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November 03, 2012


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Paul Horwitz

I had to go back and reread Al's post after reading your very interesting and enthusiastic response. Although Al uses the word "excited" and never takes the time to delpore meat-eating, I don't see him celebrating the eating of meat. I do see him being excited about a presidential candidate mentioning what Al appears to find an interesting and central folkway of American history and culture, but I don't see him taking a position on the eating of meat. He's excited about public mention of monuments too, but I don't think that means he's a fan of Nathan Bedford Forrest.

That said, I respect your statement of your views. Although, IF one is going to engage in this barbaric and atavistic practice, you must admit tht barbeque is absolutely the way to go. If you do that sort of thing, that is, which you don't. I particularly recommend Dreamland or Archibald's in the Tuscaloosa area. That is, of course, for those who do that kind of thing.

Patrick S. O'Donnell


You might read the post Al linked to, which I think is, in its way, celebratory (about barbeque, one very popular way to prepare and eat meat). I inferred Al's "position on eating meat" from the post: it's certainly possible that he likes to eat meat but rather wishes he did not (i.e., has a second-order desire, as it were, that conflicts with his revealed preference for meat). Of course many people consume meat without taking any explicit position or formulating any argument on its consumption relative to the arguments of vegetarians or vegans. In any case, I suspect our readers will welcome your culinary recommendations.

Patrick S. O'Donnell

And I might have said the post was not about Al's preferences in particular (and I'm disappointed you interpreted it that way), which I took to be representative and emblematic, and thus an occasion for which to broach a subject I believe important.


Of course many people consume meat without taking any explicit position or formulating any argument on its consumption relative to the arguments of vegetarians or vegans.

And others find the arguments for vegetarianism and veganism unconvincing.

Patrick S. O'Donnell


I would have thought that last statement goes without saying, but if not, thanks for reminding us. Yet I dare say I find a plethora (of plausible if not persuasive) arguments for vegetarianism and veganism and a corresponding dearth of same for the consumption of meat that explicitly address the former arguments. And it would be rather surprising if a large number of folks who did care at all about such things, found the arguments for vegetarianism and veganism convincing (the arguments of course may be sound but fail to persuade), given the passions and pleasures that come with the consumption of food and the personal dietary changes it would require of them were they to see things differently. To be clear, I'm not saying there are no arguments of that sort, but it seems the burden of proof, so to speak, is assumed to rest with those opposed to meat eating, while those who consume meat find little or no need to justify their food habits and the practices that support them. Among those who've intelligently engaged some of these arguments, I count Roger Scruton, and he at least seems adamantly opposed to the sort of industrialized factory farming about which Pachirat (and others before him) writes. Calling to mind the proverb "out of sight, out of mind," were it that all parents and caregivers took their charges on tours of slaughterhouses like they visit zoos.

Incidentally, I'm not quite enchanted by arguments relying largely on notions of "interests" or "rights" (moral or legal) with regard to nonhuman animals, believing it best, in the first instance, and much like Cora Diamond if I'm not mistaken (and after some writings and lectures of J.M. Coetzee), for human beings to view nonhuman animals as "fellow creatures" and all that follows therefrom (which may of course issue in enhanced moral status and legal standing).

Bill Turnier

For those with a sense of humor about the issue, you may want to check out this Mittchell and Webb skit.


On the Huffington Post, I've found regular links to covert videos taken in the slaughterhouse.
And, the reporting about the many vendors that then boycott those offenders, like Whole Foods and Walmart (yes, Walmart).
To be sure, factory farming is a cruel practice.
And, there are arguments about "humane" slaughter of animals, too.
The question, it seems to me, is basic: is it immoral to kill or consume our "fellow creatures": for example, mammals, fish, shellfish, insects, vermin, the product of these (such as eggs, leather, and, in the case of those famous coffee beans, feces)? Are there different moral standards that apply to these categories?
Many who have not considered in a reasoned way these questions pass moral judgment on others based on a practice (eating meat) that is literally part of the natural world and human evolution. It is especially notable when the same folks who preach the "immorality" of eating meat then argue for preserving the "natural world" (including the lives of indigenous peoples) completely unaffected by the hands and views of "more advanced" human beings.

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