tagged w/ Morality
Jeremy Scahill is an Investigative Journalist, Producer and Co-Writer of the Film Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield. Dirty Wars had its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and received rave reviews by the industry press, including this one by Variety, "This jaw-dropping, persuasively researched pic has the power to pry open government lockboxes." Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Its ugly truths may have seen plenty of sunshine (and even admiration) since the killing of Osama bin Laden, but the film's narrative drive offers a compelling package for viewers numbed by one news report after another about civilian deaths and secret hit lists. Its tough investigative tone and surprisingly stylish photography enhance cinematic appeal for a documentary that merits theatrical exposure."Jeremy Scahill is the National Security Correspondent for The Nation magazine and author of the international bestseller Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, which won the George Polk Book Award.
More at the linkJeremy Scahill is an Investigative Journalist, Producer and Co-Writer of the Film... more
Findings may eventually help those suffering from chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
Veterans studied say the illness has wrecked their lives
More than 250,000 veterans of the 1991 war have reported some symptoms
WASHINGTON — Researchers say they have found physical proof that Gulf War illness is caused by damage to the brain — and that proof may ultimately help civilians who suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
Using fMRI machines, the Georgetown University researchers were able to see anomalies in the bundle of nerve fibers that interpret pain signals in the brain in 31 Gulf War veterans. The research will be published Wednesday in PLOS ONE journal.
The findings are "huge," because an fMRI allows doctors to diagnose a person with Gulf War illness quickly, said James Baraniuk, senior author and professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center. The research, he said, also shows that Gulf War illness is not psychological.
An fMRI, or "functional" MRI, is a scan that measures activity by detecting how blood flows through the brain.
Many veterans have had difficulties getting benefits and treatment for a service-connected condition because doctors assumed they were either faking it or suffering from post-traumatic stress. "That's a problem with all physicians — VA, military or civilian," Baraniuk said. "If it doesn't fall within their small world of known diseases, then the patient is nuts."
Gulf War illness is a series of symptoms that has affected more than 250,000 veterans of the 1991 war against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
Baraniuk said the correlation of anomalies in the brain's white matter with Gulf War illness has not been studied before. Researchers, he said, also found that fatigue and pain worsen congruently in the veterans.
To test the veterans, they watched the way liquid moved through brain nerve cells at rest and while the veterans were exercising. They could locate the nerves' axons and determine how healthy they were, said Rakib Rayhan, lead author of the study.
"We're able to say, 'There is something here,' " Rayhan said. " 'Take these veterans seriously when they come in.' "
In particular, John VanMeter, director of Georgetown's Center for functional and molecular imaging, said they looked at the fibers that process pain.
"The fibers in the Gulf War veterans have deteriorated compared to the control," he said. Those fibers interpret environmental pain, but in the case of the veterans, a tiny pulse of pressure is interpreted as a painful pinch, or normal muscle fatigue from walking a flight of stairs could be interpreted as climbing to the fourteenth floor. "They get, 'I'm in pain! I'm in pain! I'm in pain!' all the time."
He said that most hospitals already have the MRI equipment they need to do the exam, but they may need to purchase or install fMRI software, as well as to be trained to use it.
The researchers do not know whether the veterans' symptoms will continue to worsen, though it appears they have from their onset 22 years ago until now.
"The guys who were robust and leading the charge on this 10 years ago are now using canes," Baraniuk said.
This research appears to correlate with previous research on Gulf War Illness, including a major study this year that showed problems in involuntary function, and a second that showed that as many as 100,000 troops may have been doused with Sarin gas when the U.S. Air Force bombed a munitions factory during the war.
The researchers suspect the damage came from environmental factors. Other researchers have found that as many as 100,000 troops were exposed to Sarin gas when the U.S. Air Force bombed an Iraqi munitions plant, and other researchers have found a connection between the symptoms and the ACHL-inhibitors found in nerve agents, the anti-nerve-agent pills servicemembers took, and the industrial-strength bug spray troops used on their clothing and skin.
Baraniuk believes that the three areas of symptoms seen in Gulf War veterans are all different stages of the same disease — and he will be able to show that in a future paper.
Veterans who participated in the study said the illness has hurt them but they were optimistic about the survey's findings.
Army veteran Robert Ward's symptoms began while he was still in the Middle East. He felt tired and his gums started to swell and bleed. He figured it was a fluke, until he read a newspaper article in 1993 and discovered he was one of many. Soon, he suffered irritable bowel syndrome, constant headaches, muscle twitches, rashes and muscle fatigue. For 18 months, he found himself bedridden. He moved in with his parents so they could help care for him.
"This is a big deal," he said. "This has ruined my life. I'm thankful that Gulf War illness patients will be able to get the help that they deserve."
The researchers themselves said they've been surprised by how little attention this group of veterans has received.
"If 30% of Congress got sick, or 30% of Manhattan got sick, there would have been an outcry," Baraniuk said.
At long last those living this horror inflicted upon them by a government that doesn't even care for those it sends to fight their wars of aggression may get the attention they deserve. And can you imagine, these warmongering gung ho I love the military and I support the troops Republicans (and let's face it, Congress as a whole) who vote for war everytime because they don't have to fight it DON'T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT THESE PEOPLE.
I would hope that those afflicted not only seek benefits but justice for the crime committed against them.
We just marked 10 years since the subsequent invasion of Iraq by Bush 41's unelected puppet and his cabal and as reported, PTSD and suicides are at an all time high. This then begs the question: IS war worth the price? How many more lies? How many more deaths? How many more lives ruined by this government for their own agenda?
WHERE IS THE VICTORY IN THIS ?!Story Highlights Findings may eventually help those suffering from chronic fatigue... more
Mortgage and derivatives bubbles, bailouts, "stimulus" packages... All designed to cover for the pigs at the trough who now prosper because of them while austerity, "sequestration" and other tactics to weaken and kill off the poor are entertained as a "solution." Anyone who thinks the politicians in DC on any side on the whole really care about cutting your throat to keep their share is naive. There may be a handful, but are they really enough to make a difference anymore?
And it isn't over yet. I don't know what has to happen to wake up the populus of the US as a whole and get them away from their reality tv and recliners. I do know however there is no one in DC we can count on to get us through this, and division, the division they love so much to keep us distracted is no longer feasible if you care about this country, your life and your children.Mortgage and derivatives bubbles, bailouts, "stimulus" packages... All... more
Excerpt of two sentences from linked article above of original article which it has posted in full:
By Scott Dodd
"Susan Rice, the candidate believed to be favored by President Obama to become the next Secretary of State, holds significant investments in more than a dozen Canadian oil companies and banks that would stand to benefit from expansion of the North American tar sands industry and construction of the proposed $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline. If confirmed by the Senate, one of Rice’s first duties likely would be consideration, and potentially approval, of the controversial mega-project."
More at the link
d) Respect Copyright and Fair Use Laws. Always follow the laws governing copyright and fair use of copyrighted material. You may quote short excerpts of someone else's work (one or two sentences, a paragraph at most); do not reproduce long passages. (And it always good general blogging practice to link to others' work.)
Update as of December 1, 2012. The entire original article which I was told was complained about as being posted (in excerpt here with a link back) in violation of their rules is still posted on the eco watch site in full with no apparent problem. Perhaps there was then more to wanting this story hidden here than was disclosed. (?) Why would Current only be singled out regarding this?Excerpt of two sentences from linked article above of original article which it has... more
Constantly changing positions is not Etch A Sketch. That toy can be controlled until you shake it. No it is more like a Rubics' Cube...once you get one side figured out the others are constantly changing positions and colors. Hard to figure out and frustrating the hell out of all those who pick them up to play the game.Constantly changing positions is not Etch A Sketch. That toy can be controlled until... more
Note to self: Look up "soul" in dictionary
http://mytinyspot.blogspot.com/2012/09/values-voter-summiteer-says-some-soul.htmlNote to self: Look up "soul" in dictionary... more
Explain why you don’t wear a flag pin on your pajamas, or that the 10 Commandments and the Bill of Rights are entirely separate documents, or why you believe Barack Obama is an American citizen to a rabid conservative and they’re likely to ask, “Why do you hate America?”
My question for them is, “Why do you hate sex?”Explain why you don’t wear a flag pin on your pajamas, or that the 10... more
Fire-bombing, children running down a rural road screaming - their skin on fire, napalm reigning down from above, perhaps a nuclear bomb that has just completely levelled a city, perhaps a drone flying over the rooftop of a families farmhouse, or perhaps a citizen too afraid to say what they truly feel because of fear of reprisal?
What is terror? Forget the politics, when does any kind of moral responsibility apply?Fire-bombing, children running down a rural road screaming - their skin on fire,... more
Markets will not solve this. People will and giving indigenous people and local farmers the tools they need. Put a price on carbon and use that money to give it back to consumers. Giving corporations the ability to continue to pollute while pushing people off their land and using climate change as a way to profit (geoengineering is one way) while continuing to pollute will take us nowhere but back.Markets will not solve this. People will and giving indigenous people and local... more
A look at events and issues on the day dedicated to raising environmental consciousness among common people.
More at the link
This video is SPIRIT OF THE EARTH, by Diana and David ArkenstoneA look at events and issues on the day dedicated to raising environmental... more
Uber-Atheist Richard Dawkins recently did something quite unexpected - he came out in support of British education secretary Michael Gove's plan to send free King James Bibles to every English school. Of course, his unconventional position has, not unexpectedly, exposed him to ridicule from both Atheists and Christians - to the detriment of both.Uber-Atheist Richard Dawkins recently did something quite unexpected - he came out in... more
Everyone and I mean EVERYONE, every last American alive today should watch this video. Robert Reich hits the proverbial nail on its EVER LOVING HEAD. Please watch, it's very important, this may save America from the wealthy corporate personhoods (banksters) who wish to turn our democracy into a plutocracy - oligarchy. Thinkingblue
Robert Reich: Public vs. Private Morality http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TB73Lw1XtEEveryone and I mean EVERYONE, every last American alive today should watch this video.... more
A brief introduction, and where to find out more.
Polyamory means different things to different people (check out the links below for a variety of definitions), but it generally involves honest, responsible non-monogamous relationships. This could take the form of an "open" relationship, or a group of three or more adults who are "monogamous" within their group (sometimes called polyfidelity), or a limitless set of other situations. The word polyamory means "many loves."
Many people who are exploring polyamory also have an interest in alternatives to marriage. Some poly people choose not to marry because they feel marriage comes with an assumption of monogamy. Others can't marry, either because it's not legal to marry more than one partner at the same time, or because their partner is the same sex they are. Some poly people are married, but consider their relationship to be an "alternative to marriage," or are in a group marriage.
Polyamory isn't right for everyone. Most people in unmarried relationships want to be monogamous. Among unmarried couples who are living together, 95% say they expect monogamy from their partner, and the percentage for married couples is only a few points higher. For those who find polyamory is the best fit for them, or who are interested in learning more about it, we've provided some books and links to additional resources.A brief introduction, and where to find out more. Polyamory means different... more
By Andy Norman
The biblical story of Abraham and Isaac poses a crucial test for believers. If God commanded you, as he did Abraham, to slaughter your own son, would you do it? If, like Abraham, you’d plunge a knife into his chest, then congratulations! You’ve passed the test! Your faith is true, your priorities correct, and you understand the kind of unquestioning devotion that God demands of us. That, presumably, is the moral of the story: unthinking obedience above all.
The story pits devotion to God against basic moral decency and celebrates the subjugation of the latter to the former. This speaks volumes about the value system at the heart of the so-called “Abrahamic” faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. So what if you have to traumatize your son, or even kill him, to win God’s favor? The former is temporary, the latter is forever. What’s a child’s life worth, next to eternal salvation? The Bible’s answer is clear: not much.
In fairness to the adherents of the Abrahamic faiths, most would fail God’s test. They don’t allow the official priorities of their faith to derange their value systems so completely. For this, we can thank goodness. (No, really: copycat expressions of Abrahamic devotion would presumably be much more common were it not for our innate, and evolved, sense of goodness.) Of course, those of us with a functioning moral compass are apt to regard Abraham as having failed a basic test of moral decency. Celebrate Abraham for traumatizing his son? Now that’s crazy, not to mention morally abhorrent! The Abraham story is a litmus test for us, too.
To read the rest of this article on Humanist Network News, click here: http://www.americanhumanist.org/HNN/details/2012-04-humanisms-moral-depths-an-abraham-and-isaac-story-foBy Andy Norman The biblical story of Abraham and Isaac poses a crucial test for... more
Symptoms of a mysterious disease that has killed scores of seals off Alaska and infected walruses are now showing up in polar bears, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said on Friday.
Nine polar bears from the Beaufort Sea region near Barrow were found with patchy hair loss and oozing sores on their skin, similar to conditions found in diseased seals and walruses, the agency said in a statement.
Unlike the sickened seals and walruses, the affected polar bears seem otherwise healthy, said Tony DeGange, chief of the biology office for the USGS's Alaska Science Center. There had been no deaths among polar bears, he said.
The nine affected bears were among the 33 that biologists have captured and sampled while doing routine studies on the Arctic coastline, DeGange said.
Patchy hair loss has been seen before in polar bears, but the high prevalence in those spotted by the researchers and the simultaneous problems in seal and walrus populations elevate the concern, he said.
The USGS is coordinating with agencies studying the other animals to investigate whether there is a link, he said.
"There's a lot we don't know yet, whether we're dealing with something that's different or something that's the same," he said.
The disease outbreak was first noticed last summer. About 60 seals were found dead and another 75 diseased, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Most of the affected seals are ringed seals, but diseased ribbon, bearded and spotted seals were also found.
Several walruses in northwestern Alaska were found with the disease, and some of those died as well, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The diseased seals and walruses, many of them juveniles, had labored breathing and lethargy as well as the bleeding sores, according to the experts. The agencies launched an investigation into the cause of the disease, which has also turned up in bordering areas of Canada and Russia.
Preliminary studies showed that radiation poisoning is not the cause, temporarily ruling out a theory that the animals were sickened by contamination from the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan.
Spread of the disease among seals continues. A sickened and nearly bald ribbon seal pup was found about a month ago near Yakutat on the Gulf of Alaska coastline, according to the agency. The animal was so sick it had to be euthanized.
All of the afflicted species are dependent on Arctic sea ice and considered vulnerable to seasonal ice loss.
By Yereth Rosen
More at the linkSymptoms of a mysterious disease that has killed scores of seals off Alaska and... more
Understanding how our fellow humans think and react to situations is important to our evolution as a society. Dr. Jonathan Haidt, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, believes that all humans share the same basic moral values, however the difference in how we weigh those values is what provides such a divide in our political structure. His book, The Happiness Hypothesis explores this difference and how we may become a better society through understanding each other.
How do you rank each of the morals that Dr. Haidt has listed? Do you agree with his assessment? Understanding how our fellow humans think and react to situations is important to... more
Monsanto ready to sell GM crops and weed-killing chemicals in Vietnam; Many outraged
- Common Dreams staff
Multinational agricultural biotech corporation Monsanto, known as the creator of chemical weapon Agent Orange, is attempting to infiltrate Vietnam once again -- this time as GMO dealer.
Agent Orange, used for chemical warfare in the Vietnam War, is estimated to have killed 400,000, deformed 500,000 and sickened another 2 million.
"BA VI, VIETNAM: Handicapped orphans are fed by the medical staff at the Ba Vi orphanage. These young children represent the 3rd generation of Agent Orange victims more than 30 years after the war in Vietnam, where a battle is still being fought to help people suffering from the effects of the deadly chemical." - Global Post (Photo Paula Bronstein / AFP/Getty Images)
"Between 2.1 to 4.8 million Vietnamese were directly exposed to Agent Orange and other chemicals that have been linked to cancers, birth defects, and other chronic diseases during the war that ended in 1975, according to the Vietnam Red Cross," Thanh Nienn News writes.
30 years after the war, three generations have suffered from the effects of Agent Orange.
Now, as Monsanto seeks to reap profits in Vietnam once again, this time through agribusiness, many are speaking out against the corporation as well as the potential effects of the GM seeds and herbicides that Monsanto seeks to sell.
* * *
Thanh Nienn News in Ho Chi Minh City reports:
No biotech company has yet got the official green light for selling genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but it does not assuage the fears that Vietnam could end up with another tragic legacy from a company that once caused many deaths in the country, environmental activists say.
It would be ironic if Vietnam becomes a willing party to a “lethal” product made by the same US company that manufactured Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used during the Vietnam War.It would be ironic if Vietnam becomes a willing party to a “lethal” product made by the same US company that manufactured Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used during the Vietnam War, they pointed out. [...]
In 2006 the government approved a blueprint that envisaged covering between 30 percent and half of the country’s agriculture lands with the controversial gene-altered crops by 2020.
Only three companies – Monsanto, Syngenta, and Pioneer – have been licensed to carry out lab research and tests in Vietnam, the minister’s statement said.
Monsanto accounts for almost one-quarter (23 percent) of the global proprietary seed market.
[Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh, former deputy defense minister, chairman of the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange] is also worried about the weedkiller Roundup Monsanto plugs for use along with its crops.
“By introducing [GMOs] paired with toxic weed killers, the tragic legacy of Agent Orange might repeat itself,” he warned. [...]
The U.S. Airforce spraying 'Agent Orange' defoliant over the countryside of Vietnam. Originally termed "Operation Hades," the spraying program was renamed "Operation Ranch Hand" to improve public relations. Jeffrey Smith, author of the bestseller Seeds of Deception and founder and executive director of the California, US-based NGO Institute for Responsible Technology, said: “It is not inconsequential that a new genetically modified corn up for review is designed to be tolerant to the herbicide 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange.
“This means that much higher amounts of toxic 2,4-D will drench the agricultural lands where this new crop is planted.
“It would be a harsh and ironic consequence if Vietnamese people suffer from birth defects from both of these Monsanto products, Roundup and Agent Orange.”
* * *
The Global Post reports:
Monsanto is, of course, highly aware of Agent Orange's reputation and has fought numerous lawsuits filed by chemical's victims both Vietnamese and American. The chemical, commissioned by the U.S. military, was dumped over jungles to kill vegetation and rout communist forces.
In Monsanto's own primer on the Agent Orange era, it casts the chemical as patriotic -- it was meant "to save the lives of U.S. and allied soldiers," Monsanto says -- and contends that the matter "should be resolved by the governments that were involved."
Keeping Monsanto out of Vietnam already appears to be an uphill fight.
A Vietnamese legislator and former deputy defense minister has, according to Thanh Nien, faced evasion when he tried to raise the issue with the [government].
More at the linkMonsanto ready to sell GM crops and weed-killing chemicals in Vietnam; Many outraged... more
Last week, the London Olympics were wrapped in fresh embarassment and controversy as Mayor Boris Johnson’s ‘ethics Tzar’ resigned live on BBC Newsnight over fears that her ethics and sustainability concerns with regards to sponsors simply weren’t being listened to. In an interview with Jeremy Paxman she announced that her position at the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 (CSL) was no longer tenable in light of the LOCOG’s continued relationship with and defence of the Dow Chemical Company.
The moment: Meredith Alexander appears live on the BBC's Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman to announce her resignation from the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012
“By coming on air tonight, I’m taking the decision to resign my position and stand up for my principles… I feel that I was part of a body that has been used to legitimize Dow’s involvement in the games.” Dow took over Union Carbide Corporation in 2001, but neither company have addressed the ongoing issue of water and soil contamination in Bhopal that continues to kill thousands and afflict even more with chronic illnesses.
Coverage of the ongoing Bhopal tragedy, and the controversy over Dow and London 2012, went through the roof and Meredith acquired overnight celebrity status in India. Her resignation live on British television resulted in an outpouring of hope, gratitude and optimism from those still living in Union Carbide and Dow’s toxic shadow.
This week, the Bhopal Medical Appeal caught up with Ms. Alexander for a chat…
BMA: What were the main reasons for your resignation from the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 (CSL) ?
MA: All the evidence I have read has convinced me that Dow Chemicals is responsible for the deaths of more than 20,000 people in the aftermath of the Bhopal gas leak. The assets and liabilities of the company involved at the time – Union Carbide – are in Dow’s hands. Londoners, and other people, who are rightly excited about the London games, should not have this toxic legacy on their conscience.
BMA: At what point did your position became “untenable” and why?
MA: The tipping point for me, was the correspondence between Amnesty International and Lord Coe [Chair of LOCOG]. The latest response from Amnesty, just last week, pointed out how LOCOG have become apologists for Dow, falsely legitimising Dow’s stance that it bears no responsibility to the victims of the disaster and their families. I feel that the Olympic bodies are supporting Dow’s line and have failed to take the victim’s views into consideration.
BMA: Last week, Sebastian Shakespeare published a controversial column in the London Evening Standard with the bold headline “The Olympics should be no place for ethics.” Have you read it, and if so, what did you think?
MA: I have read it. And I actually submitted a letter to the editor yesterday about it. I think most Londoners share my view that ethics and sport can and must go hand in hand. Yet as things stand, the enjoyment of the Games risks being hampered by the toxic legacy of one of the sponsors: Dow Chemicals. When London bid to host the 2012 Games, we made a promise to the world that it would be most sustainable Games ever. [Read Meredith's whole letter to the ES newspaper here.]
BMA: Based on your resignation, can you further tell us why you think that ethics, morality, and sustainability are an important part of the Olympics? Why shouldn’t we just accept that commercial sponsorship is inevitable and ‘get over it.’
MA: I think it’s important to remember that there was absolutely no need for the London 2012 organisers to award anyone the contract for this wrap. It’s a completely optional item that is not essential to the design of the stadium. It will not help a single athlete run faster nor will it help spectators have a better view. Dow’s connection to the Olympics is a slap in the face to the victims of Bhopal, but the fact that this wrap is unnecessary makes this particular deal even more galling for those who have spent decades fighting for justice.
More of the interview at the linkLast week, the London Olympics were wrapped in fresh embarassment and controversy as... more
Dead Cow Walking: The Case Against Born-Again Carnivorism
By Marc Bekoff
Dec 27 2011, 8:53 AM ET 614
Pigs, chickens, and other animals raised for food are sentient beings with rich emotional lives. They feel everything from joy to grief.
"Eating Animals," by Nicolette Hahn Niman, a livestock rancher, with help from deer hunter Tovar Cerulli and butcher Joshua Applestone, caught my eye because, at first, I thought this essay was authored by Jonathan Safran Foer, who wrote a best-selling book with the same title. While Niman and her friends do rightly argue against consuming factory-farmed animals -- who live utterly horrible lives from the time that they're born to the time that they're transported to slaughterhouses and barbarically killed -- these three born-again carnivores, all former vegetarians or vegans, now proudly eat animals and think that it's just fine to do so. They gloss over the fact that even if the animals they eat are "humanely" raised and slaughtered, an arguable claim, they're still taking a life. These animals are merely a means to an end: a tasty meal.
The defensive and apologetic tone of this essay also caught my eye, as did the conveniently utilitarian framework of the argument. The animals they eat were raised simply to become meals because Niman and others choose to eat meat. I like to say that whom we choose to eat is a moral question, and just because these three now choose to eat animals doesn't mean that other people should make the same choice. Note that I wrote "whom" we eat, not "what." Cows, pigs, chickens, and other animals raised for food are sentient beings who have rich emotional lives. They can feel everything from sheer joy to deep grief. They can also suffer enduring pain and misery, and they don't deserve to have the good and happy lives provided by Niman and others ended early just so that their flesh can wind up on what really is a platter of death.
Wolves, lions, and cougars are not moral agents and can't be held accountable for their actions. But most humans know what they're doing and are responsible for their choices.
Cows, for example, are very intelligent. They worry over what they don't understand and have been shown to experience "eureka" moments when they solve a puzzle, such as when they figure out how to open a particularly difficult gate. Cows communicate by staring, and it's likely that we don't fully understand their very subtle forms of communication. They also form close and enduring relationships with family members and friends and don't like to have their families and social networks disrupted. Chickens are also emotional beings, and detailed scientific research has shown that they empathize with the pain of other chickens.
Raising happy animals just so that they can be killed is really an egregious double cross. The "raise them, love them, and then kill them" line of reasoning doesn't have a meaningful ring of compassion. And this isn't mercy killing (euthanasia) performed because these animals need to be put out of their pain. No, these healthy and happy animals are slaughtered, and if you dare to look into their eyes, you know that they're suffering. If you wouldn't treat a dog like this, then you shouldn't treat a cow, a pig, or any other animal in this way.
As a field biologist who studies animal behavior, I feel that the authors' appeal to what happens in the natural world -- "life feeds on life" -- is an illogical justification for their food choices. I've seen thousands of predatory encounters. I cringe when I see them, but I would never interfere. Wild predators, unlike us, have no choice about whom or what they eat. They couldn't survive if they didn't eat other animals. And indeed, many animals are vegetarians, including non-human primates, who eat other animals only on very rare occasions.
Jessica Pierce and I wrote about how appeals to nature are misleading and illogical in our book Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals. We argued that wolves, lions, and cougars, for example, are not moral agents and can't be held accountable for their actions. They don't know right from wrong. On the other hand, most humans do know what they're doing and are responsible for their choices. When it comes down to whose flesh winds up in our mouths, we can make choices, and in my view, eating animals is wrong and unnecessary, even when they are "humanely" raised and slaughtered. Let me add a caveat here because, as a world traveler, I do know that many people do not have the luxury of making a choice about their meals and must eat whatever is available to them. However, those who do have that luxury can easily eat an animal-free diet. And we can work to show others that a vegetarian or vegan diet can be very economical and healthy.
Niman and her friends also note that vegetarian and vegan diets have "never really taken hold." So what? This hardly means that we shouldn't try to do the right thing. They write, "The vast majority of Americans who do try vegetarianism or veganism -- about three-quarters of them -- return to eating meat. Rather than urging people to consume only plants, doesn't it make more sense to encourage them to eat an omnivorous diet that is healthy, ethical, and ecologically sound?" No, it doesn't. What it means is that these people should try harder and not give up just because it might seem difficult to change their meal plans. Perhaps they just need more time and encouragement from other vegetarians who can show them how easy it is to stop eating animals.
It's easy to add more compassion to the world and to expand our compassion footprint. Excuses such as "Oh, I know they suffer, but don't tell me because I love my burger" add cruelty to the world, even if the animals people are eating weren't raised on factory farms and killed in slaughterhouses. You're eating a dead animal who really did care about what happened to him or her. When I ask people how they can dismiss the fact that an animal was killed for their pleasure, they usually fumble here and there and offer no meaningful answer. When I ask them if they'd eat a dog, they look at me with incredulity and emphatically say, "No!" When I ask them why they wouldn't eat a dog, they can't really tell me, offering statements laden with dismissive phrases, such as "Oh, you know...." Because I often travel to China to help in the rehabilitation of Asiatic moon bears who have been rescued from the bear-bile industry, people sometimes ask me, "How can you go there? Isn't that where they eat dogs and cats?" I simply say, "Yes, it is, and I'm from America, where they eat cows and pigs, who are no less sentient and emotional beings." Animals really are very much like us.
No matter how humanely raised they are, the lives of animals raised for food can be cashed out simply as "dead cow/pig/chicken walking." Whom we choose to eat is a matter of life and death. I think of the animals' manifesto as "Leave us alone. Don't bring us into the world if you're just going to kill us to satisfy your tastes."
Image: Kurt De Bruyn
.. The Atlantic . Dead Cow Walking: The Case Against Born-Again Carnivorism... more