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 Post subject: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:22 pm 
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http://www.ourhenhouse.org/2012/03/call ... a-contest/

So Our Hen House is hosting a contest as a counterpoint to the NY Times contest about why it's ethical to eat meat. Theirs is why it's unethical to eat meat, duh. So stop posting here and write an essay already!

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The New York Times’ column, “The Ethicist” (like yourself much?), has launched a contest entitled “Calling All Carnivores: Tell Us Why It’s Ethical to Eat Meat.” According to the article by Ariel Kaminer (who has shown herself in the past to be brain dead when it comes to ethics about animals), “In recent years, vegetarians — and to an even greater degree vegans, their hard-core inner circle — have dominated the discussion about the ethics of eating.” Well, I guess that’s true, to the extent that there has been any discussion, which, in fact, most meat-eaters generally avoid at all costs. Indeed, meat-eaters seem to be very comfortable interrogating us as to why we eat the way we do, but never seem to feel it’s necessary to explain why scarfing down a dead tortured animal is defensible.

Why not simultaneously have a contest that also asks people to submit their 600 words on why it’s unethical to eat meat? Oh wait, is it because we “hard-core inner circle” of vegans are already “dominating the discussion,” so why give us any kind of a further platform — especially when you can gain a massive amount of attention by asking carnivores, and only carnivores, to defend their behavior? Chances are that would be incredibly popular, since the vast majority of the world eats animals, and would probably love a way to justify their indefensible behavior.

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:02 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:02 pm 
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I actually really like the idea of the NYT contest because it puts meat eaters on the defensive for a change. I feel like we are constantly having to defend our choices, when really, if our actions are the more ethically defensible ones, why should we have to? We can talk about how unethical meat eating is until we're blue in the face, but why not turn the discourse around and put the onus on them to defend it, without being able to resort to the usual "but meat tastes good" or "lions hunt for food" or "mmmm... bacon" (which according to the rules of the contest, won't cut it).

Quote:
Rules: This is a very specific contest. Don’t tell us why you like meat, why organic trumps local or why your food is yours to choose. Just tell us why it’s ethical to eat meat.


A recent post on Paleoveganology makes the same point.

The Humane Hominid wrote:
Rather than being defensive about the foundation of our ethics, more vegans should be openly dismissive of the contrary position, and shift the burden of proof where it belongs: onto the creationists who claim animals can’t think, feel, or suffer.


(Note that the point of his post was that speciesism is analogous to creationism, hence his use of the word "creationist" in this context.)

I like the idea that if forced to formulate an argument for the ethics of meat eating, there may be a few thoughtful people out there who come to realize that the reasons that are usually named for why it's acceptable (tradition, taste, "health", etc.) actually don't add up to an ethical argument.

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 1:22 pm 
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I like the NY Times contest, too. It's going to be a difficult task for meat-eaters, and I suspect that's half the point.

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:08 pm 
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Hooray for both contests then :)

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:34 pm 
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just mumbles wrote:
I like the NY Times contest, too. It's going to be a difficult task for meat-eaters, and I suspect that's half the point.


Difficult? I think it'll be a walk in the park for them.

every 'sophisticated' meat-eater wrote:
When I honor the spirit of an animal by consuming it, I include the animal within my sphere of compassion. By participating mindfully in the cycle of life and death, I szdfiu hkjn ;sdknf ;FN AGN DKN M

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:57 pm 
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This is really neat, and I kinda want to go write an essay now. I'm also interested in reading what ethical reasonings people come up with for eating meat, since there has to be thought behind it.

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 6:23 pm 
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FootFace wrote:
just mumbles wrote:
I like the NY Times contest, too. It's going to be a difficult task for meat-eaters, and I suspect that's half the point.


Difficult? I think it'll be a walk in the park for them.

every 'sophisticated' meat-eater wrote:
When I honor the spirit of an animal by consuming it, I include the animal within my sphere of compassion. By participating mindfully in the cycle of life and death, I szdfiu hkjn ;sdknf ;FN AGN DKN M


Peter Singer is a judge (along with Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Andrew Light) so I don't think it will be as empty as you suggest. I think the winner will end up being a "I can do whatever I want to" type of answer. I just am dissapointed that there will be an official eating meat is ethical position that we will have to hear over and over and over.

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:20 pm 
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dandirtyapes wrote:
I just am dissapointed that there will be an official eating meat is ethical position that we will have to hear over and over and over.

hmm. good point.

i'm half expecting the winning (i use the term loosely) submission to to be a copypasta of one or more of maddox's anti-vegetarian screeds.

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:49 am 
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Once again, FF summed up the opposition beautifully.

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:48 am 
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Oh, I'm totally all for the Herbivorous essay too! I just don't see the NYT contest as a bad thing.

dandirtyapes wrote:
FootFace wrote:
just mumbles wrote:
I like the NY Times contest, too. It's going to be a difficult task for meat-eaters, and I suspect that's half the point.


Difficult? I think it'll be a walk in the park for them.

every 'sophisticated' meat-eater wrote:
When I honor the spirit of an animal by consuming it, I include the animal within my sphere of compassion. By participating mindfully in the cycle of life and death, I szdfiu hkjn ;sdknf ;FN AGN DKN M


Peter Singer is a judge (along with Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, Jonathan Safran Foer, and Andrew Light) so I don't think it will be as empty as you suggest. I think the winner will end up being a "I can do whatever I want to" type of answer. I just am dissapointed that there will be an official eating meat is ethical position that we will have to hear over and over and over.


Looking at the contest rules, I don't even think they'll accept a "I can do whatever I want to" type of answer. I think they're looking for an argument that goes way beyond the usual tropes that get thrown around in the comments sections. I suspect part of the point of the exercise is that in the end, there is no ethical reason to eat meat. Note that they're not asking for the most ethical ways to eat meat, they're looking for someone to reason why eating meat is ethical. And at least two very smart people on that jury (Singer and Safran Foer) have come to the conclusion for themselves that such a thing does not exist. (I mention them because I've read them both. Not sure where the others come down.) They both accept that there are plenty of reasons why people do eat meat (habit, tradition, taste, etc.) but that none of these are an ethical reason. I guess it's my naive hope that this contest will help make that clear to people who are really willing to think about it. And I really hope that it doesn't result in, like dandirtyapes said, an "official ethical meat eating position" that we'll have to hear over and over again.

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:02 am 
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Usually the "official ethical meat eating position" is not that eating meat is ethical but that the meat people have chosen is the most ethical if you are going to eat meat. This is what I hear ad nauseum from people I interact with, mostly privileged and educated middle class Canadians, of which I am one. They latch onto the words ethical, humane, farm-raised, free-range, etc. and believe that that negates the brutality of it.

I will be interested to see the results of both contests, more the NYT one because I don't need to be convinced it is unethical to eat meat - even when I ate meat I wouldn't have argued it was ethical.

I not sure I could write an essay. I tell people, "I don't need to eat animals to live, so I don't."


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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:18 am 
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Ariel Kaminer wrote:
In recent years, vegetarians — and to an even greater degree vegans, their hard-core inner circle — have dominated the discussion about the ethics of eating.


There are so many things wrong with this statement I can't even begin to try to pick it apart right now but like...what does that even mean? Meat eaters have been "dominating the discussion" for 1303142832 years. A vegan or two opens their mouth and suddenly we're "dominating" something? Meat eaters talk about how great eating meat is all the time. Just because someone didn't put a lot of thought into how they discerned their values doesn't mean someone who did is "dominating the discussion".

Personally, I say, bring it. If the worldwide collective of meat eaters can come up with an ethical argument for eating meat, I sure would like to hear it. I've staked (and de-steaked) almost 10 years of veganism on my firmly held belief that this can't be done. If someone can actually come up with something soundly plausible, great, let's have some intelligent discourse about it. I feel pretty confident in the ethics of veganism, and in the vegans of the world, that we can hold our own in this discussion. We have a powerful position on this matter and it's freaking people out. Let's see what people come up with when they're challenged to really think about it.

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:21 am 
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choirqueer wrote:

Personally, I say, bring it. If the worldwide collective of meat eaters can come up with an ethical argument for eating meat, I sure would like to hear it. I've staked (and de-steaked) almost 10 years of veganism on my firmly held belief that this can't be done. If someone can actually come up with something soundly plausible, great, let's have some intelligent discourse about it. I feel pretty confident in the ethics of veganism, and in the vegans of the world, that we can hold our own in this discussion. We have a powerful position on this matter and it's freaking people out. Let's see what people come up with when they're challenged to really think about it.


Quoted for sheer awesomeness.

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:22 am 
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Yeah, the panel is what makes me hopeful. I also think Our Hen House is being pretty unfair to Kaminer--her version of The Ethicist is a glorified advice column, but she's not clueless about animal ethics, and nothing in the column they linked to in support of that idea struck me as egregiously wrong.

I'm not terrifically worried about one argument for eating meat having the imprimatur of the Times--it's not like defensive meat-eaters have been holding their unofficial arguments in reserve. "I would say something about our canine teeth right now, but do I have license?" I suspect the winning entrant will be something along the lines of "It's not inherently wrong to eat meat, it's fine under a narrow set of circumstances." My response will be the same as it is to all arguments of that form: either "Do you do that? No? Ok." Or, more often, "Would you please just let me eat my lunch in peace?"

I'm not opposed to the counter-contest, but I don't really see the point. If I were going to submit an entry to either contest, I'd write a Colbertesque parody of the sort of responses the Times is likely to get. Buuuuut I'm not going to.

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:24 am 
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just mumbles wrote:
If I were going to submit an entry to either contest, I'd write a Colbertesque parody of the sort of responses the Times is likely to get. Buuuuut I'm not going to.


No, do it! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:26 am 
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choirqueer wrote:
just mumbles wrote:
If I were going to submit an entry to either contest, I'd write a Colbertesque parody of the sort of responses the Times is likely to get. Buuuuut I'm not going to.


No, do it! :D


Seriously! If not for either contest, for the PPK!

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:14 am 
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I think the NYT contest is great...except for the part where all the judges are white dudes.


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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:23 am 
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I like the NYT contest as well. Forces people to actually think about the reasons behind behavior. I'm interested to see if anyone comes up with a good argument that fits the rules laid out. I'm assuming they won't, the only argument I could see being made it from a closed off society type situation, like a desert island which is more a hypothetical situation which doesn't really fit the spirit of the contest.


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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 12:57 pm 
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It's going to come down to the free-range "humane" solution. You know, the animal doesn't care about it's life. As long as you can kill it and kill it quickly no harm no foul. I don't believe this however because I've seen plenty of animals scared for their lives. For that reason, I think killing an animal "quickly and painlessly" is no better than shooting a man in the head while he sleeps.

And of course they'll throw in something about how animals are a key component of sustainable agriculture. Which really doesn't really touch on the ethics of actually killing and eating an animal, though.

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:23 pm 
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choirqueer wrote:
Ariel Kaminer wrote:
In recent years, vegetarians — and to an even greater degree vegans, their hard-core inner circle — have dominated the discussion about the ethics of eating.


There are so many things wrong with this statement I can't even begin to try to pick it apart right now but like...what does that even mean? Meat eaters have been "dominating the discussion" for 1303142832 years. A vegan or two opens their mouth and suddenly we're "dominating" something? Meat eaters talk about how great eating meat is all the time. Just because someone didn't put a lot of thought into how they discerned their values doesn't mean someone who did is "dominating the discussion".

Personally, I say, bring it. If the worldwide collective of meat eaters can come up with an ethical argument for eating meat, I sure would like to hear it. I've staked (and de-steaked) almost 10 years of veganism on my firmly held belief that this can't be done. If someone can actually come up with something soundly plausible, great, let's have some intelligent discourse about it. I feel pretty confident in the ethics of veganism, and in the vegans of the world, that we can hold our own in this discussion. We have a powerful position on this matter and it's freaking people out. Let's see what people come up with when they're challenged to really think about it.


I just stood up and gave you a standing O. Seriously. (So glad I work from home now so there are no more co-workers to constantly freak out.)

If the carnivorous herd feels that 1% of the population can "dominate" them, and feel the need to go so far as to enter a contest to push back or whatever, then that's some scared ignoramuses out there, I say.

(And yeah I realize ignoramus is a harsh term and we as vegans are always being called out for being "extreme" and whatnot, but seriously, this is a time where what is truly dominating the food discussion is a little thing known as "pink slime". I think the omnis are starting to scramble for new excuses, and if that ain't ignorant behavior, than what is?)

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 4:18 pm 
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nickvicious wrote:
It's going to come down to the free-range "humane" solution. You know, the animal doesn't care about it's life. As long as you can kill it and kill it quickly no harm no foul. I don't believe this however because I've seen plenty of animals scared for their lives. For that reason, I think killing an animal "quickly and painlessly" is no better than shooting a man in the head while he sleeps.

And of course they'll throw in something about how animals are a key component of sustainable agriculture. Which really doesn't really touch on the ethics of actually killing and eating an animal, though.

And, at least for cows, they have to be transported and slaughtered in an USDA approved slaughter house. It isn't like they are frolicking along and then are suddenly dead. The end of their life is terrifying.


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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:23 pm 
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SeitanSaidDance wrote:
I think the NYT contest is great...except for the part where all the judges are white dudes.

Right?!

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:40 am 
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I actually didn't read the NY Times thing. They asked me to judge and I said yes. That's how I do things.

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 Post subject: Re: Calling all Herbivores essay
PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 8:43 pm 
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did you see that they posted the finalists? there are six essays to read. i only know this because apparently my (vegetarian) colleague is friends with one of the finalists, and she very confusingly called his essay beautifully written. i started reading it and then i wanted to barf, so i gave up.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012 ... -meat.html

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