Listen, My Children...

Every Little Helps

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Lesson of the Day

Don't try to have rational conversations with PETA supporters. It's just not possible.

A case in point:
A PETA-supporter and I had been discussing dowry-deaths. We had a speaker whose main point was that female infanticide can be blamed entirely on British tax policy and has nothing at all to do with dowry, and that adult dowry-cases in the courts are generally faked by a woman who just wants an easy way out of her marriage. (The Daily Texan, bizarrely, reported that she said the opposite; the reporters left early, and their "quotes" near the end of the article were most definitely not from any part of the talk, although they could have been taken from any conventional article on dowry deaths.)

My acquaintance seemed singularly unmoved by the stories of people murdering their girl babies (and also having sex-selective abortions, which rural Indians see as more expensive and morally identical) in the hopes of having sons sooner. I was distressed by this hard-heartedness and apparent inconsistency with her animal-rights beliefs, and pointed this out. Somehow the conversation went to hypotheticals, with a farmer with his baby girl and goat being threatened by a crocodile. I argued that it would be better to throw the goat to the crocodile so that the farmer and daughter could make a getaway, rather than throwing the girl to the crocodile to save the farmer and goat. I expected a response along the lines of, "all life should be protected; neither decision is better than the other; human life is not superior to other animal life." The response I got shocked me: it would be better to throw the girl, she said, because humans are a blight on nature, girls just help increase the birth rate, and goats are at least useful. Well, then! There you have it: it's not just that all animal life, including human, is morally equivalent -- no, human life is worth less.

On a similar note, Bob told me a story about his Buddhist vegetarian college roommate. The roommate was like the constant protesters at zoos in India (where meat-eating animals are fed meat) and fervently believed that animals could and should be taught to eat vegetarian food. One example he kept bringing up was that of a tiger who had been switched to vegetarian food and happily ate only that. He pointed it out every time Bob would eat meat, it seemed. Then, one day, they were both watching TV and saw that this tiger had died of severe malnutrition. The roommate never mentioned the subject again.

That's one thing I like about Bob -- we both get such glee from seeing silly people have their silly ideas proven wrong.


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