Jump to content
Chinese-forums.com
Learn Chinese in China

wushijiao

Gary Francione on Michael Vick Case

Recommended Posts

wushijiao

For the last two years, the American media has constantly played up the story of NFL quarterback Michael Vick torturing dogs for dog fighting purposes. Vick raised the dogs, tortured them, and killed them in painful and creative ways. Since the US is a country of pet lovers, this set off a storm of controversy and outrage over a guy who could use dogs so savagely for his own amusement.

Even today, I see that the New York Times has a lead editorial about it.

Moral philosopher Gary Francione, however, points out the "moral schizophrenia" that humans posses in deeming certain forms of animal torture used for convenience and entertainment to be bad (dog fighting, cock fighting, veal, fur), while other forms of animal torture (the most significant of which is the use of animals for food) are left un-thought about, or are accepted or justified for whatever reason.

For example, Francione writes:

Please let me be very clear: I think that dog fighting is a terrible thing.

But I must say that the Vick case is rather dramatically demonstrating what I call our “moral schizophrenia” about animals. That is, if one thing is clear, it is that we do not think clearly about our moral obligations to animals.

In this country alone, we kill over ten billion land animals annually for food. The animals we eat—even those supposedly raised “humanely”—suffer as much as the dogs that are used in dog fighting. There is no “need” for us to eat meat, dairy, or eggs. Indeed, these foods are increasingly linked to various human diseases and animal agriculture is an environmental disaster for the planet. We impose pain, suffering, and death on these billions of sentient nonhumans because we enjoy eating their flesh and the products that we make from them.

There is something positively bizarre about condemning Michael Vick for using dogs in a hideous form of entertainment when 99% of us also use animals that are every bit as sentient as dogs in another hideous form of entertainment that is no more justifiable than fighting dogs: eating animals and animal products.

There is something positively bizarre that many “animal lovers” sit around eating meat that has the Certified Humane Raised and Handled label endorsed by The Humane Society of the United States while HSUS tells us what a bad guy Michael Vick is.

HSUS and PETA are demanding that Vick be suspended from the NFL. As far as I know, neither organization demanded that Michael Jordan be suspended from the NBA because he promoted Ball Park Franks.

There is something bizarre about Reebok and Nike, which use leather in their shoes, suspending products endorsed by Vick. They’re not going to allow a guy who allegedly tortures dogs to endorse products that contain tortured cows.

Anyway, I became interested in animal rights/vegetarianism/veganism about ten years ago, but I must admit that I was somewhat confused by the contradictory messages that (nutty) groups such as PETA or philosophers such as Peter Singer put out. I think anyone who is interested in these issues visit Francionce's website, listen to his podcast, or buy his books.

Here's one of his interesting pamphlets.

Hopefully this post might give you some food for thought.

Edited by wushijiao
added pamphlet link

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

animal world

The good thing about Michael Vick is that his scandal surrounding dog fighting has brought this issue out into the open.

Last week i heard an interesting story on Fresh Air. Dog fighting has been quite prevalent for a long time just about everywhere in the US. The police knew about it but tended to turn a blind eye. The people involved in dog fighting are the same people also involved in gangs and drug dealing. It's just another revenue stream to them. A dog that knows how to win can make over $10K per fight. A "champion," a dog that managed to kill at least 4-5 other dogs, can command over $100K. So, you see, it's a nice little side-line! Until Vick, the police didn't do much about it as it considered going after drug dealers more important.

I agree with you about the hypocrisy and hope people will acquire a more sensible attitude toward their food supply. The sight of pork chops on display in a cellophane package at the supermarket is so anti-septic that it completely masks the horrible reality how cattle and chickens are raised nowadays. People must be made aware of this kind of "manufacturing" and also that a diet relying heavily on animal products simply won't be sustainable.

I also hope that people will learn to view animals not just in terms of their usefulness (food or entertainment) to man but as creatures who have a right to their habitat on this planet. I've never been to the circus as i find it degrading to see animals dressed up in cutesy clothes doing little human-like acts to entertain the audience. I haven't been to a zoo in a long time. At this point i'm not quite a 100% vegetarian; have cut my consumption of leather products way back over the years. It's all a matter of awareness.

Edited by animal world

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wushijiao
The good thing about Michael Vick is that his scandal surrounding dog fighting has brought this issue out into the open.

Yeah, that's certainly one silver lining. Although it'd be a shame to miss the more central issue, which is questioning the paradigm of the use of animals for matters of convenience, entertainment, or pleasure. Since it's so blatant that Vick was killing dogs because he thought it was fun, just about everybody can see why that's problematic. Since the Vick case was so huge in the US and at one point everybody was talking about it, it gives us a good opportunity to ask whether we might be participating in similar behaviors.

I, for one, am shocked at how many vegan stores, bakeries, and services there are compared to just ten years ago. Most supermarkets in the West now have tons of comfort food (see: junk food) in abundance (not that that's a good thing, really.). Even if not, almost every grocery store in the West and in China carries plenty of fresh fruit, veggies, beans, nuts, seeds, grains...and so on, which is really all you need anyway. I went to London last week, and had prepared for the worst (thinking that British food is terrible: just organ pies, chips, and white bread), but come to find out, London was probably better than anywhere in the US in terms of restaurants and supermarkets. So, my point is, if one is thinking of going vegan, it could be a lot easier than you might expect (although social issues migth be another matter).

At this point i'm not quite a 100% vegetarian; have cut my consumption of leather products way back over the years. It's all a matter of awareness.

That's great. One thing I'd mention, however, (and please don't take this the wrong way) is from the view of animal suffering "vegetarianism" (usually defined as not eating meat but eating dairy and eggs) is not a morally significant term. In fact, you could possibly eat freshly hunted meat, and no dairy, and you would be engaged in far less suffering (although I'm not endorsing that). There's at least as much cruelty in milk as there is in meat, so to speak. (You might want to listen to Francionce's first podcast for more info). (Also, please don't think I'm trying to be morally righteous or perfect, since I am by no means not. Also, I've never met a person who has been "born vegan", so I think we all have, at one time or another, had to think about these issues to see what we think) .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
animal world

Aren't you preaching to the choir a little?

I'm by NO means perfect but if everyone lived like i do, we'd have come a long way toward ethical treatment of all animals and respecting the environment.

May i warn against fanaticism? Don't criticize someone who is at this point 95% vegetarian (i don't have full control over what i eat right now and yes, i love dairy!) but try to raise the awareness of people who proudly label themselves as "a steak and potatoes guy," people who love the entertainment offered by places such as Sea World and people who love to hunt deer and wolves and come up with wonderful justifications for their actions, etc.

It's a little like scolding someone who trades in his gas-guzzling Cadillac Escalade for a car that gets 35 mpg by telling him that he should have forsaken the car altogether and switched to a bicycle and/or public transportation. Should i scorn someone who accepts a great promotion but that involves frequent worldwide travel and thereby increases his carbon footprint considerably?

To move toward more sensible and respectful living (vis à vis other species and the environment) is a slow, evolutionary process for anyone. Along the way one encounters many interest groups spinning lies to fool consumers. This may well be true of dairy products and it certainly is true with conveniently labeling products "organic." And even if products are indeed organic, they may not be green (organic strawberries from Chile sold in the US certainly are not green!). I will read and listen to what Francione has to say and, as a result, might become willing to make more changes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wushijiao
Aren't you preaching to the choir a little?

Guilty as charged. :D

Actually, I think you have a point about talking more to "meat and potatoes" guys, but I'm not sure to what degree they care (in general). Obviously, someone like you cares more than most, which is why it's worth my time to talk about these issues. (Plus, there was a time a few years ago when I would have loved for someone to have told me this stuff, but again, that's just me! :D )

The Escalde analogy is telling, but, could say, a friend of mine recently told me about how many hybrids actually get worse overall life-cycle ratings than normal cars because of the highly pernicious impact that some of the rare minerals in the car (in order to provide the better batteries) than regular cars. (Hybrids often have to use lots of precious and rare minerals, and mining those may mean high environmental impacts). I know that my friend was only telling me this because he knew that I took interest in these issues, not to insult me (because I had said that I had wanted to buy a hybrid). So, I hope you see what said in the same vein.

To move toward more sensible and respectful living (vis à vis other species and the environment) is a slow, evolutionary process for anyone. Along the way one encounters many interest groups spinning lies to fool consumers

Wow, couldn't agree more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
animal world

I actually enjoy this discussion and never felt offended (although your words came across as a little harsh :).

There are little movements springing up all over the country (developed world?), such as promoting to eat food that is produced locally, or within a 100 miles range of where you live. As you probably know, the food industry in the US is largely a trucking industry. Not green at all. Again, i don't follow this "eat local movement" completely as i can't do without rice, coffee and chocolate but i am consciously looking for local alternatives whenever i can. I sometimes visit Whole Foods and it was there that i discovered many fruits labeled "Organic" in big signs and in small letters beneath that they came from Chile or Mexico. Just another consumer rip-off! After its owner dissed Obama's health care plan i stopped visiting those stores altogether (but that's another issue entirely).

I have no qualms being less than 100% vegetarian. Once a week i eat a bit of seafood and occasionally i might buy a sumptuous pastry or something that may well contain animal fats. When nice people invite me for Thanksgiving Dinner i'm not going to make a fuss that it's not vegetarian. In fact, i love to see cows, sheep and goats in a meadow and as long as they have a decent life then i don't mind about their ultimate destination. I may never become a vegan because i love to nibble on a piece of good European cheese every now and then.

Yes, hybrid cars have pitfalls as well. Let's just hope that we move toward electric cars rapidly (particulary when the electricty doesn't come from dirty coal or from nuclear) and push for renewable energy sources.

I reserve the liberty to post again on this topic after listening to the Francione podcast. This has to wait until i've completed my daily (and growing at an alarming rate) quota on Mnemosyne.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bhchao

Xunzi said that irrational desires exert a strong influence on people's personal decisions, in the absence of best practices and regulations.

Before the recession, consumers defied common sense by living beyond their means and bought homes they couldn't really afford. Credit card companies charged their customers higher interest rates even though they were predatory practices. Greed and personal desire trumped over principle. The recession threw classical economics out the window, and gave behavorial economics new light.

I see a similar analogy with food. People will still eat meat even though it is common knowledge that meat consumption can cause heart disease and other health problems. People don't like being told what to do regarding their lifestyle decisions.

Since you can't beat irrationality with verbal principle, an alternative would be to reform the way agriculture is done. Excessive meat consumption will not go away when population growth and growing incomes in developing countries is fostering an appetite for beef products.

For example, would grass-fed beef be better for the environment and people's health than beef from grain-fed cows? Since the former uses less water and fertilizer, that might a good alternative to satisfying meat appetites. Also cows fed on grass are healthier and live longer lives than their grain-fed counterparts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
realmayo

It would be better for the environment if everyone stopped eating meat. It would also be better for the environment if almost no-one was allowed to travel by plane or by private car. And it would be better if our homes were rationed one hour of electricity per day. If I was a vegetarian, I would prefer to see option 1 implemented. But I'm not. However, I like travelling by train, so I would like to see number 2 implemented instead. It might make visiting the US a bit tricky though.

I don't mind killing animals for food, but don't like intensive meat farming, for example, this rolling stone article: http://tinyurl.com/dirtypiggies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
animal world

Fortunately, more people have become aware of the urgency to protect the environment. What i find baffling, and very depressing, is that overpopulation is often entirely excluded from debates about the environment.

I agree with the previous poster that at some point quotas (for, say, one's carbon footprint; definitely for health care, a One/Two Child policy) will become necessary. These things will be easier to implement by a country such as China than the US where demagogues will preach to those unwilling to change (and unwilling to think) falsehoods such as "global warming is all a lie," "we can't afford the cost of going green and would lose too many jobs," and the clincher, "we need smaller government and less regulation."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bhchao

A tax on meat products could be imposed to reduce consumption of meat products, while still giving consumers the freedom to buy them (at their costly discretion).

The level of tax would depend on the type of meat. Beef should receive the highest tax because beef production is the most energy intensive. Pork and chicken, with their lower energy inputs, should be taxed at lower amounts.

Such taxes would face huge political obstacles in the US. One party rule certainly gives China an advantage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wushijiao
Such taxes would face huge political obstacles in the US. One party rule certainly gives China an advantage.

I agree that taxing meat would be a good idea on environmental, health and ethical grounds. In the US, at least the government should stop taking tax payer money to subsidize meat and dairy. The government could subsidize fruits and vegetables. (But, this sort of policy would be massively unpopular, I would assume).

Generally speaking, fruit trees are the most ecologically beneficial source of food- since they create oxygen, don't deplete the soils (like grazing and some crops do), and they don't deplete the precious little water the world has left (almost everywhere in the world suffers from water shortages, or are drilling incredibly deep wells that are unsustainable).

But I don't really agree that China's authoritarian one-party system makes things any easier. To some extent, the central government is quite a bit weaker than Washington, since local officials can fairly safely ignore many polices, especially if they conflict with their own economic interests (and often local governments have a case as well).

Edited by wushijiao

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
bhchao

The US government recently lifted the ban on wolf hunting in the US. When wolves were introduced into the Rocky Mountain states and Yellowstone National Park from Canada during the 1990s, the ecosystems in those areas started improving.

Aspen trees and vegetation grew faster because the wolves were reducing the deer and elk population. The resulting increase in vegetation boosted habitat for beavers, birds, and fish, creating an interdependency in those ecosystems. Hunting wolves on a large scale will disrupt this synergy.

I once saw a documentary on salmon runs in British Columbia and Alaska. It was fascinating to watch the interdependency between the predators (grizzly bears and wolves) and the surrounding forest. Trees grew taller when there is a large wolf and bear population. The wolves would drop salmon carcasses on the forest floor. Nutrients from the decaying salmon then enriched the soil, increasing the height of old-growth forests, and helping to clean surrounding rivers.

Man being part of nature, and letting nature dictate its course instead of violating it, transcends across culture. Taoism and Buddhism stressed harmony with nature. Emerson and Thoreau's transcendentalism also believed in the human spirit's connection with nature. So does Japan's Shinto.

To protect nature is a patriotic concept because it draws from your country's ancient and traditional values.

However preservation shouldn't be an end in itself. Humans can still meet their needs without violating nature. That's why I believe in both preservation and conservation, rather than being a pure preservationist. I don't consider cutting down a few trees for timber to be violating nature, but ravaging whole forests, especially old-growth ones, certainly is. This month's issue of National Geographic features an article on the redwood forests of Northern California. It talks about how innovative forest management techniques can permanently preserve older trees, while conserving a select group (one with the least carbon storage capabilities) for timber. The older, thicker, and taller redwood trees are, the more monetary incentives foresters receive, provided that they keep them standing.

Edited by bhchao

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
animal world

I live in Oregon where for years now there is a battle between the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and a Gov't agency that overseas the environment, wildlife, etc. (I can't come up with the exact name of this agency right now) about what to do about sea lions. You see, in the Columbia River there are many sea lions. Now, some of these are deemed nuisance sea lions. Why? Those doggone, rotten, selfish, gluttony, irresponsible sea lions eat OUR salmon!!! The government agency has tried to deport the ones deemed too much of a nuisance to other areas but they find their way back to the spawning grounds of the salmon on the Columbia River where they feast on salmon. The gov't agency then wanted to kill some of these sea lions and fortunately, the HSCA took them to court and halted this practice. Yet, the battle continues.

I love the return of wolves. Yet, when wolves manage to kill a few lambs, ranchers make a lot of noise even though environmental groups compensate them 100% for the loss of livestock. The media loves stories like these and the audience only hears that part of the message that suits its own agenda. So, if you are into hunting, you overlook the part of compensation to ranchers and the benefit to the ecosystem and paint the wolf in a negative light.

And so it goes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wushijiao
When wolves were introduced into the Rocky Mountain states and Yellowstone National Park from Canada during the 1990s, the ecosystems in those areas started improving

I've also seen videos about that (I think in Anderson Copper's "Planet in Peril" series). The re-introduction of the wolves had a very beneficial impact on the ecosystem.

I think whether it is this wolves issue, sea lions, or how many hunting licenses to allow, or whether humans should move into undeveloped land (thus destroying some animals' habitat), intellegent people can each come up with valid arguements about where the balance between development and natural ecology should be. It's not very black and white. However, I thnk that that is significantly different from the issue of mass scale animal production (which is in the tens of billions) for fairly trivial human uses/luxuires.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
animal world
intellegent people can each come up with valid arguements about where the balance between development and natural ecology should be. It's not very black and white. However, I thnk that that is significantly different from the issue of mass scale animal production (which is in the tens of billions) for fairly trivial human uses/luxuires.

Methinks, the people who have been posting in this thread also have the awareness that large-scale domestic animal production makes no sense. This is all the result of a changing world that features over-population and increasing standards of living that causes more demand for such animal products. In the Fifties anywhere in the world, cattle and chickens were allowed to have a decent life before being slaughtered, people's individual consumption of animal products was much lower and ... there were fewer people.

Ignorance is bliss and once you become more aware of the issues (not just moral ones but also those dealing with survival of the planet and species), you realize that numerous, far-reaching changes need to be made on many fronts. One's diet is just one of them. Even as a vegan, you probably engage in consumption of products that came about through unsavory practices. You don't have a single product not made from animal hides, such as shoes, a leather wallet? :wink:

I think we should educate ourselves on the issues and do the best we can. Is a guy who has a great, well-paying job that requires him to wear leather shoes, a leather briefcase and attend business lunches/dinners where vegetarian/vegan isn't an option but then donates a good chunk of his income to worthy environmental causes worse than a vegan eking out some sort of a living that minimizes his carbon foot print? This example is a blatant extreme but you probably realize what i'm getting at.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
animal world

Thumbs up to Sweden!

According to an article in the NY Times, Sweden has started showing carbon dioxide emissions as part of food labels. At this point, consumers over there are confused to the point of ignoring the information. Some labels are ambiguous. But, the reaction probably was similar when food labels started showing nutrition information and calories. Imho, this is a great step to promote greater awareness of the cost to the environment of our foods.

Here's the article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/23/world/europe/23degrees.html?em

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...