed for us at a farm in Malawi. Our host killed a cow to feed the villagers. I watched the young men hack the carcass to pieces with machetes. I ate the steak. I had a video camera. I did not tape it.

I hate cats.
posted by JParker at 10:05 PM on August 23, 2001

They are spread out so that you must hit either the baby or the cats. Which do you choose to run over?

The cats. Because you'll be risking far less jail time via an overzealous DA than you would be by running over a baby.
posted by aaron at 10:21 PM on August 23, 2001

Anyone who did not watch the video has no right to comment on it.

That's just about the dumbest thing I've ever read. Sure I have a right to comment on it.

I don't have to eat shit to know I won't like it. I know it smells bad, I know it comes from a place I don't wanna put my mouth, and I know I might even get sick from it. So, I've made a valid and informed choice to not eat shit. Why must I go the extra step of actually experiencing shit-eating firsthand to merely confirm what I already know? :)

To put it less vulgarly, we make decisions like this all the time based on other people's experience. Don't step in front of a bus. Don't put your hand on a lit burner. Don't watch Battlefield Earth.

You don't always have to have direct experience to have an opinion on something.

My comment on this video is: I don't want to watch it, because I'm sure that, as a cat lover, I will be offended and/or sickened.
posted by MegoSteve at 11:16 PM on August 23, 2001


I really don't give a good goddamn what people kill and eat, to be honest, but it pisses me off when halfwit, xenophobic bullshit like this appears on Metafilter, or anywhere else for that matter. MeFi just feels like a last bastion against this kind of foolishness. I'm living in Korea now, just got back 2 days ago, lived here for 3 years out of the last 6, my wife is Korean for chrissakes, and Koreans do not 'swap pets' in order to eat them, do not eat cats, none of it.*

*A largely frowned-upon, small proportion of men (and even smaller number of women, as they tend not to be as concerned with the semi-mythical 'stamina' that the meat is supposed to give you) eat dogs, though, yup, one breed in particular, and I must say, it's pretty damn yummy. And if you think that's a bad thing, I gotta tell you, I'm too tired to care.

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:29 PM on August 23, 2001

OK, I watched the video and honestly I wasn't all that shocked by it. As much as you would all love to slag Stile for using sensationalism to draw attention to his site, you do have to admit that he makes some very good points.

Someone in Korea or China would probably think nothing of the video, or at least be substantially less offended.

Yet, suppose we were to have a viewing of an American documentary on livestock and slaughterhouses, showing farmers herding cows to their deaths. At the end, there is a child sitting down to eat a big fat juicy steak. Wouldn't bother us for a second would it? Not particularly. But view that same video in a Hindu area of India, and you'd probably get this exact same reaction.

Fact of the matter is this: North Americans have very different values than the rest of the world. That's why this piece of footage is so shocking, but when you open your eyes and look at it from the other side of the fence, suddenly it's not as bad.

And I really don't think the video was intended originally as shock footage. Or at least the guy cutting the kitten wasn't. Notice how he gives the cat a sharp whack to the head first to kill it. There's nothing inhumane about the killing. He delivers a quick killing blow to the animal before I guess "expertly" filleting it.

You guys are getting your pants in a knot because it was cute. Baby pigs are cute too, they just grow up to be big and ugly. I don't see any of you complaining about that.
posted by PWA_BadBoy at 11:54 PM on August 23, 2001

a universal morality cannot exist outside some 3rd party (ie, God) simply because we individuals don't have the right to tell anybody else how to live.

Sorry to be such a stickler but that is, in and of itself, a declaration of a moral imperative. One need only look at the sort of response it would take to answer the question, "Why don't I have the right to tell anybody else how to live," to see that is the case.

Perhaps I've devoted too much time to the formal study of philosophy, but sophistry like this just plain hurts.

I now return this thread back to its original topic. That is, if anyone is still around after 90+ comments.
posted by BoyWithFez at 12:19 AM on August 24, 2001

I suppose I'm the only one here not adverse to eating a little pussy from time to time.

Women have it tough in this man's world.
posted by dong_resin at 12:40 AM on August 24, 2001

savrosthewonderchicken says thay korenas 'do not eat cats, none of it.'

Yes they do.
posted by Atom Heart Mother at 12:57 AM on August 24, 2001

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I've been vegetarian for over 10 years. I don't see any difference whatsoever in killing something cute and cuddly for food, and killing something slimy or ugly. I have no objection to other people eating beef or pork but if you try and tell me you're an animal lover, or that it's wrong to eat cats or dogs then I will call you a hypocrite. I don't know what was supposed to be shocking about this video. How shocking is it to watch people at work in an abbatoir?

Perhaps the problem (as I see is it) is that most people never have to kill animals themselves. They see some nice packaged red stuff in a supermarket and it's just another product.
posted by salmacis at 1:31 AM on August 24, 2001 [1 favorite]

Yes, Stile was wrong to post this video without including the recipe. That is very bad culinary form. And... is the chef using a metal spoon on a teflon pan? Now that's shocking!
posted by mb01 at 1:55 AM on August 24, 2001

Just to clear up any lingering questions that people may have:
  • In posting something like this just for shock value, Stile was acting like an asshole, therefore we can condemn that act without having to consider the ethics of animal cruelty.
  • To give the government the power to ban something like this would necessarily give them such broad powers as to severely curtail political speech, making our society a less comfortable one, so that option can be dismissed without a general consideration of free speech issues.
  • Some people in some places and times may think of dogs and cats the same way we think of the animals we eat. Whether this is acceptable behavior depends on whether eating meat is in general morally acceptable, a question on which opinions differ wildly.
  • But eating someone's pet is an asshole thing to do, so don't.
  • If you ever have to choose between killing [undeserving thing a] and killing [undeserving thing b], that sure will suck--with a little luck, maybe you can avoid that situation.
The one unresolved issue left over by the above list is vegetarianism, but this is unlikely to be resolved by ongoing discussion. Those who do eat meat won't willingly entertain the thought that they are responsible for massive acts of cruelty, and easily dismiss the heavily emotive language of arguments for vegetarians. Vegetarians' premises about the value of animal life are so different from those of the meat eaters that they cannot even comprehend the opposing arguments. The whole issue has such little weight for the majority (meat-eating) side that they cannot sustain interest long enough for any real communication to take place.
posted by moss at 2:23 AM on August 24, 2001

Before I get labled an animal hater or something I just want to say that I actually like cats, never eaten a cat or ever intend to eat one. I live in Hong Kong where cooking cats is illegal but across the border in mainland China in Guangzhou's Qingping market are literally hundreds of kitten and cats sold for well as turtles, frogs, racoons and peacocks.

I've seen them slaughtered and skinned just as the video depicts it and it saddens me as well. However, they do slaughter them quickly and don't let them linger long in pain. (the kosher slaughter of cattle has them choking on their own blood) The conditions that they are kept in is far worse and crammed into little cages than the slaughter. And yes, many people who eat cats have cats as pets that they don't intend to eat.

Cats are used for a dish called Tiger, Phoenix and Dragon. Chicken is used for the Phoenix, Snake for the dragon, and Cats for the Tiger. The video was done not to be cruel or shock people per se but that really is the way they are prepared for eating. The addition of the Queen Soundtrack was in poor taste.

Most Asian don't eat cat and millions in Asia are actually vegetarian as prescribed by Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism. Living in the US, I never saw how animals were slaughtered by the millions to create our burgers, chicken wings or bacon strips but I'm sure they are just as horrible with conditions just as bad. After seeing it in Asia, I try to make it a point not to waste any meat that I do eat so that an animal did not just die in vain to make a really nice dinner setting.
posted by AsiaInsider at 2:25 AM on August 24, 2001

Someone mentioned that killing cats and dogs is bad because they have been domesticated. I don't know if someone else pointed it out or not, but Cows, Sheep, Pigs, etc have also been domesticated. Those animals trust us as well, they are just doing it error.

Also, Killing a cow is considered barbaric in India. I'm sure a video of an American killing one would cause just as much consternation there

Not that anyone will read this far, of course...
posted by delmoi at 3:22 AM on August 24, 2001 [1 favorite]

kchristidis--I followed every damn link there and I still don't understand your beef, so to speak. How about actually saying what makes you sick instead of just announcing your imperious judgements of everyone, ok?

Me? I'm still waiting for someone to notice that my blog is called Tastes Like Chicken. There's a relevant story about a research turtle on the front page, too.

moss--Which of your imaginary camps do my comments place me in?

aaron--fair enough. I guess there'll never be a shortage of people that let the legal system define their moral boundaries.
posted by NortonDC at 4:14 AM on August 24, 2001

if a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about
posted by matteo at 4:30 AM on August 24, 2001

Norton & co. : whatever.
posted by kchristidis at 5:46 AM on August 24, 2001

Anyone up for some genetically modified food then? How about some cloned cow or pig? I bet it would taste the same. I didn't see the video but people have done worse and other "terrible" things I'm sure are sure to pop up and spread over the net. "Did you see what has been done over at (insert domain)?" As for the driving and hitting items isn't that like a sinking ship, and you have to decide who stays behind? Women and children first with the captain staying with the boat? Seems to me you are now giving the cats a place on the boat when they don't belong.
posted by brent at 5:46 AM on August 24, 2001

Congratulations, kchristidis, on the most overwrought version of "I know you are, but what am I?" I have ever seen. I especially like the "really really" part.

China and Korea both have areas where dogs and cats are supper, according to sites like this. It's xenophobic to condemn an entire nationality for doing it (especially while ignoring meat-eating practices in your own country), but there's definitely a market for cat and dog meat in some parts of Asia. I'd venture a guess that every animal on the planet is being eaten somewhere.
posted by rcade at 6:12 AM on August 24, 2001

Personal Opinion, of course, but I think it was a pretty good move on Stile's part. Consider:

1) After threads and threads in the past denigrating the PETA movement, many folks now have gotten a chance to experience the same outrage that the PETA folk are motivated by. It's not likely many who raged here will view PETA's next raid on Kentucky Fried Burger King quite in the same old light. (I don't agree with PETA, I watched the video, it wasn't disturbing. Seen slaughterhouse pics before - no big diff.)

2) It's interesting - no offense at all intended, sincerely - to see Metafilterians, who ordinarily pride themselves on the intellectual dialogues of the threads, reacting at a gut level. I believe that it was probably this kind of reaction Stile was fishing for, and he got it. It got to the raw edge of folks with a dose of reality, and people reacted adversely to it. Not a bad, thing at all - but interesting, and nearly 100 posts here pretty much validates the decision to post, in my opinion.

3) It's the rare occasion that Metafilterians get upset that they are subjected to the offer to view reality, and even rarer when they resort to 'kill the messenger'. Looking back, isn't it amazing to anyone else that we have so many posts here reviling the fact that people weren't shielded from this ugly look at the real world? I thought the group was a bit more cosmopolitan than that.

Just my views, folks.
posted by Perigee at 6:45 AM on August 24, 2001

3) It's the rare occasion that Metafilterians get upset... I thought the group was a bit more cosmopolitan than that.

There's what, over 10,000 members now? Which suggests <1% of the membership have commented on this thread. How is it possible to suppose that this thread (or any other), and the varied opinions in it, are in some way representative of the Mefi membership as a whole (or even a subset thereof)?
posted by normy at 7:18 AM on August 24, 2001

Wow. 109 posts. You people have given Stiles just what he wanted.
posted by bondcliff at 8:07 AM on August 24, 2001

Wait a minute. I just clicked the link and read Stile's write up. I know better than to watch the video.

This was a korean man killing it, cooking it, and eating it? Big deal! Has anyone ever seen the movie Roger and Me? Rabbits are cute too.

Plenty of people would be horrified watching a film of someone dropping a lobster into a pot. Oh wait... lobsters aren't cute and cuddly. I forgot.

One man's pet is another man's meat. Get used to it.

If you think it's horrible, don't watch it. Stile once showed a video of a Russian soldier getting his brains blown out and nobody seemed to care. Mefi didn't have a 100+ post thread talking about it.

Priorities, people.
posted by bondcliff at 8:16 AM on August 24, 2001

/me drums fingers, pondering the irony of bondcliff's multiple posts about posting too much...
posted by NortonDC at 8:24 AM on August 24, 2001

Once again, a russian soldier is not as cute as a kitten.

Wow. 109 posts. You people have given Stiles just what he wanted.

I doubt this small attention from metafilter makes much of a difference to stiles He does pretty well on his own.
posted by justgary at 8:29 AM on August 24, 2001

My comment on this video is: I don't want to watch it, because I'm sure that, as a cat lover, I will be offended and/or sickened.

That's fine, and you're entitled to that preference...but what makes it worth sharing? Is it really important that you tell us of your weak stomach and bias for certain animals? Not really relevant to the discussion of this particular video, of which, as you've admitted (with misguided pride), you are ignorant. If you don't know what you are talking about, what makes you think anyone else wants to hear your "opinion" about it? It's like giving a movie review for a movie you chose not to see. No credibility.
posted by rushmc at 8:53 AM on August 24, 2001

Because there is no purpose to watching such a videotape except to satisfy prurient (yes, by my standards!) interests,

Yes, let us remain forever ignorant of cultures other than our own. Let's shield ourselves from differences amongst people, and even better, pretend that they don't exist. If we expose ourselves to other cultures, values, etc--dear god, we might actually open ourselves to CHANGE in some way, and surely it's clear by now that we're perfect and know it all and are justified in sitting in judgement over all the poor, misguided, hapless heathens of the world...
posted by rushmc at 8:57 AM on August 24, 2001

It's all about context. Were a video like this put on the National Geographic web site and presented within the scope of a larger piece about whatever culture this came from, you might be able to suggest that it's an educational effort, and it certainly would be less offensive. But when they put a Queen track behind it and put it on a web site that has ads for teen porn, you can pretty safely assume it's there for shock value and little else.
posted by MegoSteve at 9:29 AM on August 24, 2001

I still can't understand why some consider it legitimate to kill and eat plants but not animals. Do they not suffer too? Is it because they are less like us?
posted by euphorb at 9:54 AM on August 24, 2001

Plants don't meow and cuddle up with you.

On the plus side, no litter box!
posted by justgary at 9:56 AM on August 24, 2001

I still can't understand why some consider it legitimate to kill and eat plants but not animals.

Because not all of us are autotrophic.
posted by iceberg273 at 10:06 AM on August 24, 2001

If we expose ourselves to other cultures, values, etc--dear god, we might actually open ourselves to CHANGE in some way ...

Yeah, that's why people visit the Stile Project -- to expose themselves to others.
posted by rcade at 10:07 AM on August 24, 2001

There is much grosser stuff on the internet.,
to name a couple famous ones. And i've seen much worse. (and no, I will not link to it, it's goddam illegal in this country.)

This is pretty tame.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:11 AM on August 24, 2001

Perigee, your definition of "cosmopolitan" seems to be leaning toward the sophomoric: the affectation of jadedness, handed out with the usual lazy relativism (how can we criticize anyone else, etc.). If I felt like that were MeFi "cosmopolitanism" I'd head for greener pastures.

Incidentally, as for that lazy relativism: grow up. If you participate in human culture, you implicitly work out a response to the dilemma of moral imperatives, and I guarantee you your implicit response is not that everything is as good as everything else, no one has a right to criticize. That's just sophistry -- and lazy sophistry at that.

And rushmc: affection for shoes is not like affection for cats. And private acts have different implications than public (or semi-public) ones. Your analogies are faulty.

Apologies offered for crankiness herein.
posted by argybarg at 10:13 AM on August 24, 2001

I think we are all responsible for living our lives according to our own sense of morals and ethics.
I choose to provide shelter for one cat and three dogs. I choose to love them and provide them with a home where they are confident that they will be treated with respect and love at all times. I don't invite people to my home who will mistreat my animals, and I can [fairly] confidently say that while they are under my care they are as safe as I can make them.
Someday I will own enough land to provide a safe home for some cows, some sheep, more cats and dogs, maybe some horses. I currently do eat meat, but have been considering becoming vegetarian again. It's difficult to make the decision when eating meat has become such a ultilitarian endeavor. I don't have to kill my pet cow in order to enjoy steak for dinner. Does that make it not as bad? Am I more enlightened because I don't have to worry about where dinner will come from? Am I better person because I spend my day working on web pages instead of hunting and gathering? I severely doubt it ... but I do things (such as eating meat) that my hunter-and-gatherer ancestor perhaps would not have done, if she possessed the sentimentality that I do. I'm sensitive, and I choose to protect my sensitivity.
My decision to not eat meat will not save all the cows in the world ... people butchering animals will go one for years after I decide to quit. You do what you can ... and I consider stopping to save a turtle from being run over, or passing on the steak, a Good Thing To Do according to my morals.
[My ramblings... not adding anything new I guess except my own thoughts on the subject.]
posted by Johannahh at 11:21 AM on August 24, 2001

justgary: Plants don't meow and cuddle up with you.

You just don't know the right plants.
posted by moss at 12:18 PM on August 24, 2001

"... meat vendors in Baguio sell gutted-and-hung dog carcasses ..."

So true, Brownpau! My dad was from Baguio, and when we visited there I remember seeing that everywhere. And it's not like in the US where everything is nice and behind glass. It's out there, baby!

Different cultures, different cuisine. But I don't have to like it and I don't have to watch it. And I certainly wouldn't eat it. But that's just me... :)
posted by crankydoodle at 12:40 PM on August 24, 2001

I apologize for not finding a deep well of righteous indignation in seeing poor lil' Sylvester getting clobbered and cooked, argybarg. I will attempt with all my heart and soul to correct this horrifying flaw in my viewpoint, and learn that truly, I am Master of the Universe, have the final word on everything, and those who disagree with me suck donkeydoink. I understand life is much more interesting when we imagine ourselves grander than we actually are.

Or I can stick with my basic existential base of reasoning, and consider your comment... well... of no real consequence.

In other words, "whatever, dude". Go buy a red balloon and have an ice cream.
posted by Perigee at 2:10 PM on August 24, 2001

In Bolivia (and much of South America) the farmers raise and eat guinea pigs. I lived out in the Bolivian countryside for a few years, and ate guinea pigs on a regular basis. It was a pretty disturbing ordeal for me ... right up until the moment that I actually ate one. After my first, my feelings regarding guinea pig eating were generally confined to "they taste okay, but there's not a whole lotta meat on those suckers". This despite the fact that I had been a vegetarian for years before heading down there.

Attaching any kind of morality to what kind of critters should-and-shouldn't be eaten seems kinda dumb when you're hanging out with folks who are perpetually on the verge of malnutrition and starvation.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 4:14 PM on August 24, 2001

I've spent quite a bit of time pondering the moral quagmire surrounding human/animal and human/human relationships. After seven or so years of (often vocal) vegetarianism, I finally decided to give it up. Why?

Vegetarianism and Veganism, as practiced in western society, is largely an option created by cultural privilege and affluence. Most people who choose not to eat meat or food without any ingredients derived from animal products live within consumer societies that cater to this choice, providing a wide range of (often expensive) nutritional options that meet their stringent criteria. While many vegetarians often validate their choices with examples from historical and contemporary indigenous/traditional cultures, the fact of the matter is that most western 'lifestyle' vegetarians have a much better diet than the peoples who exist on a low meat or meat free diet out of necessity.

I've spent a lot of time recently watching the National Geographic and Discovery channels with my fiancee's daughter, in an attempt to curb rampant cartoon mind-rot (although I make exceptions for Tom & Jerry marathons). Some of the wildlife and environmental programming has only reinforced this line of thought. The enlightened documentary teams and western scholars go into the rainforest or the coral reefs, condemn the local farmers and fishermen for their methods and lack of environmental concern or perceived misuse of natural resources, then return to their well funded research institutions and comfortable stipends. Somehow, I doubt that the populations who rely on these habitats and animals for their subsistence are getting as much money as the research projects that condemn them for surviving in the only way that they can.

Yes, factory farming is cruel, irresponsible, and expensive resource wise. Modern society has insulated us from having to deal with the food that we eat. But that goes equally for vegetarians, because the same system that allows me to go and get a ready cut, shrinkwrapped steak is the system that creates your tofu and veggie burgers and designer organic pesto, or allow you to own enough land for that vegetable garden in the backyard. I have a good hunch that many of the same people who would condemn this video, meat-eating in general, or the impact of rainforest cattle farmers and environmentally questionable fishing practices are the same people who rally around the anti-globalization movement and condemn the west for trying to impose our economic models on the rest of the world. These are the same economic models that make such high-minded sentiments possible.

The opinions surrounding this video are only symptomatic to our larger attitudes surrounding humanity's place in nature. Veggie, carnivore, environmentalist or not, we have all been buffered by the realities of direct interaction with our food and environment. Opinions on BOTH sides are based largely on The self righteousness and entitlement of cultural privilege, the hypocrisy and contradiction that exists when we make moral proclamations about the world in general from a position of relative comfort, judging certain actions and practices while safely insulated from the realities that created those practices. The more 'sensitive' armchair commentators will indulge in selective moral backtracking, saying that its ok for this Korean peasant to eat a cat, but it was morally reprehensible to film it or make such a film available, or that a third world fishing community is justified in catching the fish but that we're not justified in eating them, or that a poor Central American immigrant shouldn't feel guilty about working in a factory farm to support his family, but to buy the products of his labor is a crime against animals and the earth, etc. Thus it goes with most current sociopolitical criticism, myopic and selective outrage against certain realities in our world without reference to the complex systems and relationships that would undermine the soundbites and the smug, self-righteous outrage of bourgeois lifestyle radicalism.
posted by hipstertrash at 4:45 PM on August 24, 2001

(That's a helluva first Metafilter posting there, hipstertrash.)
posted by Shadowkeeper at 4:52 PM on August 24, 2001

hipstertrash--which part of that makes it better for you to eat meat? Everything I saw in there was about lack of justifications for advocacy. What makes it right for you to eat meat, living in your comfortable and protected world? Not "what gives you the right to preach," but "what makes it a better moral choice for you to eat meat than to not eat meat?"
posted by NortonDC at 5:01 PM on August 24, 2001

Norton - I never pursued vegetarianism for the health benefits. It was always a political choice for me, and as I began to think about the complexity of the issues surrounding my choice, I could no longer in good conscience live my life according to that choice. Rather than choosing to eat meat, I decided to abandon a lifestyle that I could no longer justify as the 'right' way to live. I wear leather (because I can't afford new boots every few months), I live in a society where the (mis)use of animals is a fact of life. By making a choice in one aspect of consumption and feeling morally 'enlightened' because of it, I fostered the illusion that I was somehow less culpable as a member of society, as if the lack of burgers in my diet suddenly made me a 'good guy.'

Simply put, I don't feel that choosing to eat meat again was morally preferable to choosing vegetarianism in the grand scheme of things, which undermined my rationale for choosing vegetarianism in the first place. I'm an evil and irresponsible consumer, but at least I'm not hiding from that fact anymore.

shadowkeeper - thanks.
posted by hipstertrash at 5:29 PM on August 24, 2001

You gave up on "perfect" so you also abandoned what you thought was "better?"

So, are you now careful to only purchase clothes made in sweatshops staffed with child laborers, to further reinforce the moral bankruptcy of your consumerist existence?
posted by NortonDC at 6:08 PM on August 24, 2001

Since that japanese-guy-eating-babies thing turned out not to be real, about the only thing more offensive than seeing a guy kill and eat a cat would be babies.

But... what's the point? To tell the truth, I never got much of a kick out of seeing mutant fetuses either....
posted by Turtletail at 8:49 PM on August 24, 2001

ok so i'm well late in the thread, but figured i'd throw my arcade token in ..

i've stood by and watched as the cute little just-before-bleating-happily lamb that i'd been playing with all day had it's throat cut - just like this kitten's. and was then given parts of the lamb's internals to carry back to the farm house to be cooked up for dinner. i ate it not too much later, and it tasted good.

it was a shocking thing to have to go through, but it taught me an important lesson. just because it's cute and playful and young, doesn't mean people don't eat it.

to be shocked and offended by this because it's a cute young kitten is frankly denying the existence of what goes on around you ever day, hundreds of times over.

start crusading to stop the killing of all animals for food, or get over yourself.
posted by titboy at 8:51 PM on August 24, 2001

I'm an evil and irresponsible consumer, but at least I'm not hiding from that fact anymore.

Well, at least your dietary upheavals haven't affected your self-esteem...
posted by rushmc at 8:58 PM on August 24, 2001

You gave up on "perfect" so you also abandoned what you thought was "better?"

That was his whole point, he decided it wasn't better after all, and if it's not better, then damn, burgers taste good!
posted by kindall at 9:28 PM on August 24, 2001

Norton - No, but I do my best to pay attention to what I consume and where it comes from. I try to consume meat at sane levels, try to buy ethical products whenever possible, but in doing so I realize that few options in modern life come without a social cost, even those options that are depicted as 'responsible.' I don't think that its a matter of perfect vs. better. I'm just trying to acknowledge, through my lifestyle, that the convenient definitions that govern 'right' and 'wrong' choices are not intrinsically superior once you start to look at the bigger picture. Vegetarianism was a conscious choice for me, and when I started to question the rationale behind that choice, I realized that the politics of lifestyle statements were bankrupt. Until I can figure out what the right answer is, I'm not going to identify myself with an ideology based on a flawed approach to social problems. Once again, both options had negative consequences. The choice was between political tokenism and acknowledging my complicity in a widespread and complex social problem without the comfort of that tokenism. In many ways, abandoning vegetarianism was an abandonment of this flawed approach to sociopolitical isses in general.
posted by hipstertrash at 9:36 PM on August 24, 2001

hipstertrash--What makes this different from trading ignorance (alleged self-delusion) for apathy?

You might think I'm beating up on you, but in reality I'm putting a lot of effort into civility, because I do want to hear what goes into the thinking that frames the choices you've made.
posted by NortonDC at 12:11 AM on August 25, 2001

Norton - thanks for the clarification, but I have a pretty thick skin . . . I can't see how people can jump into forums like this without one, but I've seen it happen.

I'm not going to say that apathy had nothing to do with my decision to remove much of the activism from my diet and my life in general. I was pretty heavily involved in activism for a couple of years, and much of what I saw in the line of specious reasoning and self-serving motives resulted in a truckload of disillusionment. So yeah, part of me may have said 'fuck it' somewhere along the line, but I didn't stop thinking about the issues at hand. Is vegetarianism, on an individual or social level, the best way to bring about change in the way we treat animals and the environment, or is it by and large a product of an affluent society's guilt and neuroses about the choices and tradeoffs we have made? Will washing our hands of those realities bring about change, or will it just help us sleep better at night? And is this an issue/lifestyle that I want to devote time and energy to, or even be a part of? I didn't suddenly forget all of the negative consequences of eating meat, rather, I weighted those consequences against the personal and social implications of a choice made in the past, and realized that it made more sense for me to reverse that choice, given my opinions about the complexity of the surrounding issues.
posted by hipstertrash at 12:38 AM on August 25, 2001

In many ways, abandoning vegetarianism was an abandonment of this flawed approach to sociopolitical isses in general.

I haven't been a vegetarian in years (and even then I was gorging myself on what turned out to be beef-flavored fries -- thanks, Ronald!). However, you act as if vegetarianism is an entirely empty gesture simply because it isn't as important as you once thought it was. It's still a net gain when you don't eat meat -- a billion Boca burgers could be produced without the environmental consequences of a single hog farm in North Carolina.
posted by rcade at 6:35 AM on August 25, 2001

The problem with vegetarianisms is that it makes you think burgers come from hog farms. ;)
posted by kindall at 10:26 AM on August 25, 2001

I must say that some of the logic voiced in this thread deeply disturbs me. In the post concerning whether we would hit the baby or the kittens with our car - of course most of us would choose to hit the kittens. Does that mean that we don't value animal life? Of course not, it simply means that we value the baby's life more in that FORCED choice. Does believing that animals have rights mean that we love animals more than humans? No, for people that feel this way, it means that we cherish ALL life, whether it be animal or human. I've been transitioning to vegitarianism over the past few months now. It's like a lightning bolt finally woke me up to this fact: Cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, cats, dogs, etc. feel PAIN and FEAR. Period. We as humans do not have a god given right to inflict pain or fear on these animals for our own self-serving desires. Other species need to eat meat in order to survive, we do not. We can get our protein from non-meat based sources; we are intellegent enough to do so. Animals are god's gift to us; they have souls and we should share this earth with them without killing them for sport or food. For those of you calling me a tree hugging hippie, I can assure you that I am a cussing, beer drinking man's man, and real men don't eat meat!
posted by notchear at 9:09 AM on August 29, 2001

Arguing that this thread contains bad logic and then claiming that animals have souls.. doesn't really make any sense.
posted by tomdobb at 10:25 AM on August 29, 2001

Well, it makes perfect sense. And your reasoning that animals have no souls is........?????? By the way, what a lovely and informative website referenced in your profile.
posted by notchear at 11:56 AM on August 29, 2001

I've seen my share of shock sites, but this does take the cake for me. I won't be watching the video and I think it's pretty sick that someone is getting all of this exposure for promoting something so perverse.

But hey, it's the world we live in. With retards like the Tigerman, what can we expect? Why don't we get him and Stiley together for a shindig...
posted by campy at 12:20 PM on August 29, 2001

notchear--the question was formulated in response to an assertion that the assertion's speaker valued animal life equally to human life. If that was so, then the consistent response would have been to answer "run over the baby" since that would result in one death while running over the kittens would result in two deaths.

Also, the burden in the "logic" argument would be for you to logically argue in the affirmative, namely that animals have souls. That is your assertion, yours to defend. Invalidating your argument does not require logically proving that animals have no souls, but only that you have failed to prove your assertion.
posted by NortonDC at 2:11 PM on August 29, 2001

A german "artist" hangs a fucking cow from a helicopter and drops it and you bunch of leftist fuckwits are fine with it as performance art. Another culture that regularly consumes dogs and cats puts up a video of the process of preparing the fur-covered dinner critter and you're up in arms!

Why? Cows aren't cute, but kittens are.

Fuck all of you and your delicate sensibilities.
posted by Spanktacular at 4:15 PM on August 29, 2001

NortonDC - Wait a minute. My assertion that animals have souls is not mine to defend "logically". My logic comment was directed at the baby vs. kitten example.

As to whether they indeed have souls, let's just say that I believe that they do because of the reasons stated in my previous post (pain/emotion), as well as the fact that they grieve when losing an offspring. Finally, look deep into the eyes of a companion dog and tell me that animals do not have souls. Tomdobb's spew about saying that animals have souls is "not logical", and then not offering a reason for THAT assertion is puzzling to me. But, I'm not here to debate whether they do or don't, it's just my strong belief, and I'm living by it.
posted by notchear at 5:36 PM on August 29, 2001

Spanktacular--I read those. They don't support your position.

notchear--You decried the lack of logic throughout the entire thread. Then you assert, wholly without support, that animals have souls. Was that logical?
posted by NortonDC at 6:02 PM on August 29, 2001

OK drop the word logic and use the word "argument" instead. Can you deal?
posted by notchear at 6:06 PM on August 29, 2001

Okay, but then it was a poor idea to challenge tomdobb for the "reasoning" behind his post.
posted by NortonDC at 6:12 PM on August 29, 2001

I didn't challenge his reasoning, I challenged his lack of it.
posted by notchear at 6:17 PM on August 29, 2001

posted by NortonDC at 6:21 PM on August 29, 2001

Lick me, Fucko.
posted by notchear at 6:41 PM on August 29, 2001

My reason for saying that your assertion of animals having a soul is illogical is that you didn't back it up with anything and there's nothing approaching proof of it. There's nothing that would even resemble proof that anything has a soul or that soul exists. There' really not much proof that animals experience emotion either, but there have been studies done that show plants respond to pain stimulus. So if pain is a defining characteristic of having a soul. Then plants have a soul too.

And if its wrong to kill an animal because they have a soul, then would it be right to assume that an animal killing another animal is wrong too ? They both have souls.

Also, its not my responsibility to prove myself right. You can't say "animals have souls cos you can't prove they don't" you made an assumption if you want people to accept it as sound and logical prove it. Otherwise don't expect people to take you seriously.

Now I'll make an assumption: It seems to me you really have very little ability to argue. You have little support for your arguments and then your resort to irrelevant name-calling (i.e. "By the way, what a lovely and informative website referenced in your profile." & "Lick me, Fucko.").
posted by tomdobb at 11:48 PM on August 29, 2001

CHRIST on a CRUTCH, you people!

To the vegeterians: Hey, great, you don't eat meat. I don't care.

To the rest of the world: Welcome to how meat is made.

There's a video been floating around for years showing a Russian soldier getting his throat cut by rebels in Chechnya. THAT is disgusting.

I've killed rabbits in the exact same manner for the exact same reason as the kitten was killed. Some of them were much cuter than that kitten.

And I ate them.

posted by Hootis at 10:37 PM on September 4, 2001

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