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Monday, June 08, 2015

Vegetarian


Before you read this, please know that I find factory farming conditions sickening and the true pit of hell, that I hate trophy hunting, that a picture of someone grinning over a dead mountain lion or other animal (heck, even a skunk!) makes me ill.  Yet I have something to say, as someone who has been a vegan for well over twelve years.

I am going back to being a vegetarian starting today because the nauseating pictures posted by a group of vegans on Facebook (which I cannot seem to get rid of)  of beheaded cows, skinned, abused, and crushed animals, and even a horribly mutilated elephant (all of which sneak into my Facebook feed from time to time) have disturbed me enough that I no longer wish to be aligned with a group of people who have members who sit for hours posting hundreds of images of such things (honestly, there has to be something really wrong with people who invest ninety percent of their time finding these images online and then posting them).  I could leave just the Facebook group, but I find this is the moral choice for me. 

 The relentless tsunami of images also reminds me of the equally sicko people in Operation Rescue who bomb abortion clinics and shove images of dismembered fetuses in people's faces. I never want to eat a vegan meal again because the gross images of mutilated animals swarms my consciousness now.

Yes, I know factory farming is horrible, but there is an undercurrent of sickness, hostility, and simmering violence with the relentless tide of these Facebook images that compels me to divorce veganism. There are wonderful people I know who are vegans, but I honestly can't be one anymore. I used to love the Facebook vegan group I participated in, and got several great recipes and support, but since a couple of people can't stop with at least a dozen snuff pictures daily, I've left it, and the dietary choice as well. Facebook is a powerful and public medium and I don't want to be known for some alignment with people who say and insinuate the sickest things imaginable. Saying is next door to doing something violent or weird, and I do not want to be near those things.

Here's a thought: write an intelligent essay (for once) about being a vegan. Don't revel in horrors such as making fun of that poor man who died in an oven in a canning factory. One person shared some woman's suggestion, in a Hannibal Lecter twist, that they should just sell the fish with his dead body mixed in, for it's all meat. What a sick thing to say!! This man was someone's son, perhaps someone's husband or father. Not everyone has the privilege of taking their pick of jobs, and to make fun of the horror of his death is mind-boggling in its sheer cruelty. It's elitist and privileged to say so, too: this man very likely did not want this job. He probably had a family to support, or some other compelling reason.

 I see no social value in disgusting a captive audience with dozens of images, hour upon hour, which also serves to desensitize people to this. A percentage of these images are photoshopped also, but some folks will believe anything they see online that supports their cause and use it as gospel truth.  There is rarely a shred of intelligent commentary with these images, just awful things such as "the human race should be eliminated."  Nice.

By the way, Anderson Cooper has a good interview about the way he became desensitized to violent images during his stint overseas, covering stories in war zones. The turning point came for him when he was by the side of a road, photographing, in fascination, a dead person's hand which was degloving. He realized he was becoming insensitive to the people who lived with these images every day:

On assignment for several years Cooper had very slowly become desensitized to the violence he was witnessing around him; the horrors of the Rwandan Genocide became trivial: "I would see a dozen bodies and think, you know, it's a dozen, it's not so bad."[8] One particular incident, however, snapped him out of it:

On the side of the road [Cooper] came across five bodies that had been in the sun for several days. The skin of a woman's hand was peeling off like a glove. Revealing macabre fascination, Cooper whipped out his disposable camera and took a closeup photograph for his personal album. As he did, someone took a photo of him. Later that person showed Cooper the photo, saying, "You need to take a look at what you were doing." "And that's when I realized I've got to stop."


I would wager there is not one person who works in a factory farm who wouldn't give a lot to find another job. Working conditions are horrible in those places. Why not rally for better employment choices for people, and wages to support access to healthier food? A huge percentage of people in this country, and the world, can barely get food on the table at all.

 I guess that would be harder than sitting on your rear end all day, finding and posting animal snuff porn .  After the hundredth picture of a mutilated animal, such images become just that. I can see where a few well-chosen images, accompanied by intelligent, non-loony commentary, would have a greater impact than a never-ending tide of gore. 

Sorry for feeling compelled to make this choice, but I don't want to be aligned with a group like this. Being vegan does not make you so superior to the human race that you can clobber everyone with spews of gory pictures. It only means that you have made a certain dietary and lifestyle choice, which does not invest you with the right to hurt people, call them names because they eat a certain way, and post hundreds of sick comments and photos online. People will never change their lives by being mentally beaten in this way; they'll run a mile, like I am doing today.