Vegetarians piss me off.
Okay, I can see the hate mail already on its way to me, so I’d
better qualify that statement. The way I see it, there are two kinds
of vegetarians, different as apples and carrots, and I don’t mean
ovo-lacto-vegetarians and vegans.
The first kind are apples. I like apples. These are the people who
have opted to be vegetarians as a healthy life-style choice. They
may piss you off from time to time by scowling at the unhealthy meat
you’re eating, they may lecture you on the benefits of their diet,
they may bore you by carrying on about how wonderful they feel, and
point out that you could feel wonderful, too, if you only gave up
meat. (I knew one woman who actually told me that after becoming a
veggie, her shit no longer stank) These are basically smart and nice
people and I like them, in spite of the most unforgivable thing
about them: They are right.
I don’t dispute for a second that vegetarianism is better for you
than eating meat. It has been proven many times over that human
beings don’t need meat, that it’s a luxury which, in a sufficiently
rich society, can be dispensed with. The reason I don’t adopt such a
diet myself is simple. It sucks. It’s just bland and lacking in
substance. I couldn’t do it. I like meat. I’m not
about to give it up. So that shortens my life. Big deal. For me, a
longer life without steak and bacon and pork chops would be a
burden, not a blessing.
So, as long as you don’t proselytize me, I got no problem with your
diet, no matter what you eat or don’t eat.
The second kind of vegetarian is like a carrot. I don’t like carrots
much. I like them even less if they assert that they are morally
superior to me. I’m talking about those wonderful “Meat is Murder”
people. The “animal rights” people who assert that, if I wear fur or
leather, or eat meat, I am a murderer. To distinguish them from the
sane vegetarians, I’m going to call them “petaveggies.” Some of them
are even in favor of killing people who harm animals:
be overjoyed when the first scientist is killed by a
Vivien Smith of
ALF (USA Today, September
Or there is David Matthews of
PETA (People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals), the largest and most open terrorist group
currently operating in America, and the one with the most members
whose names you would recognize. Asked to name a man he admired, he
Cunanan, because he got Versace to stop doing fur.”
Most petaveggies probably would not approve of murder, but many of
their leaders have explicitly endorsed arson, bombs, harassment, and
any sort of vandalism:
property destruction, burglary and theft are 'acceptable
crimes' when used for the animal cause.”
PETA was founded by
Ingrid Newkirk, who is given to
saying things like this:
million Jews died in concentration camps, but six billion
broiler chickens will die this year in slaughter houses.”
Post, November 13, 1983.
Therefore, killing 1000 chickens is the moral equivalent of killing
one Jew. She’s good at math like that. She is the one who formulated
the central tenet of PETA and their ilk. I’m going to call it the
PETA Equation, and it goes like this:
comes to having a central nervous system, and the ability to
feel pain, hunger, and thirst, a rat is a pig is a dog is a
Not exactly E=mc2,
but elegant in its own way. Sexist, too, so let’s clean it up and
let B = “human child.” And I can’t argue with it, in a quantitative
sense. Anything with a nervous system does feel pain,
hunger, and thirst. Probably a lot of things without a central
nervous system, too, judging from how a sea anemone withdraws when
you poke it with a piece of driftwood. Where PETA and I differ is in
the inference that causing pain or death to anything with a central
nervous system implies a moral equivalency.
There are even those who go further than that.
of an ant and that of my child should be granted equal
Michael W. Fox,
veterinarian, former advisor to the Humane Society
We can hope that’s an extreme position, even within PETA, but with
these people you never know. I do know they don’t have
a sense of humor, so he’s probably not joking. When you go to bed
tonight, say a little prayer of thanks that Mr. Fox is not your dad.
Even people who I would have thought would have more sense have made
some astonishing statements. Get a load of this:
people who say, ‘My father is alive because of animal
experimentation,’ I say, ‘Yeah, well, good for you. This dog
died so your father could live.’ Sorry, but I am just not
behind that kind of trade-off.”
comedian and PETA celebrity spokesman
Gee, Maher, I don’t think anybody asked you make that trade-off, you
sanctimonious asshole. It’s easy enough not to make that trade-off
when my father is at risk. And forget about the dog; I
would cheerfully vivisect you, if there was a 50/50
chance it would spare someone in my family from pain or death. As
for your old man, I don’t even know if he’s alive, but if it took
the deaths of one billion rats (rat = dog) to save his
life, I would approve of it.
meat is primitive, barbaric, and arrogant.”
Arrogance is the key word here. What kind of arrogance is it to call
the vast majority of cultures that exist worldwide and the vast
majority that have ever existed “primitive and barbaric?” Primitive,
maybe. I guess you could call the peoples of the Amazon primitive.
They eat monkey and tarantula, neither of which interests me much,
but I don’t judge them for that. You could call American Indian
tribes primitive, too, compared to the technological and literary
cultures of Europe who all but exterminated them, but they had their
own wisdom, still do, and they revered the spirits of the animals
they slew. They ate meat! Still do.
But barbaric? That implies a value judgement I am not willing to
endorse. Calling someone a barbarian has a well-known meaning, and
that is, “you are less than human.” You are not of our tribe. Your
philosophy and your gods are false, inferior to our philosophy and
gods. You are therefore not worthy to call yourself a human being,
and in fact, killing you is not like killing a human being. The
Nazis had a word for it: Sub-human. They applied it to Poles,
Russians, Gypsies, Jews, homosexuals, and the retarded. Speaking of
whom, get a load of this:
which he would save, a dog or a baby, if a boat capsized in
the ocean: "If it were a retarded baby and a bright dog, I'd
save the dog."
Wow! Ignore, if you can, the absolutely stunning insensitivity to
the parents of retarded children. Put aside, if you can, the
difficulty of administering an IQ test to a child and a dog in the
middle of the ocean. According to the PETA Equation, R = P
= D = B, if those four animals were drowning in the
ocean, you should rescue the one that’s nearest to you, or the one
that’s easiest to pick up (the rat), or perform a visual triage,
ignore the ones that are swimming well and the ones who are
obviously goners, and rescue the ones who seem to have a chance. If
you would consider any one of these options for even a second ... I
don’t acknowledge you as a human being. The moral choice here is so
obvious that it continues to stun me that anyone, anywhere, would
ever consider it.
The whole animal rights movement states that all animals are equal,
and now this jerk-off tells me that intelligence is the determining
factor. The more brains you have, the more worthy you are of his
(I have my own solution to this conundrum. Since I can’t swim, I’d
toss Tom Regan into the ocean beside the dog and the child and hold
his head under until he drowned, while a human being who can swim
rescued the child, as any real human being would do.)
One more thought. We return to La Newkirk, who once said this:
“I am not
a morose person, but I would rather not be here. I don’t
have any reverence for life, only for the entities
themselves. I would rather see a blank space where I am.
This will sound like fruitcake stuff again but at least I
wouldn’t be harming anything.”
Along with a hearty endorsement of her wish that there be a hole in
the space she’s currently occupying, this statement has come back
into my thoughts over the years as I tried to pinpoint the pathology
behind it. Because it is clearly pathological, these are obviously
the words of a very, very sick person. I finally came up with a term
for it, and that is Environmental Anorexia. It’s not in the
diagnostic manual yet, but it should be.
We all know about
anorexia, that puzzling condition
whereby a woman (usually) can look at her stick-like figure in a
mirror and see a fat girl. There’s different theories about it, but
most seem to agree that societal pressure plays a large part. We
value slenderness in women, we make fun of fat people. And there is
no denying that being overweight is unhealthy. (Oddly, it is not
usually fat girls who are anorexic. They agonize about their weight,
too, but they keep eating. It is usually girls who are already thin
who try to starve themselves thinner. Go figure.)
Recently I was horrified to discover that there are literally
hundreds of websites devoted to helping anorexia. Not helping the
anorexics, helping the disease, enabling these girls,
giving them support. (“Sixty-eight pounds? You go, girl!”)
They see it as a life-style choice. I guess it is, in a sense, like
alcoholism, methedrine ... and suicide.
EA is like that, and PETA is such an enabling organization when it
goes to extremes. No question that the human race is managing its
environment badly. This is not good. People get passionate about
defending the environment, they react against an evil that I do not
deny—I am in total agreement with them. At first, there is the idea
of “leave it as you found it.” When you go into the wilderness, pick
up your soda cans and cigarette butts. Don’t start forest fires.
Don’t kill anything you don’t plan to eat, and don’t kill any
endangered species. Don’t pollute. You know the drill.
But soon, as fanatics do, you begin making leaps of logic. It’s not
a very big leap, for some, to the proposition that no one
should go into the wilderness. Eventually you come to the pathetic
position of Ingrid Newkirk, who fears to walk on the ground lest she
accidentally crush an earthworm she can’t even see. “At least
I wouldn’t be harming anything.” With that attitude, you
can’t even eat, Ingrid. I got news for you. Every
second your body is slaughtering millions of single-celled animals
intent on doing you harm, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it
except stop breathing. At last, you will be at one with nature.
Hurry up, dear.
I was lying in that first line up there. I just said it to get your
attention. I actually have no problem with 90% of vegetarians.
If you CHOOSE not to eat meat, eggs, and dairy product
because you think it will make you healthier, you’re probably right,
and I’m behind you all the way.
If you CHOOSE not to eat meat, wear fur or leather, or
use make-up that was tested on animals or medical procedures
developed by testing with animals, that’s your right. We disagree,
but you can do what you please.
But if you CHOOSE to do any of the above and thereby
set yourself up as somehow morally superior to me ... you can kiss
my carnivorous ass.
I’ve got more to say about this. Maybe next week.