Saturday, January 10, 2009


The two things I hear people most often say to defend Israel's assault on the civilian population of Gaza are:

1. But it's in response to rocket attacks.
2. If Canada/Mexico was firing rockets into the US, we'd attack them, too.

The first is just plain silly. A man kidnaps a woman, keeps her locked in a room for years, and beats her daily. Every now and then she manages to grab a fork and tries to stab him. One day she gets the fork again so the man pulls out his gun and shoots her seven times. When the police arrive, he points to the body and the fork and says it was self defense.

The second is even more absurd. The idea that we should look to what "we" would do as evidence of some other country's right to do the same thing is laughable given that "we" invaded a country that posed no threat to us and killed the better part of a million people, and "we" operate torture prisons holding people indefinitely without charges, and "we" have a history of supporting dictatorships and military forces that kill civilians, and "we" do all sorts of other horrible things all the time. So what if the US would retaliate to rocket attacks across our borders with a wildly disproportionate response that will make our enemies more determined to kill us? That doesn't make Israel right, it makes us wrong, too.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Crush porn and eating animals

Jill at Feministe had a post recently about crush porn, illegal videos of women crushing and killing small animals with their feet that gets some sick fucks off. While the post was primarily about free speech, she expressed dismay at the cruelty to the animals involved.

It is hypocritical in the extreme for any non-vegan to honestly complain about the treatment of animals. Of course I agree with the complaint, and Jill and anyone else has as much of a right to complain as I do. But I cannot understand why anyone can think it is abhorrent to torture and kill an animal for a trivial bit of pornography but think it is perfectly acceptable to torture and kill animals for something as trivial as flavor. Why does the sympathy not translate?

There is no particularly significant moral difference between crush porn and using animals for food. Both involve the infliction of tremendous suffering on innocent beings for entirely superfluous and uneccessary reasons. The only intelligable difference is that the use of animals for food makes the occasional pretense of caring about animal well-being, but we can be fairly sure pretense matters little to the animals in question.

All omnivores are as complicit in cruelty to animals as consumers of crush porn are, and given the scale, far more suffering results from omnivores eating animals than from women crushing them on camera. The vegetarians are accomplices as well, since the production of dairy and eggs is no less cruel to the animals involved than the production of meat, and the animals are often used for meat in the end anyway (or, in the case of male chicks and calves, killed outright). That the animal products vegetarians consume aren't the proximate result of animal killing is rather irrelevant, ethically speaking, as the suffering and death is there all the same. But at least vegetarians have a shot at supporting numerically fewer acts of suffering, and at least they're thinking about it.

It goes without saying that it is impossible to completely eliminate complicity in animal cruelty in a world that considers animals to be no more than resources, but it is not impossible to try. The only ethical position compatible with the recognition of animals as beings capable of suffering (to say nothing of them as posessors of rights) is veganism.