On our treatment of other lives


Torch-bearer of Ahimsa
“The notion that human life is sacred just because it is human life is medieval.”  —Peter Singer

Last night, Peggy and I visited some friends who usually lock their dogs in a kennel when they have guests because they view the dogs as disruptive. I am pained by this because I view an animal’s participation in social events as a right unless the animal is out of control.

The premise behind our treatment of animals is that they are property, and while they have a vague right to humane treatment, they are still animals while we humans occupy a higher estate. Religion tends to support this idea, but my friends are atheists, and upon what grounds could an atheist assign a lower estate to a dog except by the assumption of human superiority, by which I mean the arbitrary valuing of such assets as are common to humans over those that are common to dogs simply because they are common to humans?

My thought is this. If a person and a dog were drowning, and I could only save one, my efforts would go to the dog if I knew and liked the dog but didn’t know the person. If the person was a child, or I knew and liked both, I might choose differently, but any choice I made would be based upon subjective preference rather than a belief that human life is more valuable than non-human life. Certainly, accommodations have to made with non-human animals just as they do with human children, but these accommodations can only be justified inasmuch as they are necessary.

To view creatures as I do makes some difference in how I relate to them, yet I continue to drive a car although I know I will kill countless bugs and some larger creatures. I also kill spiders that get inside my house; own leather shoes and belts; step on slugs that threaten my flowers; spray herbicides on my lawn every year or two; and eat food that requires the destruction of animal habitat and the mass killing of plants. I also consume fish, eggs, and milk, all of which necessitate slaughter. I do these things because I want to, not because I can justify them. I have no reason but personal preference to think that, except in self-defense, my life is worth more than the life of anything else. I could at the very least reduce the amount of suffering and death that I bring into the world, but I don’t even do that except for the avoidance of eating meat and fowl and the occasional rescue of earthworms that are driven into the street by winter rains. If, upon reading this, you were to point out that, although a meat eater, you live in consistence with your ethical standards while I fail miserably by mine, I could but agree. I would question, however, whether your ethical standards were well-founded because I can
’t imagine how you might defend them aside from making the rather odd assumption that human life is worth more than other life.

Even vegans live by killing, their thought being that, since they have to kill, they should at least avoid the destruction of beating hearts. If I were a deeply moral person, I would have no choice but to be a vegan, but as it is, I pay others to kill bulls, roosters, and fish for me for no better reason than that I prefer the taste of foods cooked with milk and eggs and imagine myself to feel better when I eat fish.

As for those who do eat beef, sheep, swine, and fowls, I will readily admit that many of them are better people than I in all sorts of ways, yet when I observe kindly people eating a steak, I can
’t avoid the thought that they are less kindly than I had imagined based upon their willingness to cause misery and death for no nobler reason than that they enjoy the taste of meat. The best I can say for them is that they might not have thought the matter through. They probably grew up eating meat; almost everyone they know eats meat; and they’re so accustomed to cooking meat that they wouldn’t know what else to cook. Even so, they’re about animals like slave owners were about slaves in that if they try to justify their behavior at all, their rationale is self-serving.

Such is my species, and the most obvious difference between most people and myself is that I probably think more deeply. This might make me slightly more ethical, but it also puts me in the position of knowingly doing more evil. While most meat-eaters have at least some excuse, I have none, so I
’m on shaky ground when I congratulate myself upon my superiority. I would even go so far as to say that one small reason I’m not a vegan is that it would make me even more judgmental. The ultimate would be to live like Jains who go to such extremes to avoid harming other creatures that they breathe through masks; examine seats before they sit; avoid all means of travel other than walking; and look at the ground before every step. Their ethic is defined by the word ahimsa, and while I don’t accept their pacifism, I respect them.
 
It’s fair to say that I’m a misanthropist. Although I like and enjoy most people, I have no respect for my species, largely because of our double standard regarding other creatures. A predator must eat meat, and, so far as we know, lacks the capacity to feel empathy for his prey or the ability to examine his behavior ethically. We most certainly can feel empathy, and we most certainly do possess a moral sense, so we could easily make different choices without threatening our health (we would be more likely to improve it) but we nonetheless kill other creatures by the billions for no nobler reason than that their corpses please our taste buds. We might claim that they are less important than we, and therefore less deserving of life, but what is the rationale for such a belief?

While petting my friends’ dogs last night, I reflected upon the fact that joy, fear, need, and affection, exists in dogs as much as in me. It is said that Descartes considered animals to be living machines, so as some of his followers performed scientific investigations upon a dog (i.e. torture), they effused over how well God had endowed the animal with the ability to feign emotion. Surely, the better we are able to dismiss the feelings and deprecate the value of other creatures, the better we can rationalize mistreating them. But how do we make the leap from observing that an
animal’s ablilities are less than our own, at least in the ways we value, to concluding that the animal’s life is of less value than our own? But having done this, why don’t we go to the logical extreme and conclude that the same applies within our own species? For example, I have come to doubt that I possess any remarkable skills or intelligence, and since I’m getting up in years, I’m losing whatever skills and intelligence I once possessed. Surely, if my life is worth more than a dog’s life because of my skills and intelligence, then it is worth less than the life of another human who is more skilled and intelligent than myself.

This is not a popular way to think. While it’s easy for us to compare the worth of our species to that of other species without anyone but a few “nutcases” (moi) demurring, even atheists tend to maintain that, unlike the worth of nonhuman life, the intrinsic worth of every single human life is incalculable. Alas, it is but a feel-good statement that has little bearing upon how we actually behave. For instance, if by spending $100-billion dollars on airplane safety, or by lowering the highway speed limit to 40-mph, we could save one human life, would we? Given that we Americans, at least, allow our neighbors to die everyday because they can’t afford medical care, and send our young men and women to be killed and maimed in foreign wars without so much as bothering to vote on whether those wars are necessary, I would consider the answer obvious. We only
regard human life as more valuable than money or convenience when the expenditure of money or convenience is minimal.

We even speak of money as indicative of human worth as when we say that Warren Buffet is “worth” $72.3-billion while Donald Trump comes in at a mere $4-billion. Upon what basis can we claim that these are mere figures of speech? After the fine sentiments are out of the way, no exorbitantly expensive safety changes will ever be made, and the speed limit will never be lowered in order to save a single human life or even a great many human lives. That which we don’t value can often be discovered by reversing that which we say we do value.

I am better at learning vocabulary than my cat (for whom I buy kibbles made with meat), but he is my superior in dexterity and night-vision. If he and I were to argue over which of our lives is worth more, the most that either of us could accomplish would be to tally our abilities in the hope of outnumbering the other, but it would be a vain endeavor because even if one of us had twice as many abilities, the other could argue that his were of greater importance. Even if one of us possessed a thousand important abilities, and the other no abilities, the former could not prove that his life was of greater inherent worth as opposed to worth for given purposes. As I suggested earlier, to do so would be to imply that a gifted person’s life was worth more than a less gifted person’s life, and we would all be on shaky ground if this were the case. 


Feeling as I do about other animals is reminiscent of how I feel about religion in that almost everyone I know feels differently, and that in the interest of getting along, it is better that I keep my mouth shut. Because I hate going through life keeping my mouth shut, I rarely succeed in pulling it off very well, and have consequently lost more friends than I can count. It’s hard being the perpetual outsider, the one who is different, the one who either can’t or won’t (I’m not sure which) at least pretend to go along with what other people believe is right

I think that, for most people, ethics is a function of: (1) imitating our neighbors, and (2) being true to ourselves when we think we can get away with. If you live in America’s Deep South, you will probably say you believe in God, but if you live in Scandinavia, you will probably say you don’t, partly because our tendency to mimic our neighbors makes us more likely to be atheistic in a dominantly atheist society, and partly because those who would be atheists no matter where they lived know they won’t be penalized for saying what they really think. So it is with our treatment of animals. To continue the slavery analogy, most white American Southerners once believed that slavery was ethical and even charitable (it exposed slaves to Christianity); they now say it’s horrible and regret that their ancestors ever owned slaves. Does this mean that white Southerners of today are generally more moral, sensitive, and empathetic, than those of 150 years ago? I doubt it when I consider their behavior in general but especially in regard to other animals. We’re not creatures who think for ourselves; we’re creatures who mimic our fellows. Sometimes, this is for the good, and other times it’s for the bad, but in either case, our convictions lack depth. That which is easy to think and do is what we think and do, and this makes any claim to moral advancement a bit of a joke. 

Image credit: "Lord Mahavir Gold" by Sidparakh - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lord_Mahavir_Gold.jpg#/media/File:Lord_Mahavir_Gold.jpg

29 comments:

Kerry said...

Certainly plenty of food for thought here, Snow. I used to relegate the dogs to the back yard, or some separate room in the house when visitors came. The dogs, slobbering and shedding and wanting to climb up on the old couch where they're allowed, can be a pain in the ass for some people. Then during one of those gatherings where the guests were self-interested un-curious, and overstaying the welcome...I just wanted them to switch places with the dogs. People out! Dogs in! Since then the dogs pretty much join all parties. And in the river, I would likely save them first.I feel guilty writing this, but you provide a safe place to express it.

All Consuming said...

Well written post Snow, you truly have a gift for in-depth discussion and thoughts put into type. "Even vegans live by killing, their thought being that, since they have to kill, they should at least avoid the destruction of beating hearts." - For most I have met, including myself, we tend to say 'sentient beings' because not all living creatures have hearts. Plants have no nervous system - do they 'feel' pain? Not through any scientific test to date for pain is felt through nerves. If they did do, I would eat what was necessary to remain healthy and alive as I do now, because I do not intend dying for plants. At present though, I am aware that no sentient beings need be forced to breed repeatedly, nor be bred themselves with the only purpose of their existence being to get slaughtered at some point so that I can sate myself unnecessarily. I have seen several dietitians over the years and get all I need and more (the more being due to the fact that human guts absorb calcium better through plant milks like Almond and Soya, rather than through Cows milk, which is meant for calves. So it is much better for things like osteoporosis). I don't consider myself judgmental, but I do come up against a great deal of aggression from meat eaters who assume I am without talking to me at all. Do what you can to ease the suffering in the world say I. If you chose to do a bit, it is better than nothing. But I far, far more respect for people who say yes, I'm selfish, I just want to eat it. Than those who display anger and ignorance, or say 'bleah', when I'm mentioning things I eat (my own sister has done this and hadn't tried the food at hand at all, she'd just decided it was 'bleah' in advance'. I find this rather insulting, and so tell people, who generally understand, because they know that it wouldn't be very nice if I did the same every time they talked about their lovely Ham dinner or the like.). If people want to know how I am healthy and happy and have a diet full of variety that includes, lasagna, pastry pies, Chinese food, Thai food, Italian food, Jamaican food, sausage chips and beans, very few pulses and lentils - (don't like them, I'm not big on wholefood I like things that taste like the meals I was brought up on mostly), cakes, pastries, ice cream, and brilliant new substitutes for meat and dairy that finally do taste like the originals, then they can ask me, or look it up on the web. It's all out there. If you don't like soya, there's lots and lots of substitutes which are soya-free now too. You probably saw all this coming Snow (laughs). There's no difference between your beloved dog or cat, and that lamb, piglet or calf, other than the way you have decided to think of them. In Vietnam they eat cats and dogs. An animals life shouldn't depend upon how good it tastes, or how pretty and cute it is.

Elephant's Child said...

Yet another thought-provoking post. I am frequently ashamed of my species insistence that we are the only thing that matters. I suspect that if I could be something else I would like to be a tree. Private, and with limited interaction with others of my breed.
I hope that ethics is more than you suggest though. An analysis of learned behaviour and thought?

Tom Sightings said...

Well, you're certainly right about one thing -- you think more deeply than I do, b/c mostly I don't think about these things at all. I don't eat meat (except for fish) not because I think it's immoral, but because I think it's disgusting.

But despite your argument (which makes some good points) I'd still venture to say I'm of a higher species than my dog, in part b/c of the very things you mentioned. I have empathy, morals, ethics, etc. Also, our species has accomplished more -- discovered electricity, traveled to the moon, written music and poetry, organized Social Security. That's got to count for something, doesn't it? Finally, most people (i.e society) would agree with me, because if you rescued the dog and let the child drown, you'd probably be in a heap of legal trouble!

Anyway, thanks for another thought-provoking post.

Snowbrush said...

“Since then the dogs pretty much join all parties.”

My dogs would greet our guests and then take a nap, usually in the middle of the assembly. I thought this added a nice ambiance—kind of like with potted plants, which I also love. Of course, some people don’t like dogs and or cats and don’t want them around, but I don’t consider it my responsibility to cater to such people unless theres’ an allergy problem, or the dog or cat simply won’t leave a person alone. Still, I see the antipathy as the person’s problem, and I expect the person to handle it gracefully, and if they don’t, I wouldn’t invite them back.

I often find that I’m at least as interested in whatever dogs or cats are present as in the people. In fact, the presence of the four-legged helps me to relax in the presence of the two-legged because the former are more emotionally present and they try harder to make me feel welcome. I feel similarly about children. Unless they’re terrors, I enjoy them at least as much as anyone else present.

“I do come up against a great deal of aggression from meat eaters”

One reason I left my lodge was that I was the only vegetarian there (pescetarian, actually), and I just got tired of the ridicule. Lodge was supposed to be a safe place for people to come together despite their differences, but gay people, vegetarians, and atheists, were obviously unwelcome

“we tend to say 'sentient beings' because not all living creatures have hearts.”

As you mentioned, it’s not east to identify sentience. If I were to go with my heart rather than my head, I would conclude that all things are alive. I would guess that there are varying degrees of awareness, but I could never say with any confidence that for something to not look like a human, anatomically, means that it thinks or feels any less. I literally show respect to garbage, and an always grieved when a person doesn’t compost and recycle because such a failure strikes me as both wasteful and disrespectful.

“those who display anger and ignorance, or say 'bleah', when I'm mentioning things I eat…”

It surely displays an astonishing degree of asininity to relish the corpse of a calf that spent its short life being force-fed in a tight cage in complete darkness,and then to become nauseated when offered a dish prepared with tofu. The mind reels.

PhilipH said...

I'm out of my depth here. Far too erudite for this dragged-up brat of yesteryear.

And then up pops M, of All Consuming, coming in for the kill and forcing me into submission.

Yes, Snowy, it is a deep and well scribed post and that's about my whack in response. Choos.

Charles Gramlich said...

the argument is based upon objective versus subjective truth. Objectively, rationally, if you will, human life is no more than important than animal life, or the existence of rocks for that matter. Objectively, your life is worth no more, nor less, than any other persons. However, humans are not rational creatures. We are emotional, and driven by evolution to value certain things more than others, and the things we value are largely selfish. Subjectively, to a human, human life is more important than animal life because evolution has selected us that way. Species loyalties are important, especially in social species. when humans evolved we did so in family groups. Certainly, most people, and most mammals, will give precedence to related individuals over unrelated ones. With civilization, humans come in contact with many people who are not related to us, but we are still driven by the principles of our earlier evolution

ellen abbott said...

It is the christian religion that has taught us that humans are made in the image of god and therefore superior to all other life. I personally don't believe that. all life is the same life...humans, animals, birds, fish, insects, even bacteria. we are not better or more important or more loved by the 'creator', if you believe in one, in the whole scheme of things. we are only one cog in a huge machine. as for what we choose to eat, everything must eat and since this is a closed system, no manna from heaven, what we eat is each other. humans are omnivores, we eat everything. it does not make us immoral to eat other animals. I have always taken issue with vegetarians who claim eating things with a face, or the beating heart you mention, is wrong or immoral. why? if there is anything immoral about it it's the way we go about raising food animals in captivity and torture. but eating animals is no more good or bad than eating plants. plants may not have a beating heart, at least not that we have been able to determine, but they are aware, they communicate with each other, and they do experience distress and fear and I imagine, pain (just because you can't hear them scream doesn't mean they aren't screaming). I fail to see how killing a plant for food is worse than killing an animal for food. of course we don't often kill the whole plant, just take it's fruit or leaves but still a constant harvesting may feel tortuous to the plant. I have no problem with people being vegetarians for whatever health reasons they have but I find people who won't eat things with a face because they have a recognizable face to be a bit sanctimonious. I eat whatever is put in front of me but I also refrain from killing anything unless I have to...I don't step on bugs just because they are there but I do kill the ones that attack my garden and spoil the fruit. I catch wasps in the house and release them but I do kill mosquitoes when they bite me and fire ants but only when they insist on making nests in the gardens. and I don't use poison on anything unless it's the only way to kill the rat in the wall. as long as the rat stays outside, it can live. same with snakes. the issue here is not what you eat or don't eat, it's how much respect you have for life, all life. treat that life with respect and give thanks to the animal or plant that is providing your food. and stop killing just because you can.

Sparkling Red said...

I am very much in agreement with you on this post. The amount of mental real estate that I have devoted to thinking about these concerns has varied throughout my life, admittedly, but thanks to my vegan sister I have plenty of reminders to think about it these days.

When I was in my early 20's, I spent 2 years as a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. At the time I was working in a health food store, so I was all up to date about protein combining etc. Nevertheless, by the end of two years I was told by a naturopath to stop eating dairy products, and shortly after that I started showing signs of clinical protein deficiency. At that time I added meat back into my diet in a limited capacity. Since then I do occasionally eat beef, chicken, or pork, but in small portions, not more than twice a week. I also buy the more expensive eggs from free-range hens because I feel sorry for birds stuffed into tiny cages.

I try to minimize the harm and suffering I cause to the realm of the living without slipping into orthorexia, which has been a problem for me in the past. I mean, the best way to have the smallest footprint on the environment would be to commit suicide, and at a certain point all the restrictions start to feel like I'm leaning in that direction, at least for me with my psyche and personal issues. I used to have to remind myself that I did deserve to take up some space and resources in the world.

I heard a scientist describe the realm of living being as a a single, interconnected system in which all living things compete to steal the energy of other living things in order to survive. I feel that that is a pretty accurate description of the system, and we have to accept doing some stealing of energy in order to participate. That being said, I wish that there were no such thing as factory farming. If animals lived happy lives up until such a time as they were humanely killed for their bodies, that would be something I could probably feel comfortable with.

As for pets, it was my husband who really opened my eyes to how unfair it is to keep animals caged and cooped up just because we think they're cute. Of course they're thrilled to see us when we get home from a long day at work; they're our emotional slaves and they have been waiting all day feeling bored and possibly depressed because of a lack of stimulation and challenges. Of course everyone has a different life to offer their pets, but I don't think, for example, that it's fair of a full-time worker who lives in a little condo apartment with no yard to keep a dog as a pet. I wouldn't do that unless I worked from home or was retired, and brought the dog with me just about everywhere.

If there were somewhere I could go if/when I started to become decrepit and helpless, where I could be humanely killed and my body parts put to good use (reduce, reuse, recycle!), I might go for that. It sure sounds like a better way to go than cancer, for example.

Snowbrush said...

“I am frequently ashamed of my species insistence that we are the only thing that matters.”

The ONLY charity in this city that gets any attention is Food For Lane County, and I’ve never heard of a single church doing anything to help a non-human. By contrast, those who help animals are accused of putting animals first, as if the needs of animals can wait until every need of every person has been taken care of.

“I'm of a higher species than my dog, in part b/c of the very things you mentioned. I have empathy, morals, ethics, etc.

Animals have these things too. Does this extend all the way down to reptiles? I have no idea, but mammals share the qualities you mentioned.

Also, our species has accomplished more -- discovered electricity, traveled to the moon, written music and poetry, organized Social Security. That's got to count for something, doesn't it?”

Yes, but only within our species: they’re human-centered accomplishments that reflect human abilities and values while ignoring human deficiencies and frailties. To laud us on the basis of our abilities and accomplishments would be no different than for a tree squirrel to laud his or her species on the basis of its abilities and accomplishments. We might say that no tree squirrel ever built a Brooklyn Bridge, but then no tree squirrel ever needed to build a Brooklyn Bridge. That which we deem superior about our species is only superior inasmuch as it is enables us to supply our needs. 2+2+4 is a necessary truth. The claim that a our abilities are superior to a tree squirrel’s abilities is a relative truth, one that is based upon our needs.

Then there’s the evil we do. “As unbelievable as it may sound, after having read through the five mass extinctions, the sixth mass extinction is in progress, now, with animals going extinct 100 to 1,000 times (possibly even 1,000 to 10,000 times) faster than at the normal background extinction rate, which is about 10 to 25 species per year.” (http://www.endangeredspeciesinternational.org/overview.html).

I can never escape the irony of a species lauding its superiority while at the same time destroying its environment, engaging in endless wars against its own kind, driving other species into extinction by the thousands, and so forth. I don’t see us as superior; I see us as a cancer.

Snowbrush said...

"I'm out of my depth here. Far too erudite for this dragged-up brat of yesteryear.”

I suspect that it’s more a matter of interest.

“the argument is based upon objective versus subjective truth.”

You pretty much summarized everything I wrote to Tom.

“It is the christian religion that has taught us that humans are made in the image of god and therefore superior to all other life.”

Yes, and I can never forgive it for that. The only things Christ ever did for non-human animals was to eat then, sacrifice them, and to drive an entire herd of pigs over a cliff; and Christians ever since have followed his example that only people matter.

“I have always taken issue with vegetarians who claim eating things with a face, or the beating heart you mention, is wrong or immoral. why?”

Because it’s not necessary. Surely, morality demands that we reduce the amount of misery that we bring into the world, and a vegetarian diet would APPEAR to accomplish this better than a non-vegetarian diet. Because I value my life over other lives, I would probably eat any damn thing if I were starving—including your corpse if you were to die first—but I’m not starving, and I have hundreds if not thousands of food choices. I would even say that I have an obscene number of food choices, a variety that would have been unimaginable a hundred years ago.

“plants may not have a beating heart, at least not that we have been able to determine, but they are aware, they communicate with each other, and they do experience distress and fear and I imagine, pain (just because you can't hear them scream doesn't mean they aren't screaming).”

The difference between eating plants and animals, as I see it, is that it’s obvious that animals experience misery, but it’s not obvious that plants do. I have over forty potted plants, and I would like to get rid of some, but I can’t because I would feel like a traitor, but when it comes right down to it, is my bookcase less sentient than my plants? Would my bookcase feel hurt and betrayed if I got rid of it? I have no idea, but the fact that I have no idea would make it painful for me to get rid of it. I even respect my trash, so I throw as few things away as I can. Everything else, I compost or recycle. From my earliest childhood, I’ve never been able to escape the idea that all things have feelings.

“I heard a scientist describe the realm of living being as a a single, interconnected system in which all living things compete to steal the energy of other living things in order to survive.”

This is no longer the universal view among scientists. For instance, Douglas Firs share nutrients with young Douglas Firs through fungi. If life was ONLY a case of “nature red in tooth and claw,” this would not occur. Neither would a cat chase a pit pull away from a wounded child, or a war-dog drag a wounded man to safety through enemy fire. The good that we do, we call altruism, the good that other species do, we dismiss as instinct. Why? When a local woman drowned while trying to save her dog (who made it out alive) it was considered a case of tragic love, but when a police dog was killed trying to save its person, it was considered to be the result of instinct and training. We humans are smug in our judgments, and other creatures have no means to file an appeal.

“the best way to have the smallest footprint on the environment would be to commit suicide”

You would do better to kill the CEOs of infamous polluters and exploiters. My point isn’t that you should do this, but that the Jain practice of suicide really isn’t the best way to save other lives. Probably the best way would be to devote your life to doing good for those who have no voice.

Elephant's Child said...

' I don’t see us as superior; I see us as a cancer. '
Yes. And we are going about the process of amputating and irradiating ourselves. And rather a lot of other parts of the world.

rhymeswithplague said...

"I also consume fish, eggs, and milk, all of which necessitate slaughter."

Either I am crazy or you are. No other commenter has even mentioned it, either. Are they all city slickers? (City slickers are people who refer to "boy cows" and "girl cows" -- country people know that cows are female and bulls are male.)

I will grant you that eating a fish requires taking the life of said fish. But since when do eating eggs or drinking milk necessitate slaughter? When hens reach chicken puberty I presume they can start laying eggs, but unless an egg has been fertilized by a rooster, it is an unfertilized egg, not a "life." Life doesn't begin until an egg and a sperm unite (even the most ardent pro-lifers don't think "life" exists before conception), at least it was this way in my youth in Texas. Also, mammals produce milk from their own bodies to feed their young, but how does drinking milk (an excretion from a cow's udder) that otherwise would wind up inside a calf involv slaughter? You lost me, Snow. I thought you were a country boy from Mississippi.

Snowbrush said...

“I will grant you that eating a fish requires taking the life of said fish. But since when do eating eggs or drinking milk necessitate slaughter?”

Roosters don’t lay eggs, and dairy bulls don’t produce milk, so the few not needed for breeding are killed, brutally, on our so-called "factory farms." This means that everyone who uses eggs or diary products participate in the slaughter. It's only too easy to buy the sterilely packaged animal products that we see in our supermarkets while ignoring the cost in misery that comes with these products.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzwO-uFZWOI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThwvwmLVNXA

All Consuming said...

Well linked Snow, many people rhymes simply don't know how cruelty and death are connected to dairy and eggs, yet this very question when typed into google is answered a thousand times over. They throw living male chicks into grinders at many farms, because they only need the hens for laying, the males are for breeding and there's a surplus of males, so grind up up to get rid. I'm not bothered about unfertilised eggs so far as they aren't that, fertilised, however the means to get them is as I have said.

As to milk - Milk is only in constant supply if dairy cows give birth to a calf every year. This means they are pregnant for most of their lives. Brought into season with hormones and artificially inseminated they become worn out from producing a hugely unnatural quantity of milk and are usually culled after four or five years of milking, or - in the most intensive systems - two. They become lame and suffer a great deal along the way. Who wants to be pregnant for life and continuously have their babies taken away for slaughter? Animal nurture and care for their young.

It's all out there this info, but people don't want to look for it. And I understand why. No-one wants to seem like a git, they want to carry on as they are, not considering themselves part of the pain and suffering, because....they like the way it all tastes and don't want to change. Okaly dokaly.

I'm laughing at Philip saying I'm 'in for the kill' some irony no doubt, and this is part of the problem I have, people view the answers to such questions as one being mean and self-rightous, when all its about is caring for animals and not wanting them tortured. *Shrugs' you can't win. Just by being a vegan I'm considered to be an angry threat of some kind. It saddens me greatly. I've said it before, I'll say it again - live how you wish, eat what you wish to, if you are honest about it, and have found out how the animals are treated, the processes involved then all the better, at least you are honest to yourself. But you do whatever you want. Its your life, you choose whether to find a vegan threatening in some way, a guilt-monger', and if you do, it might be worth asking yourself why. Me, live and let live, that's my motto.

Snowbrush said...

“It's all out there this info, but people don't want to look for it. And I understand why. No-one wants to seem like a git,”

So, who is worse, the one who refuses to know, or the one who knows and does the same thing anyway? Except for meat, fowl, and the purchase of eggs from some farming friends or, if they’re out, “humane facilities” (sorry roosters), I’m in the latter category, not so much because I like to drink milk and eat eggs, but because I like to bake, and baked goods without milk and eggs simply aren’t as good. Oh, yes, I like cheese. Another question is how many people would behave differently if they did know. I mean, if they refuse to know because they don’t want to feel callous, would knowing change their denial? Wouldn’t they just pretend it isn’t really that bad, or decide that animals don’t suffer, so it’s okay to abuse them?

I’ll tell you a funny story. I became a vegetarian around 1980 or ’82 (I was the first vegetarian I knew). In the late ‘80s I ate a hamburger, at least I tried. Peggy was still eating meat at the time, and she said it was good, but to me it tasted like soapy grease, and I had to put it down. In no time, I had diarrhea. I’ve heard that vegetarians lose something that enables them to digest meat. I have no idea if this is true, but that hamburger sure did me in, and I only ate a third of it. I used to miss bacon, pork chops, and jerky (which I would make ten pounds of at a time), but I never missed any other animal flesh. Now, I have zero desire for any of it. Fish was a far harder problem, because, except for old tires, I love anything that comes out of the water—including seaweed. In 1987, I got the flu, the sure enough high-fever, bone-crushing influenza. I was too sick to even read, and couldn’t seem to shake it months. During my illness, I kept craving fish, so I finally ate some. I have no idea if it was what helped, but I never again gave it up.

In the movie, “Unforgiven,” when one of the characters says that such-and-such didn’t deserve to be killed, Clint Eastwood replied that we all deserve to be killed. George Carlin (my favorite comic) said the same thing in his monologue about there being no innocent victims. I think, based upon what little I know of them, that the Jains probably come closet to purity. Christians talk about all of us being “fallen,” and with this, I agree. The thing that I’ve done in life that I most regret was to kill dogs for a small town humane society (we could neither adopt them out nor keep them). I had no other way to do it, so I shot them, and I live with the horror of their last moments. Even in trying my best to do right, I came away filthy.

lotta joy said...

Being born an idiot and successfully raised as one, my dogs were outside as well as my cats for they were mere animals with no emotions. Now? My dogs - due to myself becoming more intelligent - show pure emotions, relating skills, learning abilities, and pure empathy. Which causes me to stare in disbelief when visitors slap their thighs and yell "Come here puppy! Roll over! HA HA HA"

Beau doesn't perform like a circus act for them, and shows more dignity than those who think "come here puppy" is a reason to think he's dumb for not approaching. These people get stared at by ME, for never having evolved.

The same goes for all "farm" animals raised for food. On closer inspection, fear, emotions, reactions and thought processes are happening at warp speed while being lined up at slaughter houses.

Just because they can't yell "Oh my god! You're going to KILL me!" doesn't mean they don't have the realization. And WE are not worth it. Not at all.

If human flesh was tasty and acceptable on the table, I wonder how many would line up with forks and smiles.

Lee Johnson said...

Humans are better than animals depending on your definition of better. For one, humans are the only species that is even capable of questioning its own moral code. We're the only species that devotes vast amounts of time to navel gazing, and the only species with individuals that refuse their naturally omnivorous diet because of a belief system. Never has a dog considered the morality of its diet. Most dogs wouldn't hesitate to eat a fallen comrade or perhaps a particularly tasty looking puppy. For that matter, dogs would not even exist were it not for humans, their lineage being built from wolves who found value in hanging about humans for the hunting spoils. Humans subsequently spent generations selecting for animals that were biddable, friendly and human-like.

If humans are not better, then uniquely human activities like questioning our relative value is not better, so there's no reason to do so. It's a circular argument. Why question your values if not to make yourself better?

If you are going to dismiss the superiority of human life, then why stop at adults? Why not let the child drown in the river and save the dog? Why not actively kill people to stop them from eating meat? If all life is equal, then killing a human is like killing an ant. There are Buddhists who favor setting off bombs to kill all human life.

To claim that your own beliefs are correct and others flawed because they just haven't thought about it enough is textbook dogmatism. Who are you to judge how much others think about their beliefs? I've thought deeply about my diet as well, and I choose to eat meat. I've raised eggs and butchered my own chickens. Show me a vegetarian who's made their own tofu (I have).

I know very few vegans, but most of them seem poorly informed about the realities of growing food. There's nothing morally consistent about being a vegan. Vegetable cultivation creates vast swathes of mechanically cultivated and chemically sustained monocultures. Plows kill countless rodents and other creatures. Corn cultivation costs us as much in oil energy as it produces in food energy. If all life is equal, why do the anti-meat ads always feature cute little baby pigs and forget about all the ugly little moles killed by vegetable crops? I know I've killed far more animals to grow vegetables than I've ever killed for meat and I'll bet that is true for any sustainable small farm.

Most native American tribes ate a diet heavy on meat products. They hunted and gathered and left little trace on the land for millenniums. Does that make them morally inferior to a soy-milk latte sipping vegan?

I was going to offer a list of reasons in favor of eating meat, but in rereading your post I see that you already set up and knocked down a single strawman on the subject.

Myrna R. said...

This is an excellent essay. You made me confront much of my hypocrisy regarding animals. I don't eat them, I love them, feel an affinity with them, not an intrinsic superiority to them, yet - I eat eggs, cheese, milk. I've been unable to stop consuming these merely because of my addicted taste buds. Even to my own health's detriment I still eat some sugar, bread, pasta, and I'm pre-diabetic. It's hard to accept/understand the contradictions within me and my irrational behaviors, much like similar ones in all of humanity. Thanks for this post, honest as always and a stimulant for introspection.

Snowbrush said...

Well, Lee, it takes a lot less time to ask questions than to answer them, but I’ll try to address your concerns. If you need me to say more, please let me know, and I’ll give it another try. We can also meet and talk.

“dogs would not even exist were it not for humans”

I think that, overall, it has been to their hurt. We bred them to be disposable underlings, and our species as a whole treats them as disposable underlings. I see them as pitiable creatures that, by our interference with their wild forebears, have lost their dignity. They need us to survive, but their individual survival isn’t a high priority for us because they exist in such abundance that we kill thousands each year simply to get rid of them.

“If humans are not better, then uniquely human activities like questioning our relative value is not better…Why question your values if not to make yourself better?”

If I understand you correctly, you regard our species as creatures of choice; that one of the things we can choose is to be ruled by rationality; and that the world would be a much better place if we were. I am of the opposite opinion. Just as rocks have no choice but to roll downhill, and wolves have no choice but to be carnivores, we have no choice but to question, although the extent to which each of us questions and the answers we reach varies enormously. As for being able to choose to be rationally dominated, I consider it an illusion. Everything we are comes from our feelings (and, below our feelings, from the same principals of cause and effect that governs everything else in the universe), and our rationality is simply a tool for achieving such goals as our feelings have already assented to. I very much doubt that any of us have the least amount of choice about anything.

As for the world being a better place if we were more rational, we are already rational based upon how well we use our rationality to achieve the goals set by our feelings. If there is any deficiency, it isn’t with how hard we try to use our rationality, but with how limited we are in rational intelligence. Take a druggie. If he made decisions with his rationality, he might go into treatment today, but since his feelings have decided that his supreme good lies in getting high, he uses his rationality to the best of his capability to procure drugs in any way necessary. I also think that, our rational brain is completely incompetent to determine our values. It can refine them, but all that you do and believe and all that I do and believe comes from a deeper place than reason and even a deeper place than feelings, but feelings are where our consciousness ends.

“If you are going to dismiss the superiority of human life, then why stop at adults? Why not let the child drown in the river and save the dog?”

Because of inescapable species partiality that appears to be based upon evolution. I could attempt to justify the choice by saying that a dog will die in a few years regardless, while a child has many decades, but a few years is 100% of a dog’s life just as 80 years is a 100% of a human life, and who can really say that life is preferable to death anyway? In any event, the superiority of one being over another isn’t a falsifiable truth. I live as if it were true, just as David Hume lived as if cause-and-effect was a reality despite the fact that his best thinking told that the most that consecutive events proved was consecutivity. Again, we are not a rational species, but are instead molded by forces that lie far deeper than rationality.

Snowbrush said...

“Most native American tribes ate a diet heavy on meat products. They hunted and gathered and left little trace on the land for millenniums. Does that make them morally inferior to a soy-milk latte sipping vegan?”

I don’t believe that the life of an Indian has greater objective value than the life of a buffalo, but we are programmed by evolution to do what we must do in order for us our children to survive. If a vegan was put on an island with nothing to eat but buffalo, I should think the vegan would eat buffalo. The Indians probably had no more than a hundred food options and less much less than that in winter, while the vegan has over a thousand, so the vegan has a freedom to choose that the Indian lacked. That said, people eat far more meat today than in previous generations because factory farming has made it much cheaper, although at a great cost to the environment.

“Who are you to judge how much others think about their beliefs?”

First, nobody came out looking good in this post. Maybe it was in the comments’ section that I wrote something about agreeing with the Bible that we all (I believe, although you might say that I assume too much) live in a state of sin, that is of perpetual failure to live up to what we at least want to be our highest values. By such light as I have, I might well be a far worse “sinner” than you, but your unhappiness with this post isn’t based upon my criticisms of myself but rather, I think, by what you see as my dismissal of you as a person of depth, compassion, and goodwill, yet I don’t see you as lacking in these things. Rather, I see myself as having certain advantages over you, which I’ll get to in a moment. Second, we all think that our values are superior to the values of other people, and we are thereby obliged to manufacture explanations for why this is so. It’s not so simple for me as saying that I’ve thought about some things more than you. It’s rather a case of looking back and seeing how my awareness and sensitivities have changed and—I believe—grown, over time. You and I are unequal in many ways. If we were to take IQ tests, you would probably score higher, yet I have gained from additional decades of thinking and experiencing, not about everything, certainly, but about many things, the topic of this post being one of them. Allow me to repeat: I’ve no doubt but what you are a person of depth, compassion and goodwill, and I even see you as my superior in some regards, but when I was your age, I too was a person of depth, compassion and goodwill, and that is the very reason that I’ve changed so much, and there’s a great possibility that you will too, probably not in the same ways that I have, but certainly in many ways.

Snowbrush said...

I don’t judge you so harshly as you imagine. Not only was this post not directed at you, if I could have chosen, I would have preferred that you not read it. This points to a problem with sharing my blog address with people I know in person. You’ve surely thought and said things regarding my thoughts, values, and actions that you chose not to share with me personally because you feared that sharing them might prove worse than pointless, and so it is with this post. I could have wrote it to you alone, or at least sent it to you before I put it online, but would that have made it better for you? I didn’t think so. Besides, it wasn’t about you; it was simply a matter of a small part of it being inspired by our differences. My thought in not sending it to you directly was that you might have interpreted it as a call for change on your part, and I have zero expectation that anything I say is likely to change you. I simply don’t give myself that much credit for persuasiveness. I learn as I write, and that is the point of writing. It’s not about you. I know this seems like a fine line, and it is, even for me, but it’s one that I try to maintain, and I would hope that, whatever else you think, you can at least believe of me what you want me to believe of you, namely that I am acting in good faith.

"Thanks for this post, honest as always and a stimulant for introspection."

Thank you, Myrna.

Lee Johnson said...

I feel that your response was pretty orthogonal to the points I was making.

"I think that, overall, it has been to their hurt." (dogs)

So better that they not exist than they live in supposed servitude? I'm not sure I see this as a net benefit. Better then that nothing exists than it suffer and eventually die? I certainly don't agree with that.

"If I understand you correctly, you regard our species as creatures of choice"

No, I think we are all biological machines, just like the dogs that Descartes so cruelly tortured. A Paramecium is clearly a machine, so too a vinegar eel and a goldfish and on up the evolutionary tree to humans. There's no point in the tree where we can point and say "There, that's the moment of spark, the god in the machine." We can model simplified insect brains in supercomputers. Just because our own brains are particularly complex and chaotic does not mean that they are somehow outside the same bounds of physics. Brains are, at the most basic level, just input/output system with predictable results (given known state). This is supported by decent research too--brain scans can detect a decision forming in a person's brain several second before the conscious mind believes itself to be weighing the options and coming to a conclusion.

The illusion of choice aside, defining any kind of morality means accepting some things as absolute and building from there. Your post questions a few premises while simultaneously accepting a great many other moral claims without substantiation (to the extent that you even suggested that too many food choices is a bad thing). You and I cannot agree on outcomes if we can't agree on initial absolutes, and I'll take Humanism as my moral absolute. I am a human. Humans survive in groups and starve in isolation. This may be self-serving, but it's also logical to value human life since I would prefer if other humans valued my life. Most of what we call morality is a set of socially accepted rules of operation which allows groups of humans to work together without killing each other. Dogs do not have morality in the same sense

If you reject the unique value of human life, fine. That might help your argument against omnivorism, but it also unravels a great many other things. (Why not swerve into pedestrians to avoid hitting a squirrel?) It also doesn't follow that you can claim superiority of your moral system when its basic tenets are so detached from those of others around you.

"so the vegan has a freedom to choose that the Indian lacked"

But my point was not one about choice but about actual impact. The vegan claims to be minimizing suffering. The native American was far more likely to do so. Assuming 500 lbs of usable meat on a bison, that's the equivalent of 625 lbs of extra firm tofu .. about 300 lbs of soybeans .. 5 bushels .. which requires 1/8th of an acre to grow. Do you think only one mammalian life was lost while farming that 1/8th acre? What about while manufacturing the chemical fertilizers (from fracked natural gas) and strip mining the mineral additives? This is the fatal flaw in veganism. It convinces people of the moral superiority of their diet while *actually* doing almost nothing. Vegetable cropland is a scorched earth that loses productivity every year. Livestock pastures are functioning habitats which increase in fertility. Unless all your food is grown in vats, animals constantly die that you might live and quite likely more animals died for that artificially flavored tofu burger than for a equivalent serving of grass fed beef. Even if we assume that meat consumption leads to more (mammalian) deaths, we are talking about a fractional change on a percentage of the diet. The guy driving around with "Meat is Murder" bumper sticker should more accurately have a sticker that says "My diet may cause 10% less deaths than yours". Not very catchy. How about: "Save the cows--kill more gophers with plows".

Lee Johnson said...

"your unhappiness with this post isn’t based upon my criticisms of myself but rather, I think, by what you see as my dismissal of you as a person of depth..."

Perhaps, but also because your post resorts to strawmen and character assassination of those who disagree with you. This is part of a larger theme I have consistently taken exception to. I think it's clear from your blog that you are a bit of an ascetic. There are a great many common pleasures that you have spoken against, not just expressing your own dislike but also an indictments of those who would enjoy such things: appreciating travel, buying new cars, having tattoos, etc. We can add meat consumption and failing to anthropomorphize pets to that list. It's fine to not like things. It's fine to criticize them. (Although certainly easier when you didn't like the thing in the first place.) It's not fine to expand that criticism to deride the people who would disagree with you, especially without solid arguments. Is every person who has a tattoo a slut? (25% of Americans) Is every person who buys a car an idiot? (17 million people a year)

"I don’t judge you so harshly as you imagine."
"... namely that I am acting in good faith"

I had to look up 'good faith' to be clear on it's definition: "sincere, honest intentions or belief, regardless of the outcome of an action." I have absolutely no doubts about your good faith. I have doubts about the appropriateness and context. You visit someone's house who has always made an effort to accommodate your diet and then you go home and write a 6 page criticism of their diet and the treatment of their pets. Seriously? Another one of those socially accepted rules of operation is that we don't call people friends while simultaneously putting great effort into criticizing them. All of us groan about our friends from time to time, but I don't share that negativism with others or obsess about it when they are around. I grew up with two deeply critical people. They knew best how to live and they criticized everyone who thought differently. It poisoned all their relationships--with their children, their peers and each other. At some point, there are just too many egg shells to walk upon. It reminds me of the conservative Christian ethos really: you and I are different and you are wrong and that makes you a bad person. I don't expect that sort of behavior from an atheist.

Snowbrush said...

“I feel that your response was pretty orthogonal to the points I was making.”

I fear that I lack the capacity to please you.

“So better that they not exist than they live in supposed servitude?”

Overall, yes. While some dogs live good lives, they are few compared to the greater number, and I do believe that non-existence—for dogs, humans, and everything else—is often preferable to existence. Take a baby wildebeest that is eaten by a crocodile. While he’s a boon for the croc, his life was worst than a waste for himself.

“you even suggested that too many food choices is a bad thing”

Not inherently so. It’s the environmental cost that concerns me, yet I eat bananas that have to be shipped all the way from Ecuador.

“This is the fatal flaw in veganism. It convinces people of the moral superiority of their diet while *actually* doing almost nothing.”

We disagree, but I simply can’t take the time to do the research to supply data links. Maybe All Consuming either has or can.

“Why not swerve into pedestrians to avoid hitting a squirrel?”

Whichever I would choose to hit would be based upon subjective values. For instance, I had rather see ten-million people die than to see ISIS destroy one ancient city. My reasoning is that humans are overabundant, but ancient cities are in short supply. Likewise, I had rather see ten million humans die than to see polar bears become extinct due to human folly. I acknowledge that these are subjective choices, but I would argue that there are no objective choices.

“The guy driving around with "Meat is Murder" bumper sticker should more accurately have a sticker that says "My diet may cause 10% less deaths than yours’”.

Fair enough. None of us can without causing suffering, but we can reduce suffering to the best of our ability.

“your post resorts to strawmen and character assassination of those who disagree with you.”

I would never knowingly do either, but I am sometimes forced to generalize. For example, in criticizing religion, it would be impossible me to criticize every variant of every religion.

Snowbrush said...

“I think it's clear from your blog that you are a bit of an ascetic.”

I don’t consider myself as such because I never deny myself anything that I value sufficiently to spend money on it. For instance, you’re a connoisseur of beer, and while I enjoy your beer, I would enjoy brandname beer just as much. You might say that I have simpler tastes than you. I’m happy with my tastes, and would probably continue much as I am if I had a hundred million dollars. The only thing I might do differently (at least off the top of my head) would be to buy a new car, but since my resources are limited, I’m happy to do without it, and there are other advantages—aside from cost—with used cars.

“You visit someone's house who has always made an effort to accommodate your diet and then you go home and write a 6 page criticism of their diet and the treatment of their pets.”

It wasn’t all about you, and I’ve already explained my thoughts in posting what I wrote. You’re criticizing me rather severely, as I see it, because you think I’ve criticized you severely. It seems to be a it-for-tat situation.

“It's not fine to expand that criticism to deride the people who would disagree with you, especially without solid arguments. Is every person who has a tattoo a slut? (25% of Americans) Is every person who buys a car an idiot?”

No, to both. If I were looking for a mate, I would probably pass over someone who had multiple or large tattoos, but then I would also pass over women with nose rings and breast enlargements. I find some things unappealing (and, in some cases, grotesque and bizarre), but I’m not out trying to deny people the right to have them. That’s where the buck stops, as I see it.

“Another one of those socially accepted rules of operation is that we don't call people friends while simultaneously putting great effort into criticizing them.”

Agreed.

“I don't expect that sort of behavior from an atheist.”

You regard atheists as superior? Wow! I just see them as right about the improbability of supernatural beings. Aside from that, I expect nothing of good from them that I wouldn’t expect from many other people.

Sparkling Red said...

You are winning me over to your argument. I just thought that would like to know that.

All Consuming said...

I could list a great deal of links that would show that not eating meat is a boon to the ecology of the planet, and how ever single person who stops doing so, reduces the demand, and reduces the suffering. I could go on about having made my own tofu. However, knowing the fall out, I'm not getting into it. Lee has such a vast, unpleasant, and untrue view of vegans - 'I know very few vegans, but most of them seem poorly informed about the realities of growing food.' - we have been growing ours, along with many other vegans, for years. I have seen several dietitians over twenty years and all of them say my diet is rich and full of everything I need to be healthy. There is real anger in those comments, and that's the kind of anger I come up against often with meat eaters. I accept they eat meat, and they have their views, but I am not derisive of them, nor spew vitriol. I write all this as you mentioned me Snow. Taking a general blog post personally, when it is clearly not meant to be is completely fuelled by some kind of core issue that hold well buried guilt I suspect.
This is not a war against meat eaters started by vegans, it is simply that billions of animals are tortured, and I actually give a shit about that. And I CAN do something about it. I could write so much more, but I know a brick wall when I see one and may as well be talking to a Catholic about atheism.
I know your heart Snow, and that you would never write anything aimed at hurting specific friends. X ps - you needn't post this at all if you think it may inflame an already unfortunate situation.

Snowbrush said...

“You are winning me over to your argument.”

Why thank you. I should mention that I haven’t been by your blog lately because I’ve been either sick, busy, or both, and that you’re not alone because I haven’t visited anyone else’s blog either.

“there's an element of being part of the elements, a drop in one vast ocean, but an important one, for the ocean would not be the ocean it is today without me. It would be lesser. I am quite sure of that.”

Yes, this is true.

“I don't have them down as sentient beings, so i feel no guilt for having them and loving them.”

I don’t know what’s sentient and what’s not. I know what I feel, but as to whether my feelings (intuitions?) are connected to outside realities is unknown.

“I could go on about having made my own tofu.”

I have no idea why Lee should regard the making of tofu as relevant to anything aside from the making of tofu. I also have no idea why veganism and vegetarianism is so strongly related to tofu in the minds of so darn many meat-eaters. I think I might, at most, eat tofu tens times a year, and that’s counting leftovers, but I rather think that many people envision it, along with rice, as being about all that vegans and vegetarians eat, but I’m not too keen on rice either.

“Lee has such a vast, unpleasant, and untrue view of vegans…There is real anger in those comments, and that's the kind of anger I come up against often with meat eaters.”

Because I interpret his responses as indicative of a desire to attack and dismiss rather than to dialogue, I gave up trying to dialogue. Besides, any effort to lay facts before someone who’s furious would represent a waste of time and effort, and I don’t have that much time, and I’m unwilling to devote that much effort unless I can find some reason to feel hopeful. I doubt that there has ever been anyone who didn’t strongly disapprove of at least some of the behaviors and values of even their closest friends, so the source of Less’ anger is largely a mystery to me.

“I accept they eat meat, and they have their views, but I am not derisive of them, nor spew vitriol.”

Excepting the ones I know online, I don’t know any vegans or vegetarians, and I never bring up the subject in face-to-face conversation. However, my blog is a place where I do address issues that I spend a lot of time thinking about because I find it far more conducive to depth and clarity than face-to-face conversation. It’s also a place where I at least have the hope that I can communicate without people taking it personally. In face-to-face dialogue and even in a letter, I’m only communicating with from one person to a few people, but here, I’m writing to anyone and everyone who comes by, reads a few lines, and finds the text interesting enough to keep reading.

“Taking a general blog post personally, when it is clearly not meant to be is completely fueled by some kind of core issue that hold well buried guilt I suspect.’

Perhaps. I also think that some people have a very great need for approval on the part of their friends, and that this leads them to interpret the least disapproval as traitorous.