“Ways of life must be preserved”

Via Secular Medical Ethics on Twitter I see a dreary item from Ed Milliband reported by The Jewish Chronicle Online.

Ed Miliband has pledged to protect Jewish customs including brit milah and shechita if he becomes Prime Minister.

Speaking at a Board of Deputies event the Labour leader said he was opposed to boycotts of Israel and warned of the need to be “ever-vigilant”against antisemitism.

Asked whether he would work to ensure religious slaughter and circumcision practices could continue in Britain, Mr Miliband said: “Yes, these are important traditions. The kosher issue has recently been brought to my attention. Ways of life must be preserved.”

That’s a terrible thing to say. It depends on the ways of life! Not all ways of life must be preserved, and not all aspects of ways of life must be preserved. It depends.

Just breezily agreeing that parents must continue to be allowed to cut bits off their infant sons’ penises is a slap in the face to human rights. Breezily agreeing to to ensure religious slaughter is not so hot for animal rights.


  1. says

    “agreeing to to ensure religious slaughter is not so hot for animal rights.”

    I had to do a brief double-take there, since the phrase has been used to describe the slaughter of humans for religious reasons often enough.

  2. sailor1031 says

    The old ways, like our precious bodily fluids, must be preserved at all costs. It saves the strain on our brains that results from trying to figure out new ways to do things.

  3. Bjarte Foshaug says

    This is definitely one of my pet peeves. If an idea or practice would appear stupid or immoral if someone were to suggest it for the first time today, it shouldn’t matter how long people have embraced it in the past. It’s still just as stupid and immoral. Please correct me if I’m off the rails, but my rather cynical view of human history is that – as a good first approximation – it’s almost exclusively a history of stupidity and evil, and the most important lesson to learn from the past is to put it as far behind us as compatible with the laws of physics.

  4. hjhornbeck says

    Ugh, how anyone can defend kosher and halal meat is beyond me. Both processes involve slicing an animal’s throat and letting it bleed to death. It’s immeasurably cruel, and I go out of my way to avoid both.

  5. karmacat says

    Slavery was “a way of life” , not letting girls to go to school is ” a way of life” in some areas. Someone needs to tell this guy that the past was not so great for a lot of people.

  6. Joey Maloney Who Is Unable To Login For Some Obscure Reason says

    Properly done, kosher and halal slaughter is more humane than the shot to the head (by a bullet or a spring- or gas-powered retractable bolt that’s most common in slaughterhouses. Properly done, the knife slices both carotid arteries in a single stroke. Loss of consciousness is instantaneous. Properly done, kosher and halal slaughter forbid shackle-and-hoist of living animals which is unfortunately all too common in the industry, though it’s no longer considered best practices.

    “Properly done” is the problem. Far too many facilities do it wrong, because it’s easier to pay off the religious authorities to look the other way than it is to actually follow the rules. But the problem has less to do with religious vs. non-religious in this case, and everything to do with the economics of industrial meat production.

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