Point/Counterpoint pt2

Tony Cox

Animals AREN’T people, too

When it comes to eating animals, the only crisis I’ve ever faced is whether I should get bacon or sausage with my pancakes at Bob Evans.

I’ve found that this experience is pretty typical of people who grew up in the Midwest, where the idea of not eating meat is pretty much equivalent to the idea of not wearing clothes. As a child, eating meat was something that you just did without thinking about it. I don’t consider myself a country boy in the least, but I grew up in a town where the nearest farm wasn’t more than a few minutes down the road. Our annual grade-school trip to the county fair was much anticipated. Consequently, I and all the people around me knew good and well where our food came from. It didn’t bother us a bit.

As I’ve grown up, my horizons have expanded, and abstention from meat is no longer such a foreign concept. Personally, I can’t imagine life without half-priced buffalo wings or a perfectly grilled steak every now and then — but to each his own.

However, I couldn’t help but stare at my computer screen with open-mouthed astonishment when, in searching the web for motivation to write this column, I stumbled across the Web site of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.

I knew that PETA had a reputation for being somewhat radical, but I’ve never fully realized the extent of its madness until now. For example, in the frequently asked questions section of the site, the question is posed as to whether or not animal rights activists ought to force their beliefs on other people. “You may believe that animals should be killed, that black people should be enslaved or that women should be beaten, but you don’t always have the right to put your beliefs into practice.” That’s right: According to PETA, if you eat a chicken nugget, you are a redneck, neosecessionist wife beater.

PETA is also quick to defend the members of the Animal Liberation Front, a terrorist organization that has destroyed millions of dollars in private property over the years in the name of their wacky cause. PETA compares them to the members of the Underground Railroad and la Resistance Française in World War II. You heard it here, folks — destroying industrial property is the moral equivalent of freeing slaves and fighting Nazis. And if this is the stuff the organization is distributing to the public in order to change minds, imagine what it might be preaching behind closed doors.

The Web site also features a host of internationally known social philosophers — oops, I mean celebrities (it’s so hard to tell the difference these days) — who have decided to speak out against “animal cruelty.” Among the most recognizable are wannabe bad girl Pink, mall-punk icon Benji of Good Charlotte, and President Bartlett, aka Martin Sheen. Even the off-kilter basketball star Dennis Rodman is in on the act, posing in PETA’s “Think Ink, Not Mink” ads with nothing but his tattoos to cover his naked body.

My favorite, however, was the “PETA Kids” Web site. (After all, a child’s political indoctrination and subsequent social isolation can never begin too soon.) Here was featured a flash movie, “The Meatrix,” in which a strikingly dapper bovine named “Moophius” exposes the truth about corporate agriculture to a hapless young pig.

The decision to eat meat is one that must be made by each individual. But I’ve made up my mind, and my decision comes with a side of fries.

Tony Cox is a junior philosophy major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].