Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Shoot the Messenger

The furor that animal rights activism stirs up confuses me. Like Roger Daltrey's statement regarding his Teenage Cancer Trust Fund: "It is a blot on our society when, if these teenagers had four legs and fur or feathers we would raise the money in a year. It's tragic and it makes me want to fight even harder."

Mmm...Okay, Roger. PETA fired back that it has been shown that not eating meat greatly reduces the risk of cancer, and that they already publish a list of cruelty-free cancer foundations always looking for donations. I doubt that anyone who is truly concerned about animal cruelty is thinking it's awesome that teenagers get cancer. And come to think of it, one of my lifelong friends lost her beautiful 3 year old daughter to cancer (HANNAH'S GIFT) and she has never once yelled at me for donating to the Humane Society. I'm assuming this is because she understands that my desire to see an end to animal suffering doesn't preclude the sadness and concern I feel for her loss.

Every few days or so, on pretty much all of the facebook animal rights groups I belong to, some redneck will sign on and comment with an aggressive version of, "I love animals. They're tasty." I know it's just lonely morons looking for attention, but its interesting that the ire is pointed in the direction of animal rights more than any other causes. You never hear of anyone giving shit to people working to put an end to child abuse. Anyone who tried would be vilified for life.

I do understand that the issues are on very different levels of importance to many people, and that there is a frustration with the retards and fanatics that seem to populate animal rights groups more than others:

There is a phenomenally irritating woman in my neighborhood that I've been passing on the street for years who is constantly pulling strangers aside to discuss animal rights. She's too addled to remember that we've spoken before, even though she got me on her email list once and it was a death-struggle to get off of it. So she yells at me when I'm wearing faux fur and I cross the street when I see her so I don't have to take another flyer. Sometimes she stands outside Whole Foods singing off-key, made-up tunes about how vegans have better sex lives. Yeah, that'll work. Drew and I commented last Thanksgiving as we went in to get a tofurkey that if we were at all meat inclined we might have bought some cold cuts for the express purpose of flinging at her.

There are also the rage-a-holics. I am not of the angry hang-em-high mindset that some get regarding fur and cruelty. I'm happy that Michael Vick lost his fortune and went to jail because he deserved it for the horrific things he did to his dogs. But I'm mostly relieved that because of his crimes the laws are changing and awareness has been brought to the plight of dogs used for fighting. I don't want to see him castrated or torn apart and I understand that if we are to promote non-cruelty on one hand, we can't be screaming for blood on the other.

I get angry and feel great sadness when I hear or see cruelty, but I believe if we are kinder to each other, we will be kinder to animals, and vice versa. And that, to me, is the whole point. So I understand the resentment of fanaticism. I don't believe that throwing paint or attacking someone physically is going to change their mind about wearing fur, eating meat, fighting dogs, etc.

But I'd like all of you who are out there mocking vegans and animal rights activists to think about this: There is nothing funny or acceptable about cruelty, in whatever form it is channeled. Regardless of the messenger, the message is real.

It is obscene to me that a show like "I Love Money" created a game where they fling chicken carcasses in catapults. Really? Are we that unevolved? I think we're just disconnected and because so many animal rights people behave like crazy nerds, many of the less thoughtful of us refuse to align themselves with the cause. We think it's hilarious to fling the headless bodies of a creature who lived, felt, and died, not eating them with gratitude, but treating them like garbage simply because we aren't paying attention.

I am not insisting that my friends give up meat or throw away their fur jackets this second. I'd just like to ask you to have a little respect for the creatures that you're eating or wearing, regardless of the how you feel about animal rights organizations: know how it got to you, remember that it was a living creature, and have some respect for the life it gave to sustain or clothe you. That alone will help shift the consciousness of the world around you and eventually bring us to a kinder space.

In other words, it'd be nice for everyone to remember that just because there's a nutbag on Houston Street singing about how sexy it is to forgo eating turkey on Thanksgiving, it doesn't make the plight of turkeys everywhere any less real.




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