Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Devine Right to Eat Animals

It's hard to express how confounded I became reading this article by Miranda Devine. I know it's from last week - I only stumbled across it today. I only read Devine when I feel like being irritated - and today I really got my wish. There are so many confusing aspects, things to be surprised at, shocked even. But the most unsurprising aspect of course, is that Miranda Devine is a dullard. There's no other conclusion to draw. 

Of course, I'm sure you all had concluded this some time ago, probably when she insinuated lesbian parents caused the London riots. It's just that sometimes, a person's level of idiocy defies even your low expectations of them as a functioning human being.

It's air. You need it to breathe Miranda. Suck it in and blow it out. There's a clever dear. 

If I were a meat eater, and passionate about my right to eat meat, I might choose to use less idiotic justifications than "well plants have feelings too!" (sticks out tongue and puts hands on hips). I mean, really. That's what you're going with?

The point of the article (if there is one) seems to be to rebut High Court Judge Michael Kirby's statements about animals as sentient beings. She seems a little put out by his suggestion that humans can empathise; "In other words, those of us who eat meat do not have sufficient empathy. Thanks, your worship."

Jumping on the defensive, jumping to conclusions, and being patronising - she really has earned her stripes as a News Limited columnist.

She goes on to say that most people feel sadness in relation to animal deaths. Quite true. - If that death is happening in front of you. But if it happened in a remote factory with high fences, and the delicious suckling pig on the plate in front of you bore no resemblance to the sweet little thing who had its throat slit so you could pay $120 to have it served to you in three different ways ... Probably not.

The idea that farmers "more than most" empathise with their animals is laughable. I grew up on a farm. Farmers are made of hard stuff - I suppose because they have to be. It would be a rare farmer who shed a tear at every head of cattle sent to slaughter - and one that would likely need to be institutionalised at suffering so very much empathy - considering the amount of animals killed in modern-day factory farming. But of course as a self-proclaimed product of the uber-urban lifestyle, Devine would probably know best about such matters. 

Let's see, what else does she have to say? Oh yes, she mentions Jonathan Safran Foer's "new" book, Eating Animals. That would be the book he released in 2009 - which she should have known seeing as she clearly checked the Wikipedia page (having nabbed a Natalie Portman quote from it). 

Then there's the old poor-people-don't-have-the-luxury-of-choosing-not-to-eat-meat argument. Some poor people don't have the luxury of choosing to use a toilet, or to change their clothes - so we fat, rich, elites in the developed world probably shouldn't do those things either. Devine seems a little jealous of their 'get out of jail free' inability to source sustainable food that is not meat. Perhaps she should move to a Sudanese village where she can enjoy all the goat stew her heart desires without that nagging 'empathy' she feels so very deeply. 

"Moral vanity"! "sentimental meat phobia"! Strong made-up language there, but hold on to your hats people - us dirty hippy vegos are trying to destroy the ready availability of protein!!! Is nothing SACRED? Will no one think of the CHILDREN? We have a tax on carbon and now THIS?! 

Devine uses professor of agriculture, Dr Greg Hertzler, to bang out the everything-you-eat-harms-a-living-creature argument. Okay, so instead of endeavouring to be aware of where our food comes from and to not harm living creatures in sustaining ourselves, we should just kill all of them because some of them are going to die anyway! I mean, if the mice are being killed in the bread factory - we might as well kill ALL mice! And if we're going to kill all mice, we might as well kill ALL animals! And if we're going to go that far, we might as well kill ALL LIVING THINGS!! Including EACH OTHER!! Mwahahahahah!

Wow, sorry, I got carried away there - but as Good Christians love to say; it's a slippery slope. 

Then there's the poem. The poem that Devine seems to be using to prove her point, but that actually disproves at least one of them; That farmers feel empathy and acknowledge the suffering of their animals. In fact, the premise of the poem is that after a while, when animals are murdered on the farm, the narrator 'just shrugs' - such has he become desensitised to the act.

Proof that Devine hasn't understood the poem, or the topic, or anything really, is in her final line; "The point is, we all feel bad about killing animals. But in the end we have to eat." Well, no actually, that is not the point at all. In fact, that statement is completely wrong, (a) because no, not all people feel bad about killing animals, and (b) the need to eat does not relate to animals being killed. At least, not for us privileged folk in the first world - in fact, it is our privilege that should make us want to at least try to eat sustainably and to avoid inflicting pain on other creatures as much as we can.

Indeed Miranda, "living replaces false sentiments". - If we're only talking about your living, and the false sentiments are those that you feign in relation to having your food die for you. The fact is, I don't eat animals, or use animal products, or even eat factory-made bread for that matter - because I figure if I can live without having another animal feel pain because of me, why wouldn't I do that? Why wouldn't anyone do that?

The whole article is just a selfish, spoiled columnist justifying her selfish, spoiled food choices. And it bothers me. Can you tell?

You eat meat because you can, because you like the taste of it, because it's easy. Just say so. Don't write a whole fucking column of crap to make yourself feel better about it. You answer to no one but yourself ... oh yeah ... and me ... because of this interwebs thingy. Cool, ain't it? 


  1. A nice critical breakdown of Devine's article on eating meat. I've never read her, and I checked out the first link you have on this article, and then I thought you were being a bit too hard on her. Only because she was expressing an opinion. And hey, I read this over eating my (delicious) lunch of a ham and cheese sandwich.

    Then I clicked your other link about lesbian mothers. OMG. This is why I am becoming more and more secular. I totally see your point, well in regards to this article, about feeling irratable. Anyway, great blog, I'm enjoying your posts. :)

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