Trying to prove the abolitionists wrong

Slaveholders, when pushed into a moral corner by abolitionists, create whatever arguments it takes to make consumers feel okay about purchasing the products of slaves. Back in the 1830s when American Abolitionists were hard at work educating the public about the evils of slavery and how slavery needed to be immediately abolished, slaveholders were also hard at work trying to prove the abolitionists wrong.

One proslavery argument used in the 1830s was that owners were like benevolent parents to their slaves. This was the “Happy Slave” argument and it was used to convince the public that Southern slaves were much better off then their Northern (non-slave) factory worker counterparts.

Another proslavery argument spoke to the supposed supremacy of the white race which suggested that the “intellectual capacity of Africans was abysmal“. This, of course, was racism and it too was used to keep the public’s growing concerns at bay.

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"Why are you a vegetarian?"

The term vegetarian can be defined as:

a person who does not eat or does not believe in eating meat, fish, fowl, or, in some cases, any food derived from animals, as eggs or cheese, but subsists on vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain, etc.

Most people these days who call themselves vegetarians consume some kind of animal “product” such as milk, cheese, eggs, honey, leather, fur, silk, fish, and chickens.

When I meet a vegetarian my first question is “Why are you a vegetarian?” The answers most people give generally have something to do with their health, the planet’s health, and/or they are an “animal lover”. My next question is “Do you consume any kind of animal products?” This question usually generates a fairly long list.

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Just because

Most folks know, when it comes to what other humans do, just because someone does something doesn’t automatically make it an okay thing to do. For example, just because there are people out there who discriminate, that doesn’t make the act of discrimination okay. Another example is rape. It doesn’t take too much of an imagination to see that rape has been around a very long time and yet, once again, most of us know that no matter how many acts of rape have been and will be perpetrated, the act of rape will always be morally bankrupt.

That being said, when it comes to other animals the above wisdom is generally tossed out the window. For example, when one is confronted with the idea that humans do not require the flesh nor bodily secretions of other animals in order to survive and thus consumption of any animal product is wrong, many of them inevitably will defend their actions by claiming something such as, “if lions can eat gazelles why can’t we eat cows”. Aside from the fact that lions are carnivores and thus eating another animal’s flesh is how they survive, there’s the wisdom that dictates just because lions eat gazelles doesn’t make the act, at least in our case where we clearly have a choice, morally acceptable.

Another defense commonly heard from the non-vegan crowd is, “we’ve been eating animals forever”. While this may be true, the same is true for rape and as previously discussed that doesn’t make the action okay.

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Tools of the trade

Racism can be defined as “[t]he belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.” Sexism can be defined as “[d]iscrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women” and heterosexism can be defined as “a prejudiced attitude or discriminatory practices against homosexuals by heterosexuals.”

Racism, sexism and heterosexism—these are the discriminatory tools of the trade when it comes to debasing others so that injustices can be perpetrated against them and yet still be morally excepted by the masses.

Sadly, there are still many people out there that thoughtlessly prejudge others based on the color of their skin, their gender and/or their sexual orientation. But thankfully the world for the most part is at least aware of the terms racism, sexism, and heterosexism and thus these horrible tools of the trade are little by little being dismantled.

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Why stop beating your spouse?

When someone beats their spouse they can end up harming themselves as well as the environment. The harm to themselves can include retribution from their spouse, bloody knuckles from all the slugging, neighbor complaints about the excess noise, fines and even possible jail time. Environmental harm can come from having to throw away lamps and other household items broken during the “fight” as well as the repeated washing of clothing, furniture and other landing spots of hard to remove blood and other such bodily fluids.

But, although the above mentioned reasons for stopping to beat one’s spouse are valid, the primary reason one should stop beating their spouse is because unnecessarily harming someone is wrong. In fact, one would hope the idea that it is wrong to beat one’s spouse would be the major topic of discussion with an abuser when trying to get them to stop their despicable actions.

That said, why is it that so many animal rights advocates seldom if ever mention that it is wrong to enslave, torture and steal the life away from other animals? Why is it that they talk up the health benefits of a vegan’s diet or the environmental savings a vegan’s diet creates all the while neglecting to mention the major reason folks should stop doing what they do to other animals—because it is wrong?

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We animals

Believe it or not, we humans are just one of the many species of animals that occupy this planet. Moreover, many enlightened folks including the American Dietetic Association are rising above the propaganda and stating the fact that human animals can easily live on a 100 percent plant based diet. In fact, more and more scientists are presenting evidence that eating animals or their secretions is deadly for us.

Why is it then that we work so hard to prove we are either above other animals or even that we are not animals at all? I guess one reason is so we can justify the horrors we inflict upon them and still slumber easily at night.

Most folks know that it’s certainly not desirable to be “treated like an animal”. But why does this have to be this way? Why can’t being “treated like an animal” be a good thing? Why can’t we have respect for our fellow earthlings especially since we do not need to eat them or their secretions in order to survive?

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Your purpose, not theirs

Why is it that there are so many people out there bent on everyone, and I do mean everyone, having a purpose in life? I for one feel it’s great to think about what I’d like to do with my life and I’m sure there are many others who feel the same way. But, the key words here are what I’d like to do with my life and most certainly not what others feel I should do with my life.

I understand there are folks out there that feel their god(s)—or some other supernatural force—gave them and everyone else a purpose. To me, this screams of possible injustice. That is, if someone believes they have a purpose they must carry out that’s their choice to follow through with it or not. But, to use this same way of thinking to force others into their model of how things should be is simply unjust.

For example, a while back I was having a discussion about whether or not other animals have the same right we animals have in regards to not being commodified into things (i.e., legally thought of as property). Ultimately the person I was chatting with asked, “Well, if they’re not here for our food, clothing, etcetera, than what are they here for?”

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Dangerous lies

I believe it is the legal right of every animal, not just the human variety, to be free from the chains of forced bondage. Although some folks haven’t quite figured out that all humans deserve this right it does appear the vast majority of us finally feel this way. Unfortunately, except for a relatively small amount of people, thoughts about other animals not being considered property are still in their infancy.

Arguments abound that we humans are in some way superior to other animals, or that a supernatural force deems it okay, or that humans have always done what they’ve done to other animals and will continue to do so, et cetera, etc. But weren’t similar arguments used to justify the enslavement of various human animals and haven’t the majority of us seen the truth behind these dangerous lies?

Why then do we not see the truth behind the equally dangerous lies that continue to enslave other animals? Of course there are those who argue that we can’t be certain other animals care about being forcefully used by us for our own pleasure. But, once again, wasn’t this argument used to enslave human animals?

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Who’s being elitist?

Over the past many years I have talked with lots of people about why I became vegan. It usually starts off with me saying, “No thank you” to someone’s offering of an animal “product”. That’s when the question of “Why?” generally comes up. It’s at that moment no matter what I’m doing or how tired I am that I put on my advocate hat and try my best to explain why I’m vegan. Sometimes depending on the circumstances and/or how well the person knows me things go well. Whereas, sadly, other times things go horribly wrong.

By things going well I do not necessarily mean the person I was chatting with declared they were going vegan right there on the spot. Although I have had that happen, more times then not things going well simply means they heard my story and I heard theirs and no one became offended. That is, the seeds of veganism as a social justice movement working towards the day when no sentient being ever has to legally be property regardless of their species, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, et cetera were planted.

By horribly wrong, although the use of “horrible” here is debatable, I mean someone became offended and thus resorted to labeling. One such label that comes to mind is the term “elitist”. Interestingly, defines “elitism” as “The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.”

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Leonardo da Vinci addresses the infamous plant question

So there you are on Facebook, Twitter, or simply chatting with a friend at the local coffeehouse and all of a sudden the infamous “What about plants, don’t they have feelings too?” question rears its ugly head. What makes someone ask this question when they’re being confronted with the idea that all sentient beings deserve the right not to be someone’s property? Or, you merely stated “Oh no thanks, I don’t eat flesh or secretions, I’m vegan”.

This has bothered me for sometime now. I usually try my best to explain the difference between an animal (human or not) and a plant but the questioner usually doesn’t seem to get it. Well, thanks to Adam Kochanowicz alerting me to the following quote by Leonardo da Vinci, maybe, just maybe, Leonardo can help answer the question a bit better:

Though nature has given sensibility to pain to such living organisms as have the power of movement, in order thereby to preserve the members which in this movement are liable to diminish and be destroyed, the living organisms which have no power of movement do not have to encounter opposing objects, and plants consequently do not need to have a sensibility to pain, and so it comes about that if you break them they do not feel anguish in their members as do the animals.
~ Leonardo da Vinci (Source)

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