Friday, October 30, 2009

Must be tofu, cuz beef don't shake like that

So, apparently, I must now add "Veganism" to the ever-growing list of "things I have to pretend to like if I ever meet Natalie Portman":

For the record: I don't really have any "problem" with Vegans, though I DO have a problem with Natalie Portman becoming one. Namely... well, remember "Closer?" "Hotel Chevalier?" Yeah... that figure is just NOT going to exist under a veggies-only diet. Ah, well...

One of the things that has always perplexed me about vegetarianism (and hardline animal-liberation ideology in general) is how often it's framed as a kind of mutual-morality issue: That it's wrong to eat or experiment on animals because some believe they are just as capable of emotion, emotional-reaction and even moral reasoning as human beings are. To me, that seems backwards... I'M against cruelty to animals largely because I'm inclined to conclude that they AREN'T capable of moral-reasoning - at least not to the degree we are.

See, I've met TONS of human beings who deserve to be treated unkindly, to say nothing of outright CRUELLY - mostly because that's how they've treated myself and others. Hitler deserved to be treated with cruelty. Osama bin Laden deserves cruelty. Have you ever heard of an animal that did anything to deserve the same? I certainly haven't.

For all anyone has been able to prove scientifically, animals are TOTAL innocents: moral/ethical "blanks;" which means they aren't capable of EVIL. If, on the other hand, we were to prove that they were capable of good, logic would dictate that they are ALSO capable of evil - one cannot exist without the other. Wouldn't this, then, mean that a simple solution to the problem of how to consume meat protein without harming something "good" be to eat only the "bad" animals? Surely, it couldn't be hard to find and execute the Hitler of Cows or the Manson of Turkeys, yes?

Science could probably make this whole thing irrelevant if they wanted to: If we can clone whole animals effectively, it can't be too far of a step to only clone PARTS of them. Imagine being able to GROW edible cuts of meat without having to worry about the pain inflicted on a whole steer...


Dustin said...

Sorry this isn't posted on the overthinker site, but I don't have any of the necessary logins to post over there.

I had an idea for a possible Overthinker episode that I wanted to run by you. My wife recently saw an advertisement for the game Borderlands when I started up Steam and she called it "seriously disturbing." She went on to say (rightly) that those are the type games she wouldn't want our children to play because of the violence/disturbing imagery.

Though I agree that there are some games children shouldn’t play, the concept of limiting what my future children play is kind of foreign to me. Not taking a 5 year old to an R movie? That’s a no brainer. But a rated M game seems different to me somehow.

I think it’s because as the so-called first generation of gamers, we never really had to deal with our parents saying a game was too violent, too scary, too whatever for us to play. Sure, we probably all got the “you play that thing too much” treatment, but I’d be surprised if there were many of us whose parents said that an NES or SNES game was too violent. It just wouldn’t have made sense. Can you picture an M rating on an NES game? I mean, Ikari Warriors was entirely devoted to killing other people, but no reasonable person would call it graphic violence.

It’s almost like we grew up with the industry. When we were kids, the limits in the technology kept the violence and scary stuff at our level. As we grew up, it kept pace with us. This won’t the same for our children

My point is that as those of us who grew up with videogames get into parenthood, we’ll have to deal with limiting what our kid’s play in a why our parents never had to. Because of that, we don’t have a model for how it’s done. I kind of know how my parents dealt with violence in movies or on TV and can base my parenting in that area on their example, but not so with video games.

Doc said...

@Bob: I've noticed three types of vegetarians: Health, Religious, and Political Vegetarians.

The first two I have no problem with. Health Vegetarians don't eat meat because of health reasons, or a doctors orders. Religious vegetarians don't eat meat because if religious beliefs (obviously). These two groups don't eat meat for personal reasons and pretty much leave everyone else alone.

Political vegetarians (of which Vegans are the more annoying extremist category) seem to have decided that eating meat is just wrong, and that nobody should eat meat. They are not satisfied until they force everyone around them to change their behavior to conform to their ideals. I have no patience for these people.

@Dustin: Interesting points. It also points to a growing divide over the years between gamers and non-gamers. As gamers, we grew up with the evolution and adapted to it. We know the history of the medium, and can accept that games can be made for adults and not for children.

Non-gamers still see video games as "for kids." A non-gamer sees a video game like Borderlands and are shocked that such a thing is allowed to exist.

This divide brings us all the wonderful political issues with rating games, and various groups getting their thong in a wad over game content.

Non-gamers are all, "What's wrong with you you sick twisted freaks?!"

Gamers are all, "It's just a game! what's wrong with you you narrow minded pillocks?!"


Anonymous said...

Hmm, are animals innocent?

Well, amongst a pride of lions, you'll always have a dominate male that's in charge of the females.

In most cases this alpha male will always come across challenges from other alpha males wanting to take over the pride.

If the male was to lose his turf he'd be banished by the new dominate male whose first order of business includes murdering all the offspring of the last male.

What struck me as really being interesting as how the females would react going to so many lengths hiding their young or fighting off the new dominate male.

Animals might be a lot more similar in nature but if you ask me they're burden with their own distorted sense of right and wrong.

If you look closely enough at people you'd see people are really no different.

We just make thing a lot more complex then they need to be...0o

Anonymous said...

dolphins have been known to protect stranded humans from sharks for ridiculously long periods of time until they are rescued. surely this is a sign of an animal doing good.

on the other side of the coin, my family once had a cat that would was really nice to my brother and i, but you get my dad anywhere near her and she would go ballistic. it didn't matter how nice my dad was towards her, the cat would always attack him. one day it was decided that the cat would be taken into a shelter. when he took her to the place, she suddenly started acting so nice towards her.

humans may be the most intelligent animals on the planet, but that doesn't mean that all other animals are devoid of morals. good and bad are so basic it's ridiculous. perhaps some creatures don't operate on them, but there certainly are many that do.

Sebastian said...

@Anonymus: Defining any action as "good" or "evil" does not so much depend on *what* was done, but *why* it was done.
If a lion eats your kids, you will undoubtly be prompted to qualify said eating as "evil" - but you'd be wrong. A lion is not capable of moral judgement, and therefore is *by definition* unable to commit evil. The same goes for acts you might percieve as good - if the animal in question is incapable of moral judgement, it's also incapable of doing good, but only acting according to instinct and trained behauviours.

Allthough I have to add - and in this partialy disagree with Bob - that the distinction between "human" and "animal" is a rather arbitrary one (biologically speaking, humans are apes, after all). I *do* believe that some animals might be capable of at least rudimentary moral judgements and might also posess some sort of agency in the philosophical sense.

(Sorry for the bad english and phrasing, I haven't slept that well this week)

Gray said...

There is something seriously wrong with justifying killing with "because they are bad".

Anonymous said...

This topic reminds me of a very intriguing book titled, "The Lucifer Principle" by Howard K. Bloom. He argues that evil is a by-product of nature's strategies and is part of our, human and animal alike, biological fabric. Although criticized for backing up his theory by linking the concepts of good and evil to occurences within nature, he does a great job of supporting his theories with countless factual references and examples to link the "evil" ways of humans and animals. Whether or not you agree with his theories the book contains very interesting, thought-provoking material. I highly recommend, for what it's worth, that you at least page through the book. It just might convince you that the supposed amoral ways of animals can be deemed "evil," at least from an alternate standpoint.

Sebastian said...

'There is something seriously wrong with justifying killing with "because they are bad".'

I totally and fully agree. Also, I like eating meat.

tyra menendez said...

humans seem to be uniquely self aware of our actions. i say "seem", because we can't exactly talk to a dolphin or a gorilla and find out if they are.
animals have evolved with certain instincts. it's usually what kept them going, as a species. the female lions have an instinct to protect their offspring, while the male has an instinct to spread his genes. both the male and female lions are doing, basically the same thing: protecting their genes.
this instinct could explain the hostilities with step parents and children.
also, some of the things discussed here are matters of intelligence. dolphins are smart. cats, not as much, and chickens are plain stupid. dolphins are also said to be sexually attracted to humans, which would mean a dolphin fending off shark, to save a human could be self interest. like a sort of biological chivalry, males often try to win favor of females by fending of threats (including other males of the same species).
humans are aware of their actions, however, so the concept of doing "evil" has come about through being self aware.
of course, most militant vegans, care sweet fuck all about human lives and completely misunderstand the relationship between humans and domesticated animals. see, dogs traded off their independence for higher survival rates of the offspring and longer life spans. wolves, in the wild, only live about seven years; dogs live about10-15, depending on breed. obviously, wolves weren't aware of the trade off, as they were being domesticated into dogs, but it has been beneficial to them. also, dogs want to be with people. the working breeds (like collies) want a job to do. when they get left on their own, without a job, they get bored and that means they get destructive.

Alex Howard said...

To the Anonymous guy talking about how "good" dolphins are for rescuing humans: Dolphins have also been known to attack humans, and have been observed beating porpoises to death for no discernible reason. It looks like they just like killing porpoises (and who wouldn't, right?).

Some other things I'd like to add is there are a lot of people out there who are Vegan and don't push their beliefs. Sure, they take pride in them, much as you or I take pride in our carnivorousness. And there are a lot of people out there who object to eating animals and animal products (i.e. milk, cheese) not because they want to protect the cute little animals, but because of the way that food is obtained in the US. Which is fair, because frankly the meat industry, especially cattle and chicken, is fucking disgusting. It's not super unsafe to the average consumer (first rule of business: don't immediately kill your customer), but no one's been able to study the long term effects of it as it get passed through meat, because most of the techniques used in meat-raising are fairly new. And thus their intention in "converting" someone to vegetarianism or Veganism is more part of effecting a boycott of the meat industry than it is for ethical or moral reasons.

That said, they should probably pay attention to what gets put on the stuff in their salad. It ain't all rainbows and flowers, too.

Anonymous said...

You people talk about instincts as if animals are programed to do what they do.

As if they see everything in binary code, in 1s and 0s.

As for me I think there is a lot more involved than people would like to admit.

I think animals have their own sense of right or wrong...and it's not just simply they do things because their instinct instruct them to.

tyra menendez said...

you want to have sex. why? because it's instinctual. it's a biological programming to spread your genes. being self aware, you may take precautions against pregnancy, but the desire is hard wired into your brain.

Anonymous said...

Wait, so everyone you don't agree with deserves to be treated cruely? Osama's antics pale in comparison with the amount of lives taken by the United States for decades around the by your rational do American's deserve to be treated cruely because of their voting tendancies by the very people these decisions harm around the world? What about your elected officials who sign off on 3rd party weapon sales, or war in general?

I'm pretty sure your 'in it for my own safety and fear' morality is no different than any other animal's. Meat is murder....tasty tasty murder. And I personally love every immoral bite of my steak. It's as natural as any other immoral thing we humans do, right?

Bob said...

"Wait, so everyone you don't agree with deserves to be treated cruely?"

No. I'm merely not ruling out that certain figures of irredeemable evil could concievably deserve it. Whether or not I could carry on a civil discourse with, say, Pol Pot is irrelevant: He was a mass-murderer, so fuck him.

As for the "voting tendencies" thing... grow up. That line of reasoning MIGHT hold water if someone were to run for U.S. President (and WIN) on a specific platform of "elect me and I will firebomb innocent civilians" or somesuch. Since that doesn't occur, that particular talking-point remains a lazy no-argument designed primarily to appeal to people with an overdeveloped since of guilt.

Anonymous said...

"someone were to run for U.S. President (and WIN) on a specific platform".

That was quite the re-election victory Bush had, huh? Guess you may not have heard prior to 2004 like the rest of Iraqi ties to Sept 11 or Osama, and no WMD...even the ones your country sold to Saddam. Don't worry, neither did a larger half of the rest of your fellow Americans. Larger % victory than in 2000, too. So tell me another one 'proud American'. I'm not guilty though...I'm not an American.

And yeah, that was the point I was making about morality, all depends what side of the bullet your on, right?

Kenpai said...

Hey Bob there is a way to grow specific parts of animals. I saw it on discovery, A dude grew a penny-sized peice of cow liver meat but the British chef couldn't eat it for law-related reasons, but he said it looked and felt like the real deal. Give this 20 years to develop and evolve and maybe we can wean ourselves off of the animals.

GEL said...

Luckily they are indeed working on cloning just chunks of animals. At this point it's nicknamed Shmeat (Shit+Meat=Shmeat) because...well it does NOT look appatizing XD Although the mistake made there is that no one fried the fucker before taking the picture! I bet it looks more appetizing then.

And at one of the previous posters, while Borderlands ain't for kids it's not really too disturbing I don't think. Feels like a low M to me.

Bob said...

"That was quite the re-election victory Bush had, huh? Guess you may not have heard prior to 2004 like the rest of Iraqi ties to Sept 11 or Osama, and no WMD...even the ones your country sold to Saddam."

Guess YOU may not have heard that the guy running against Bush in 04 essentially supported the entire war policy up to that point and didn't promise to change any of the major policies outside of some vauge intimation that he'd do it "smarter." Take note that when presented with a clear anti-war alternative in Obama, that side won. In either case, the winning candidate got BARELY more than 51-55% of the already small percentage of Americans who actually voted.

AND EVEN THEN, you're point is still rather dull. I think it's very likely that George W. Bush's actions during the Iraq War would constitute a war crime under investigation; but the fact remains that he did not (either time) run on a SPECIFIC platform of "I will do this and that evil thing." If GWB had stood up before the cameras and said SPECIFICALLY "elect me and I promise to order the mass-murder of Iraqi civilians," and then that had actually happened, then yes a certain culpability would probably apply to voters. We both know that that ain't what happened. Like most successful politicians, he ran on platitudes and then did whatever he wanted once safely behind the palace walls. I may loathe the ignorance of most Bush voters, but they aren't morally culpable for actions they were LIED TO about.

"I'm not guilty though...I'm not an American."

Bullshit. Unless I'm talking the Dalai Lama right now, EVERYBODY is guilty of something - especially in the national sense. There's not a place on this Earth you could say you're from or a culture you could belong to that doesn't have some pretty awful stuff in it's history.

You're english seems pretty good, for example, so are you from the West? Europe? Canada? If so, you're as "guilty" as I am for our ancestor's wholesale slaughter and enslavement of indiginous peoples all over the world for thousands of years. Or maybe you're indiginous yourself, in which case one could brand YOU with the blame for evils committed by your tribe against others at some point in history. Africa? South America? Japan? China? India? Eastern Europe? The Mid-East? Nobody's "clean," friend.

Anonymous said...

Damn rights I'm guilty in general, but not in this specific situation. My country and countrymen are part of a Nato defense contract so are obliged to help the U.S in Afghanistan...and thats fine and all, but living out how your country deals in foriegn diplomacy around the world its no wonder why your country was attacked on Sept 11 in the first place...and probably us soon enough due to cultural, defensive, trade and political 'guilty' ties. We are all sinking with your ship my friend and many of us detest the boat.

But it is pretty fresh that your peoples hold no accountability for your governments actions, and theirfor are free to play the apathy card...and yet will cry for blood of peoples around the world based on their governments actions. Governments, such as in Afghanistan that was created through a power vaccum that your country helped create prior and post Afghan-Russian war. Your country divides and conquors and then bitches when it finally feels the reprocussions. What I am pissed about is the BLATENT hypocrisy in that. Not said Guilt. Your analysis of my motivation was what I was contending on that point.

And yeah, I watched the election and all that 'flip flopping', I also watched a larger voter turnout in 2004 and a larger % lead come out of it. I personally would love to see if Bush's actions constitute a war crime...but thats not going to happen now is it. Spooner Libey, Guantanimo lack of trials yet torture, lack of evidence constituting war, civilian death count records...I'd love it to be on the board. But thats not likely to happen now is it? Your country acted without evidence (no "50 tonnes of mustard gas in a turkey farm"), and yet no persons are held accountable, even through that how it works then? Reminds me of the lack of effort put forth by your citizens in pushing for a recount in 2000, why would your government change in anyway if your peoples won't hold your government accountable? And as far as reelection, "fool me once...shame on you, fool me can't...fool me again." If your peoples were lied too, its pretty easy to see how you'll be lied to again, a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar who isn't punished will inevitably do it again. The reelection was as much a symbol to the world as it was deciding a platform for your ownselves for the next 4 years. Can you explain 6 years of majority republican say in your legislative branch?

So if this is how it is going to be, your government is givin the ability to act without any check or balance by it's own democratic people, how then is it evil if a peoples wronged by you in the past uses the same violence your country uses to create change? I don't see why whats good for the goose isn't just as good for the gander..especially when comparing the amount of deaths on Sept 11 with the amount of deaths in 1 year in Iraq.

The question is does anyone's shit smell any sweeter than anyones elses (bush vs Osama in this case), and explain to me where an above animal morality exist's when faced with this question of selfish grey?

Daniella said...

I thought Natalie had been a Vegan for ages. Shes been into that sort of thing for years anyway, I can imagine that's why shes so thin already.

I think she'll be disappearing from the acting scene, soon anyway. Or at least cutting down her amount of roles to a bare minimum because shes going all director/producer.

tyra menendez said...


you're french, aren't you?

Anonymous said...

Nope...but nice to see that stereotype still outweighs rational thought. I'm a mutt of British Isle and Ukranian. Even if I was French, what the hell does it matter...I atleast know a little something outside my small circle of things that directly effect me, can you say the same Tyra?

I'm still waiting for Bob's reply...or has he changed his focus like so many Americans do when the channel changes? For example; A mandatory change of government leadership absolves the American people of past guilt...and they are hero's onto themselves yet again. Pfff...If Obama would have held Bush accountable, I would agree that something changed...but instead he's just another 'Gerald Ford'.

You know, I have a different point of view, and although 90% of you Americans probably disagree with it, probably a good half of the people around this globe would agree with me or at the least listen to me and try to take from it. That doesn't mean I'm right. But everytime I have talked to an American about these things, they either pretend like they didn't read what I wrote, or keep lashing out in some way or another...instead of trying to learn from someone with a different point of view. I don't see how your culture is going to get any better since on the whole you're too arrogant to be humble.

Bob said...


Firstly, I tire quickly of carrying on these things with people who won't give their name - or even *A* name.

Secondly, I'll gladly argue any point you like, but I'd be lying if I said I thought you warranted much attention at this point. It strikes me that you've found, in my country, an all-purpose place for any (all?) negativity you can muster - that instead of having arrived at your conclusions through clear-thinking logic and reason, you're thought process begins with the conclusion you desire - "it's the Americans' fault!" - and works backwards to make perception fit it. What am I supposed to gain, other than a cheaply-aquired sense of intellectual victory, from debating someone who seems so unserious in his positions?

Anonymous said...

Names Sam, I'm a Canadian citizen and soldier. I was on a peace keeping tour in Bosnia in 2001 when your country invaded Iraq, experianced the largest peace march in the history of the world fail to even slow down the war train (whilst in Rome on an HLTA in Feb 2002) and have talked to many people during my time over the pond from many different nations who are just as outraged as me. You have no idea how serious I take this shit, or how this shit effects people. JUST because I don't use this personal information to back up my points or subscribe to your page doesn't mean anything. You have no idea about my views or how deep my thoughts go. So don't give me that bullshit of direct disrespect 'civilian', you don't know me from Adam. When in the sweet fuck have you EVER sacrificed yourself for people, or a sense of code, huh? So whatever 'overthinker'.

Man, I like your unique reviews. But what a cop-out. You just don't want to lose face on your website and are fighting for some sort of control to recover from your loss of pride. And you know it. I was hoping you'd take the up and up, I was really hoping to have inspired some sense of outside the box thought, have a give and take conversation after we found common ground on your home turf...but since you are incapable of that, I have nothing left to say to you on this topic.

Mark my word's however...what has happened in the past 8 years is doomed to repeat itself in less than 20 years. This current generation are the ones to blame. And I have no reason to believe that your country is going to make this world any better. I will never find myself blindly on the side of the U.S ever again. Good day.

Bob said...

With respect, Sam... I'm not the one who decided that the best way to kick-start a political discussion was to anonymously lob incendiary generalizations about entire nationalities of people into the comments section of a humorously-intended blog post about vegan actresses.

Now, clearly in "reality" you're a serious and demonstrably quite honorable man... so I have to ask why you weren't you acting as such from the get go? I mean, what's with the Freshman Poli-Sci drivel like this:

" Osama's antics pale in comparison with the amount of lives taken by the United States for decades around the by your rational do American's deserve to be treated cruely because of their voting tendancies by the very people these decisions harm around the world?"

Or THIS bumper-sticker sounding business:

"I'm not guilty though...I'm not an American."

Or THIS mix of self-important presumption and broad-brush condescension toward an entire people:

"I'm still waiting for Bob's reply...or has he changed his focus like so many Americans do when the channel changes?"

I mean, honestly... how, exactly, am I expected to react to that? Especially when it's coming from someone who doesn't put a name or even a "handle" on their words? Words, I might add, that were both incendiary and accusatory in nature.

I'm sorry, man - maybe the problem is on my end, maybe it's a matter of text not adequately conveying your true intentions... but you weren't acting like ("posting like?") a serious debator - you were acting/posting like, in my view, a kid spewing slogans and looking to pick a fight.

So you feel disrespected, dismissed and not taken as seriously as you deserved? Well, for that I'm sorry... but frankly that's PRECISELY how I was feeling when you started in on me the first place; and the haughty "still waiting for Bob's response" bit tore it for me. You're obviously intelligent and capable of offering informed perspective from a unique and authoritative vantage-point on these matters... so why didn't you do that to begin with?