27 October 2004

26 October 2004

Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary

If you're a compassionate person, see here. Shouldn't the choices you make in life, including your dietary choices, reflect your values and express your character? If animals don't matter to you, why don't they? Do they suffer any less? Are their lives of less value? Do they have less of a desire to live? Don't just live out the life you were given by your parents. Reflect on your life and the choices you make. Become the person you want to be.

By the way, the Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary has a beautiful and useful newsletter to which you can subscribe. It is sent by e-mail. Please write to the site administrator to be put on the mailing list. Tell them AnalPhilosopher sent you.

24 October 2004

A Grieving Goose

Putting on airs is unseemly. When John Kerry puts on airs, geese die. See here.

From the Mailbag

Dear Keith,

Officials at the University of Illinois claim that there is a deer overpopulation at U of I's Allerton Park. They have proposed to remedy the situation with a bow hunt. [See here and here.] Rest assured that the people participating in this bow hunt will not be Olympic archers. They will be recreational hunters of varying abilities where archery is concerned. That means many animals will be shot in non-vital parts of their bodies. Some of the wounded animals will no doubt escape into the woods where they will die slow lingering deaths. Some of the other wounded animals, those too severely wounded to flee, will be shot again and perhaps several times before being brought down. Such a way of dealing with deer population problems is cruel and inhumane, especially when there are much more humane alternatives available. Some of the animals could be relocated, a more costly, but much more humane alternative. If the overpopulation problem is so severe that some of the animals must be murdered (there is no other term for it), then it should be done by professional marksmen who work for the forest service. These marksmen are able to kill the animals instantaneously—a fatal end for an innocent animal but at least it minimizes the animal's suffering.

Remember, the University of Illinois is a PUBLIC institution. It is funded with tax dollars, and not just tax dollars from people in the state of Illinois. Much of the research conducted at the University of Illinois is funded by federal research dollars which come from all taxpayers in America. If you don't think that a publicly funded institution of higher learning should be sponsoring a seven-week long deer bow hunt, please take a moment to write/email and call the people listed below. Also, please consider posting this information on your blog. Your readers' tax dollars fund research at U of I, and many of your readers might be opposed to such an inhumane way of dealing with an alleged deer-overpopulation problem. If U of I gets enough bad press on this matter and if enough people write David Schejbal, Associate Vice Chancellor at U of I, and the U of I Office of Public Affairs at the addresses below [schejbal@ad.uiuc.edu and r-kaler@ad.uiuc.edu, respectively], the officials at the U of I might cancel the hunt. Together, we might be able to prevent the senseless killing of these innocent animals. Thanks for you help.

Mylan Engel

21 October 2004

Sickos with Guns?

Here is an essay about the mental health of hunters. (Thanks to Dan Gifford for the link.)

20 October 2004

Twenty Years Ago

10-20-84 . . . There was an animal-rights march this morning near the university, but I decided to remain at home instead of participating. Don’t get me wrong. I oppose vivisection (experimentation on live animals) as much as anyone, but as a rational person, I recognize that demonstrations tend to be ineffectual. Sometimes, they alienate more people than they persuade. I feel that I can contribute more to the cause of animal rights by writing and lecturing on the subject than by carrying a sign and getting my picture on the evening news. I respect the demonstrators, but I decide to protest in other ways. Incidentally, I saw pictures of Lori Gruen, a fellow graduate student, on the news this evening. She was sitting by a small casket with the name “Lucky” on it in one scene, and was walking down the street with other protesters in another. Finally, I saw her being carried away by police after having been arrested for trespassing on university property. Go get ’em, Lori! You have demonstrated your commitment to the cause by paying a very personal price: arrest. Peter Singer, whose book (Animal Liberation) you carried, would have been proud.

Kosher Killing

One of my readers took my advice and read Mylan Engel's essay "The Immorality of Eating Meat," a link to which appears on the left. The reader said that kosher killing is morally superior to other sorts of killing. I forwarded the reader's letter to Mylan, who responded this morning as follows:
Dear Keith:

One of your readers, J. Wetstein PE, insists that my claims about "kosher slaughter" are inaccurate. S/he goes on to claim that you won't find a more humane treatment of animals for meat production than with kosher standards, but s/he offers no evidence in support of this claim. It sounds like a religious conviction rather than a well-founded, evidence-based empirical claim. So, let's look at the facts. According to "Kashrut" (Jewish dietary laws), the animal must be fully conscious when slaughtered. The method of slaughter is a quick, deep stroke across the throat with a perfectly sharp blade with no nicks or unevenness. This method is supposedly painless and is supposed to cause unconsciousness within two seconds and is therefore thought to be the most humane method of slaughter.

In theory, that may be correct, but in practice, kosher slaughter, at least in the U.S., makes for a horrific death for the animals so slaughtered. Moreover, even if kosher slaughter were more humane than other forms of slaughter, that would have no impact on the handling and transportation of the animals on their way to the slaughterhouse. These animals are prodded with electric cattle prods and beaten with metal poles to drive them onto the trucks. They are then shipped long distances without food or water and without adequate protection from the elements. In winter, some animals literally freeze to the sides of these trucks. When they arrive at the slaughterhouse, they are again prodded with electric prods and metal pipes to force them up the shoot to the slaughterer who awaits them. None of this constitutes what I would call "humane treatment." But now let's turn to kosher slaughter as it is actually practiced in the U.S. John Robbins has aptly described how the implementation of kosher slaughter laws in the U.S. is actually a perversion of the original intent of those laws. I have linked to an excerpt from his book below. Once you read Robbins's accurate description (I have seen detailed video footage documenting everything Robbins claims), you'll see that there is no plausible way of viewing kosher slaughter, at least in the U.S., as a humane way of killing animals. Even Orthodox rabbis in Sweden are starting to acknowledge this fact and have come to allow animals to be stunned before killing. Not so here in the U.S. Read Robbins's account, and you'll see why kosher slaughter is not humane in practice.

Best, Mylan

p.s. I obtained this Robbins excerpt from meat.org's web site [www.meat.org] which contains a great deal of information about animal slaughter, including some streaming video of pig and chicken slaughter. After viewing this footage, your readers can decide for themselves whether the slaughtering techniques used in the U.S. today are humane.
Please read Mylan's essay.

19 October 2004

Animal Rights

I'm a conservative. I'm also a proponent of animal rights. There is no entailment relation between the two, so far as I can discern. But there is no incompatibility, either, as some unthinking conservatives appear to believe (or want to believe). See here. (Thanks to John Andrews for the link.)

17 October 2004

On the Road with Mylan

My friend Mylan Engel Jr recently lectured on animal ethics at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Here is the story about his lecture. If you haven't read Mylan's essay "The Immorality of Eating Meat," please do. There's a link on the left side of this blog. I've read much of the literature on animal ethics over a period of 25 years, and this is the best essay I've read. Caveat: If you read it, you will either abstain from animal flesh or suffer from cognitive dissonance!

Addendum: Here is another story about Mylan's lecture.

16 October 2004


One of my former students, Mindy Hutchison, sent a link to this funny story from The Onion. Mindy maintains this site.

12 October 2004

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re "Cloning a Bad Idea," by Verlyn Klinkenborg (Editorial Notebook, Oct. 9):

As a scientist, I am impressed with the cloning of cats performed by Genetic Savings & Clone, but as a recently bereaved pet owner, I fail to see the purpose.

I recently had to make the difficult decision to euthanize a cat that had been my companion for more than 17 years. Still, I would not have considered cloning her. One of the biggest joys of sharing one's life with pets is learning the variety of their personalities.

Gremalkin, my surviving cat, may look like Nyssa, my first cat, but Nyssa was more of an affectionate lap cat, while Gremalkin still has the playfulness and impatience of a kitten.

It is these differences in personality that make pet ownership the rich experience it is.

James C. Armstrong Jr.
Foster City, Calif., Oct. 9, 2004

To the Editor:

I was sad to read Verlyn Klinkenborg's article about cloning cats (Editorial Observer, Oct. 9).

We have a real pet overpopulation crisis in this country, and someone with more money than sense is striving to add to it.

Millions of beautiful, lovable cats, dogs, puppies, kittens and other animals are euthanized every year because they have nobody to care for them.

The selfishness required to create a life when millions are thrown away is astounding.

Mary Chipman
St. Ann, Mo., Oct. 9, 2004

10 October 2004

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

If the residents of Ville Platte, La. ("If Town Clears Out, It Must Be Squirrel Season," front page, Oct. 3), stopped shooting squirrels long enough to observe them, they would see that squirrels are creatures with complex lives of their own.

We have squirrels at our house and have witnessed a mother squirrel raising her young. She teaches them to climb slippery trees and steep rooftops. If she senses danger, she will carry her young to safety.

She spends lots of time hunting and gathering food and soft things with which to feather their winter nest.

It is sad to read of cruel behavior toward these small and beautiful creatures, which are merely struggling to survive, as we all are.

Joanna Lake
East Burke, Vt., Oct. 4, 2004

To the Editor:

Try as we may to respect cultural differences, it boggles the mind that anyone could gain pleasure out of taking the lives of animals "for the fun of it." Where are the values of compassion and stewardship for the world in which we live?

Cultures far wiser than ours respect the gift of life in all its forms. It is slight comfort that these miniature atrocities are isolated in remote pockets of our country where the light of human understanding has yet to dawn.

Linda Holt
Trenton, Oct. 4, 2004

05 October 2004

From the Mailbag

Hi AP,

I always find something to challenge my thoughts in your blog. And your ideas on being a carnivore are a particular challenge for me (talk about cognitive dissonance!).

But one thing I was pondering the other day (in the light of your eating-meat discussions) was your view on the wearing of leather. Since I only have a 56k dial-up connection, searching thru the archives was a vast chore. So I thought I'd just ask you to send me links if you've blogged on this topic. If not, I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

Anyway, all the best! Don't let the rude people of this world get you down. :-)

Sincerely, gg2

PS: I've now got 2 e-mail addresses for you, not sure which is current so have sent to both.

"Not all who wander are lost." —JRR Tolkein