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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

One way to celebrate National Cat Day ...

Her opening is imaging yourself at a dinner party and eating a delicious stew. You ask for the recipe and it turns out it is dog meat. This horrifies you, but then the host laughs and says she was just kidding. It's "only" beef. Well, that's fine.
My previous remarks about Dr. Melanie Joy and her discussion of carnism (quoting the Amazon summary of her book -- "the belief system that has conditioned us to eat certain animals and not others"). It goes beyond speciesism. Our selective concern of animals (happy National Cat Day) fits in with our broad ability to draw lines that do not always seem logical but then we are talking about humans, not Vulcans. So, we are very concerned about let's say carriage horses (at least some people) but not so much factory farmed "food" animals. 

This came to mind when -- after making a Halloween themed joke about "Kit Kats" on another topic -- when Stephen Colbert last night talked about some NRA involved pressures in Pennsylvania. Put aside a litigation friendly measure (lawsuits are okay for us), the particularly notable action is a move to stop sales of dogs and cats for human consumption. On some level, you know, this seems curious -- we kill lots of them for purposes of population control, so it seems wasteful and all.  The ultimate purpose was to protect pigeon shoots, but the whole thing does sound squicky. 

Now, breeding them merely for that purpose is different, yes -- not a big fan of  specialty breeds for adoption either with so many strays.  Likewise, eating roadkill probably would be humane. At any rate, by one count, forty-four states allow the personal consumption of dog and cat meat. And, some people think it bad when people eat cat food. The state of New York prohibits "any person to slaughter or butcher domesticated dog or domesticated cat to create food, meat or meat products for human or animal consumption."  Note the qualifier.  Legal research: determine what "domesticated" adds to the equation.  Yeah, will get right at that.

There is some concern that use of cats and other domestic animals will lead to some negative results involving pet owners. So, perhaps use of them for research will lead to some neighborhood pets to be wrongly seized.  It's a relatively minor concern. The real matter is that people have an emotional connection to dogs and cats -- articles about this story, e.g., have pictures of cute dogs and readers imagine eating them. Now, this doesn't faze a lot of people when dealing with animals society eats overall.  Remember those Starkist commercials where the fish is upset about not being taken to be eaten?  See commercials now with cutesy cows promoting milk and cheese.  Find them a tad creepy.

Still, Dr. Joy's presentation comes to mind. Logically, why is it a problem to breed etc. cats and dogs for human consumption?  The basic reason is that we respect them too much as "persons" or something close to them to find that appropriate. I asked the author of an animal rights book about consumption of animals who die from natural causes and she concluded that it still was immoral.  The matter is complicated because if you allow it, there will be promotion of other usage of animals for consumption. But, even independently, it would be bad because it demeans them. We don't after all think of eating naturally dying humans.

The additional respect given to certain animals that are not treated like food is not somehow totally horrible.  I realize this, so let's put that aside. But, still, there is a certain disconnect here and arbitrariness. This is part of why ultimately I became a vegetarian.  If we are going to respect animals and care about animal welfare (and perhaps even not like fur or veal), allowing millions of animals to suffer for our palate seems wrong to me.  Big fan of pussy cats myself -- hey Yogee, Simon, Paris et. al.! -- but not so much that mistreatment of pigs, cows and so forth suddenly don't matter to me.

As Mark Kelly and Gabrielle Giffords recently wrote in Enough, the NRA is rightly um "targeted" for various reasons, and doing so here is fine. Plus, it's clearly comedy gold.  Still ... 

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