Thursday, October 2, 2008

Defensive Reactions to Animal Rights

Because of the importance and craziness of this election, I started getting into the Daily Kos. While the site is mostly devoted to progressive politics, members are free to write their own "diaries" about anything they choose. They are also free to post content from their blogs.

Yesterday I posted my entry about the health risks of eating chicken. I knew it would have a greater audience there, and I had assumed that progressives would be more open than the average person to hearing about animal rights and learning information that the mainstream media largely ignores. I was disappointed, though, by the rude comments I received.

Anyone who eats at "popular chain restaurants" deserves what they get.
This diary reminds me it's time to slaughter this year's two hatched chicks, both of which turned out to be roosters. We don't need any more roosters, so it's into the stew pot with them!
Some others criticized People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and The Humane Society of the United States -- although I didn't mention either in my post.

One very nice guy wrote a helpful comment.

It's fascinating how angry people can get when any of their favorite foods are questioned. For some reason, food can be a very emotional issue.

Sometime for fun try suggesting that folks cut back on cheese, the leading source of saturated fat in the American diet. Then stand back and watch the flaming!

You did a service by bringing this issue to greater light. I'm sure the science will continue to evolve on this issue. In the meantime, the heads-up is appreciated.
Although I know I shouldn't, it's difficult for me not to take critical comments personally. But the latter comment helped to put things back into perspective for me.

I'm amazed by how defensive -- and quite rude and/or just plain ignorant -- some people are when the topic of animal rights or veg*anism comes up. When I was a meat-eater, I found out one of my co-workers was a vegetarian. While I didn't think I could go veg, I admired him for doing so. The only questions I asked him were about tofu, how to cook it and how it tasted. His vegetarian lunches didn't threaten me.

But veg*anism does threaten some people. At a Labor Day party my cousin told me he couldn't go vegetarian. (He brought it up; I hadn't said anything.) I suggested that if he were to learn how animals were treated, he might change his mind. He, his brother and his brother's wife adamantly dismissed that thought. His brother's wife said her father used to hunt and fish. His brother said he used to watch as his grandpa (my great-great-grandfather) poked the eyes out of fish.

Unfortunately, I'm normally not quick in pointing out flaws in people's logic. It was a few days later when I realized I should have called them out on how proud they seemed that animal cruelty doesn't bother them.

In response to the comments I received yesterday on the Daily Kos, I submitted another "diary" today. In it I wrote the following:

I know that animal rights is not yet popular with the mainstream. But the readers at the Daily Kos are just the people to see the connection between animal exploitation and oppression and that of gays or blacks or women, etc.
I was surprised that this statement garnered the most criticism today. It's sad that many (maybe most) people believe in human exceptionalism, even if they've never heard the term. They believe that people are far more important and superior to animals. I wonder if, when the gay-rights movement was first beginning, they compared it to civil rights. I imagine they did. And I wonder if others were as upset about that comparison as people today are about animal rights being compared to human rights.

I don't know if I'll continue to post to the Daily Kos. If I do, I need to summon all my will power not to read the comments because they drain my energy and put me in a negative frame of mind.


Elaine Vigneault said...

I've posted a few diaries at Kos and I've been regularly disappointed. However, I think it's a good thing. Don't stop. Keep it up.

I just thing we animal people need to stick together a little more. So maybe when we post stuff in Kos, we should also post links to Kos from vegan forums and AR forums so others can help support the AR position.

I'm going to post a few comments in that thread now :)

Tracy H. said...

Thanks, Elaine! :)

Alex said...

This is to be expected given the response to Bill Marr's Thanksgiving Day post arguing that President Bush ought to pardon all the turkeys - not simply one. He then cogently argued that we ought to stop exploiting nonhuman animals for food. While Mr. Marr is often accepted with open arms on most progressive weblogs, this post garnered so much hostility one could have assumed that President Bush himself had written the post defending the Iraq Civil War...and intelligent design, and an anti-choice position.

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peace said...

I'm not surprised. Many people automatically assume liberals are more sensitive to animal issues, or at least more understanding of the pro-animal mindset. Nothing could be further from the truth. Animals are ignored and belittled just as throughly in the liberal press as the conservative.