11 February 2004

Twenty-three Years and Counting

Here is my journal entry for 18 February 1981:
2-18-81 I put in a 10-hour day: noon until 10 p.m. We are studying "state action" in Constitutional Law II, and I am interested very much in the subject. You see, the Constitution places limits on what the government ("state") can do in the way of restricting private activity. But state action can take many forms; sometimes, indeed, it looks like private action, as where a court of law upholds a private agreement which has the effect of depriving someone of his or her rights. In my view, nearly all human activity is "state action." Property does not exist independently of the state, because the state creates it; contracts become meaningless once the coercive enforcement power of the state is removed; and the fact that the state grants licenses (like driver's licenses) signifies acceptance of certain types of behavior. In fact, anything that is legal is state action, since it is sanctioned by the governmental authorities. Once this is recognized, the constitutional problem is simply where to draw the line. In other words, how far can individuals go in depriving others of their constitutional rights?

I purchased a book on behavioral modification in children. [Henry C. Rickard and Michael Dinoff, eds., Behavior Modification in Children: Case Studies and Illustrations from a Summer Camp (University, AL: The University of Alabama Press, 1974); I finished reading this book on 16 May 1981] An authoritarian person might use such a book to learn how to indoctrinate his or her children; I bought it in order to study the manner in which children can be taught to think. Each generation must question all of the assumptions upon which preceding generations were based. My children will accept nothing—not food, not clothing, not language—at face value.

Just a note: the last pork or beef that I ate was on 11 February 1981, about a week ago. I will not eat any more pork or beef for as long as I shall live. More on this later.
I was raised in a meat-eating family. In 1972, when I was fifteen, I had an asthma attack and learned that I was allergic to dairy products. I have had no milk, cheese, ice cream, or butter for more than three decades. Nor have I had any red meat for twenty-three years. I'm forty-six, so I've been red meat-free for half my life. As for why I gave up only red meat, it was part of a plan to eliminate all animal products from my diet (for moral reasons, but knowing that it was healthier). I gave up turkey on 31 December 1981. The plan was to give up chicken, fish, and eggs, in that order; but I never did. A couple of years ago I gave up chicken, and for the past year or so the only eggs I've eaten are from "free-roaming" hens. I'm not a vegetarian, much less a vegan. But I'm close (a demi-vegetarian), and that's good enough. You can criticize me only if you eat fewer animal products than I do. Bring it on.

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