Eating meat is not equivalent to Nazism

January 27, 2011

Okay, a little back story first. Once again, I got into a debate with a close friend on Facebook. Actually, this time I jumped in rather late. But one of my good friends is a vegan who I happen to think has swallowed a little too much of the PETA Kool-Aid.

So he posted the following status on his Facebook account:

Today while driving I saw one of the thousands of Nazi death trucks that they transport cows in. This time it was empty; though, I have seen one full. And I can’t fully express how sad and angry it makes me. To be feet away from them while they are driven to be tortured and killed. I just don’t understand why this is worth it so people can eat meat.

Now here’s the thing. I can sympathize with his anger. He has a particular view of the world and it bothers him to see such things that offend his sensibilities. I get it. It pisses me off every time I see the Pope not rotting in jail after covering up so many child rapes, and being very confident that he will almost certainly never be punished for his crimes because he’s too influential.

But while he actually was a literal Nazi…in a manner of speaking anyway. And while his organization has a somewhat dubious history of anti-Semitism and being on at least friendly terms with Hitler’s government, I recognize moral nuance. Sure, I make jokes from time to time, but when having a genuine intellectual discussions, I don’t throw the Nazi card out very often.

But here my friend is calling vehicles transporting livestock “Nazi death trucks,” and from the comments of others, he seems quite sincere and confident that this is an appropriate analogy.

I disagree. Before I got to respond, Staks from Dangerous Talk had a fairly lengthy back and forth, criticizing him for “Glenn Becking” everyone who disagrees him, a term I rather like and think is appropriate in this instance. Staks’ focused on the hyperbolic and aggressive rhetoric as his chief criticism, so I didn’t devote much time to it myself since I think he more than sufficiently argued that point.

Now the following paragraphs are my lengthy response, which focused more on my opposition to the moral argument for vegetarian/veganism. I thought it was pretty substantive, so I figured it’d make a good editorial article.

So without further ado:

I have to concur with Staks. Now your rebuttal to criticisms of your playing the Nazi card seems to be simply that in your case it’s apt, but as Jon Stewart so eloquently argued tonight in his criticisms of Fox’s use of the Nazi card, everyone always thinks their Nazi comparson is appropriate. And sure, on rare occasions like when you happen to be slaughtering Jews, it is apt. But in this case, it is a false analogy drawing on superficial similarities that rejects all nuance and attempts at reasonable discourse in favor of hyperbolic rhetoric designed to get attention.

The Nazis didn’t rely on torturing and killing Jews for their very survival. If they did, they probably wouldn’t be so popular in analogies designed to dehumanize people’s political or ideological opponents because most people understand the survival drive. Indeed, as JFK once said, “A man does what he must – in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures – and that is the basis of all human morality.”

But don’t confuse this for the naturalistic fallacy. For the first 500,000 years of human civilization, using meat and animal products was absolutely essential to our survival as a species. Had your ancestors chosen to live by your moral standards, none of us would be here now. And in most of the world, these resources are still absolutely essential to human survival. And up until maybe a 100 years ago, the decision to live a vegan lifestyle in a first-world country would be almost indistinguishable from the decision to commit suicide. The only reason we see a thriving vegan movement in first-world nations today is because science has finally devised methods for making it possible for people living in wealthy, privileged nations to live full, healthy lives with a diminished reliance on animal products.

So while I have no problem with someone choosing to live this lifestyle, I for one am not very impressed by the moral argument when the lifestyle depends on one being privileged enough to live in a specific time and place in history when and where it  happens to be convenient. I can’t respect such a bourgeois moral system.

And while you can choose to ignore the complex economics involved in making sure all the forces involved in getting sufficient vegan alternatives to an American retailer near you after being manufactured thousands of miles away, these are important, practical matters for most people. For instance, some family living in dilapidated conditions in some random third-world country doesn’t have a Whole Foods to shop at, or even an efficient trucking industry shipping huge quantities of tofurkies or whatever to a nearby grocer where it can then be sold at an affordable price. All I’m saying is the life you know, all this infrastructure you take from granted is absolutely essential to living according to your moral standard. Additionally, if everyone in America decided to suddenly become vegan tomorrow, that very infrastructure you rely on to get your vegan products would crumble because right now, our economy depends on the meat industry and they are too big to fail…right now.

Then there’s the problem of anthropomorphizing the animals. Not all animals have the same capacity to suffer as human beings. And as far as we can measure, few of them are particularly self-aware. This too is problematic for the Nazi comparison..unless the argument is that Jews are not sapient, which is problematic for different reasons.
Now as it so happens, my vegetarian friend Michael De Dora just wrote an interesting article addressing this point in more depth. To quote one excerpt:

“Many vegetarians (and vegan, but let’s stick with one position) argue that we should not use animals as a means to some end, but as inherently important, worthy of certain rights and protections. This is a morsel from Immanuel Kant’s moral philosophy. Kant argued that every human being is deserving of respect (i.e., moral concern) because of its cognitive faculties – its autonomy, ability to reason, make free choices, and plan for the future. Vegetarians would have us expand this to non-human animals. But there is no reason to suppose that animals have such capacities, and I see little reason – judging from scientific evidence and philosophical thinking – to give them the benefit of the doubt.

“Here, then, is where we reach an interesting juncture: if there are no compelling ethical reasons to not kill animals for food, then vegetarianism risks degenerating from a moral stance to the level of preference.”

So then it comes back to, can we at least work towards treating farm animals less cruelly while we gradually move our society towards the seemingly inevitable, where we can more or less perfectly simulate meat and animal products and where it is both more efficient and cheaper to do so than to continue to raise livestock. Then you won’t be able to talk the meat industry out of switching to fake meat (Hell, Taco Bell has been using fake meat for years to save money). At which point, these domesticated animals will probably die off quickly as the damage is already done and these animals are not suited to the wild…but hey, at least they won’t become happy meals. Now I’m all for fighting for less cruel methods until we can successfully switch to completely to alternatives as it seems to be reasonable and an actual achievable goal, whereas “the meat-eaters are Nazis” gambit is entirely unpersuasive to anyone and will accomplish nothing to benefit the animals. It’s just a losing strategy.

Enhanced by Zemanta

How is it possible people are stupid enough to not see through Glenn Beck’s transparent bullshit?

July 20, 2010

This Week In God 7.16.10

July 17, 2010

1. Vatican equates ordaining women with raping children – Well I guess they’d know better than anyone. Still, I’m inclined to agree with PZ Myers, who in the above link, points out that this is a duel insult in that it manages to simultaneously downplay the seriousness of child rape and insult women at the same time. Seriously, who is running their PR Dept? Mel Gibson?

2. Vatican’s New Rules on sex abuse – No, they don’t say anything about reporting clergy rapists to the proper authorities. If they did that, who’d be left to run the Church?

Not like dusting crops

3. Answers in Genesis discover secret to faster than light travel…or not – Listen, if Scotty can’t violate the laws of physics, what would make AiG think they could:

Moreover, I have found both Scriptural and scientific support for this solution. This has led to the development of a new cosmological model which makes testable predictions. I have nearly finished writing a technical paper on this topic, which will shortly be sent to various experts for qualified peer-review. If it passes peer-review, we will publish the paper in the Answers Research Journal. This is our free, online journal. So be watching for it. If the paper gains the support of experts in the field, I may later write a non-technical article that summarizes the model.

Stop, stop. You lost me at Answers Research Journal.

4. Glenn Beck credits the Jews for saving all humanity– Well actually Count Beckula blamed them for Jesus’ death. But when you think about it:

A. Didn’t Jesus commit suicide?

B. Isn’t the central doctrine of Christianity that Jesus dying was the greatest news in history and the means on which he saved humanity? So wouldn’t that make killing Jesus be a good thing?

5. The Greatest Hoax On Earth? Refuting Dawkins on Evolution – Yup, there’s another book to add to the great big pile of inevitably unsuccessful and horribly unoriginally titled literature by Christians who have nothing new or original to say but try to  piggy-back on the success of far more successful rationalist literature like “The Dawkins Delusion?” or “The Devil’s Delusion”, “God Is No Delusion”, or “Letter To A Christian Nation: Counterpoint.” This is also the second of these books in which the publishers felt they required a Jeopardy title that’s in the form of a question. One wonders though if creationists are aware of the irony of their constantly selecting variations on the titles of successful rational books because it’s advantageous to piggy-back on traits that have already proven successful.

6. Creationists reframe lack of accreditation – The Institute for Creation Research was denied the freedom to issue degrees by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. But nobody seems to have told whoever writes their website, which claims they offer a Master of Christian Education (M.C.Ed.) degree. According to their FAQ page:

11. Is ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics program accredited?

Due to the nature of ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics—a predominantly religious education school—it is exempt from licensing by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Likewise, ICR’s School of Biblical Apologetics is legally exempt from being required to be accredited by any secular or ecumenical or other type of accrediting association.

Enhanced by Zemanta

If Glenn Beck makes a movie and nobody’s in the audience, does it exist?

December 4, 2009

Yup, Beck made a movie. It’s already in theaters. It’s called The Christmas Sweater – A Return To Redemption. Yeah, I never heard of it either. Did okay in the South, but in the North? Not so much:

Did okay in the South, but in the North? Not so much:

In New York, Beck sold 17 tickets. In Boston, another 17. And in Washington, D.C., the hotbed of political activism, his tearful film drew only 30, Raw Story has found.

Glenn Beck’s new movie The Christmas Sweater – A Return To Redemption — released for a viewing Thursday night in hundreds of theaters across the country. While it performed better in the south and in rural, more conservative areas, his ability to draw viewers in major US markets was a bust.

“The theater’s almost empty,” a representative at Regal Cinemas in Manhattan told Raw Story moments before it began.

The flick features the firebrand Fox News host sharing with willing souls his most profound childhood memories, along with his philosophies on life, love and happiness.

“It is the story of faith, tragedy, redemption and hope,” Beck says in the trailer. (Reporter’s caution: he cries in it.)

Finally a film that Battlefield Earth can look down on.

News From Around The Blogosphere 11.11.09

November 12, 2009

1. Lou Dobbs leaves CNN – Good riddance!

2. Children with autism show slower pupil responses

Recently, University of Missouri researchers have developed a pupil response test that is 92.5 percent accurate in separating children with autism from those with typical development. In the study, MU scientists found that children with autism have slower pupil responses to light change.

3. Can Earth absorb CO2 much greater than expected?

New data show that the balance between the airborne and the absorbed fraction of carbon dioxide has stayed approximately constant since 1850, despite emissions of carbon dioxide having risen from about 2 billion tons a year in 1850 to 35 billion tons a year now.

This suggests that terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans have a much greater capacity to absorb CO2 than had been previously expected.

4. Star Trek-like Replicator Makes Metal Parts

She admits that, on the surface, EBF3 reminds many people of a Star Trek replicator in which, for example, Captain Picard announces out loud, “Tea, Earl Grey, hot.” Then there is a brief hum, a flash of light and the stimulating drink appears from a nook in the wall.

In reality, EBF3 works in a vacuum chamber, where an electron beam is focused on a constantly feeding source of metal, which is melted and then applied as called for by a drawing — one layer at a time — on top of a rotating surface until the part is complete.

5. Did Glenn Beck rape and murdere a young girl in 1990? – I’m not saying he did, but like a lot of other people, “I’m just asking questions.” And these are apparently questions that Glenn Beck doesn’t want to see asked because he tried to shut down the satirical Beck-mocking site But Beck couldn’t silence the questions and the so mirror sites using this Fark-inspired meme applying Beck’s own “I’m just asking the question” tactic remain on the web. What are you trying to hide, Glenn? And why haven’t you denied that you raped and murdered a young girl in 1990? Huh?

Kiddos to South Park for nailing this particular Beck tactic on tonight’s show.

6. Mormons becoming pro-gay rights? – Last week I blogged about how filmmaker Paul Haggis left $cientology largely because of their unapologetic anti-gay position. Well now the Mormon church is coming out in support of gay rights. Seriously.

7. E.T. phone Rome – The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding its first ever conference to discuss the possible ramifications for the church should extraterrestrial life be discovered. Maybe they’ll finally pardon Giordano Bruno, an Italian monk, who was put to death by the Inquisition in 1600 for suggesting life might exist somewhere else in the universe.

Ingrid Newkirk on Glenn Beck – Danger! Crazy Overload! Crazy Overload!

November 11, 2009

Ingred Newkirk and Glenn Beck are both beating up on Al Gore because of his doing more for popularizing global climate change science than possibly anyone else in the world. Beck hates Gore because he’s a liberal and according to Beck’s book, he seems to think Al Gore single-handedly made the whole thing up. Newkirk doesn’t like Gore because again, despite Gore doing more for popularizing global climate change science than possibly anyone else in the world, she claims to think that’s all invalidated by the fact that–gasp–he eats meat.


Apparently, according to Newkirk’s self-righteous and hypocritical philosophy (she uses insulin made from animal products for her diabetes despite passionately condemning the use of animal products in medicine), one can’t be an environmentalist without being a PETA-approved vegan. Because clearly she’s done sooooo much for environmentalism. In fact, REAL environmentalists don’t make a move without first going to Newkirk for advice. Who does that Al Gore think he is for tirelessly donating countless hours to drawing attention to one of the greatest threats to human society when he should just sit back and stop eating meat? Cause clearly if Gore simply sat on his ass and just stopped eating meat, that alone would solve global warming.

Irony overload.

But I think the funniest part of this video is when Glenn Beck hypocritically announces how much of a meat-eater he is (2:50 mark). It’s okay because he’s not crusading for environmentalism. And it was okay for Charles Manson to kill people because he wasn’t crusading against killing people. The awkwardness of these two trying to exploit the other despite their obvious contempt for each other is worth the price of admission alone.

Glenn Beck exploits tragedy to attack atheism

September 30, 2009

I don’t think it’s a secret that I don’t care much for Glenn Beck. In fact, he’s high up on my list of people who, despite my being a non-violent person, I will punch in the face if ever in my presence. The man just sells fear. And though for a while I wasn’t entirely sure whether he was certifiably insane or just a charlatan performing a schtick, I more recently have come down more on the latter, which is infinitely worse.

Well after already accusing Barack Obama of being a racist, now Beck has sunk to a new low, arbitrarily blaming atheism for a gang killing:

Some atheists are responding on YouTube:

Others like myself have written the show with our complaints and contacted the show’s sponsors threatening to boycott their products. Which companies are sponsoring Beck’s show, you ask? (Yes, that that I’ve blogged about before)
Egg Genie (203) 567-1139

Don’t let people like Beck get away with such slander. Fight back. Hit them where it hurts. . .their sponsors.