DuWayne posted this video over at his place as a follow-up to the raging nutbar we had foul up our respective blogs recently.
As requested by DuWayne privately, here’s my thoughts on the video, unaltered by any of the comments or his post. (As much as I can manage, as I’d read / skimmed most of it already.)
The first part that really jumped out at me was the assumption that everyone who’s okay with animal testing and/or eating meat does so because of the Bible. You know I’m an unabashed atheist, and that’s certainly not why I think testing, when performed humanely, is not a bad thing. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that as long as aliens were humane about my pain, I’d submit to testing to further their scientific knowledge if that knowledge was then passed back on to humankind. Likewise with more earthly doctors. Likewise if I was, somehow, a sentient non-human animal capable of understanding that distinction and given the choice. If there was a “volunteer for science” program around here, I’d strongly consider it. Testing itself has benefits that far outweigh the costs, especially when we do whatever we can to minimize the costs. For instance, a huge amount of animal testing would go by the wayside if embryonic stem cell research, done using embryos that were rejected from fertility clinics and due for incineration anyway, were used. But where we meet with resistance against animal testing from one side of the political spectrum, we meet resistance against stem cell research from the other. Science continues unabated, as long as rational people take office now and then.
And as for meat, if I was roaming around the savanna, I’d assume I’m fair game for any lions or whatnot that happen to catch and eat me. I’d try to avoid being eaten if at all possible, but I wouldn’t begrudge the lion for looking for a meal. Biomass is biomass, and if you have any moral compunction against eating chicken that’s been purpose-bred for consumption (as opposed to, say, hunting for consumption), then you should also have moral outrage against eating vegetables that have been proven to have rudimentary nervous systems that can allow plants to feel pain, suffer, get sickly and die. So eating any biomass at all must by necessity be a form of killing others to survive yourself. That’s one of the side effects of believing that all life comes from a single origin, you have an intimate connection with every form of biomass that you’re willing to consume. And just try to survive on water and minerals for fun, see how far you get. Why is one domain (plants) fair game but the other (animals) off-limits, when they both fall under life?
I honestly feel that anything that is done to us human animals that could cause pain, could cause pain in a non-human animal. Likewise, anything that could cause pain to an animal could probably cause pain to a plant, since they have those nervous systems. Therefore, any testing or preparation for consumption must be done humanely. Big agribusiness where animals aren’t properly slaughtered for consumption, where they aren’t properly fed or given adequate room, etc., is all deplorable. That’s not going to stop me from consuming biomass from one of the kingdoms that provides most of my protein and other essential nutrition. Nor will it stop me from continuing both testing on humans (e.g. volunteering for science), or testing on animals done humanely (e.g., with proper anesthetic, proper controls, etc.), since in the long run, you can’t avoid killing to survive, and animals purpose-bred live (most of the time) decent domesticated lives and, when they die, go on to feed other animals (humans).
It’s certainly better than going out and hunting animals that are otherwise free. And it’s better than vast swathes of them (and us) dying as a result of diseases we could cure but didn’t out of fear of hurting mice, cats, dogs, chimpanzees, or humans — YES, HUMANS GET RESEARCHED ON TOO — unnecessarily. Especially when testing takes (or should take) great care to avoid that “unnecessary” part. I agree that anyone that doesn’t take that same amount of great care is a monster.
The problem here is that “species-ism” has been elevated by the animal rights activists to a level above racism, sexism, politics or economics, which is the only difference between those other “radical” philosophies (all of which strive for egality between humans), and the animal rights movement (which strives for parity between humans and other non-human animals, when we are obviously not equivalent at all, being that we’re thus far the only species capable of science). Yes, it’s a human conceit to say that humans are above other animals, but I guarantee you that lion will give not a shit that I ate meat or that I ate nothing but plants all my life. Except, I guess, that I’ll be tastier to the lion as a meat-eater.
As for the changing daily habits thing — well, when you change from omnivory to veganism, that’s a big change. When you change from being for the oppression of any outgroup, to championing their egality, that’s a big change too. Preaching is one thing, but if you’re acting in a hypocritical manner (e.g. by eating chicken while claiming to be for all animal rights), you’re either just a rabble-rouser or an awareness-raiser — which has utility, but limited utility at best — and if anyone finds out that you’re a hypocrite, you damage the very cause you’re supporting.
As with all other aspects of life, both the extreme positions are ridiculous and untenable. Neither “all animals have equal rights to humans” nor “all animals should be plundered and vivisected (cut up alive) for sport and fun as well as science and food” are valid positions. So prove your sanity, and take a nuanced view of this issue as with all others. You’ll be called names by both camps, but strangely enough, fewer epithets will come from the folks you’re really against (e.g. people that torture kittens), than from the people that theoretically should support you in that (e.g. the people that think you’re equally evil for eating chicken).
On to the comments: DuWayne probably nailed it with regard to this being like a religion to them. There’s the spin and lies and twisted worldview and both ignorance and willful distortion of existing evidence that contradicts their doctrines, there’s the self-enclosed echo chambers they insulate themselves in, and there’s the dehumanizing element that is necessary to cast all apostates as inhuman and worthy of death. Oh, and the internal scandals and utter hypocrisy. Don’t forget those. It’s probably why many of the same debating tactics are so effective against people in that same mindset. Especially since many of them are atheists as well.
But, I mean, hey, we all have our inconsistencies. And I’m not an exception.
Sorry that this is unpolished, just trying to throw this out to the world on my lunch break.