‘Moral’ consistency of veganism
The principled consistency of Veganism.
Social media and more generic media outlets are often awash with the controversial reactionarism of some form of animal abuse. Whether it is livestock being exported to some foreign nation, dog markets in the Orient or abusive pet owners taking advantage of the animals in their charge. The sensational response and disgust at such abuses are common place and yet, despite these particular incidents, animals are harmed, abused and murdered everywhere and often. Yet why is it that the general populace is so selective in its concern for our non-human friends?
Veganism has its flaws. It, like all ideologies, has its many shades and contradictions. Despite that most of its practioners do their part to walk a consistent path with regard to the welfare and dignity of non-humans. For vegans to be so immersed and integrated in a society which essentially celebrates and blatantly rubs their faces in their moral choice must be a hard course to walk to say the least. That being said, they have one thing over most others. They are for the most part consistently dignified in their regard to animals and their common welfare.
Why is it that should an Australian beast be ‘inhumanely’ slaughtered by an individual in Vietnam that this is a shockingly abhorrent act, however if this was a Vietnamese native buffalo would it then be okay? If it was one of the many inside a Vietnamese labour camp being beaten would that be okay? Why should there only be a reaction to such mistreatment of an Australian animal? For the vegan the slaughter of any animal is in itself a vile act. But for most others it is a way for our species to survive. Justifiable murder as such, so long as we get to consume and utilise the animal’s flesh and bone. It seems that in the above mentioned incident that nationalism itself trumps all other concerns in the matter. This then assumes that killing something is in itself morally allowable so long as it is done in a ‘nice’ way. Does this then justify a Nazi gas chamber before the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge? In the eyes of those who are more morally consistent it does not. But, using the arguments of such a selective viewpoint in the most reductive and speciesist of ways, one could argue that it does.
Recently the dog meat markets in China have raised a lot of publicity on the social media circuit. To most people, dogs are a sacred and loyal pet, a slave to have in one’s domestic domicile so as to obediently reinforce one’s narcissism and own self-worth. And should a culture consume these domestic animals it is frowned upon and despised. Yet other animals, less obedient, less bred for human selfishness and less ‘cute’ can be marketed and slaughtered en masse with little concern or care. What makes one animal so valued that it can be considered a companion while others are merely stock condemned to be bought and sold with a limited lifecycle? Even within the canine’s protected status, some are relegated to a life less glamorous. Those working dogs on a farm or race dogs fueling the gambling industry’s need for animals to run in circles, often suffer a less than pleasant lifestyle. In many cases these animals suffer a far worse fate than those species meant to be consumed. And yet it is taboo to even address the traditional treatment and disregard for these animals.
The domestic dog is often a charming and loving friend, for many it is truly a life companion. On the other hand, one could argue that it is essentially a slave, a prisoner of a human that constantly needs an obedient and subservient being so as to feed their ego and enhance their position of power on this Earth. The dog is completely dependent, should it ever dare to escape it runs a risk of slaughter over time if not ‘rescued’. This companion when utilised in a professional setting does not gain the work place considerations that humans hold for themselves. Farm dogs are worked in a varying degree of harsh to pleasant conditions, while stock dogs are often treated with less regard than the livestock that they help get slaughtered, these ‘man’s best friend’ are carried in steel boxes beneath trucks that travel tremendous distances in all weather. These noble animals are thrown into cattle pens and should they seem to shirk from their mandated tasks they can be kicked, ostricised and denied rest or food. But they hold the ‘Aussie Battler’ stigma and so long as you use the term ‘working dog’ then all is well in the World view of some.
Dogs are employed by the State whether for genuinely considerate causes such as search and rescue, where the animal’s nature and affection for humanity is enlisted in a compassionate way, to those used to pursue a perverted war on drugs, deceiving the dog into thinking that should it find a substance with its naturally blessed nose then it shall receive a treat or play. This betrayal of an animals trusts and nature is mild when considered wider hardships but it does illustrate the deceptive immoral nature of humanity in so far as enlisting every aspect of nature to pursue its centralised need to control others absolutely. Not to mention past and present military usage of this dog in both battlefield and prison interogation, such as those depicted at Abu Ghraib.
While cats and dogs for the most part find some comfort in their obligations to a domestic life cycle, this affords them a social protection from within most societies. The image of friend and companion or simply pet. Fish and maritime animals, those not graceful like dolphins or seal. But those common edible every day fish can suffer cruel maiming’s and deaths at the hands of humanity. Because they are not warm and fury, one can easily insert a metal hook in their face, slam them onto a jetty while filleting them alive. Or for those shelled animals a steady boiling them alive is none to foreign for the hungry desires of humanity. Most would never dare to employ such cruel methods to dog or cat but those ugly water born creatures are less valued and thus relegated to such terrible deaths.
Those oceanic animals have a confused relationship with humanity, most have been exterminated for their many utilities while a few are romanced because of their perceived nature. Both the dolphin and shark both share a common world and character as far as most fish are concerned but it is with their perception by humans, that seems to matter most. Sharks have never once walked on land and snatched a human being from the comfort of dry soil, and yet when a person, who is swimming, in the ocean, where sharks lurk, is mauled or killed, the sensationalist outcry is both shock and horror. As though this beast from the deep was previously unknown and its nature so misunderstood by humanity that its savagery was in some ways a deception. There are those who seek to preserve and safe guard the shark, this animal that has survived near unchanged for thousands of years which risks dying out before humanity’s fear of it. And then those who wish to somehow ‘shoo’ it away from ‘our’ beaches. Mauling’s and deaths by the jaws of a shark are terrible and most unfortunate, they are however always going to be a common reality so long as we hope to share the waves with these alpha predators.
Just as deaths and attacks from spiders, jelly fish and snakes is terrible and tragic, the only difference is that the sheer size and impressive ferocity of a shark provides a greater drama to the attack. A sublime poisoning by insect or rodent is often underwhelming and less graphic, and yet should the human suffer and die at the bite of these beasts should they too be shooed away and exterminated. Perhaps that is a silly question as industry already exists in the deterrence and killing of such pests. But the point still remains such ‘attacks’ from these is lacking a sensationalist attention.
As the debate over whether Kosher, Halal or even the above mentioned Viet slaughter of live stock is ‘humane’ rolls from tongue to chat room, many thousands of feral animals suffer terrible fates at the hands of humans. It is with some confused ethics that one could so decry the mis treatment of a dog as they sadistically tear apart a feral goat with poorly placed rifle rounds. As Government backed shooters slay wild camels with clumsy aerial shoots tearing these animals down from above with little mercy or concern for their suffering. To the brutality in the killing of wild pigs or feral cats as they foolishly come across humans with a sadists lust for death, so long as it is directed at certain animals, then it is perfectly normal.
As some animals can find a certain safety in the affection of humans, those rodents not bred to be pets, are killed daily via such despicable means. Slow poisoning where by the stomach burns through, neck breaking springs or traps designed to starve them to death, or worse for those caught alive are all perfectly valid means by which to kill these non favoured animals. And as these methods are both cruel and savage a debate will rage often in the very households over the ethics of live shipment of cattle to a non-European nation.
Just as the running dogs of the track suffer a less than considerate life style, so do their horse friends. Those horses bred and raised to run around a track at speed so that punters may bet on them. This aristocratic sport is celebrated by plebian and nobility a like, all however overlook the very nasty nature of this sport and the often un ceremonious fate of these animals should they suffer an injury or perform lamely for their owners. The sport of Kings it may be, but Kings never have been nor ever will be on the moral vanguard of righteousness.
The recent killing of a famous lion in Africa raised the debate about the hunting world and whether it is legitimate to kill an animal for mere sport. Many feel that it is a person’s right to simply pick of an animal at great distances with a long range rifle, whereas others are opposed to this. The complexity of human and animal relations sees that many of these ‘big game’ parks perform as conservation reserves. Sanctuaries for many rare and endangered animals, places where wealthy parties may buy into the right to someday hunt and kill these animals as they reach the end of their life cycle. A method of building up the numbers of these exotic trophies so that they may enjoy an increase in their living numbers all the while some suffer at the end of a barrel.
The moral dilemma of this complex matter is often over looked by the sensationalist instincts of many who see red as soon as a celebrity animal is lifted up high above all others. As Cecil the lion is, well lionised and celebrated by so many thousands in both protest and social media memes, millions more animals of all types die daily beneath human mechanisation, some for consumption but many simply just because. A Cecil becomes a symbol in wider fights, he becomes the victim of apparent ‘wealthy opulence’, finding himself in an ideological class struggle. Or for others he represents a racial victim as a ‘white’ man who is still to this day pillaging the natural beauty of Africa. Others he simply embodies those with a murder lust, maniacal gun lovers always seeking to over compensate their inadequacies with violent gun culture madness. The issue at hand is lost and over time most who were so vocal, lose their voice as soon as they lose interest. Cecil being forgotten alongside Kony2012 and the Brand Revolution, just more unwashed t-shirts beneath a bed of ignorance.
Humanities ability to breed and conserve certain animals simply because of their utility is widely known. So should a lion or other ‘game’ find themselves ‘useful’ they in turn may find a resurgence in a wider sense. It is a sickening thought to imagine that this killing of Any animal can in fact lead to them surviving extinction. As not all animals are cute and fury and can find a comfortable place on a person’s lap as a forever pet. So while those who still remember, Cecil, do not forget that daily so many other animals, less handsome ones, are killed or destroyed by welfare centers out of necessity. Those abandoned pets who barked too often, grew to be ugly, escaped or simply chewed on the wrong wires ended up in a prison to be punished because no human wants them, and their fate is, should they not be rescued, certain death. No glory and free living, as enjoyed by Cecil, just incarceration and unceremonious extermination. Where is your indignation for their plight and inevitable execution? It is a problem easily fixed.
Australia has a proud lust in murdering native species, whether these are human or animal seemed to matter little early on. Most Australians forget the great ‘Emu war’ where Australia quite literally went to war with the Emu. It was one of the less than celebrated moments of bravery, it was not the first time that the Government enlisted the military and militia to attempt an extermination of a native inhabitant of ‘our land’. Unlike the Aboriginals however, the humble Emu managed to win and best the Hughes governments splendid martial plan. In late 1932, the Australian military armed with Lewis machine guns attempted to both ambush and hunt down large gatherings of Emus. The Emus had encroached on recently extended farm land due to a combination of natural and manmade factors, human and emu met in conflict. After initial attempts to defeat them the ‘cagey’ Emus managed to spread out and avoid the volleys of machine gun fire sent into their directions. The professional soldiers were unable to kill any significant numbers. A second attempt was tried several days later in November and though this engagement claimed some numbers, the men on the ground exaggerated the kill count so as to save faith before a growing critical media. Concern for the animal’s welfare and safety was secondary and now the Emu war is a farcical example of official policy which now serves not as an instructive example of history but merely as a joke expedition to laugh at over a cold one. Emu’s 2. AIF 0.
The Australian governments desires to protect its farmers has taken on all kinds of nationalistic endevours from protectionism in the form of tariffs to subsidies of nonproductive farms and industries. It is in the extermination of pests that the full weight and ingenuity of governance has been exemplified with both failure and wider consequence. In 1991, the calicivirus was introduced to Australia under ‘strict control conditions’. The virus was then released under supposedly limited circumstances as a biological control agent to help limit the numbers of rabbits, to protect the farmers, on the Yorke Penninsula in South Australia. The virus inevitably spread and ended up killing over 10 million rabbits inside of two months of its ‘controlled’ release. The virus now too this day continues to maim and kill both domestic and farm rabbits as it continues to break out with indiscriminate disregard. Ignoring the cruel death suffered by the rabbits that was ‘suppose’ to die at the hands of this virus, it again illustrates the wider idiocy of the experts who through a form of monolithic benevolence release a consequence not merely humanity but also to nature.
So whether bear baiting or biological warfare on a genocidal scale, State sanctioned slaughter by helicopter marksman or to super trawlers netting great swathes of ocean and critter alike, what is the consistent value of an animals life. What makes some so sacred and precious that laws are enacted to protect them while laws are enforced to destroy others? Who should so easily make the distinction and why is it that time and time again that the citizenry so obediently look to the central authority for both moral guidance as well as instructive power for such matters. And why is it, that after each and every failure, where by more animals are maimed and killed than what was intended that this same saviour of the ‘environment’ is sought.
It is why that war, that great Government public works initiative not only murders so many millions of humans but also animals in the most terrible and frightening of ways, continues to befall this Earth. It is why that those who seek protection not only for people but also animals and nature, seek it from the very same entity which can so easily for no real reason other than political self-importance utilise deplete uranium, napalm and white phosphorus with little regard for those humans immediately effected but also the ongoing effects to nature and beyond. Yet, so many faithfully seek its protections should an individual wrong an animal or hope that this entity could safe guard the environment and regulate industry to protect animal and human welfare alike. All the while with little consideration for the future or wider implementations it could so easily use bio warfare on a pest, defoliate thousands of square kilometres of land because of some silly war on drugs or dump millions of litres of noxious toxins over stranger’s jungles to deny them its coverage. The wide spread mayhem and calamity to not just humanity but also to mother nature is tremendous and tragic, it is also ongoing.
So while vegans may chomp down on their tofu and cruelty free quinoa wraps, most of them can do it with a vain attempt to correct so many immoralities that they so see done in their name. Though some may become militant and exercise terror, like all terrorists their indignation does stem from some injustices, only their outlook and methods are often skewered. Most vegans seek a wider benevolence. They are not confused nor hypocritical as far as their perspectives towards animals. Philosophically most are sound, if not annoying. Most in our society however are morally vapid, self-serving populists who cower beneath the violence of their culture. Though many of the indiscretions are unseen, they are wide spread. It is with reactionarism that contemporary issues take your mind for a moment, in the end however it dissolves and your intentions move to some other focus of selfish indulgence. It may be both a meat eaters world and a statists culture, it does not mean that one should have to like it nor eagerly wave the flag of arbitrary and inconsistent violence. For the most part vegans in their regard to non-humans remain consistent, they do not take up the cause simply because of a popular instant of social outcry. They retain the struggle despite popular moments in time.
Though you may cuddle up to your sweet lap dog and consider him your most loving and obedient possession, he like all of natures uncivilised creatures is void of narrative. He will torment a rodent before killing it with no regard, he may lick a baby so sweetly, he may bite another’s hand in jealous rage or he may warm your side in your dying days. He is absent of moral perspective, pure in a non-humane sense. If civilisation and humanity allows for the cruel exploitation of one set of animals over another to be accepted and socially validated. If it allows the absolute destruction of another person’s city, baby, puppy, sunflower all included simply because of some nationalistic fervour. Then perhaps that lap dogs isolated purity is above humanity’s arbitrary violence and cruelty. For no amount of philosophy shall ever change the animal that you are.
Kym Robinson, December 2015.