Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Death Meets Meats

"The offending meat has been sent for tests at a laboratory and we are waiting for the results."

Meat is murder

While some dead animal
meat offends
Mild numb red carcass-all
heated descends

yum yum!!

Murder to meet:


yum yum!!

Oh seven coarse meal

The offending meat
Defending the outcome
has been sent for
cycle of the psycho circle
tests at a laboratory
Ingest to digest no jest
and we are waiting for
the results
feast of feces
death defacate depth deaf

"As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behaviour toward creatures, all men were Nazis"
--Isaac Bashevis Singer

Most of the world's suffering is undergone by members of other species. A convergence of evidence suggests that the nature and relative extent of organic life's biological capacity to suffer is mediated by neuronal firing frequencies; cellular and synaptic density; and a distinctive neurochemical and functional architecture. Pain is not rooted in a capacity for a generative syntax.

Humanity often behaves as though it were. For we presently keep hundreds of millions of other sentient beings in unimaginably frightful conditions. We do so for no better reason than to satisfy our culinary tastes. It has aptly been remarked that if animals had a conception of the Devil, he would surely have human form. Alas this is no mere rhetorical conceit. Humans deliberately incarcerate and butcher our fellow creatures in a vast state-sanctioned apparatus of concentration and extermination camps of incommunicable horror. In retrospect, our descendants may view them as a defining feature of our age in a way akin to our own conception of the Third Reich. Analogously, their sheer viciousness and even existence is usually camouflaged behind a mass of bland euphemism. Fortunately for our peace of mind, we find it hard properly to conceive of what we're being spared. Conditions inside the camps and factories are so gruesome that members of the public have to be barred from watching the atrocities which go on inside them.

For the most part, however, we are willing accomplices in our own ignorance. By our purchases we pay others to commit acts of extreme violence which might otherwise upset our squeamish sensibilities. Ironically, anybody who practises, or connives in, the maltreatment of a helpless and undeveloped infant of our own species is likely to be demonised and reviled. Ordinary decent people will find it "inconceivable" how such an "inhuman" monster could cause such suffering to the young, innocent and helpless. So (s)he will be prosecuted and locked up.

What-we-are-doing in the death-factories is so vile that a few lines of text can scarcely even hint at its ghastliness. Nevertheless, we are so inured to the notion of exploiting and killing other sentient beings to titillate our palates that many otherwise "sophisticated" people will find the starkness of expression of these paragraphs somehow sensationalistic; or perhaps "emotive", as if the reality of such suffering could properly be otherwise.

Caring about the plight of the non-human victims of our actions is not a case of sentimental bunny-hugging nor of child-like anthropomorphism. Nor is it a matter of caring more about animals than humans; nor even, as is sometimes suggested with all appearance of seriousness, outright misanthropy. "Tender-minded" people who worry about the torture of non-humans are on balance temperamentally more rather than less inclined to act in an effort to minimise human suffering too. Such contrasts and false antitheses are in any case unhelpful. Simply in abstaining from eating meat, for instance, one can still spend just as much time campaigning for exclusively human causes as one did as a practising carnivore.

There is one real glimmer of hope amid the mechanised carnage. Within the next hundred years or so, and possibly sooner, biotechnology will enable the human species cost-effectively to mass-produce edible cellular protein, and indeed all forms of food, of a flavour and texture indistinguishable from, or tastier than, the sanitised animal products we now eat. As our palates become satisfied by other means, the moral arguments for animal rights will start to seem overwhelmingly compelling. The Western(ised) planetary elite will finally start to award the sentient fellow creatures we torture and kill a moral status akin to human infants and toddlers. Veganism, though not in quite the contemporary sense, will become the global norm.

Thanks to genetic engineering, the huge reduction in gratuitous suffering promoted here is likely to take place even if none of the other predictions of HI are borne out. If they are, then the humblest snack will taste more delicious than the ambrosial food of the gods.

Today's gourmets might as well be feeding on greasy chips.

Much more seriously, in those traditional eco-systems that we chose to retain, millions of non-human animals will continue periodically to starve, die horribly of thirst and disease, or even get eaten alive. This is commonly viewed as "natural" and hence basically OK.

It would indeed be comforting to think that in some sense this ongoing animal holocaust doesn't matter too much. We often find it convenient to act as though the capacity to suffer were somehow inseparably bound up with linguistic ability or ratiocinative prowess.

Yet there is absolutely no evidence that this is the case, and a great deal that it isn't.


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