Monday, April 30, 2007

English town: Leather on furniture may offend vegetarians

According to this story, a flap has developed in the English town of Totnes over whether or not desks in a very old guildhalll should be recovered in leather, plastic, or sanded and stained. Recovered in plastic? Now that certainly does justice to a 16th century historic site, doesn't it? The former mayor's comments are spot on, IMHO, what "cheapskates". The greater question here is, why are they worried about "offending" a small minority of people, who actively CHOOSE their lifestyle ( not to mention who can also CHOOSE to be offended or not be offended ) instead of doing what is in the best interest of these historic artifacts? It's political correctness run completely amok, and is indicative of one of the things that is so wrong with today's society: offending someone is one of the single worst things you can do, it must be avoided at all costs, even at the cost of common sense. It's really a shame what's happened to Great Britain. What was one of the world's most glorious nations for centuries has become like the rest of Europe: a cesspool of emasculated political correctness, hypersensitivity, nanny-ism, and entitlement-ism. Funny and sad at the same time.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Vegan convicted of child abuse for starving children into malnourishment

According to this article, a vegan woman in Scottsdale, Arizona has been convicted of child abuse for starving her children into malnourishment. Her husband is also awaiting trial on abuse charges. Notice that the one girl, who was three at the time, weighed only 12 pounds! How sick and perverse must one be to jeopardize the health of their children in order to follow some kind of dietary ideology? Words like "irresponsible" or "reckless" do not do justice to this kind of warped thinking. Adults are free to make whatever dietary choices for themselves they feel fit, but to risk the health of developing, vulnerable children in the name of ideology and dietary dogma is unfathomable to me. I hope that this scumbag child abuser receives the maximum of 51 years in the joint for her insidious crimes against her own children, and she should also not be allowed anywhere near children again.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Milk more efficient than soy at building muscle

Here is an interesting study, that, not surprisingly, has found that milk is significantly better at building muscle mass in weightlifters than is the soy alternative. The real deal is superior to a phony alternative? Who would have guessed, huh?

Is PeTA mouthpiece being intellectually honest? You decide.

A couple of posts ago, I discussed the case of Hiasl the chimpanzee, whom an Austrian court will decide is "human" or not. In a post yesterday, PeTA's blogger, someone named Jack, commented on it as well, on PeTA's official blog. In this post, Jack makes the claim that primatologist Volker Sommer says, and I am quoting the PeTA blogger and not Sommer here, "chimps are not just one of the homo genus". Except there is a problem with that: chimps are not one of the Homo genus at all! Chimps are part of the genus Pan, the full taxonomic name of the species being Pan troglodytes. The astute reader should notice that the PeTA blogger did not directly quote Sommer as saying that chimps are not just one of the homo genus. He merely claimed that Sommer said it. Why would that be? I find it difficult to believe that a primatologist would not know the correct taxonomic classification of the chimpanzee. Is PeTA being honest here? You decide. Given their track record, I know where I stand, but everyone can make their own call.

Notice also Ingrid Newkirk's "argument" (term used lightly) in response to those that are critical of this case, that appears at the end of the PeTA blog post. Her entire little screed is nothing but one big red herring! All she does is parrot the same old vapid AR talking points without actually addressing the issue of whether or not a chimp should, or should not, be legally, with a basis in rational scientific facts, considered human. And of course Jack, like some kind of sycophantic cheerleader, has nothing but praise for his boss's supposed prowess, claiming her response is "just perfect". Too funny.

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Charade of Veganism Part 2: AR-Vegan rationalizations for their own complicity in animal death

In part 1 of this post, I introduced the notion that diets that are allegedly "cruelty-free" or "vegan", usually are not because of the amount of animals that are killed in crop agriculture in order to produce "vegan" food. BTW, I must give credit where credit is due. This theory originates with Dr. Steve Davis, a professor of animal science at Oregon State University. Professor Davis formed this theory in rebuttal to the ideas of famous AR philosopher Tom Regan, who claims that veganism is the dietary choice that causes the least amount of harm to animals. A summary of Professor Davis's theory can be found here. Most ARAs, when confronted with this argument, tend to rationalize their choice to be vegan and generally do not offer an intellectually sound response to it. Common responses include things such as:

- "It's accidental and can't be helped."


-"But at least the animals aren't bred and raised to be killed."

Even Professor Regan, who is probably the most articulate pro-AR academic, could not seem to muster much more than a variant of the latter excuse when he responded to this argument in this 2002 article in Time magazine.
Why do I say that these rationalizations simply don't wash? Let's take a look at them more closely, starting with the "it's accidental" excuse. If animals are truly rights-holding beings, or as one pro-AR blogger put it "full members of the moral community", then how can such an argument possibly be ethical? If field mice, small birds, etc. are rights holders, then how can their deaths in crop agriculture simply be callously written off as mere "collateral damage"? Let's put it in human terms. Would the same ARAs who are making the "it's accidental" excuse for animal deaths in the production of vegan foods also say that it would be acceptable for say, a certain number of human children to also be acceptable, unavoidable "collateral damage" in crop agriculture? Not likely.
The second rationalization, the "at least they're not bred to be killed" argument is equally vacuous, for essentially the same reason. If animals are rights holders, then killing them for any reason, whether it be accidentally in crop agriculture, or intentionally in animal agriculture, is in fact, unethical. Just because there is no intent to kill in crop agriculture, it doesn't render those deaths not violations of rights. We see this concept in our own laws. If you kill someone accidentally through negligence or carelessness, even though it is not intentional like murder is, it is still a crime because another rights-holding person's right to life has been violated. The legal term for this is manslaughter, and it is still a serious crime with serious consequences. If animals killed in crop agriculture are indeed rights-holding persons, who have equal rights with animals that are raised to be killed for food, then doesn't it follow logically that if "meat is murder" that "tofu is manslaughter"?
So why don't ARAs want to address the issue of their own complicity in animal deaths in the production of their allegedly "cruelty-free" vegan foods? Probably several reasons I can speculate on. First, of course, is the fact that no one, especially those that like to flaunt themselves as being on some kind of moral high ground, likes to be exposed as a hypocrite. Hypocrisy is the mother of all credibility problems, and ARAs know that if they're "cruelty-free" lifestyles are exposed as being not all they're cracked up to be, their message loses a lot of its power. Secondly, is perhaps their own "speciesism", the sin that they claim to hate so much. I can't help but wonder if deep down, most ARAs place less value on the lives of field mice than they do on say, cows or pigs, though probably none would admit to it. And besides, if you'll allow me to indulge in some cynicism, field mice and gophers just don't make the kind of photogenic subjects for AR propaganda that farm animals do.

I apologize to any readers that I have not been able to update the blog as often as I'd like. I've been very busy at work lately and have been working 10-12 hour shifts. After that kind of day, the last thing you want to do is write. Hopefully things will become more sane soon.


Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Kangaroo court in Austria to decide if chimp is human

I'll get back to the discussion about the "charade of veganism", but I felt that this story is just too important to pass up. As you can read in the article, a court in Austria is set to rule if a chimpanzee is human. There is so much much utter absurdity in this story that it really deserves close analysis.

First, notice the comment about the chimp recognizing himself in the mirror, playing hide and seek, etc. Just how is this proof that the chimp is human? Isn't being human dependent upon being a member of the species Homo sapiens ? Indeed, that is specifically how the American Heritage Dictionary of Science defines the term human: "a member of the genus Homo, especially H. sapiens". That to me seems to be a much more workable, rational definition of the term human, rather than trying to define the word by some arbitrary, vague set of behaviors. My pet scarlet macaw is able to say his own name, along with a plethora of other words. Does this make him human also?

The next statement here that I find to be of great importance is this one: "If Hiasl is granted human status- and the rights that go with it- it will signal a victory....". This begs the question that if the chimp is granted human status and the rights that go with it, will he also be burdened with the moral responsibilities that also go with human status? Responsibilities such as respecting other persons' life and property, obeying the law, etc. If not, why? After all, the flip side of rights is responsibilities. If Hiasl, or any other chimp, is not capable of taking such moral responsibilities, and in fact doesn't even possibly posses the potential to take such responsibility, then really, by what logic should he be granted full human status?

Notice next the statement that one of the central arguments in favor of human status is that chimps posses 96-98.4% shared DNA with humans. But so what? Since when does being 98% of something qualify as "full" status? For example, if we have a sample of a metal that is 98% gold, can it be considered as being fully composed of gold? Of course not, such a notion would be both false and absurd. The same logic applies here. Common sense ( which seems to be in short supply in this case ) dictates that being 98% genetically the same as a human is not the same thing as being fully human. One must also ask this question: if sharing 96-98% of DNA with humans qualifies an organism as human, then where is the cutoff point where we say that something no longer is human? 95%? 94%? And furthermore, why is this cutoff point chosen, and how is it non-arbitrary? Mice share 90% of their DNA with humans. Should they be considered human also?

The astute reader will also notice that the article refers to the judge in this case, Ms. Bartl, as an "animal rights campaigner". If Ms. Bartl is indeed an ARA, then how can she possibly be unbiased and impartial in this case? The fact that she has not recused herself in this case because of possible conflict of interest should be appalling to anyone who values an intellectually honest, impartial legal system. It makes this out to be nothing more than a complete farce, an utter kangaroo court.

The last paragraph of this story contains the daftest part of it. I thought I was going to die of laughter when I read it. Notice that Mr. Balluch, who has brought this case, claims that Hiasl is capable of managing his money! One can't help but wonder what Mr. Balluch is smoking. What proof can Mr. Balluch offer that any chimpanzee is capable of financial management? What a patently absurd statement. Sheer, unadulterated lunacy. And ARAs wonder why they and their beliefs are so frequently the target of scorn and derision. Mr. Balluch's comments are a prime example of why. That which is ridiculous, by definition, deserves ridicule. I must ask, if Mr. Balluch is indeed convinced that chimps are capable of managing money, would he be willing to hire one to be his own personal financial advisor? Don't hold your breath.

This story contains so much absurdity, so much insanity that it is tempting to laugh at it. It would be funny, except for the fact that the kind of ideologues and social engineers, and their allies in activist courts, that like to push these kinds of things are dead serious in forcing their agenda upon society. We must be vigilant if we are to protect our freedoms. This, I think, will be a case to watch closely. Unfortunately, I'm not optimistic about this one; the deck already seems to be stacked against reason. I'm glad I'm not a European, particularly an Austrian.