Monday, July 20, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Snip is a nice word. Non-threatening, unless preceded by a 'the' and even then only for males. Snip implies a neat trimming, a clean removal of something that's probably a shade unwieldy, a tad overgrown. It does not imply a complete gutting of a nation's public services and an attack on the incomes of the very worst off in our society. Now before anyone jumps the gun and complains (chance'd be a fine thing), of course I use the word society in a vague sense - clearly Ireland hasn't yet evolved to anything approaching a normal, civilised society. But we'll get to that later.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Vegetarians. Possibly the most preachy people on the planet. No mean feat that, in what I’m sure you’ll agree is a crowded field; what with churches, anti-smokers, pro-lifers and other assorted cranks all ready to demonstrate man’s seemingly endless capacity for self-righteous whining. In restaurants, us carnivore’s have all had the lecture, the"oh-but-if-only-you-knew" speech and the overwhelming smugness from veggies. Now, the correct response to this is to look, listen, nod, then order the veal anyway. Or whatever on the menu has that killer combination of cuteness times amount of suffering in its short life. They hate that and it’s a legitimate response to someone who is basically trying to ruin your meal. People don’t like preachy. You’d think with all those extra vitamins veggies would get that by now, yet still the whinge. But lo! A ray of hope for all the ones who just can’t quit nagging. I casually mentioned to a friend that I was considering joining the dark side but struggling to do so, not out of any internal moral and ethical struggle, but simply because meat is well, really nice. She spoke about her own struggles with this one and after a while, we agreed to differ. Until she, slyly, sent this to me. And now, I find I have some thinking to do.
Earthlings is a 2003 film that argues we should consider ourselves and animals as equals and stop exploiting them for food, companionship, entertainment, research and clothing. This is does fairly well despite the handicap of being narrated by - pre-crazy - Joaquin Phoenix (Become a vegetarian? Perhaps, but not if that prick tells me to). Mercifully for the film-makers they don’t have to rely on hip-hop’s newest star because this film is never going to be about the script. It’s the images that sear the mind and challenge the viewer. Slaughterhouses are not fun places. There’s a reason people don’t talk about what goes on there, unless they’re vegetarians, because there’s simply no nice way of doing that job. But the casual cruelty of it was truly shocking. If Daisy is going to become a Big Mac, that’s going to involve a fairly bad outcome for her but even still… Scenes of still-kicking cattle being sent down the killing line, piglets with their ears, tails and genitals cut off to allow them to be packed together more tightly, the death marches of cows to provide Indian leather, the destruction of the oceans, unwanted dogs gassed or thrown into rubbish trucks, electrocutions of circus animals to keep them in line... Casual, brutal abuse of creatures and all of it completely unnecessary. The capacity for and level of cruelty was breathtaking. Ok, so none of this is new but we can all have our own personal epiphany right?
So like I say, some thinking to do and uncomfortable questions to answer. Not the usual ones about one person making a difference or what can possibly replace steak and red wine. But really important stuff like will I turn into one of them? Because you know, it’s all well and good protecting animals but it’s important to protect oneself too. And becoming a self-satisfied, smug veggie will surely lead to a significant loss of self respect, not to mention dinner invitations. But Andy, I hear you say, just go veggie without the smugness! Problem solved? No. Such a combination has never occurred.