Entries tagged with “ethics


Dan Savage has the contact info for the Itawamba school district’s superintendent as well as the contact info for Itawamba Agricultural in his column today. Please send an email/fax/letter on behalf of Constance McMillen!

OK OK OK. I was going to stay out of the whole Lierre Keith getting a pie in the face thing because (1) Lierre Keith is probably (and hopefully, gawd) at 14:54 in terms of her 15 minutes of fame, and prolonging that seems like a disservice to critical thought and also the world as a whole; (2) I’ve admittedly only read of her book what’s available free on the internet and/or been quoted on the PPK; (3) I’m not entirely convinced the whole thing wasn’t simply a publicity stunt and, finally, (3) I have a reasonable suspicion she has Google Alerts set up for herself and in case she’s a reader of FM/thinking about purchasing Running with the Pack I wouldn’t want to discourage her. Don’t second-guess yourself, Lierre! The werewolf story I wrote has an ex-vegetarian as a character! You’d love it!

But! A member of the PPK has put up a .pdf of an elegant, devastating critique of some of the silliest claims in Lierre Keith’s junk-science manifesto, The Vegetarian Myth, and I couldn’t resist plugging it. Here’s a sample:

The Claim: “Understand: agriculture was the beginning of global warming. Ten thousand years of destroying the carbon sinks of perennial polycultures has added almost as much carbon to the atmosphere as industrialization, an indictment that you, vegetarians, need to answer. No one has told you this before, but that is what your food—those oh so eco-peaceful grains and beans—has done.” (P. 250)

The Reality: Much of Lierre’s book is borrowed from Richard Manning, a well-respected environmentalist and author. Manning understands that human dependence on grain monoculture is not a result of the small percentage of concerned people who decide to be vegetarian, but is rather a historical mistake of which we all share the burden of repairing. Despite Lierre’s insistence, vegans do not need to eat grains nor any sort of annual crop. Why did she target vegans when compared to average corn-fed Americans, vegans consume much less grain?

On the topic of climate change, Lierre fails to address that regardless of type of feed or forage, ruminant animals emit an abundance of methane. She, along with other grass-fed proponents, point out that growing pasture sequesters carbon in the subsoil and claim that farms like Polyface are carbon-neutral. However, she ignores the fact that soil only retains a limited quantity of carbon—once pasture is healthy, it is carbon stable. Any pasture-based livestock production contributes, pound-for-pound of meat, to climate change as much (if not more) than conventional livestock production—an indictment that you, Lierre, need to answer.

Yeah. I think the best part is how reasonable the authors are while discussing the outrageous misinformation presented as fact in Lierre’s Weston Price-sanctioned screed (a “fair and balanced” source to be sure, coo-coo-claiming as they do that the ideal diet contains such things like brains ground up into your casseroles and adding heavy cream to infant formula, no joke). So check out the link above of the first chapter of her book. Read it for yourself. There’s all sorts of wisdom-nuggets like:

Despite what you’ve been told, and despite the earnestness of the tellers, eating soybeans isn’t going to bring [chinooks, bison, grasshopper sparrows, grey wolves] back. Ninety-eight percent of the American prairie is gone, turned into a monocrop of annual grains.

Shit. Pretty much every single vegan site promotes that fundamental tenant of veganism: eating soy brings back extinct/endangered species! With such a devastating critique of “the vegetarian myth” I think I’ll go right out and eat a burger! See, before I discovered Lierre Keith, I thought that a ton of the grains grown in America fed livestock, not people. . . oh, wait, that’s actually true. But who cares? Moving on:

By turning from adult knowledge, the knowledge that death is embedded in every creature’s sustenance, from bacteria to grizzly bears, they [vegans] would never be able to feed the emotional and spiritual hunger that ached in me from accepting that knowledge. Maybe in the end this book is an attempt to soothe that ache myself.

Probably so, Lierre. In the meantime, I’ll remain here in childlike-reasoning-land, where I make a distinction between living creatures who cannot feel pain (bacteria) and living creatures who can (um, grizzly bears), and make informed decisions based on that infantile assumption. Actually, why am I even still talking about this? The folks who wrote the above .pdf already covered it:

The Claim: “I built my whole identity on the idea that my life did not require death…Did the lives of nematodes and fungi matter? Why not? Because they were too small for me to see?” (P. 18, discussed throughout the book)

In Reality: This is a straw man argument. These views are not held by most vegans. The goal of veganism is to eliminate direct, unnecessary suffering at the hands of humans–not to magically end all death. Why shouldn’t the cow with its undeniable ability to suffer take precedence over plants and organisms with limited or non-existent nervous systems such as the nematodes Keith frets about in this book?

Yeah, well, so. ‘Nuff said.

I’m working on a project involving Atlas Shrugged. This means I am re-reading Atlas Shrugged. I shan’t be saying a lot about this project here, it’s still in its infancy. I will, however, post a quote from the book that I read today, a quote that filled me with the sort of dread and horror the characters in this book supposedly feel when faced with the moral outrage of, say, charity:

The boy had no inkling of any concept of morality; it had been bred out of him by his college; this had left him an odd frankness, naive and cynical at once, like the innocence of a savage. (AS 342)

I know that’s what college did for me! And it’s certainly what I tried to do when teaching college! Woooooo! Let’s all hear it for savage innocence!

Actually, let’s talk about “savages” for a moment. Who’s a “savage,” according to Rand? Well, Native Americans, for one (all quotes from a lecture at West Point Academy in 1974):

[Native Americans] had no right to a country merely because they were born here and then acted like savages.

Oh?

What were they fighting for, in opposing the white man on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence; for their “right” to keep part of the earth untouched–to keep everybody out so they could live like animals or cavemen. Any European who brought with him an element of civilization had the right to take over this continent, and it’s great that some of them did. The racist Indians today–those who condemn America–do not respect individual rights.

Uh? So what did the whites do, when dealing with these savages living “like animals or cavemen” all over the place?

The white man did not conquer this country. And you’re a racist if you object, because it means you believe that certain men are entitled to something because of their race. You believe that if someone is born in a magnificent country and doesn’t know what to do with it, he still has a property right to it. He does not. Since the Indians did not have the concept of property or property rights–they didn’t have a settled society, they had predominantly nomadic tribal “cultures”–they didn’t have rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights that they had not conceived of and were not using. It’s wrong to attack a country that respects (or even tries to respect) individual rights. If you do, you’re an aggressor and are morally wrong. But if a “country” does not protect rights–if a group of tribesmen are the slaves of their tribal chief–why should you respect the “rights” that they don’t have or respect?

Holy mother of fuck.

So the question “who is John Galt?” is asked repeatedly in Atlas Shrugged for various reasons; I think a better question is “who is Ayn Rand?” Well, friends, these quotes do a lot to answer that question. This is Ayn Rand.

No no, I’m not pregnant, I just was, you know, reading The Handmaid’s Tale a few news articles about how women should probably avoid living in Utah altogether these days, since if a woman miscarries there, she’ll likely be tried for murder. . . if the governor signs a new bill that would criminalize miscarriage if it is determined (?) the woman acted “recklessly” (?), even if she was not attempting to terminate her pregnancy. Penalties are up to life in prison! Fucking awesome! From the article linked above:

“This statute and the standards chosen leave a large number of pregnant women vulnerable to arrest even though they have no intention of ending a pregnancy,” Paltrow said. “Whether or not the legislature intended this bill to become a tool for policing and punishing all pregnant women, if enacted this law would permit prosecution of a pregnant woman who stayed with her abusive husband because she was unable to leave. Not leaving would, under the ‘reckless’ standard, constitute conduct that consciously disregarded a substantial risk,” Paltrow explained.

Well, such a provision would be just goddamn unreasonable! Especially according to the bill’s sponsor, a (big fucking surprise) Republican by the name of Margaret Dayton (source: The Salt Lake Tribune):

“I know it’s well-intentioned,” Dayton said of the attempt to lift “reckless acts” from the bill, “but I don’t think we want to go down the road of carefully defining the behavior of a woman.”

What? You mean like, defining a miscarriage as homicide and deciding to prosecute women for miscarriage when, like, drinking coffee, or horseback riding, or not knowing you are pregnant and taking a hot bath can cause a miscarriage? And something like one in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage just for whatever random reason? Well here’s something good about it. . .

The bill does exempt from prosecution fetal deaths due to failure to follow medical advice, accept treatment or refuse a cesarean section. Bird said this exemption was likely because of a 2004 case where a woman who was pregnant with twins was later charged with criminal homicide after one of the babies was stillborn, which the state deemed due to her refusal to have a cesarean section.

OK! Cool! Good thing, because if they hadn’t, then it might not have had the added bonus of protecting Quiverfull types who ignore medical advice constantly in favor of prayer and keep pumping out babies because apparently it’s God’s will and stuff for ladies to risk uterine prolapse so we can have one more potential Christian on Earth. Wouldn’t want them to be punished, they’re God-fearing.

Basically, what it comes down to is this:

Paltrow says this bill puts a lie to the idea that the pro-life movement cares about women.

“For all these years the anti-choice movement has said ‘we want to outlaw abortion, not put women in jail, but what this law says is ‘no, we really want to put women in jail.’”

Pretty fucking much.

ETA: Well! Since the Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall (Republican? Huh!) just came out and told everyone that abortion makes God punish abortion-havers by making their subsequent children disabled (!!), I wonder if he’d care to comment on if this is also the case for miscarriages? Keep it up, folks.

John and I consider our veganniversary to be February 14th, but that’s not entirely accurate. It’s only part of the story. The truth of the matter is that we decided to go vegan on Valentine’s Day, then spent the next few days eating up the non-vegan perishable food in our fridge. But the decision was on the 14th, and thus we honor it every year with a small celebration.

Well, this year, time got away from us, so we’re celebrating today! The 14th just had too much going on: Jesse’s b-day, Valentine’s, and I’ve been less than energetic due to the sore throat I’ve been nursing for a week now (going to the doctor tomorrow if it’s not better, ugh). We had planned to go to the local Chinese vegan buffet over at TsingTao, but then I got a Facebook message that our beloved vegan-friendly pizzeria, Sun Deli, is launching its new lineup of vegan bestitutes, thus prompting a need to go and eat there, instead. Now they don’t just have vegan ranch dressing, vegan cheezy breadsticks, vegan Caesar dressing, three types of vegan cheese (the ubiquitous Follow Your Heart, the melty-soy-free-wonder that is Daiya, and a house-made almond ricotta), house-made seitan pepperoni and sausage, but starting today they will also have tempeh, Gardein “chicken,” and maybe some other stuff! We thought we had it good in Tallahassee when our local pizzeria would make us cheeseless pizza–and we did–but we had no idea.

I guess that’s why I love celebrating my veganniversary (four years!) so much–it’s so fun to be vegan!

. . . and I didn’t even know. On October 27th, GQ’s Andrew Corsell published this article entitled “The Bitch is Back,” about Ayn Rand and a segment of her devoted followers (the author calls them ARAs, or Ayn Rand Assholes, a pretty fair assessment). While the author’s relentless usage of the male pronoun gave me an attack of the feminist vapors, the article as a whole is amazing and worth reading. A sample, since I just yesterday noticed the “quote” function in WordPress:

GODDAMN, the experience of being 19 years old and reading Ayn Rand! The crystal-shivering-at-the-breaking-pitch intensity of it! Not just for that 19-year-old, but for everybody unfortunate enough to be caught in his psychic blast radius. Is “experience” even the right word for The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged? Ayn Rand’s idolization of Mickey Spillane and cigarettes and capitalism—an experience? Her tentacular contempt for Shakespeare and Beethoven and Karl Marx and facial hair and government and “subnormal” children and the poor and the Baby Jesus and the U.N. and homosexuals and “simpering” social workers and French Impressionism and a thousand other things the flesh is heir to: experience?

Lord. It’s only funny because it’s true.

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Ten thousand dollars is a lot of money. Can we just begin with that as a given?

Here’s a news-item simply fascinating in its utter stupidity: PeTA– you know, the organization whose acronym means People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals– well, it turns out that PeTA just spent about ten thousand dollars of its donators’ money to aid in the killing of 1800 lobsters.

When I heard about this, my reaction was “Excuse me?” My second reaction was “Jesus Christ, I’m glad I never donated to them.” My third reaction, fueled by having to go through the task of return-addressing my own Christmas cards this year (the humanity!) was “Man, I miss those address labels they used to send me for free.” I used to cut the PeTA logo off of them, though.

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I gave some big ups to Josh at Herbivore the other day, regarding how awesome he and his wife Michelle are and all the positive things they do for veganism and for animals. I am always struck by their commitment to the movement, it is very humbling and inspiring at the same time. But today I want to maybe darken up that sunshine with a cloud for a little while in order to make it seem all the brighter once that cloud has, uh, evaporated, or whatever happens to clouds when they go away.

A few years ago Josh was pretty viciously screwed out of thousands of dollars and many, many hours of work by a money-hungry cookbook author who I will not name here.* This person found another publisher (but far worse designer, given the cover of her book– ah, schadenfreude) and so good for her! She lost nothing and gained everything at the expense of people who work every day to make the world a better place. Fantastic!

But here’s the thing– because of her very selfish actions and profound misunderstanding of the way the publishing industry works, Josh had to eat all of the costs of the layouts and the cost of pulling out of the printing contract at the last minute, and additionally he had to foot the bill for all the promotional costs (he had printed up really cute flyers and had been giving them out at vegan/vegetarian festivals around the country before all this). Because Josh is ethical and does the right thing he also promptly refunded all the pre-orders for the book, and that’s kind of a big thing for a small business owner. So that’s why I’m encouraging everyone to buy something from Joshivore on September 16th, the date of the “official” release of this other cookbook.

What’s done is done. I just think it would be great for people who care about independent publishers, small business ethics, and punk rock trust to support Herbivore Clothing Company. I will most likely be buying a t-shirt because I am frivolous and there is a new one with a little girl and butterflies on it. YES!

If you know a vegan or vegetarian do your holiday shopping early! Buy a birthday present! It will be awesome.

*If you care about not purchasing a cookbook written by an unethical, un-nice person who doesn’t deserve your dollars then message me and I will tell you the title so she doesn’t get anything else free, not publicity or advertising or anything.