From radical evil to farce in two generations

There just isn’t any better marker for the fundamental narcissism of today’s left-wing politics that this:

That’s Che Guevara’s granddaughter, Lydia, We are told that she posed semi-nude to promote vegetarianism and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

There are so many levels of wrongness and unintended irony here that it’s hard to know where to begin…

Let’s quickly dispose of the most obvious snark. Granddad murdered political opponents by the truckload, built gulags, and starred in the creation of the Western hemisphere’s only genuine Communist shit-hole; granddaughter is promoting…vegetarianism. OK, in this case regression to the mean is a good thing — but it’s still kind of pathetic. “Yeah, sure, you were a charismatic blood-soaked monster, but look at me, I’ve got breasts. And hair! And I’m really toned!”

The not-so-subtle message here is that vegetarianism is revolution is sex; you too can fight the power and score hot naked rebel chicks by, er, eating tofu. Yeah. Forget all that whining about the objectification of women, one just like Lydia will serve herself up on a platter if you just strike the right clenched-fist poses and munch your beansprouts; we promise. (Well, it sort of has to read that way, doesn’t it? Otherwise what would be the point of the ad campaign?)

I suppose if you’re female, the implied promise might be that you get to be the hot naked rebel chick. Which, if you’re one of the anorexic daddy-issues gothgirls or overweight lumpy-sweater lesbians who tend to flock to PETA events, must actually seem like a pretty good trade.

But this is just the surface of the presentation. Let’s read a little deeper…

Vegetarianism is virtue because meat is murder, so our mascot is going to wear bandoliers of honkin’ big…bullets. So, right, violence against animals is wrong, but violence against humans is dead sexy. Got it.

Either totalitarianism is just a fashion accessory for PETA’s hip vegetarian lifestyle, or PETA is promising that come the revolution all those meat-eating motherfuckers are going up against the wall. Narcissism or Naziism, take your pick.

If you’re morally confused enough not to find this photograph ludicrous on its face and gape at it in disbelief, wondering “What was PETA thinking?” you’ve entered the state of doublethink required for left-wing politics. Next, you can believe that you’re fighting for freedom and “the people” by advocating an ever-larger and more intrusive state apparat. Hey, it worked for Che!

111 thoughts on “From radical evil to farce in two generations

  1. Oh, I don’t know. The photo is funny precisely because of the several levels of political incorrectness, and the juxtaposition of memes – like the “nuke the baby whales for Jesus” joke. I think – just this once – you ought to lighten up a bit.

    This doesn’t rehabilitate Ché any more than Mel Brooks rehabilitates Hitler.

  2. Well, I think they’re _carrots_ but they are symbolically in teh place of bullets…

  3. Oh, come on. The PETA nuts represent “the left” in the same way that David Duke represents “the right”.

    …Personally, this has always been my favorite Che-related image.

  4. Um, the difference is that the left tolerates PETA, and even tolerates being conflated with PETA, rather than disapproving – and you can see PETA being promoted as the mainstream left all the time on the evening news. Apart from fellow-travelers, there’s not much support for David Duke on the right – though you sometimes see him being identified with the right on the evening news.

  5. It is interesting to look at PETA’s marketing strategy, which is consistently of this type of extreme edgy character. However, If you goal is to encourage people to stop eating dead animals your primary issue is invisibility. The fact is that many people, if they thought about it, would feel pretty uncomfortable eating the flesh of dead animals, cute little bunnies and fluffy lambs. So the goal of the food industry is to encourage people not to think about it in that way, but think about it in a different way.

    So what PETA needs is visibility first, and then using that visibility to expose their arguments.

    Is it effective? I am not sure. There is a balance between the necessary shock value, and ending up as an object of mockery. There is nothing worse in PR than mockery, it is pretty hard to recover from (just ask Sarah Palin.) I think they live right there on the knife edge. But given their lack of success, perhaps they need to live on the bleeding edge to have any chance of progress.

  6. Um, the difference is that the left tolerates PETA, and even tolerates being conflated with PETA, rather than disapproving – and you can see PETA being promoted as the mainstream left all the time on the evening news.

    The mainstream media, whom everyone gets to hate on, promotes them because they’re a fun freakshow to laugh at. I don’t know of any serious leftist that “tolerates” or “tolerates being conflated with” them – point me to the Yglasias or Klein or Atrios approving of them, for instance, or a Democratic (not, obviously, the same thing as leftist) congressman who does more than smile and nod and get-the-hell out at them they same way they would the Larouchies.

    PETA is a great stopping point for college age idiots that find being angry at something is a fine way to get laid before they have to get a job, and a nice ghetto for a small batch of true believers, roughly similar to volunteer border patrol groups, but with more tits.

    Meanwhile, the Birthers get their own house bill and Glen Beck.

  7. If you’re morally confused enough not to find this photograph ludicrous on its face and gape at it in disbelief, wondering “What was PETA thinking?” you’ve entered the state of doublethink required for left-wing politics.

    I don’t wonder what PETA is thinking anymore. They’ve been so far off into completely arrant extremism for as long as I’ve heard of their existence that a stunt like this is wholly unsurprising.

  8. It should be noted that not all left-wingers are statists.

    Not all forms of collectivism are statism either. (Eric may wish to look up the word ubuntu and what it means besides a really nifty Linux distro.)

  9. My SO, who’s a third generation “communal hippy vegetarian”, feels that PETA is for her end of the political spectrum, about like the Tea Bagging Societies are for my corner of it: Well funded Astroturf campaigns meant to utterly discredit the valid points being raised.

    I do love the Nike-Che image.

    I’m now contemplating a shirt that takes that same serrotype reduction of a photograph and other faces on it. I’ve seen them for Reagan and Peron. I’m wondering if ones of David Freidman would sell (or if he’d give permission…)

  10. > It should be noted that not all left-wingers are statists.

    If you count the self-proclaimed Rothbard as left-wing.

    Mutualist anarchism is a contradiction in terms.

  11. >Mutualist anarchism is a contradiction in terms.

    No it isn’t – but collectivist anarchism is. The difference is important. Mutualist anarchists place a high value on maintaining a peer support network that, at least in their theory, is not market-mediated. Their theory is wrong (it depends on a narrow and impoverished understanding of markets) but it’s at least compatible with an ethic of nonaggression. That’s not true of collectivism, in which individuals are subordinated to the group and aggression against individuals by the group is considered natural and worthy.

  12. >Well, I think they’re _carrots_ but they are symbolically in teh place of bullets…

    One of the really cleaver things about the composition is that, because your brain expects to see bullets in a bandolier, it takes a second look to notice those are actually carrots. This visual trompe l’oeil expresses the intention of the entire composition (to confuse vegetarianism with revolution) very well.

  13. You know, for a few years now I have been thinking of wearing an Adolph Hitler t-shirt, in the classical Che style, just to see various people’s reactions.

  14. Ken Burnside wrote:
    > My SO ..feels that PETA is … [a] Well funded Astroturf campaigns meant to
    > utterly discredit the valid points being raised.

    I really don’t think that is true (and I know Ken isn’t claiming it is.) The issues that PETA raises are not ridiculously foolish. There is certainly a legitimate moral question on the proper treatment of animals, either on the simple end, their welfare in the food industry, to the other end, whether they should be there at all.

    To be clear, I disagree with PETA on most issues, however, I don’t think they are crazy wackos at all. I have had the pleasure of talking with many PETA activists, and have seen them interviewed many times. I think they are generally serious people who are deeply concerned about the welfare of animals, and that, and that alone is their motivation. Even though I disagree with some of their underlying premises, and I think some of their conclusions are flawed, I still have a lot of respect for some of the people in that organization. Of course they have wackos in their organization, but which organization doesn’t?

    I believe they consciously are using these extreme, even ludicrous tactics to try to get some visibility for their campaigns as I mentioned earlier because they can’t get much traction other ways. And, frankly if buzz is what you are looking for, they seem to be quite successful at that. And lets face it, I am as hetero as they come, but even I thought the Alicia Silverstone ad was sexy.

    Recently, Bill O’Reilly did a hatchet job on them because they did this campaign called something like “not so happy meals” which used various things, some rather gory, to tell kids what really went into their McDonalds happy meals. Parents were outraged. Bill was (as he often is) outraged. I agree that that one was a bit much, but really the outrage is that the lid was lifted on the truth. I reminded me of the parents who go nuts when someone tells their kids that there is no Santa Claus. Perhaps parents should be honest enough with the kids to tell them the truth that their chicken nuggets are made from chickens, and that the chickens don’t like it all that much. If parents had the honesty to tell the kids the truth with the deeper broader context, perhaps kids would have the intellectual tools to deal with “not so happy meals.”

    BTW, I agree wholeheartedly with Eric on the hilarious irony of this picture, however it seems to me to be little more than a gross extension of the insane attitude that Westerners have to Guevara in general. I think the guy who suggested a Hitler t shirt with similar motif hits the nail on the head.

  15. “If parents had the honesty to tell the kids the truth with the deeper broader context, perhaps kids would have the intellectual tools to deal with ‘not so happy meals.’ ”

    Depends on your background. Out here in rural USA, I don’t know of any kid that doesn’t understand where their meat comes from – many even raise it themselves – not to mention the reality of hunting and the finality of killing an animal. These same rural kids are among the most mature and balanced kids I’ve ever known.

    The animal kingdom and its ‘food chain’ is not so horrifying if you explain it rationally. I have no idea why people are so squeamish about such an essentially simple aspect of reality.

    PETA is the embodiment of an excruciatingly immature approach to life.

    Kill it and grill it ;)

  16. PETA has nothing to do with “left wing politics” in any meaningful sense.

    To suggest otherwise is shameless rhetoric.

  17. “it takes a second look to notice those are actually carrots”

    Nope. Unmistakable big orange carrots. I actually had to take a second look to confirm the stupidity of the spectacle ;)

    Let’s face it, a semi-naked chick with a beret and lame-ass commie fist-pump pretty much throws all expectations out the window…..we’re _deep_ into ‘WTF territory’ here.

  18. >Nope. Unmistakable big orange carrots. I actually had to take a second look to confirm the stupidity of the spectacle ;)

    Um, are you one of the borderline Aspie’s cases that hangs out here? One advantage of that “defect” is that you’re more likely to actually see what you’re looking at on first glance. No joke, and that wasn’t a hostile question. The photo fooled me for just long enough to jack my adrenalin, and I’m…well, “neurotypical” might be stretching a point but I’m not an autism-spectrum case.

    My wife, an exceedingly bright neurotypical (OK, maybe very mild OCD tendencies), hadn’t noticed those were carrots until I pointed out they weren’t bullets just now. I think that’s the effect the photograph was designed for — very effectively, I might add.

  19. >PETA has nothing to do with “left wing politics” in any meaningful sense.

    The design of their marketing and who they consider allies says otherwise.

    Give it up..I’ve met PETA types.

  20. Dan says:
    >PETA is the embodiment of an excruciatingly immature approach to life.

    Baloney. They are the embodiment of a different approach to life that you are used to. That doesn’t make it immature at all, just different. Since when is walking outside of normal society to be true to your convictions considered immature? Even if you disagree with their convictions, this is a sign of maturity, not immaturity.

    It is the mass of people who eat chicken, but wouldn’t strangle a chicken in a million years who are the embodiment of an excruciatingly immature approach to life.

  21. As gun-touting, meat-eating European I say this: Vegetarianism as a means to get / maintain decent conditions is on the same level as 2nd Amendment rights. (Why? Guns == Freedom etc; industrial “production” of meat == environment goes kaputt.)

  22. Not sure what this says about me, but when I saw this photo, I didn’t see the carrots, barely remembered the bullets, and I didn’t question the morality of left-wing marketing tactics, I only thought “I can almost see boobs”.

  23. FWIW, I saw them as carrots “pretending” to be ammo, and not as actual rounds of ammo.

    Of course my first thought was “This is satire, right? A parody of things left-wing and politically correct.”

    That it’s actually a serious plug for PETA – well, as esr said “There are so many levels of wrongness and unintended irony here that it’s hard to know where to begin…”

  24. >It is the mass of people who eat chicken, but wouldn’t strangle a chicken in a million years who are the embodiment of an excruciatingly immature approach to life.

    I have to agree with Jessica on this one. The PETA crowd is as nutty and flaky as a bowl of granola, but “immature” is not a particularly good description of what ails them.

  25. Jessica: I must admit that I was unwilling to cull our chicken flock. Not because of any squeamishness about killing, but simply because the chicken had served us well, and deserved to die quickly and cleanly, not at the hands of an amateur.

  26. >She’s hot.

    Well, yeah, sort of. But I wouldn’t – there’s something unnerving around the eyes. Not sure whether that look is “crazy” or just “vacant” – either is plausible from a PETA mascot. In either case…no.

  27. I go for crazy. There’s a touch of intensity there.

    That said, sociopaths tend to be “vacant” in at least one important way – lacking in concience. To the “vacant” aspect could be that, an utterly traumatized personality, or whatever recreational drugs she was using that morning.

  28. I have LONG maintained that PETA is an issue oriented performance art group. Their message is subordinate to their desire to gain attention through street theater. They have a very “hip” core message and they leverage this to get financing and celebrity assistance, but at some level they realize both the absurdity and the impossibility of their goal, and are just working to make THEMSELVES feel better. They really don’t care if you convert as long as they get to do something.

    Once you view their behavior through their perspective it all starts to make sense.

    @foobie-bletch:

    Yes, they are. Not all *LIBERALS* are left-wingers, but the left wing is the progressives, the communists, socialists, corporatists/fascists, communitarians, anacrho-syndicalists etc. These people ALL believe that the individual is subordinate to the society EXCEPT where the society chooses to allow freedom. The right-wing, the conservatives, the libertarians etc. believe that the society is subordinate to the individual except in areas where we have decided to allow restrictions for the greater good. Yes, in some cases they come to almost identical laws. But it’s the bias that counts.

    RE: Peta v.s. the Left. PETA does not represent “the Left”. PETAs goals aren’t even in alignment with leftist political beliefs. However I guarenfuckingtee you 95% of PETAs supporters, if they managed to get to the polling place, voted either for The O, or whatever nut case was fronting the Green Party. The rest were split between the rest of the candidates with the Rs polling less than 1% of PETA supporters.

    @JessicaBoxer:
    “””
    The issues that PETA raises are not ridiculously foolish.
    “””

    Yes, they are.

    PETA takes very, very extreme positions on Animal Welfare. I’ve not spent a lot of time researching their exact positions, nor will I waste any of my precious time debunking their positions individually.

    “”‘
    There is certainly a legitimate moral question on the proper treatment of animals, either on the simple end, their welfare in the food industry, to the other end, whether they should be there at all.
    “””
    The questions they purport to ask have been raised, discussed and largely disposed of by wiser and more mature minds–as an example look at Kosher and Halal regulations. While you may disagree with these results, it is CLEAR that these questions have long been under examination by people who wish to come to a workable conclusion and are not just out to stroke their egos publicaly.

    @Christopher:
    That makes no sense at all. Can you reframe it more clearly?

    @ESR:
    Are there any clear tests that seperate one out into ASD territory? I saw immediately that they were not bullets, and a couple other things (routinely missing sarcasm on others part, routinely not realizing that people are joking, missing a LOT of non-verbal clues in conversations (dating was very difficult) etc.,

  29. Such creatures bring negative publicity for the real vegetarians of this planet: those who don’t think of it as a lifestyle or a political statement but as what is natural to them (and recognizing that it might not be natural for others)…

    I am a vegetarian because I’m a Hindu, brought up in a traditional household and meat was not even something that was vaguely on the horizon. I’ve never eaten anything but vegetarian food all my life. I cannot even imagine even eating anything else and I honestly believe that I’d starve if I were ever in a position where I could not get it, but I don’t apply that rule to others.

    It’s hard from my point of view to see any politics in choice of food, but I suppose communist types will twist any and almost every topic, including choice of food, to suit their agenda.

    Blaady rascals.

  30. “Um, are you one of the borderline Aspie’s cases that hangs out here?”

    I have absolutely no idea. I just saw big orange carrots, make of that what you will :)

  31. “Baloney. They are the embodiment of a different approach to life that you are used to. ”

    Baloney back atcha ;)

    The immaturity I speak of is that which is incapable of addressing the reality of life. Things kill things in many ways, often consuming those things. We are no different. To pretend that we are is to live in a fantasy. It is a peculiar aspect of our time that our civilization/society has reached such a point where we have the luxury of indulging such fantasies.

    OK…I was being too general by painting all PETA supporters this way. To those PETA supporters that are otherwise rational, I would challenge them to seriously rethink the legitimacy they are lending such an organization.

    I should stress that I am not lumping all ‘vegetarians’ into this category. I am really referring to the PETA contingency that would love nothing more than to see hunting outlawed, industrialized farming of livestock outlawed etc….essentially subjugating man to a bean-powered fascism that makes life a misery. I have not encountered many PETA supporters outside this mold….but I am surrounded by students, so maybe that explains a lot.

    Don’t take offense Jessica. I’m sorry for ruffling your feathers. I just have a deeply-ingrained loathing of people that think they can rightfully mob together and twist mankind to their will. I see this as a core raisin-d’etre of PETA.

  32. Dan wrote,
    “Things kill things in many ways, often consuming those things. We are no different.”

    This is weak on a couple of levels. First, you’re saying this it’s justified because that’s what happens. That doesn’t connect. Separately, it’s a basic “might is right” defense. I doubt you believe that principle.

    I like that you identify with the animals as a part of the food chain and appear up to the task of taking responsibility for killing something yourself for the table. Do you avoid getting to know animals that are destined for that fate in order to depersonalise them? Does that seem strange to you? Traditionally it made a bit more sense because people had this idea that their place in the hierarchy was handed down from God but that’s not so true any more.

    It’s bizarre that we have animals as pets and consider them part of the family, yet are happy for other animals of equal or greater sentience to live horribly and die horribly for a luxury that is both brief and trivial. This is not traditional agrarian practice as you suggest with your ‘society .. . reached such a point’ section – this is recent. The current circumstances of animals are in many respects worse than they had been historically – pigs and chickens caged in cruel confines and pumped with drugs that make their lives less comfortable still for our brief convenience as we eat them.

    We can analyse our times by imaging a reasonable person thousands of years in the future, and speculating about how they would look back at these times. Hunting will be understood. Many current standard farming techniques won’t – they’re plainly barbaric. I wonder how far off we are from synthetics. That will be the best of all worlds. It won’t be cruel, it will be cheaper, and we can make it healthier, tastier, etc.

  33. First I thought, “What is she wearing for bottoms?”. Then, after reading the first few sentences, “What is proper genital grooming for a PETAn? Her armpits are shaved, so I guess she’s not au naturale. Is it OK for PETAns who own…umm…have as animal companions…poodles to trim their hair into those ridiculous styles? It would be funny if they trim their own hair for cosmetic reasons, but are against the trimming of an animal’s hair for the same reason.”

    Then I noticed the carrots and got this image of her sitting in a Looney Toons cauldron pulling those carrots out one at a time and slicing them up into the water she was sitting in. This is the image I am left with, so I guess as far as I am concerned, if their message was, “Human, the other other white meat,” then the add was successful.

  34. Dan says:
    >Baloney back atcha ;)

    I’ll see that baloney and raise you a hogwash.

    > The immaturity I speak of is that which is incapable of addressing the reality of life.

    PETA folks want to change the reality of life, they seem deeply aware of the current reality and don’t like it. Again, that seems a pretty mature approach to me.

    >We are no different [than red in tooth and claw]. To pretend that we are is to live in a fantasy.

    But is it reasonable to want to be different? Is it a fantasy to think that humans can be held to a higher standard than base animals? In the animal kingdom it is common for one animal to forcibly copulate with another. It is common for one animal to kill another over a territorial dispute. It is common for fathers (and sometimes mothers) to abandon their children immediately after birth. It is common for the stronger members of a litter to kill the weaker. Is it a fantasy to believe that we humans are better than this, and that we can be different?

    I find a disturbing trend here of me coming to the defense of people I strongly disagree with. What’s that all about?

  35. >I find a disturbing trend here of me coming to the defense of people I strongly disagree with. What’s that all about?

    Intellectual honesty. More people should practice it than do.

  36. If it is immoral to eat a once-living thing, then all animals are immoral. When I eat meat, I therefore am eating a guilty animal. That chicken had it coming!

    The plants I eat are innocent. “Vegetables are Violence!”

  37. PETA certainly has a masterful PR/trolling operation. They regularly create campaigns to stir people up: the gory Happy Meals, the fat woman billboard, the demand that fish be renamed “sea kittens,” etc. etc. As long as they avoid offending certain groups (I’ll leave that list as an exercise for the reader), they’ll get lots of free publicity with few negative consequences beyond the scorn of people who already don’t like them.

    While esr’s post is on target (except regarding the carrots), much of the illogic and “wrongness” of the image is due to the fact that the image is an emotional statement. It’s a PR troll and not designed to make logical sense. It’s anti-establishment (i.e. rebelling against Mom and Dad). It uses a minor celebrity (always a good PR tactic) connected to a hip icon (look how hip we are!) that has been repurposed (look how clever we are!) for a good cause (look how committed and concerned and authentic we are!). That all makes emotional sense to them and to their target market. Of course they are flirting with bloodthirsty totalitarianism, but it wouldn’t feel right to them to feel it that way, so they don’t. For them, logic and history and so on are beside the point.

  38. Eric, since you are on the topic of politics and women who appear both attractive and disturbing, would you revisit the subject of Sarah Palin? (I was going to write ‘do a post-mortem on the career of’, but who knows these days, she might yet become the Secretary-General of the UN.) You could put your mad skills as a grammarian to use and analyze her idiolect as heard in her resignation speeches, which some have found to be a new form of poetry.

  39. PapayaSF Says:
    >That all makes emotional sense to them and to their target market.

    I think your analysis is very accurate, though I think their target market is rather broader than you might think. (But I am reading between the lines on your post, so I could be 100% wrong on that.)

    > Of course they are flirting with bloodthirsty totalitarianism,

    Yup, and here is the whole problem. I think most of the readers of this blog are reasonably well informed, and understand that her grandfather was responsible for more horrors than almost any other man in history. (In the top 100 anyways.) Yet in our culture we have redefined Che to mean something quite different than the reality of the man he actually was. Che, in our culture means, “the small people rising up against the man and winning.”

    Anyone with a web browser and wikipedia knows that is baloney, however historical figures become a canvas on which ideologies can paint a picture. Every historical figure has his real record reshaped in history by some activist groups to put forward their own ideology. This is true throughout history, from the Egyptian Pharaohs, through our modern presidents. For example Nixon and Regan have become shibboleths for badness and goodness, regardless of the true complexities of their actual records. Lincoln, the apotheosis of the American Presidency, was far from it if you examine his actual record.

    I guess the point is that the Che Guevara being alluded to in this picture is not the real Che Guevara, but the imaginary construct that certain left wing ideologues have created and stamped with his iconic image. And in marketing, perception is reality.

  40. I should have added, given the times we are living in, that a perfect example of this rewriting is going on as we speak. Senator Edward Kennedy, who was a bad person, pushing evil policies, lecturing us all on serving the greater good, while he sat fat, happy and drunk paid for by the public purse for fifty years, is now being lionized by anyone with a microphone.

    Just because the guy is dead doesn’t mean he lead a good life. He was, for me, the very epitome of why I hate politicians. His family is an affront to the American system, where Lords and Ladies, Dukes and Duchesses were supposed to be a thing of the past. Camelot indeed: a small group of elitists imposing their will on the mass of the people by means of the sword, and thinking that the fact that their table is round somehow compensates for the fact it is so very small.

  41. Yes, it’s absurd to the point of being comical. So are the Obama-as-Hitler posters the gun-toting right-wingers are displaying. But that, I’m sure, is easily rationalized as concerned citizens exercising their rights to bear arms.

  42. Eric may wish to look up the word ubuntu and what it means besides a really nifty Linux distro

    Ubuntu, is, of course, an ancient African word that translates roughly as “Cousin Ed can’t install Debian.”

    Mike H:
    revisit the subject of Sarah Palin

    I read an amusing analysis recently that attributes the implosion of Obamacare in no small part to her popularization of the term “Death Panels”. The essence of it was that in their eagerness to take another shot at this idiotic bumpkin, they failed to note that they should have just frozen her out; their *refutation* of her hyperbolic term disrupted their entire narrative. It turned the argument from Republicans trying to defend our current shambles against a hypothetical to Democrats rambling on about how great their rationing system was going to be.

  43. Mike Earl says:
    > I read an amusing analysis recently that attributes the implosion of Obamacare
    > in no small part to her popularization of the term “Death Panels”.

    I don’t remember the timing exactly, but I think most of the rage against this started before Ms. Palin made her comments. No doubt though, a good turn of phrase can be an effective rallying cry. (My personal favorite was “Obama lied, grandma died.” The biting irony of this made me laugh out loud.)

    However, what I find ironic about the whole situation is simply that the rage at the “town hall” meetings is not against government mandated healthcare, but that one group’s government mandated healthcare might be impacted by giving government mandated healthcare to someone else. I couldn’t disagree more with the “save medicare” crowd. Of course there are some true libertarians in the crowds, and some who truly advocate valid reforms in our healthcare industry. (Most effective reforms of healthcare involve the government doing less, not more.)

    I suppose the enemy of my enemy is my friend, however, I also remember that if the fox gives you a ride on its back across the river, you don’t always make it to the other side.

  44. JessicaBoxer on Ted Kennedy: “His family is an affront to the American system”

    Just out of curiosity: what might your estimation of the Bush family be? Or the Clintons for that matter, although they seem to have bet the dynasty on just one child.

  45. Look let’s face it.

    You can construct/deconstruct the image all you want, try to figure out what PeTA was thinking, or better yet try to figure out what college kids are thinking.

    The fact remains if Lydia thinks you’re hot, you’ll get some. If Newkirk thinks you’re hot you’ll get some of that too. Same goes for Wayne Pacelle if that’s your taste…

    But the fact remains that in the end it is PeTa’s and their bedmates HSUS’ intent to use coercion to enforce their extremist positions.

    Regards,
    Albert
    PeTA: Cruel to Children
    My Response to the PeTA
    Where do Donations to the HSUS Go?

  46. “Do you avoid getting to know animals that are destined for that fate in order to depersonalise them?”

    Not at all (btw – how do you depersonalize that which is not a person? ;). I am grateful to each and every one of them; I value their lives for prolonging mine. Every animal I kill, I have a quiet ‘moment’ with – if you were so inclined, you might describe it as a kind of ‘red indian’ celebration of the spirit of the animal. I am deeply and profoundly aware of the value of life, and accept the enormous significance of taking a life, any life. I only take ethical shots (where I am certain of a clean kill), yet I am sure this would fall far outside the boundaries of what PETA considers ‘ethical’.

    “But is it reasonable to want to be different?”

    Certainly, for the individual concerned. It would be a very dull world if we all strove to be identical. Is it reasonable to impose that difference on others? PETA wishes for reality to be different, and for all of us to ‘feel’ the same. I wonder how much they consider my differences with them to be ‘reasonable’? Not so much, I suspect. At its core, I consider PETA to be nothing more than a childish pantomime – hence “immature” – attempting to trifle with a bewilderingly symbiotic system in accordance with whatever makes ‘emotional sense’ to them. If they had their druthers, if they could force human reality into a mold it was never designed for, I would expect life to become miserably poor.

    But by all means let’s Vive la Difference! You go your way, I’ll go mine :)

  47. “I wonder how far off we are from synthetics. That will be the best of all worlds. It won’t be cruel, it will be cheaper, and we can make it healthier, tastier, etc.”

    Perhaps. But will we still be free to choose?

  48. # Mike H Says:
    > what might your estimation of the Bush [or Clinton] family be?

    Not a fan. However, they have not set themselves up like royalty in the same manner as the Kennedy clan. I don’t mind political dynasties. I just don’t like the aristocracy.

  49. Dan says:
    >Is it reasonable to impose that difference on others?

    Yes of course it is, under some circumstances. For example, if I worship a God that requires me to kill virgins every full moon, you and I may have a difference, but it is right for you to impose your opinion on me? Perhaps, I am your neighbor, and I want to build a nuclear power plant in my backyard, next to where your children play. However, the lead shielding is way to expensive, so it is going to leak gamma radiation all over the place. Can you impose your opinion as to the appropriate design of power plants on me, or do you just live and let live with that one too?

    Or lets take another example. You say you like to have a clean kill when you go hunting. Lets say I have a difference with you. Lets say I get pleasure from watching the animal suffer and die slowly and in pain. Is it OK for you to insist that I don’t do that? Is it OK for you to impose your opinion on me?

    Or to dive into PETA’s mission statement: if I think that the meat from a cow tastes better if I box the animal up and don’t let it move for its short life, then cut its throat, and let the blood drain slowly, allowing the animal to suffer a painful death to improve the quality of meat (and perhaps save the cost of a bullet), is that OK, or should we be able to impose our opinion on the farmer that a more humane method of killing is required?

    Lets say I want to make sure a perfume isn’t toxic,so I make a few monkeys drink a bottle of it. The monkeys are fine, and have really nice smelling breath. However, the government regulations require an LD50, so I pour a gallon of it down the throat of each of a few hundred monkeys to calculate it, and watch them suffer a horrible death, even though it is so large that it would never happen in practice? Is it OK for an organization to campaign against that, or are they just behaving like fascists trying to steal your guns and religion?

  50. “Yes of course it is, under some circumstances.”

    Exactly. Now what will be the rationale for imposing PETA’s ‘differences’ on my life? How would they like to criminalize me?

    RE: Nuke plant : Argumentum ad absurdum, but I’ll play along. There’s more than ‘differences’ at play here – there is a direct threat to my life.

    RE: Hunting: You like animal suffering? (I know you personally don’t, I understand your example is ‘for argument only’) You’re a warped individual, and I will shun you, as will many others. I am one of the few people that thought Vicks should not have been prosecuted (the black, dog-fight organizing, football star). He should have been mercilessly shunned – a far worse prosecution, IMHO. Personally, I can end an animal’s life far more precisely and ‘humanely’ than any other ‘natural’ means would do.

    RE: Cow slaughter: Some people have a visceral reaction to the ‘ickiness’ of seeing lots of red stuff gushing – an aspect of a natural instinct, I suspect. There is argument to support the Halal method of slaughter (or similar processes, not necessarily religious) as well as captive-bolt methods. Rapid blood loss brings unconsciousness quickly and is a ‘healthier’ carcass than one that is not properly drained. A razor sharp cut is not necessarily unbearably painful. Arterial cuts are anything but ‘slow’. I consider it humane.

    RE: Perfume – I know nothing about such gubmint regulations, but I suspect they ensure a level of needless suffering that we should be able to do without. I do not oppose animal testing, but I would like to see industry show more respect for the lives they use to ensure our safety.

    All-in-all, I wonder how much of the above objections is truly for the benefit of the animals, and how much is to assuage your sensitivities?

    “…or are they just behaving like fascists trying to steal your guns and religion?”
    Now, now….don’t throw sincerity out the window ;)

  51. Dan, you missed the point entirely. Your argument that others have no right to impose their opinion on you is patently false. That was the point of the examples. PETA believes that animals should have the right to some level of protection. From this perfectly reasonable point of view flows most of what they say and believe. If you read their mission statement their core goals are to do with protecting animal welfare in factory farms, and in animal experimentation, and both come from a very reasonable point of view that animals do deserve some level of protection.

    I fully understand that they also have a broader agenda, and in particular they promote a vegetarian lifestyle primarily to reduce the farming of animals. However, they are no different in that respect than most political pressure groups. Personally, though I don’t agree with much of what they say, I think it is very good for us all that they make us think about the use of animals in society. And perhaps extreme advertising is what it takes to do that.

  52. “Your argument that others have no right to impose their opinion on you is patently false. ”

    I did not make this argument. I asked a question. From your answer, I inquired about the basis for such impositions.

    “I think it is very good for us all that they make us think about the use of animals in society”

    Being conscientious about life is a fine trait, I would say.

    “And perhaps extreme advertising is what it takes to do that.”

    Perhaps. I suspect they relish the shock impact in a pornographic sense. I think it is callous to expose children to such media – it does not speak well of PETA’s ‘mature’ consideration for others.

  53. I think the picture is wonderful. There are so many mixed messages in it, some of which are intentional, and some which I’m sure were never intended.
    The picture is very attention catching, especially if you get to know that the woman is the granddaughter of Che Guevara. However, it totally fails
    at promoting any vegetarianism at all. After thinking about the matter for a while, I think the strongest impression is that it is an attempt to ride on
    the Che myth, that ends up being a parody.

  54. “The essence of it was that in their eagerness to take another shot at this idiotic bumpkin, they failed to note that they should have just frozen her out; their *refutation* of her hyperbolic term disrupted their entire narrative.”

    They will never be able to freeze her out. It’s Bush Derangement Syndrome all over again.

    As near as I can tell, she’s done two things on the national stage:
    1. Run for Vice President.
    2. Was Governor of Alaska.

    That’s it. That’s IT. And every time she says something, people go nuts.

  55. ErikZ Says:
    > As near as I can tell, she’s done two things on the national stage:

    Erik, I think your statement above captures one of the two things that drive the establishment nuts about her. You see, their issue with her is that she does not fit the mold. To be a politician, you need to work your way up. You need to glad hand the right people, you need to work out compromises, you need to focus on your political “career”. But she is the very antithesis of the political career. She pops in and out of politics as it suits her, and as she feels she is contributing.

    Her resignation from the Governorship of Alaska is this very thing writ large. If you believe her resignation speech (which I do), she quit because she felt that the circumstances around her infamy made it impossible for her to achieve anything as governor, and, given that, she wanted to get out of the way. That reasoning is so far beyond the understanding of the political class they just can’t process it, they can’t fathom it. It is so hard to believe that a person in politics would not be in lust with power so much that they have to find the “real” reason she quit. They are trying to work out how it advances her political career, but I honestly believe that she acted quite sincerely in this respect. (Of course, there are surely other contributing factors, but from what I see of her, I believe that is her core motivation.)

    The comparison with Biden was particularly sharp. Biden is a man who has lived and breathed politics and nothing else for most of his adult life. He is a so called expert on foreign policy. Problem is that in his long experience he has been almost universally wrong about everything. His patronizing lecturing of Palin about the constitutional role of the VP was hysterical given that he was entirely wrong in his analysis. So Biden has years of experience of being wrong. Is that better than not much experience, and being right some of the time? Apparently so.

    What was the accusation against her in the campaign? She lacked experience? Experience of what? Political machinations would be what. She, unlike a large number of people in our congress and Whitehouse has actually had a real job, she has even run a business. She does not live and breathe in the coddled, antiseptic world of politics. One might say, she has a life.

    This is the essence of what drives them nuts about Sarah Palin, she is three dimensional, unlike the flat, empty suits who are judging her. She is, to me, the essence of a citizen-legislator/executive.

    Of course the other thing that drives them nuts is that she is an attractive woman, who doesn’t buy the crazy, extremist feminist agenda. Rather she encapsulates traditional American values. And of course, there is the abortion thing. Not only is she against the mainstream on this, but she in-your-face practices what she preaches. She walks her walk, while the empty suits can barely even talk the talk without a teleprompter.

    I like Sarah Palin. I don’t agree with her about a many things, and I think she is lacking some savy, and quite a lot of important background knowledge. But I think she is the closest thing to a decent human being that lives today on the US political stage today. Put it this way, she is the only person in congress that I would actually like to do tequila shooters with.

  56. Mike H says:
    >>> Eric, since you are on the topic of politics and women who appear both attractive and disturbing, would you revisit the subject of Sarah Palin? (I was going to write ‘do a post-mortem on the career of’, but who knows these days, she might yet become the Secretary-General of the UN.) You could put your mad skills as a grammarian to use and analyze her idiolect as heard in her resignation speeches, which some have found to be a new form of poetry.

    Sarah Palin’s enemies would love for her to become the Secretary-General of the UN. This would simply condemn her to irrelevance. This sound’s like wishful thinking on the posters part. It is much more likely she will be president someday. She is quite attractive and not at all disturbing.

    And “analyze her idiolect…. which some have found to be a new form of poetry.” Good Lord. There is a difference between writing and typing. Although this sounds like the kind of tripe Maureen Dowd would write; there may be a position for this guy at the New York Times.

  57. Perhaps you see more into the picture than what there actually is – all I see is simple stupidity, a typical “blond” attempt to achieve something a typical Redditor would call “awesome” or “cool”. (Although, take my opinion with a pinch of salt, I’m quite “Aspie” and thus can err easily in figuring out the motivations of other people.)

  58. “she might yet become the Secretary-General of the UN” – wouldn’t that be a bit like Naomi Klein becoming the CEO of Nike?

  59. My first glimpse saw bullets and leaning on an imaginary wall.

    Then I read the article (I figure a picture like that had to have some interesting point behind it and I don’t come here to look at hot or not afterall) and laugh. My housemate asks what so i scroll up to show him the photo and look deeper while i’m giving the background.

    Interesting, the picture now has carrots and a fist-pump (personally my thought was “solidarity” fist-pump but if “Commie” is the generally accepted description I can go with it.).

    > We can analyse our times by imaging a reasonable person thousands of years in the future, and speculating
    > about how they would look back at these times. Hunting will be understood. Many current standard farming
    > techniques won’t – they’re plainly barbaric.

    My guess is that current farming techniques will probably be thought of much the same as the factory methods used during the British industrial revolution. Making entire families work 15 hour days to get fed just enough to keep them alive is at least as barbaric but the only reason workers rights appeared at all on the british horizon at the time they did was because parliament was going through an efficiency phase and it’s simply inefficient to have your workers pass out or die in the middle of a shift (at least according to Tony Robinson’s BBC series “Crime and Punishment”).

    Personally, I’m against drugging animals to within an inch of their life because I can imagine negative health effects(which includes getting resistances to things like penicillin). I’m against drawn out animal death sequences because it seems inefficient. I’m not quite sure if i’m bleeding heart enough to get motivated about animal tears, certainly my housemates cat’s can attest to that at feeding time.

    And I can’t stand mushrooms. So vegetarianism isn’t going to appeal to me.

    > Or to dive into PETA’s mission statement: if I think that the meat from a cow tastes better if I box the animal
    > up and don’t let it move for its short life, then cut its throat, and let the blood drain slowly, allowing the animal
    > to suffer a painful death to improve the quality of meat (and perhaps save the cost of a bullet), is that OK, or
    > should we be able to impose our opinion on the farmer that a more humane method of killing is required?

    To me the appropriate answer is “No we should just make sure that they can’t lie about whether they used humane methods” that way you can pay the novelty sized extra charge and be happy that you’re supporting humane farming and someone who doesn’t care can accept the discount and all that may come with it. And in the end the market can decide which way is right. (And no this isn’t actually an appeal to the editor… This is how my local supermarket chain deals with eggs. I can pay AU$2.00 to get a dozen cage eggs or AU$3.00 for a dozen free range, au naturale eggs. I got the cage eggs until I heard a reason i felt was worth the extra money and then switched)

  60. Put it this way, she is the only person in congress that I would actually like to do tequila shooters with.

    All the more reason to lament the loss of Senator Kennedy: not only was he a champion of human rights in Congress, but he could probably drink you under the table. :)

  61. >Jeff Read Says:
    > [Senator Kennedy] could probably drink you under the table. :)

    As long as he didn’t offer to drive me home afterward.

  62. I’m not against eating meat (I do eat meat), or the killing of an animal so that my family can eat it. I am, however, very much in favor treating them humanely, and killing them humanely. And I’m adamantly against the practices of factory farms and slaughterhouses.

    While I think legislation regulating out the cruelties of those institutions would be nice, I rather put my money where my mouth is.

    My wife and I have increasingly bought organic, both in terms of fruits, veggies, grains, etc, but organic methods of raising/producing livestock. The latter includes things like open area living, normal diets, no drugs, and humane killing. It produces a more expensive product, but one I’m more than happy to pay for because the quality/taste/healthiness is so much better, and it conforms to my morals. It’s also more environmentally and economically sustainable.

    We also avoid things that are genetically modified, and we avoid heavily processed foods.

  63. jeff_s Says:
    > I am, however, very much in favor treating them humanely,
    > and killing them humanely.

    Just as a matter of interest Jeff, why are you in favor of these two things?

  64. Jessica, I can attest that eggs from free range chickens (ones that get to run around) generally *taste* better than eggs bought from “chicken stuffed into a shoebox”. They’re about 30% more expensive here, and worth every penny of the difference in terms of baking and breakfasts.

    Same thing largely applies to beef, though it’s more a texture/marbling thing than taste. How well marbled and textured beef flank is is largely a function of how much exercise the animal gets in life. Most factory farmed and fed feed animals get a lot of chow (usually made of ground up bone meal for extra protein) but very little exercise; when they have fat, it’s not striated through the tissue as well, which is why the steaks come out ‘dry’ and why a pork tastes differently now than it did back in the ’80s.

    Oh, and if you’ve ever wondered why holiday turkeys are generally overly large and dry, it’s much the same reason.

    I consider letting the animal walk around and exercise to be humane treatment.

    There are a lot of farmers out here in the Midwest who are selling shares of sides of beef; you get beef cattle that were allowed to walk, graze, and otherwise behave like cattle. They’re slaughtered locally, and butchered locally, and you end up paying about 10% more than you do for supermarket beef and you get something that’s pretty close to upper tier steak-house grade steaks; you just need a way to pick it up and freeze it.

    As to killing them humanely, to me it’s a matter of basic decency. I also grew up in an environment where we hung briskets and racks of moose in the smoke house. I never ever had any doubts about where meat comes from…or how a sausage grinder works.

  65. Another issue:

    One of the most educational experiences you can have, as a person who thinks about what they eat, is to look at how many calories per ounce there are in a lot of processed foods.

    The number of calories in a 12 oz soda has gone up by about 15% for the sugared varieties since the 1970s. We also drink, as a society, about twice as much soda as we did in the ’70s – sodas and processed foods, adjusted for inflation, are cheaper than they were in the ’70s. Largely this is because HFCS gets massive price supports.

    Hell, it’s a pretty terrifying thing to realize that Newman’s Own pasta sauce has more sugar per serving than ice cream does. The reason for this is because even if you can’t taste the sweet in the sauce, once you’ve acclimated to the sugar in it, every one else’s pasta sauce without comparable sugar tastes bland.

    I eat as a low meat omnivore; I try to eat more vegetables and fewer starches, and I’m trying to get off the habit of drinking sodas or sweetened drinks.

  66. Ken Burnside wrote:
    >As to killing them humanely, to me it’s a matter of basic decency.

    Killing them is OK, just killing them in a manner you feel uncomfortable with is not OK. That seems a strange position to me.

  67. >Killing them is OK, just killing them in a manner you feel uncomfortable with is not OK. That seems a strange position to me.

    I’m with Ken on this one. Being kind to animals is something we should do because cruelty damages ourselves, not because the animals are intrinsically holders of rights.

  68. “It is the mass of people who eat chicken, but wouldn’t strangle a chicken in a million years who are the embodiment of an excruciatingly immature approach to life.”

    “Killing them is OK, just killing them in a manner you feel uncomfortable with is not OK. That seems a strange position to me.”

    Depends on your system of ethics. If you use consequential (utilitarian) ethics (do not do certain things because of what those actions cause to other people), then it doesn’t make any sense. However, consequential ethics don’t make any sense at all – how could we foresee all the possible consequences of our actions from the near future to infinity? If you plant a tree and it falls on someone 100 years later, are you a murderer? If a man in 1892 would have murdered a cute 3 years old kid called Adolf Hitler, would have he been a hero? This is why consequential ethics doesn’t make any sense: we can’t foresee the future accurately enough.

    This is why generally virtue ethics makes more sense: refraining from certain things because it harms our own character. It helps if you believe in karma, but even if you don’t, there is still such a thing as a character which can be harmed if we act unethically.

  69. I consider animals to be rather perfectly ‘innocent’, and cannot truly ‘deserve’ death in the same way that a violent criminal would deserve their demise.

    Whatever an animal is doing, even if it is destroying my property or attacking me, it is doing so because that is its unvarnished, unprejudiced, non-malicious nature. I do not feel any hatred or resentment or anger towards any animal. If I destroy one, it is for entirely rational reasons – to protect my property or life. There is no malice or joy in the act of killing. I engage them on much the same terms as the rest of reality would. If I need food, I’m the elite predator…you lose, wabbit. If it is encroaching on my territory, I’m the elite defender…you lose, wabbit.

    I also happen to belong to the school of thought that considers ‘rights’ to be a uniquely intellectual phenomenon, not observable outside our species. But I don’t need to believe in ‘animal rights’ to voluntarily extend respect for their lives.

  70. ESR wrote:
    >not because the animals are intrinsically holders of rights.

    The implication of this is that humans are “intrinsic” right holders. Why do you believe that? As far as I can see “rights” are simply artifacts of society’s decision to enforce particular fundamental concepts. That is to say, your right to free speech exists only insofar as someone with a big stick is willing to ensure you can say whatever you want. Is there anything more than that that I am missing?

  71. I consider animals to be rather perfectly ‘innocent’, and cannot truly ‘deserve’ death in the same way that a violent criminal would deserve their demise.

    Anyone who’s ever raised goats (and to a lesser extent, sheep, who we’ve bred the brains out of) is snickering hysterically at this line. Goats are possibly the smartest of the domestic ungulates. They eat anything that’s vegetable based (and most things that they can consider vegetable based), and you will never convince anyone who’s raised them that they aren’t, deep in their black little hearts, malevolent bastards who merely lack the opposable thumbs.

    For that matter, watch what happens when you teach bonobos how to use zippo lighters. Innocent furry pyromaniacs is what they are.

    In other news, the raccoon experiment on human domestication has succeeded beyond their wildest dreams…for every human termite mound encouraged, there are gazillions of dumpsters full of yummy food, and lots of sewers to get around in.

  72. >This is why generally virtue ethics makes more sense: refraining from certain things because it harms our own character. It helps if you believe in karma, but even if you don’t, there is still such a thing as a character which can be harmed if we act unethically.

    Virtue ethics “makes sense” only as consequentialism with a long planning horizon. It’s a way of internalizing strategies we believe will have good outcomes.

  73. >The implication of this is that humans are “intrinsic” right holders.

    Shorthand. Just as virtue ethics is a way of internalizing strategies that past experience has shown tend to have successful outcomes even when we can’t see the payoff in a near term, “intrinsic rights” is shorthand for “when we don’t construct our societies to treat humans according to these premises, hell on earth rapidly ensues”.

    Various factions of libertarians have spent a great deal of energy in a meta-argument over whether over non-aggression is grounded in “natural law” (what you’d probably think of as an intrinsic-rights account) or utilitarianism. As Alesteir Crowley would have said, “Let these two asses be set to grind corn!”.

    Hm. This seems worth a blog entry…

  74. JessicaBoxer: “Just as a matter of interest Jeff, why are you in favor of these two things?”

    It’s twofold:

    1. I believe (well, actually know as a scientific fact) that animals are sentient beings, capable of experiencing joy, pleasure, pain, suffering. It is very much a part of my ethics to not encourage suffering on others – including people and other sentient beings. Do unto others as you have done on yourself, even that other is an animal.

    2. I also believe (actually, know as a scientific fact) that an animal that suffers greatly in factory farms and slaughterhouses produces much less healthy meat – the stress of the suffering produces more chemicals in the body that are harmful, and the drugs needed to keep the animal alive and growing (anti-biotics, steriods, other drugs) transfer to the resulting meat, which we consume. I’m not going to bother detailing all of it – it can take up an entire book (several published books, in fact).

    So, in short, my reasons are both moral and practical.

  75. whether over non-aggression is grounded in “natural law” (what you’d probably think of as an intrinsic-rights account) or utilitarianism

    Some of us see the two as one and the same.

    ESR says: Er, see my next blog entry….

  76. jeff_s says:
    >t’s twofold:

    > It is very much a part of my ethics to not encourage suffering on
    > others – including people and other sentient beings.

    But your ethics do allow for the killing of others?

  77. [transplanting from the "two asses" thread]

    “My personal view on this is simply this: I think killing creatures is a bad thing.”

    I think killing (in general, not just animals for food) is a perfectly amoral and natural thing. It is the “why?” motivating the killing that colors it in accordance with our subjective sense of morals/ethics. A desire to survive and thrive is as natural as fresh air – so I hunt for the finest nutrition mother nature can provide.

    Are the lions of Africa ‘bad’ for killing a wildebeest in a far more horrific and painful manner that a big game hunter? Is time itself ‘bad’ for killing us all? How about the rock, after centuries of freeze-thaw, that loosens and drops on my head as I hike in the mountains….is the rock ‘bad’?

    Of course these questions are silly, but they do at least highlight one relevant concept: what is ‘bad’?

  78. Dan says:
    >but they do at least highlight one relevant concept: what is ‘bad’?

    I think you are confusing “bad” with “evil”.

  79. “I think you are confusing “bad” with “evil”.”

    No, really, I’m not. I’m asking what is ‘bad’ about killing a deer? Or a rabbit? Or another human? What do we mean by ‘bad’ in such a context?

    Evil is a whole ‘nuther discussion ;)

  80. Dan Says:
    > I’m asking what is ‘bad’ about killing a deer? Or a rabbit? Or another human?

    I am presuming this is a serious question. In this context, bad means undesirable. It is undesirable that a deer should loose a life it owns, or a rabbit, or a human. The totality of circumstances might mean that net good that arises, but that doesn’t make these individual components any less bad or undesirable.

    The princess pricks her finger, poisoned by the evil grandmother, and falls into a magical sleep. The handsome prince finds her and kisses her, and she revives and they both fall immediately in love. And so it is that they live happily ever after

    Nonetheless, granny was still a bitch.

  81. “I am presuming this is a serious question. ”

    Of course it is. It may seem simple to you, but I’m a simple guy.

    “In this context, bad means undesirable”

    Really? I consider a dead deer to be very desirable. My freezer becomes full of spectacularly heart-healthy meat. I desire that. So does my family. So do the various critters around me that feed on the scraps and carcass. It’s an eco-wonderland!

  82. Dan says:
    >I consider a dead deer to be very desirable.

    Right, but Bambi sure is pissed.

  83. “Right, but Bambi sure is pissed.”

    Nah. Bambi’s dead…and the world just keeps on turning ;)

    Do you think deer are more or less concerned about meeting a surgical end (from 130gr @ 2500fps in the vitals) from me, than they are about a fanged & mauled end courtesy of the coyotes?

    Would you be less tormented if I ate worms and bugs, rather than ‘cute’ animals? Can I eat a frog? What about a rat?

    How far must mankind prostrate itself to satisfy your sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’?

    Do you consider all life to be of equal value? A man equal to a deer? A rabbit equal to a horse?

  84. Dan says:
    >Do you think deer are more or less concerned about meeting
    > a surgical end (from 130gr @ 2500fps in the vitals) from me,
    > than they are about a fanged & mauled end courtesy of the coyotes?

    Which would you prefer for yourself?

    >How far must mankind prostrate itself to satisfy your sense of
    > ‘right’ and ‘wrong’?

    We were not discussing my sense of right and wrong, but your moral and ethical code. I haven’t expressed an opinion on whether killing animals is “right” or “wrong”.

  85. “Which would you prefer for yourself?”

    I would have thought that would be obvious by now.

    “We were not discussing my sense of right and wrong, but your moral and ethical code.”

    We’re discussing it now. Don’t be coy and evasive. I can steer the conversation any way I consider useful – are you going to answer or not?

    “I haven’t expressed an opinion on whether killing animals is “right” or “wrong”.”

    OK, you used the word “bad”, are you now suggesting that you don’t think that such a “bad” thing is ‘wrong’? I think you’re splitting hairs here.

  86. Dan says:
    >We’re discussing it now. Don’t be coy and evasive. I can
    > steer the conversation any way I consider useful – are
    > you going to answer or not?

    I am neither coy or evasive, I have set out clearly in another thread what my thoughts on the ethics of food and killing animals is. In summary: it is an unfortunate necessity.

    However, since you want to provoke me, let me tell you what I do think. I understand that, because of our nature as animals, it is necessary to kill animals for food. However, I think it is better that it be done in a farming setting rather than a hunting setting. Why? I find it deeply disturbing that people kill things for pleasure. To enjoy killing an animal makes you a very small person in my book. I fully understand that it is a necessary thing, but to get pleasure out of it is quite disturbing to me.

    I am not suggesting it should be a point of guilt, it is part of our nature, but it should be a point of regret.

    I used to work with a guy who had as the background image of his computer a picture of him holding the head of a dead deer, with a smile of pride on his face. I guess he had just killed the animal. Every time I went in his office I wanted to weep for the poor animal. I understand that its death might have been necessary so that others could live, but to celebrate its death with pride is repulsive to me.

    I feel even more repulsed by people who kill animals to have them stuffed as trophies. These animals were not killed to keep the hunters alive, but to be displayed in a case. To kill an animal and not eat its meat is a disgrace.

    I think hunting, and taking pleasure in killing other animals makes the hunter a smaller, lesser human being.

    I am not opposed to guns, and I am not in favor of banning hunting. On the contrary, I own a gun and I am a very good shot. However, to echo Eric’s earlier comments, cruelty to animals makes you a bad person. I think killing an animal for pleasure alone makes you a bad person too.

  87. “To enjoy killing an animal makes you a very small person in my book.”

    Allow me to quote myself – “There is no malice or joy in the act of killing.” (#239908)

    “…it should be a point of regret.”

    So say you, not I. Why regret being able to provide sustenance to my family? Why regret being capable of existing and thriving in reality? No. I do not regret anything.

    “to celebrate its death with pride is repulsive to me.”

    I admit I am not a photo-shoot hunter. I have no photographs of my kills, only memories of good hunts. I do not condemn people that take those kinds of photos – the hunt may have been particularly challenging in some way, the animal elusive, whatever….I can see a photo being a fine memento under some conditions. I cannot speculate what was going through your work-colleague’s head, but I do consider it shameful to simply be gloating over a kill.

    I think I have illustrated my mentality regarding killing/hunting in several other posts, but to clarify – I do not ‘enjoy’ killing. There is nothing to derive pleasure from in the act of ending life. There is plenty to derive joy from as a _consequence_ of the kill, however – be it surviving a deadly assault, or providing food. That is the satisfaction I derive from the whole hunting experience. The actual ‘killing’ part is over in a split second and is ice-cold and clinical….the hunt itself takes place over many hours.

    “I feel even more repulsed by people who kill animals to have them stuffed as trophies”…”To kill an animal and not eat its meat is a disgrace.”

    I wouldn’t use the word “repulsed” myself, but I understand your sentiments….I essentially agree with you here :) I agree because I value life and to destroy it for some narcissistic trophy case is shameful. However, consider the trophy hunters of Africa – they go home with hides, tusks, feet, hair etc…but the native communities around them benefit from the meat. Drums beat for miles whenever ‘the hunt is in town’. Some trophy hunting is not so clear-cut. Population culling can produce trophies. If I ever shoot a particularly outstanding specimen I think I would like to honor its life by mounting it, as well as processing the meat. It’s all very context-dependent, but I do broadly agree with your view of trophy hunters – I am not one.

    “However, to echo Eric’s earlier comments, cruelty to animals makes you a bad person. I think killing an animal for pleasure alone makes you a bad person too.”

    I am never cruel to any animal. I can stand with you on this :)

  88. “However, I think it is better that it be done in a farming setting rather than a hunting setting”

    See now, I’m t’other way on this. I consider hunting to be far more honest and ethical than raising herds of creatures in ‘death camps’ – to be melodramatic.

    You yourself derided the hypocrisy of those that would never do ‘the dirty work’ themselves – strangling a chicken etc.

    At least I take on 100% of the responsibility for killing, skinning, gutting, washing, hanging & butchering – literally, from field to table – the game I hunt.

  89. Dan says:
    >Why regret being able to provide sustenance to my family?

    Imagine you and your best friend had been unemployed for six months. You both had similar skills and abilities, and both interviewed for the same job. Congratulations, you got the job. You friend does not. You are happy for you, regretful for him.

    Now raise the stakes considerably.

  90. I told you I’m a simple guy. That makes no sense to me. I don’t see what parallel you’re attempting to draw.

    Unemployment -> hunger?
    Job -> deer?

    Nah…I have no idea where you’re going.

    I get the job. Why would I be regretful for him? There are other jobs. He wouldn’t be my friend if he didn’t have fighting spirit ;)

  91. Dan says:
    > I don’t see what parallel you’re attempting to draw.

    Even though your family is fed, your heart is empty if you can’t feel sympathy and regret that an animal had to give its very life to make that possible.

    Please refer again to my analogy with the evil grandmother.

  92. “Even though your family is fed, your heart is empty if you can’t feel sympathy and regret that an animal had to give its very life to make that possible.”

    OK, I get you now. Look, even I feel a moment of sadness for the destruction of life, I don’t know why – I certainly don’t feel I’ve done anything ‘wrong’. Perhaps because romantically I know there is one less beautiful animal in the world. Then I remember that hunting benefits their population, and that more & healthier animals will prosper. That’s why I have my ‘moment’ with the animal. Maybe I’m talking to myself, or communicating with its spirit, who knows? I thank it for existing, and for providing me with sustenance. It is natural & innocent for me to compete in nature and survive. I win. Others lose. How much of this do you think it is rational to waste my life lamenting?

    This gets back to the “immaturity” I mentioned. Are you going to sit around and weep for bambi – oh! the inhumanity of it all! – or grab reality by the horns, breathe it all in, and live ?

  93. Just to be extra clear – when I speak of “immaturity”, I am not using that term in a shallow, derogatory, demeaning, pejorative manner.

    It is the immaturity of a child that has trouble coming to terms with the loss of a cat. The sadness from having an emotionally satisfying animal wrenched away, without the balance of a mature, rational understanding of “that’s just the way shit goes down in this world”. The immaturity of being ill-equipped to deal with this aspect of reality; the way it grinds the rational mind to a halt to wallow in despair.

  94. Um, correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t this picture a little old? Seems odd to comment on it now, if only because there are many, many more important things that one could blog about. Not that I disagree with your post esr, just seemed like an easy target is all.

    ESR says: No, it’s not old. It was fresh from a story about the shoot in the Huffington Post.

  95. Jessica,

    I have to agree with Dan. Hunting and eating wild, free animals is more ethical than meat from, as he so aptly put it, death camps. Yet I eat supermarket meat. And I’m not sure whether hunting wild, free animals is better or worse than taking a wild, free animal and making it a pet. Yet I love our dog.

    Yours,
    Tom

  96. >At least I’d like to hear his opinion about them…

    My opinion is they’re utterly, utterly weird. I was all ready to interpret them optimistically as a sign that there can be occasional outbreaks of sanity even within the hard left…then I tripped over the bit about unconditional support for Slobodan Milosevic and gagged.

  97. I can’t quite tell from that shot, but I suspect that she’s got implants. Yuck.

  98. Pingback: Theological Geography | Does God Exist?

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