J Walking

J Walking


Dogs or Darfur, pt. 2

posted by David Kuo

Thanks for the great discussion about my last post on Darfur and Michael Vick. I want to start with a great and honest comment from one reader:

…humans are not “of greater worth” than animals. Humans *are* animals, and we are not the “best” animal either. That is purely a rather arrogant Judeo-Christian concept that is not shared by a great many people of other faiths in the world.

What this reader writes is an accurate description of what many people believe – whether they admit it or not. Charity reminded me of something I’d forgotten:

During the Katrina disaster and it’s aftermath, I had a number of co-workers [more] worried about what happened to the animals than to the people who suffered. Maybe it is just because at the time I was a new Mom (though I doubt it). To me the human tragedy overshadowed the animals. I will never get out of my mind the picture of a woman standing on an overpass crying/screaming while dead bodies floated along the flooded streets in front of her.

I know several people who adopted pets from New Orleans. I’m thrilled that they did. They actually did something tangible to lessen Katrina’s horror. They are doing more than I did.
But we will reach a frighteningly dangerous place in this world if we fail to believe human lives are more important than animal lives. If we really get to that point we will not have elevated animals to the level of man. We will have reduced the level of man to that of the animals. And that will not be good for us or for them.



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Doug

posted November 29, 2007 at 11:21 am


Funny you mentioned this. There was a controversy in my backyard last night over whether the lives of dogs are more important than those of raccoons. The dispute was moderated by mop handle and the jury’s still out.



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April

posted November 29, 2007 at 11:52 am


I think human lives are more important; I think, though, that people get more… passionate? about those who are helpless and unconditional in their love, e.g., babies, pets. These are beings for whom we have taken responsibility and are perhaps less able to fend for themselves.



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Aquari

posted November 29, 2007 at 12:03 pm


I look at it this way: most often when we kill humans, we justify it by saying they are like animals – either savages who are ‘no better than animals’, or those lacking intelligence or self-awareness who are ‘little more than animals’. At the same time, we tend to value animals percieved as ‘human-like’ – the most intelligent (apes, elephants, dolphins) and those which, regardless of their intelligence, we attribute human emotions to (cats, dogs, to some extent horses) – more than other animals.
This says to me that, rather than drawing an absolute distinction between ‘humans – high priority’ and ‘animals – low priority’, we have in our minds a sliding scale of ‘degree of humanity’ – the higher your rating, regardless of your species, the more your life is worth. This strikes me as a very dangerous idea. If we make those traits we idealize as ‘characteristically human’ (intelligence, self-awarness, ability to communicate, rationality) the ‘measure of a man’, then it is those humans who are most vulnerable – infants, the mentally ill or disabled – who will fail to make the cut-off, as they fall below the level of animals.



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Brad

posted November 29, 2007 at 1:00 pm


I think the question for me is,
“Do I value all life? or just some of it? or none of it?” The sliding-scale comment was rather insightful. I know that one thing that opened my eyes, was that of my pastor, who decided not to kill a spider that he saw crawling in his house, instead he used a child’s bug-vacuum and let it outside without harm. his hypothesis, is that why should that creature have to die to make him more comfortable? what gives him the right to make that decision? if God is in control of life & death why do we have to intervene? it’s an interesting and wonderful angle to look at life with. And one that I have myself attempted to change into.



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SkipChurch

posted November 29, 2007 at 1:11 pm


Do animals have any moral standing at all?
We certainly act as if they do– most of the time. Intentionally inflicting harm, pain and suffering on animals for entertainment (dog fighting, bear baiting, cock fighting) is considered to be uncivilized, maybe even morally wrong. Yet this is a fairly recent development. Fox hunting and bull fighting are still practiced. Folks tramp around for hours to shoot a deer with an arrow. Is there a distinction to be made among these? Is it a matter or degree, or a matter of class. Dog fighting: lower class. Fox hunting: upper class. Deer hunting: okay, because deer are such pests. Hardly anybody likes sewer rats, but most people would find the idea of torturing them repulsive (as opposed to merely killing them).
A great deal of moral upset surrounds animal agriculture as well. How chickens are kept, how the veal reaches your grocer’s meat case, whether steers are afraid or suffer before they’re killed.
Anyway, the whole issue of our relationship with animals is very confused and in flux at this point. All of the moral discussions seem to lead down the path of relativism and utilitarianism which I have observed Christians otherwise are loath to tread.
(There is a discussion of Gadarene swine just dying to burst out here, but I’ll resist.)



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canucklehead

posted November 29, 2007 at 1:22 pm


Last month I performed a wedding ceremony in which the ringbearer was a Golden Lab with the rings in a nice little pouch daintily tied about the dog’s neck. Since this was a first for me, I did the only thing I could think of: I asked the dog to raise its hind leg and repeat after me…



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c kitty

posted November 29, 2007 at 11:26 pm


I believe God gives us all plenty of opportunities in life to help out other living beings. To me the question is not whether we help a human or non-human, but whether we help the one standing before us in need, or whether we choose to instead spent our money, time and effort on self-indulgence. I don’t think He will judge us on who we were kind to but whether we treated all living beings with regard.
I volunteer with an animal rescue organization. What I do is pretty miniscule compared to a lot of the other (younger and more energetic) members. The ones at the front of the line to help animals are often the same ones adopting “unadoptable” children, marching for Darfur, working to educate the unenlightened about AIDS, etc.etc. In other words, it’s not an either or, animals or people. It’s either or, people who care and those who don’t so much.



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Jillian

posted November 30, 2007 at 3:56 am


I’m not sure people make as much of a distinction between human and animal so much as between human and inhuman.
If I remember correctly, in Ancient Greece the criteria for being human were the abilities to demonstrate proper love, mercy, shame, and sorrow. In the Ancient Semitic world humanity lay in the ability to speak in plea or demand, and answer in thanks or blessing when appropriate to the fullness of the both material and spiritual situation. In pre-Conquest America, most native peoples conceived as human the ability to treat things and people with the considered, full, and proper measure of dignity that they deserved. In Ancient Northern Europe, the measure appears to have been mostly ability to deal with danger or disaster with foresight and courage and generosity, and to opportunity with reason and restraint. Descartes probably summarized an ancient view in his part of the world with ‘Cogito, ergo sum’- sensible reason or imagination as proof of humanness. In Ancient East Asia there seems to have been a criterion based on demonstration of reverence toward things (and people) that had great beauty, awe, wonder, or sublimity to them.
I don’t know how we choose between them. But I’m worried when we allow use of lesser, purely material ones rather than behavioral ones- when skin color or primitive agrarian material culture or the fashion of use of the words ‘Jesus’ or ‘Allah’ seems to become an absolute criterion. The great Biblical example is in Judges 12:6, where pronunciation of the word ‘shibboleth’ decided between life and death.



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Doug

posted November 30, 2007 at 6:11 am


Jillian, it might be more mixed than that. In ancient Greece, the Cynics (Cynic meaning doglike,) like Anisthemenes and Diogenes believed that dogs had a superior culture to humans and that human well-being depended on overcoming the distinctive traits of human culture.
I still wonder what happened to my brother, Donny.



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SkipChurch

posted November 30, 2007 at 6:44 am


In pre-Columbian America I don’t think generalizations can be confidently made, partly because we have no pre-1492 literature of the native peoples, and partly because essentially all of the early reports are those of missionaries, economic adventurers, European military men, and the like. Speaking just of the groups with which I am very familiar(Cheyenne, Lakota, Kiowa), it is fair to observe that the treatment of those within the group and those without differed dramatically. In the classic period on the Plains, if you were an enemy of these people you ought not to imagine that your dignity or anything else about you would be recognized in a hostile encounter. There was no concept (for instance) of ‘civilian’ or ‘non-combatant.'(Cf. OT account of conquest of the Promised Land.)
As to the Greeks, Aristotle considered rationality the main human attribute, and I think this is pretty much the thrust of Greek philosophy. They were always rooting around for something that would differentiate us from the other animals, and Aristotle thought that the ability to do arithmatic was the uniquely human attainment. Of course as Bertrand Russell observed, “As arithmetic has grown easier, it has come to be less respected. The consequence is that, though many philosophers continue to tell us what fine fellows we are, it is no longer on account of our arithmetical skill that they praise us.”



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NJS

posted November 30, 2007 at 5:21 pm


David Kuo- I really don’t want to challenge you because I believe in a lot of what you’re saying, but I still don’t understand why you feel so adamant about one being more “important” then the other. I’m certainly not going to bash humans, as I am truly blessed with friends and family, without whom I’d be lost.
I will say this to clarify my perspective. I was in a bad car accident several years ago. I ended up mangled in the middle of an intersection driving home from work. The other guy ran a red. Instead of anyone offering assistance or offering to be a witness, these people in these cars actually honked at me mercilessly because I was in their way. It was the coldest experience of my life.
I’ll spare the details, as I’m sure people would get bored and stop reading halfway through anyway, but a dog (a creature of less significance then us humans) risked its life to save mine.
Again, not bashing humans… but no one can ever convince me that humans are more important than animals.
And I do appreciate being inspired to evaluate my priorities, but I will not be criticized for them. I couldn’t care less if anyone disagrees with me.



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NJS

posted November 30, 2007 at 6:06 pm


….just wanted to add to my previous post that I totally respect everyone’s right to believe whatever they choose. All I ask is for the same courtesy.



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Larry Parker

posted December 1, 2007 at 1:29 am


I am absolutely devoted to my dachshund (my handle on the Beliefnet Community is “doxieman122″). She has literally been a therapy dog to me in my depression.
And if I had to throw her in front of a bus to save a stranger, I would do it in a heartbeat.



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Jillian

posted December 1, 2007 at 2:17 am


Very interesting, Doug! I was thinking of the values in Homer, but that is a wonderful curiosity. My reading in Greek philosophy is limited, mostly Aristotle and Plato and the Stoa. (I recommend comparative works, like Boman’s “Hebrew Thought Compared With Greek”.)
There seem to be several problematic Donny posts that were removed, some replies to them also, on threads from November 14 to 17 and perhaps a bit later. It does not seem likely that we will see more posts from him….



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Charity

posted December 1, 2007 at 3:48 pm


Larry – *applause*
We have four cats and one dog -all rescuced from various sources. We love them all dearly. And I’d do the same as you, without questions.



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Anonymous

posted December 1, 2007 at 7:35 pm


I’m going to pay to feed and get my dogs medical care before I send that money to human charities. Am I putting them over human lives? Maybe. But if I am, then I suppose so is anyone who has a pet… after all, that money could be going to human beings.
(FYI, I’m not to give up or euthanize my dogs.)



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Anonymous

posted December 1, 2007 at 7:55 pm


Larry & Charity:
Since you seem so ready to save human lives at the cost of your pets, how about getting your pets euthanized so you can donate the money used for their care to donate to charity to save human lives? If you’re serious, then why haven’t you done that already? There are many good charities that have been proven to save human lives.
I mean, it’s easy to SAY you’d throw your dog under bus, but you don’t even have to that far. Just get them a lethal shot. It’s painless. And then you’ll really be putting your money where your mouth is, instead of pontificating on an internet forum.



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c kitty

posted December 1, 2007 at 11:29 pm


Just curious — what if the stranger for whom you sacrificed your beloved pet turned out to be a serial killer, a drug dealer, or a pedophile? Is all human life more valuable than any other animal life?



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Laura in WA

posted December 2, 2007 at 12:56 am


Regarding the post above — respectfully, I’d ask, if you own an exensive TV, video game console, car, or any other luxury item — do you think that item is worth more or less than a human life? If it’s worth less than a human life, why did you buy it when you could instead have donated the purchase price to an organization that saves lives? Doesn’t that prove you think your TV is worth more than a human being? This is the same logic you’re using to criticize those who posted that they consider their pets less valuable than humans. (And of course, it’s silly — not that we all shouldn’t make charitable giving a priority in our lives!)
Regarding the whole “animal vs. human” debate, I can’t help but think that someone who spends $20,000 on surgery for a pet is probably much more likely to hear “do you know how many starving children that money could have fed?” criticisms than someone who spends $20,000 on a deluxe vacation. Is that perhaps an indication that we as a society consider pets and other animals not only less valuable than humans, but also less valuable than our material luxuries?
Regarding the Michael Vick case, I don’t have a problem with the fine because I see it as requiring him to take responsibility for the animals he mistreated. (If not for that, even disregarding the animal vs. human question, I’d think the money would probably do more good to more animals by being donated to an animal shelter or other rescue organization).
In reality, I’m certain that for the vast majority of people, regardless of their spiritual or philosophical beliefs, if there was a buring building with a human and an animal inside, and they could only save one of the two, of course they’d save the human. It wouldn’t even be a choice. But such scenarios just don’t crop up that often in reality. (Just as there’s never likely to be a scenario where where anyone would actually have to throw a beloved pet under a bus to save a stranger). In the real world, protecting our environment is good for us as well as for animals. And as David said, treating the animals in our care humanely is not a question of pitting animals against humans — it’s just the moral thing to do.
If we say that money shouldn’t be given to organizations that help animals while there are human beings suffering, where does the slope stop slipping? Millions of people in the most impoverished parts of the world are arguably much worse off than even homeless people in the US. Does that mean we should stop helping the homeless in America until worldwide poverty has been eliminated? I don’t think so.
We all have different calls in life. And those who dedicate resources to alleviate suffering (human or animal) in whatever way they feel called should be commended. It certainly beats living to acquire more “stuff” for oneself.



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Larry Parker

posted December 2, 2007 at 1:15 am


Mr. or Ms. Anonymous:
My dog is healthy, tiny and eats very little. If you’re saying I could use that money to pay for supporting ONE child in the developing world, at best … well, maybe. (Though of course, there are lots of people in poor as well as rich countries who have pets.)
But then direct your comments against pet ownership in general, not individuals on this comment box.



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Larry Parker

posted December 2, 2007 at 1:19 am


c kitty:
That is a chance I would be taking, yes.
The fact remains that in a split-second, if it’s either/or (obviously I wouldn’t intentionally kill my dog unless the person would definitely be killed otherwise), you have to prioritize humans.



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NJS

posted December 2, 2007 at 9:02 am


If anyone wants to lay in on me for my comments, go right ahead. Just know before you do that I am not arguing the importance of human life. I’m suggesting that this need to say one is more important than the other is futile. It’s all important. I donate blood, I donate money to cancer research, Make a Wish Foundation, Firefighters of America AND the ASPCA. I wish I had more money to donate to every worthy cause out there. It’s ALL important.
It’s good to be inspired re-evalutate our priorities… but our priorities are OUR own and I say this for the people who agree with me and the people who don’t.
For the record, I would do everything in my power to try to save a stranger but my priorities are first and foremost with anyone who’s shown me love and loyalty- human or animal.



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c kitty

posted December 2, 2007 at 1:59 pm


My question, again, is do we have to prioritize humans, and if so, why? This is not a criticism of anyone’s position, I want to hear other people’s ideas, because I don’t have all the answers.



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canucklehead

posted December 2, 2007 at 9:50 pm


The past week’s issue of TIME has a very intersting cover article on what makes humans moral/immoral. Among other things, they cite certain tests which suggest that animals are more advanced along this line than we may think.
My six-week old purebred black Pug, Mollee, says “woof” to all of you.



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Anonymous

posted December 3, 2007 at 12:43 am


“Regarding the post above — respectfully, I’d ask, if you own an exensive TV, video game console, car, or any other luxury item — do you think that item is worth more or less than a human life?”
I already stated that I own two dogs and that in a monetary sense, it could be said that I’m putting them above human life. So I don’t know what your point is.
“The fact remains that in a split-second, if it’s either/or (obviously I wouldn’t intentionally kill my dog unless the person would definitely be killed otherwise), you have to prioritize humans.”
This is a ridiculous statement to make because it has no application to reality. There will never be a scenario where you have to throw your dog under the bus in order to save a human. It’s like me asking myself if I’d rip out my eye to save a stranger. So what’s the point of declaring a thing, other than to demonstrate how incredibly moral and self-sacrificing you are by showing how much you love your fellow man?
And then, you freely admit you’re unwilling to spend the money you spend on your dog on starving children, which is a real world action that could be taken, as opposed to your bizarre bus scenario.
“But then direct your comments against pet ownership in general, not individuals on this comment box.”
When individuals on this comment box make statements like yours, I feel they merit a response. Since this is a place for discussion, I am going to respond. If you’re unable to handle people disagreeing with you, perhaps you should rethink posting on a forum with open comments.



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Larry Parker

posted December 3, 2007 at 2:27 pm


Mr. or Ms. Anonymous:
I have no problem with criticism (although I certainly do coming from someone who won’t even give a username — gee, that takes guts …).
I realize my scenario was unlikely, but it could happen. I’m walking my dog, I see a person about to get run over, so I let go my dog’s leash, push the person out of the way … and my dog runs under the car/bus to her death.
And you completely ignored my remark that pet ownership is nearly universal among human cultures, even poor ones. Thus, giving up my dog and sending my pet money to an African charity might end up … going to someone with a pet. Where’s the moral superiority there?



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Random Username

posted December 3, 2007 at 8:28 pm


“I realize my scenario was unlikely, but it could happen. I’m walking my dog, I see a person about to get run over, so I let go my dog’s leash, push the person out of the way … and my dog runs under the car/bus to her death. ”
That’s not throwing your dog under a bus, is it?
“I have no problem with criticism (although I certainly do coming from someone who won’t even give a username — gee, that takes guts …).”
Nice ad hominem attack. I’m not posting my real name on an internet forum, regardless.
There. I gave myself a username. Happy?
“And you completely ignored my remark that pet ownership is nearly universal among human cultures, even poor ones. Thus, giving up my dog and sending my pet money to an African charity might end up … going to someone with a pet. Where’s the moral superiority there?”
You don’t know that for sure. So what you’re saying is that because SOME of the money MIGHT go an animal (which I think is quite unlikely in children don’t get enough to eat), that you are unwilling to take that chance when it might save or preserve a human life. When you yourself say we must prioritize human life over animal life.
Fine. I’m making the same choice as you, by the way. But let’s call it what it is. This is spending our disposable income on an animal rather than on helping our fellow man. The only reason this isn’t seen as reprehensible is that basically everyone who can do it does it, and does a lot worse (like the previous poster mentioned, people buy two or three tvs, tons of material goods they don’t need, etc).



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c kitty

posted December 3, 2007 at 10:45 pm


It may be morally wrong to those who believe humans trump animals, but if I were walking down the street carrying my brat-cat Cinammon ( walking on a leash is NOT going to happen), I would not let go of her to save someone about to get run over by a bus. In fact I would hold her tighter to keep her safe. I adore this cat, I am responsible for her welfare. I made that commitment when I adopted her. She is my first responsibility. I think God hard-wired us to care for “our own” first.
Maybe some feel more strongly about the Vick dogs than the Darfur children because the dogs are just closer to home. Maybe there’s an element of guilt about the way we idolize sports heroes when they turn out to be less than heroic.



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Larry Parker

posted December 4, 2007 at 12:23 am


RU:
So if you have a pet, why criticize everyone else who has one? Isn’t that a little hypocritical?
PS — You’re parsing “throwing under a bus” WAY too much …



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Random Username

posted December 4, 2007 at 2:41 am


Why? I do think that it’s wrong (when it comes right down to it) to surround myself with things I don’t absolutely need (like pets, tvs) when I could be saving lives or helping people with that money; on the other hand, I think doing the RIGHT thing might make me pretty miserable, with the knowledge I was doing right as the only comfort. I’m not sure that would be enough for me. I’m pretty selfish that way.
But the main thing is, I know no one will ever call me to task for it on this earth for it, because everyone else is doing the exact same thing. When everyone shares a vice it becomes invisible and it gets left unquestioned. It makes it pretty easy for me continue on my merry way, feeling sorry for the less fortunate, giving some but not all that I could give, and collecting material things. People will call you generous for giving ANYTHING because they’re in that same boat. And we all pat each other on the back for efforts that are, when you get right down to it, pretty pathetic and shameful.
I’m sure there some people out there truly giving their all, in a way that resembles the Christian ideal, but I’ve never met such a person and I’m sure these people are far and few between.



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Not buying it.

posted December 4, 2007 at 10:41 am


The fact remains that in a split-second, if it’s either/or (obviously I wouldn’t intentionally kill my dog unless the person would definitely be killed otherwise), you have to prioritize humans.
How is that a fact?
Why do we have to prioritize humans, who have proved for milennia that they are selfish, cruel, ungrateful, greedy, backstabbing, backbiting, conniving, duplicitous creatures? When was the last time a dog strip-mined an entire eco-system to get raw materials to make plastic crap?
When was the last time a cat committed genicide against indigenous people to feed its ever-growing hunger for more land and resource?
When was the last time a fish dumped toxic chemicals in humans’ living rooms in order to save a buck?
Your “fact” flies in the face of reality. Prioritizing human animals over non-human animals has resulted in 200 extinctions of non-human animals EVERY DAY. It has resulted in a football-field sized clearcut EVERY SECOND.
The actions taken by those who subscribe to the worldview you espouse are destroying the life-support system for all living things on the planet.
I pray for the collapse of the “human first” world.



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Laura in WA

posted December 5, 2007 at 12:49 am


Why? I do think that it’s wrong (when it comes right down to it) to surround myself with things I don’t absolutely need (like pets, tvs) when I could be saving lives or helping people with that money; on the other hand, I think doing the RIGHT thing might make me pretty miserable, with the knowledge I was doing right as the only comfort. I’m not sure that would be enough for me. I’m pretty selfish that way.
Certainly it’s true that there are very few people in the world who are unselfish enough to forego ALL non-essential material items in order to help others. (I know I’m certainly not.) However, that’s a separate question from the original topic of whether human life is more valuable than animal life.
Ultimately I’d have to say I believe humans are more valuable than animlas (though I see limited usefulness in pitting humans against animals and think our interests are tied together more often than they’re in conflict). However, while I sometimes feel guilty about spending money on material items that I don’t actually need when there’s so much suffering in the world, I do not feel guilty about buying food, litter, and veterinary care for my two cats. I think they deserve a good life, and the only way for that to happen is for someone to take care of them. They’re domesticated cats and can’t survive in the wild. Plus, I took responsibility for them when I adopted them and it would be wrong to abandon that responsibility.
Which is why, in regards to the speculation about whether pet owners should euthanize their pets to donate to people-centered charities, I firmly believe that would be immoral. It would be one thing for someone to choose not to adopt a pet and instead donate the money they would have spent on the pet’s care to charity; but once you have a pet you have a responsibility to them. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t donate to charity — you just have to find a way to do that AND care for your pet.



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Larry Parker

posted December 5, 2007 at 1:25 am


RU:
Your misanthropy obviously extends to the entire species (the human one, that is, not the domesticated canine one). So why target one individual?
NBI:
Rod Dreher of “Crunchy Con” had a discussion on just your point recently.
The only way for you to be intellectually and morally consistent with your own beliefs, if you think about it, is to commit suicide. And, as someone with depression, that’s not a fate I would wish on anyone.



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Not buying it.

posted December 5, 2007 at 9:15 am


The only way for you to be intellectually and morally consistent with your own beliefs, if you think about it, is to commit suicide. And, as someone with depression, that’s not a fate I would wish on anyone.

Nonsense – Read some Derrick Jensen. Try “A Language Older Than Words.” Then tell me again about “morally consistent” position.
As a human animal who is not in a position of power, the real “moarally consistent” position would be to fight the “humans first” power structures that are destroying the rest of the world.
If everyone who lamented the damage civilization is doing killed themselves, there’d be no one left to stop the psychopaths who are murdering the rest of the life on the planet.
Try again.



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Larry Parker

posted December 5, 2007 at 5:24 pm


NBI:
But you said yourself that humans inherently ravage the planet.
And, last I checked, you’re human.
Which means you’re among those ravaging the planet.
So what is the easiest way to stop humans from ravaging the planet? By my way of thinking, to stop existing, period.
I don’t want you to do that, of course; I’m just pointing out the logical fallacy of your thinking.



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Random Username

posted December 6, 2007 at 1:15 am


“Your misanthropy obviously extends to the entire species (the human one, that is, not the domesticated canine one). So why target one individual?”
Oh, please. Acknowledging that most of us would rather spend our money on DVD players (and yes, dogs) than feed and shelter the poor is NOT misanthropy. It’s a statement of fact, and I do not think it is what Jesus would do or advocate. It’s not human beings, but selfishness and greed that frustrate me (no one’s more than my own), and yeah, I have to say that collecting luxuries when people are starving and dying is selfishness and greed. Period.
You said you would kill your dog in order to save a human life, but apparently that’s only true in bizarre scenarios you contoct in your mind, not in the real world when it involves actually doing something and really shifting your monetary priorities from animal life to human life. I don’t know how much clearer I can make this.
I’m not “targetting” you, geez. But you’re the one who made that ridiculous and grandiose statement, and it deserves a response.



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Not buying it

posted December 6, 2007 at 9:37 am


I don’t want you to do that, of course; I’m just pointing out the logical fallacy of your thinking.
No, what you’re doing is demanding that people who have no power take responsibility for the heinous crimes of those who have power – that is not poking holes in a logical fallacy – that’s perpetrating one of your own.
What I actually said was:
Prioritizing human animals over non-human animals has resulted in 200 extinctions of non-human animals EVERY DAY. It has resulted in a football-field sized clearcut EVERY SECOND.

I recognize that playing the “commit suicide” card is the only thing you civilizational apologists have to play, but “the easiest way to stop humans from ravaging the planet” is to stop humans from ravaging the planet.
It’s not simplistic, it’s just that simple.



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Not buying it

posted December 6, 2007 at 9:43 am


I’m not “targetting” you, geez. But you’re the one who made that ridiculous and grandiose statement, and it deserves a response.
I’ve checked around. Ridiculous and grandiose appears to be LP’s stock in trade.
The CC crowd don’t give him any quarter because he’s to the left of them, so he gives grief to those left of him because they won’t twist their minds up to believe his brand of what he calls “logic.”
Give it up, LP. Stop trying to suck up to conservatives by playing the good Uncle Tom Liberal. Though it may garner you a few more clicks on your yawn-fest of a blog, you’re not winning any points.



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Larry Parker

posted December 6, 2007 at 1:18 pm


NBI:
Let’s see … you want to stand up for the potential if not actualized decency of humanity, and you come up with … AN AD HOMINEM ATTACK to do so.
Yeah, that’s real consistent of you …
PS — Ad hominem attacks are at least more credible if you give your real name. (I freely allow myself to be googled as you just did; but you, of course, don’t do the same.)



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Larry Parker

posted December 6, 2007 at 1:33 pm


RU:
And again, to reverse NBI, it’s NOT that simple.
I gave the example of where I would sacrifice my dog in an urgent situation. When you said I didn’t specify it enough, I specified it. You say that’s not good enough. Hmmm …
I’ll even give you that you are pointing out your own hypocrisy simply in the name of pointing out all human hypocrisy, and not make a big deal about that. But, as several other JW posters have pointed out, what you really advocate is giving the dog (or cat, or ferret, or …) up to a shelter to be euthanized. In other words, abdicating responsibility for a living being.
How does abdicating responsibility for living beings ultimately help other humans? Giving the pet food money and vet money (trust me, VERY little in my case) may nourish a **very** few other humans’ bodies (in my case, I’m not sure even one in total), but it won’t nourish their souls.
Particularly when, as noted, pet ownership is a fairly universal tradition anyway, in poor countries as well as rich; i.e., the people being supposedly helped by euthanizing pets might not WANT to be helped by euthanizing pets.
PS — If you say you are not a misanthrope, I will trust you and believe you. (Unlike, say NBI to me.) But the post I was immediately responding to, IMHO, remains highly misanthropic.



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Larry Parker

posted December 6, 2007 at 1:40 pm


NBI:
Your googling obviously didn’t collect **everything** of mine, even on Bnet let alone IRL.
You may say I’m ridiculous. You may say I’m grandiose. You may say I’m an Uncle Tom Liberal (though I can only guess what you mean by that — that I don’t support Kucinich or Gravel? that I respectfully recognize some people don’t share my beliefs?).
You may even say I’m fabulistic like James Frey or Augusten Burroughs (though I’m not). But I’ve gotten universal (other than you), and I mean UNIVERSAL, reaction that the one thing you cannot call me is a “yawn-fest” (http://)
blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2007/11/larry-parker-how-do-you-move-b.html



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Not Buying It.

posted December 6, 2007 at 7:01 pm


Parker,
You say you’d “throw your dog in front of a bus to save a human,” and that I should kill myself, but my opinion of both your posting tactics (designed to obfuscate and misdirect through misquoting or deliberate misinterpretation of intent and meaning) and your boring blog (yes – it *is* boring to watch a self-proclaimed liberal suck up to conservatism time and again) is ad hominem?
Yeah – ok – so it’s ad hominem. Rest assured that no matter how much you obfuscate or misdirect, the fact remains that the “human first” mindset you espouse is directly responsible for the state of the living world as it is today.
So go back on over to the Crunchy blog. Your “let’s all just get along” idealism plays right into the hands of those who are destroying all the life on this planet.
As an apologist for them, you’re part of the problem.



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Not Buying It.

posted December 6, 2007 at 7:06 pm


Regarding my not leaving my name – some of us aren’t here to suck up to religionists in hopes of getting a book or blog deal out of it.
I’ll start signing YOUR name to my posts – you sure apparently love to see it in print.
Love,
Larry Parker II



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Larry Parker

posted December 6, 2007 at 9:08 pm


NBI:
To make the obvious (and admittedly ad hominem) pun, you are a sick puppy.
PS — Specific examples of “sucking up to conservatives” would be appreciated.



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Larry Parker

posted December 6, 2007 at 9:22 pm


NBI:
Back to the merits:
“… the fact remains that the “human first” mindset you espouse is directly responsible for the state of the living world as it is today.”
And, even if suicide is an extreme example, you are a part of it too, because you are human. If humans aren’t first, then you at least believe in sacrificing yourself in favor of animals – letting yourself be eaten by a starving crocodile to keep it alive; or at least, say, throwing YOURSELF in front of a bus to save your pet.
“Your ‘let’s all just get along’ idealism plays right into the hands of those who are destroying all the life on this planet. As an apologist for them, you’re part of the problem.”
No, what you want me to apologize for is having the ultimate view of what it will take to solve the human problem (even if it probably will never happen); rather than being angry and confrontational to get to a place of peace — which will DEFINITELY never happen. Human beings, who you correctly say are badly flawed, can’t suddenly switch their nature on a dime.
As for brooking compromise being too impure, last I checked, Martin Luther King worked with Republicans, too. In his speech today, Mitt Romney bragged about his dad George (then the governor of Michigan and himself a presidential candidate) marching with King.
If revolution rather than civil disobedience –- and yes, political compromise — is the only way to social change, then we should look to Communist countries for our model.
No, thank you. And if that makes me a “collaborator” or “fifth columnist,” so be it. (You already think I’m a fifth-RATE columnist, so there you go.)



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Larry Parker

posted December 6, 2007 at 9:44 pm


Have I run into somewhere before, NBI?
I’m guessing I have. (The Bnet discussion boards, maybe?) Your venom seems AWFULLY personal.



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Larry Parker

posted December 6, 2007 at 9:45 pm


“run into you,” obviously …
This intensely personalized debate is (completely unnecessarily) exhausting.



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Larry Parker

posted December 6, 2007 at 9:47 pm


PS — If your objection is truly to me having civil dialogue with “religionists,” recheck the name of this Web site.
You’re on the wrong one, buddy.



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Not Buying It.

posted December 6, 2007 at 11:10 pm


And, even if suicide is an extreme example, you are a part of it too, because you are human. If humans aren’t first, then you at least believe in sacrificing yourself in favor of animals – letting yourself be eaten by a starving crocodile to keep it alive; or at least, say, throwing YOURSELF in front of a bus to save your pet.
You have it half right. I’m part of the problem because I’m a “civilized” human. My continued existence (and everyone else’s reading this) requirese consistent and all-pervasive violence against the non-human animals, wild humans, and the very landbase that supports us all.
This inherently unsustainable way of life does not require me to feed myself to a crocodile. In fact, my feeding myself to a crocodile would do nothing at all to stop the destruction of the world upon which we live.
Rather, people who recognize the damage we’re doing need to do 2 things:
1) Wake up as many people as possible to the deadly fallacy of “humans first” when that means the very air we breathe, water we drink, and land wich feeds us is poisoned to benefit a select elite.
2) Stop those select elite from killing us all.
Diplomacy has never and will never worked with those people. “Please sir, stop killing the planet, and we’ll be your friend!” isn’t going to make Weyerhauser stop destroying all the forests in North and South America. Nor will it stop agribusiness from toxifying our water supply with pesticides and animal waste, dangerously playing gods with the food supply by producing strile strains of food to maximize profit, or facilitating the creation of superbugs with antibiotic-laden dairy cows and mad-cow inducing feeding practices. Nor will it stop industry after industry that steals third world land (thanks to unlimited money that can be paid to tin-pot elites) from subsistence farmers then forces them into slavery as it flouts the environmental degredation that results.
“Please, sir. Be nice,” is working absolutely wonderfully.



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Not Buying It.

posted December 6, 2007 at 11:12 pm


PS — If your objection is truly to me having civil dialogue with “religionists,” recheck the name of this Web site.
If and when Murdoch changes the name to “ReligionNet,” I’ll happily and diplomatically retract that statement.
Til then…



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Larry Parker

posted December 7, 2007 at 9:01 am


NBI:
If you are, in fact, as you hint, willing to return this to a “civil dialogue,” I am interested in your response to my following statement:
**Human beings, who you correctly say are badly flawed, can’t suddenly switch their nature on a dime.**



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Not buying it

posted December 7, 2007 at 9:22 am


My response to that statement is:
It is not “human beings” who are the problem. “Human beings” have existed for hundreds fo thousands of years as homo sapiens sapiens, and in the few places where they have been left to their own devices, they have lived in concert with the community of life on the planet.
It is the psychopathic civilized mindset that says that humans are the only life on the planet that matters which has brought us to the brink of global ecosystem collapse. Parse that any way you like.
Let me ask you a civil question:
If your loved one was being raped and killed before your eyes, do you think using Martin Luther King Jr’s non-violent resistence would get the perpetrator to stop raping and killing her? Do you think that if you just asked nicely enough that it would stop? Do you think that if you filed enough injunctions or wrote enough articles he’d stop raping and killing her?



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Not buying it

posted December 7, 2007 at 9:28 am


Just to make it perfectly clear, so that there’s no misunderstanding what I’m saying above:
It is not “human nature” that needs to change. It is civilized humanity’s cultural identity that needs to change.
If it’s possible for a murderer to become a saint in a flash of light, then it’s possible for someone to let go of their acculturation in a flash.
Let’s put it this way – one way or another, acculturated or not, there’s coming a time when all the civil dialogue in the world isn’t going to stop this train wreck already in progress.
So our choices are to:
1) Ask nicely for the elites actively killing the planet to stop while the degradation continues to the point that the world is uninhabitable by anything larger than bacteria.
2) Stop them by whatever means are necessary.
3) Go shopping.
I don’t know how else to say it. So in the meantime I’m…



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Larry Parker

posted December 7, 2007 at 12:24 pm


**If your loved one was being raped and killed before your eyes, do you think using Martin Luther King Jr’s non-violent resistence would get the perpetrator to stop raping and killing her? Do you think that if you just asked nicely enough that it would stop? Do you think that if you filed enough injunctions or wrote enough articles he’d stop raping and killing her?**
NBI:
This is a combination of Bernie Shaw’s question to Michael Dukakis in 1988 and a question asked of me on the Beliefnet discussion boards (which frankly, drove me off of them) about why I wouldn’t support waterboarding.
I would hope you would extrapolate by now that if I’m willing to let my dog go into traffic to save a stranger’s life, I would certainly try to fight off a guy trying to assault my wife — even if I was killed in the process. But one-on-one is different than the systems questions you yourself raise.
And there’s another way to frame the question here, that actually involves systems. The question I was asked online was, “If my daughter was kidnapped by terrorists and threatened with rape and torture, and one of the terrorists was captured, would you support waterboarding him?”
My answer was no.
Besides (IMHO) its inherent moral wrongness, I don’t believe waterboarding produces accurate information. And if the captured terrorist actually did have the right information to find my daughter (note that I am actually childless IRL), we couldn’t risk the waterboarding killing him. I would have confidence in the traditional “good cop, bad cop” interrogation process eventually breaking the guy. (All the while, of course, other cops would be searching for my daughter anyway.)
The response, of course, from a to-the-death Bush supporter, was that I would be a horrible father who actively wanted his daughter tortured, raped, and killed for opposing the waterboarding.
Violent revolution can easily be flipped into violent counterrevolution. IMHO, it’s not the answer to all our problems.
(And on a side note, you have a far more benevolent view of human nature than I do, for all your attacks on human **systems** — which may ultimately be why we are fighting so much.)



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Not buying it

posted December 7, 2007 at 12:43 pm


The thing is, LP, we’re not talking about hypotheticals. Right now. Right this very second – there are people that are engaged in the business of destroying your life support system.
Asking nicely isn’t going to make them stop.
So – what would it take to get you to set aside the kum-bah-ya for a moment and stop them from killing you?
How many more species have to go extinct before enough is enough?
How many more square miles of your oxygen-creation system have to be destroyed before enough is enough?
How many more millions of subsistence farmers need to be enslaved to make more plastic crap before enough is enough?
90% of the world’s large fish are gone. What percentage is enough? 95%? 98%? 99.9%? How much?
What’s your threshhold?



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Larry Parker

posted December 7, 2007 at 2:33 pm


NBI:
You’ve already figured out by now I’m an incrementalist, not a revolutionary. Most people are, including self-described liberals like myself.
I don’t believe humanity is ultimately perfectable. I do believe it can make progress.
But nothing would be enough for you, would it? If I said I supported Kyoto, that wouldn’t be enough. If I said I sailed on the Rainbow Warrior and just about got blasted to Kingdom Come by the French, that wouldn’t be enough. If I said I journeyed to the Amazon rain forest to demonstrate against clear-cutting with the natives, that wouldn’t be enough. If I said I went to Darfur to guard the women in the refugee camps from the Janjaweed, that wouldn’t be enough.
As I’ve told you several times (a fact you seem to be ignoring), while yes I have political views, I also have a chronic, incurable illness. My core activism is focused there. (And frankly, I’m in poverty right now, and can’t journey anywhere, let alone globetrotting.)
I have enough trouble trying to save myself (which is not, I might add, merely selfish if my activism helps others with my disease) without also trying to save the world.
Which probably can’t be done, IMHO, in the ultimate sense, anyway.



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Not buying it

posted December 7, 2007 at 3:15 pm


But nothing would be enough for you, would it? If I said I supported Kyoto, that wouldn’t be enough.

Unless Kyoto involves dismantling the industries that are polluting the world, then no.
Kyoto says to industry: “These are guidelines we should be living by. We recognize and understand based on your historical response to previous protests that you are not going to stop killing the world, but if you’d just be so kind as to look at our proposal while you dump your toxic crap into our air, we’d be ever-so appreciative.” Kyoto is a waste of breath and paper. What exactly does Kyoto do?
If I said I sailed on the Rainbow Warrior and just about got blasted to Kingdom Come by the French, that wouldn’t be enough.
Unless the Rainbow Warrior was armed and ready to sink those French ships themselves, then no – it’s not enough. How many pods of whales have they saved from sonic testing for oil – you know, those sounds that are loud enough to liquefy human flesh, but are supposedly okay to detonate in the worlds oceans? How many habitats are industry and pollutant free thanks to Greenpeace? How many dead zones in the ocean have been revitalized by Greenpeace? What exactly does Greenpeace accomplish?
If I said I journeyed to the Amazon rain forest to demonstrate against clear-cutting with the natives, that wouldn’t be enough.
Did your demonstrations include dismantling clear-cutting machinery? Or did you stand around singing songs as the ancient trees fell? If demonstrations don’t stop clear-cutting, what exactly do demonstrations accomplish?
If I said I went to Darfur to guard the women in the refugee camps from the Janjaweed, that wouldn’t be enough.
Depends on whether you stopped the Janjaweed from killing anyone. That would be enough.
However, if you stood by holding a “rape and murder are bad” sign as people around you were being raped and murdered, then yeah – it would be an ineffectual nonsensical demonstration designed to placate one’s own feelings of guilt rather than actually stop any atrocity.



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Not buying it

posted December 7, 2007 at 3:21 pm


Re: globetrotting,
It’s not necessary – there are things you can do in your own backyard to stop the degradation of your landbase. How much land in your area is currently under “environmental impact survey” to be turned into McMansions or Big Box Retail?
How many industries in your region are fouting environmental laws and dumping their crap into your landbase and water?
How many dams are in your area, killing the fish in favor of watering cash crops for agribusiness?
There’s plenty that can be done right in your neighborhood, if you look for it.
I know from chronic illness. I was diagnosed with BiPolar disorder myself over 15 years ago. What BiPolar people *don’t* need are activists. They need air, water and food that isn’t going to kill them.
All the awareness in the world isn’t going to amount to a hill of beans if you can’t breathe, my friend.



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Not buying it

posted December 7, 2007 at 3:51 pm


Please, LP, know that I am, at this moment, not trying to minimize you or your commitment to whatever it is to which you’re committed.
What I’m doing is trying to share with you my priorities in the hopes that you’ll recognize that the “humans first and always first” argument you made earlier is dangerous to humans and every other living thing.
The actions we take to make ourselves feel like we’re doing something always seem to limit the options to acting within the laws created by and for the benefit of those who are killing us.
Of COURSE they’re going to encourage us to act within proper channels, because when we do, we are not in any way a threat to their ability to keep killing us for profit.
Do you see?



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Larry Parker

posted December 8, 2007 at 12:33 pm


NBI:
I take a “think globally, act locally” perspective. You think that’s too narrow. OK — I think both your and my perspectives are valuable. (Interesting that we both share the same disease, BTW.)
The more I read our colloquy, the more I think you extrapolated **way** too much from my remark about my (beloved, BTW) dog. (And actually, given your commitment to animal rights, I’m a bit surprised you don’t either renounce the concept of pet ownership in general or at least, like PETA, say “mutts only.” Mine is a Polly Purebred, as it happens.)
The scenario was asking me to make a decision IN AN INSTANT. However, when we have time to reason, it is obvious that our health depends on the planet’s health, and that the planet’s health depends on both our commitment to ALL human beings AND a commitment to our ecology, including preserving animal and plant life, including stopping new pollution (and cleaning up old pollution), including freeing ourselves from fossil fuels, including drastically reducing waste streams, and including a lot of other things.
As for being an incrementalist, I’ve already pled guilty. But again, I think people like you AND people like me form “good cop, bad cop” teams that can get things done.



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Not Buying It.

posted December 8, 2007 at 1:45 pm


As for being an incrementalist, I’ve already pled guilty. But again, I think people like you AND people like me form “good cop, bad cop” teams that can get things done.
Amen, amen, and amen.
Derrick Jensen says that pacificts often miscontrue his stances on non-violence being the only acceptable option as saying that non-violence should never be an option. He rightly finds that mistranslation infuriating.
I think that there’s value in gumming up the worls of this system with as many non-violent means that exist, if only to delay further damage. By the same token, I don’t believe that non-violent options, in the end, will truly stop psychopathic elites from killing us.
For that, we need more direct action.
May the gods of our understanding bless both endeavors, just as I hope the gods of your understanding bless you.



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Not Buying It.

posted December 8, 2007 at 1:52 pm


re: pet ownership…
I do, in fact, reject the concept of “pet ownership.” However, I completely support “animal companionship.” Animals make wonderful companions.
Animals cannot, in my opinion, be “owned” any more than land can be “owned.” We, ourselves, are animals, and we cannot be owned. We can and do act like and pretend that animals and land can be “owned,” but I think that’s largely a way of avoiding cognitive dissonance about our actions as a civilization.
If animals are living, sentient things, then the way civilization treats them makes civilization as crazy as every slasher-movie boogeyman. Michael Myers meets Freddy Krueger, with an army to back it up and an education system to condition free peoples into believing we deserve to be slaughtered like teenagers at Camp Crystal Lake.
Man – I gotta tell you, as long as I’ve been on this path, I never cease to be amazed at civilized humanity’s ability to blithely destroy life.
Anyhow, it was good talking to you and getting to know you. I wish you the best.
I remain…



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Larry Parker

posted December 9, 2007 at 12:32 am


NBI:
I assure you, if perhaps I used traditional language to the contrary, Schumi the dachshund is a bit like a cat in that she would never let herself be “owned” by me …
:-)



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Bob

posted December 12, 2007 at 6:13 am


“I am absolutely devoted to my dachshund… She has literally been a therapy dog to me in my depression.
And if I had to throw her in front of a bus to save a stranger, I would do it in a heartbeat.”

The dog’s life is less valuable to you probably because she doesn’t have the the same psychological capabilities of the average human, right?
Well I could say the same about the depressed and mentally ill. Surely, you guys don’t function on the same level as the rest of us (I’ve witnessed this firsthand). But I don’t think that makes it okay to throw you under a bus, even if it is to save a normal person.
I think you need therapy for more than the depression, my friend.



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KAS

posted September 5, 2008 at 3:42 pm


LOL – it is not up to us to classify ourselves as man or animal — the reality is that life is all the same, made of the same components. Same value. It is only human idealism and fanciful religions that convolute that understanding.



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