Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Faceless Consumption (Being a Tale of Idiots, and Meat)

The other day I tripped over a piece of foolishness online, and haven't been able to shake it. This being the internet, finding foolishness shouldn't come as any surprise, but it did. I was reading in one of the few low-idiocy havens I've found online; A forum which the core membership of is primary military, law enforcement and emergency rescue personnel. So I was relaxed and receptive when I stumbled into the following gem of subintelligent thought, sort of like wandering into a trap. It was not meant for me, like all truly devastating traps it was entirely impersonal and aimed at whomever chanced upon it. A Bouncing Betty of stupidity.
The discussion at hand was on the film “The Cove”, which depicts in horrifying detail the mass slaughter of Dolphins in a particular cove in Japan. The general consensus was that killing something smarter than many people (or any politician) was “not cool”, and killing much of anything in that fashion was equally unacceptable. All of this brought on a small discussion of hunting, and that is where the idiot struck. He said, “The day I have to kill for food is the day i[sic] eat fucking nuts and berries. With all the meat in someones local food superstore, why kill any animals? I am in no way putting anyone down for hunting,it just isn't for me or something I want to do. Terrorists,yep. Animals,No[sic]."

I was flabbergasted by this idiots perspective, quite honestly. Not that I don't believe people think this way. I know that such twits exist, but I remain amazed and disgusted by it. In this case the source also probably has a lot to do with why it continues to bother me. Such a statement coming from someone with a military background, a group of people who commonly refer to themselves as “meat eaters” and take a great pride in the hunting of many things, is particularly surprising. More than that, I find this perspective fairly insulting in a broader fashion. No matter your background, or your particular thoughts on hunting, divorcing yourself so thoroughly from the origins of your food is beyond dishonest.
It is an incredibly spoiled and elitist position; One made possible only by a certain class of living, allowing such a luxury as routine access to a supermarket and little or no exposure to agriculture. Only from there is it possible to have no involvement with the animal, except to get hunks of its meat from the store, all while expecting others to do the killing (and even the thinking about the killing). This total removal of the self from the process of killing what is eaten is to deny that what we eat was ever alive. As an act it reduces life, a heartbeat and a spirit, to nothing more than a commodity. Whole beings become nothing more than their inanimate pieces. People who act this way say the animals death bothers them, as their reason for this denial of it's life, but there is no honor or respect in their actions, no respect for life.
This act also reduces the actor to something less as well; Something which is also denied heartbeat and spirit by the very spirit possessing it. If none of our food has a face, we ourselves become faceless. Such denial of the life of food is, in essence, making a choice to be sub-human. To make that choice, to seek that ignorance, is to say "I am not a human being. I am not a predator. I am some creature that eats the hard work of others, consumes the lives of other animals, without doing any of the mental or physical work or giving recognition to the costs necessary for me to survive." That's akin to being some sort of vaguely sentient mushroom or something, that just soaks in nutrients without awareness of where they come from.
It is incredibly disrespectful to divorce yourself from the process of killing and still want to consume its results. It is disrespectful to those who do that work, and it's disrespectful to the life you're now treating as merely commodified pieces. Such disrespect is also disrespect of the self, and remains so even if the divorce from food carries over to only eating non-animal foods. It is disrespectful to the self, as a human being, a predator; A creature of strong legs, and cunning mind, evolved to hunt and kill.
Some might say they wish to overcome being a predator, but do they have any idea what we would be if were were not predators? Our hunting and meat eating habits are at the root of many of the fundamental attributes of human beings; We are what we are because of eating animals. Theory suggests that the impact of meat consumption on brain development was fundamental to achieving the brains we have today. Who you think you are (to jump from brain to mind for a moment) owes to the mental gymnastics you are capable of thanks to descending from predators. And that's not to say anything about what being predators has done for the body.
Jackson Landers, “The Locavore Hunter”, provides us with this:
“As Christopher McDougall points out in his book, ‘Born to Run,’ we became modern humans in large part because we became predators. We have a lot of anatomical features that don’t make sense any other way. We are unique among living primates in that we have an Achilles tendon. An Achilles tendon is only really good for long-distance running. You don’t need one to walk or to sprint (as other apes demonstrate). Ditto our unusually large gluteus maximus muscles. We are finely tuned to be long-distance runners. And what good is running long distances? We can’t sprint fast enough to escape predators. But over marathon distances we can outrun even a racehorse. As a few indigenous tribes are still demonstrating, our bodies are very good at running down four legged prey until it collapses from exhaustion.
The physiological adaptations that allow us to do this are profoundly complex. Our tendons are especially springy compared to other primates. Our hearts and lungs are capable of amazing efficiency. We can sweat and regulate our bodies temperatures to avoid overheating. That kind of evolution doesn’t happen for nothing.
The title of McDougall’s book, ‘Born to Run,’ tells half of the story. The other half is that we were born to kill.” In Defense of Predation, The Locavore Hunter

These mushroom-people who want to divorce themselves from being predators are not just rejecting meat, they are rejecting essential humanity as well. Refusing to be a predator is a decision to step outside of humanity and be something else. Adherents of such a lifestyle seem to think they have risen above by doing so. They often act as if they've gained some pious state from which to condemn and dictate to others. Such people are so convinced of their superiority as to verge on suggesting tyrannies against real human beings acting in tune with nature (likening meat eaters to pedophiles and cannibals, as people who need to be "corrected"):
“The line of thinking goes like this: Evolution is natural, and what is natural is good; and because humans evolved the capacity to eat and digest meat, the practice of eating meat must also be natural and subsequently good. This is the naturalistic fallacy and it leads to all sorts of problems. Given this line of thinking we should also condone other human traits that came about through evolution, namely rape, murder, pedophilia and cannibalism. Obviously we’re not about to do this any time soon. We know very well that many people cannot be left to their own hard-wired devices; this is why we have self-corrective memes (i.e. ethics, laws, etc.) and why we need to have police and penal systems.
More to the point, however, is the acknowledgment that overriding our evolutionary baggage is part of the human mission. Having Darwinian processes guide our moral compass is sheer lunacy. Where is the morality in ‘survival of the fittest?’ Evolution may have helped us describe how we got here, but it most certainly won’t help us move forward as a compassionate species.” Meat Eaters are Bad People, Sentient Development
The cost of moving forward as a “compassionate species”, to those standards at least, will be not moving forward as a species at all. The nature these types claim to love and want to protect from “bad people”, is actually the very thing they are denying when they go on like this. They seem to see themselves to as smarter than, superior to, the way of the world for millions of years, and in their arrogance think they can override it. In reality, these petty would-be-god's have simply decided to be something less capable and interesting than a human being. Something needs to come along and eat them, if it can palate the taste.

In a certain way, these (anti-)people who either divorce themselves from their food, or refuse to be predators, should make me happy; If a cataclysm were to seriously challenge the survival of the human species, even if these mushrooms survived the initial event, they would be among the first to die or be eaten in the aftermath. That thought might bring a smile to my face, but for the fact that such cataclysm isn't around the corner. Even as things continue on the path they are on, true cataclysm is unlikely. So, we're forced to harbor these mental defectives; Those of us who participate in agriculture are forced to feed them, and the rest are forced to share with them.

(Photo: Original from Beverly & Pack's Flickr stream)


Hat said...

I read a comment once that said something like "Why do we need to kill animals? Can't we just get our meat from the grocery store?" Frankly, it's horrifying to see that amount of stupidity. Where do you think those supermarket meat cuts com...e from, missy?

Sadly, I take a look at our society in general (or at least the part that is given the most attention and is the loudest) and see the same sort of mindset and lifestyle, the one that lives off of other's works and life. Our society's become one of takers, never givers.

There's nothing wrong with survival. If that means feeding yourself or defending yourself, for goodness' sake don't stand there and fuss about how mean the world is. While there's nothing wrong with compassion, it should be noted that compassion isn't necessarily a fluffy, whiny, "Oh poor baby" sort of thing. As far as I'm concerned, it goes hand in hand with wisdom, which means, in some cases, knowing when and how to bloody well kill something.

warpony said...

I must take exception!! Mushrooms are possibly far more sentient than the creatures of which you speak. Ancient and mysterious beings that should not be so easily maligned. Beings that contribute to the health of the planet, unlike the, um...shall we say "pod persons" taking part in the 'faceless consumption.'
These 'pod people' are far worse than the hunter they disdain, because by happily purchasing and consuming the meaty shapes they find at the supermarket or fast food joints, they are complicit in the horrible, torturous lives and deaths of hundreds of thousands chickens, pigs and cattle every day in the factory farms and slaughter facilities.
No one should be allowed to buy a steak from a market without spending an hour at a slaughterers where thousands of cattle are maimed and tortured every day just on their way to being killed for those tasty Big Mac's.
Cowards who condemn other beings to horrific existences, and complacently smack their lips and congratulate themselves on never having 'killed' anything. Probably pride themselves on going to church and giving to United Way Worthless creatures. No don't compare them to the noble mushroom.
Nothing lives unless something else dies, but there is a sacredness that exists between hunter and understanding, a gift and a gratitude, a grace in being part of the whole.

Doug said...

Well thought out and well written. Thanks for posting.

CyborgSuzy said...

I couldn't agree more. Except for the part that where you conflate vegitarians/vegans with idiots who wants to eat meat from the supermarket without thinking about where it comes from.

You say, "It is incredibly disrespectful to divorce yourself from the process of killing and still want to consume its results." Which is incredibly true. Vegans/vegitarians don't want to consume the results of killing animals at all. The fact that they do anyway, via habitat loss and harvest equipment is sort of a separate issue. As is the fact that some vegans are just as idiotic.

In fact, most vegans would be horrified by this idiot's opinion as well. Their solution to such attitudes is just different from yours. You're sort of setting up a straw man vegan to knock down in this case.

Nagrom said...

Although I see other problems with it (as is to be expected of a screed that's just a long version of “Hey, you, yeah, you! You suck!”), I'm not sure where I built an even "sort of" straw man.
I had no intent to misrepresent veg*ns or to imply that they would see the fellow I mentioned as anything else than an idiot. My point was to go after those who reject predation in general, not just those who do it while still eating meat.
The characters mentioned above are vastly different people, with little in common, except that rejection. It started with the example of the fellow who will eat meat but wants no ownership of predation, but the scope of behavior I'm attacking here goes beyond that. It is impossible to speak against one act of rejecting predation, without linking it to other acts of rejecting predation.

I understand why many veg*ns don't eat meat, those who refuse for ethical reasons at least. I share many of their concerns about the contemporary techniques of raising and slaughtering meat, and the inescapable cruelty there-in. I share their horror at the lack of respect for the animal. I feel however that their answer to it is unreasonable, unhealthy, and inhuman, and it is that last I was going after here.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...

Hi fella
Great post, the third in a row that I've read.
i found your blog through a mention on Steve Bodio's blog

Looking forward to reading more

Nagrom said...

SBW - Thanks for the good words! I've enjoyed your blog every time I've read it, and am pleased to know my own writing strikes a chord with you.

The Suburban Bushwacker said...


I'm really surprised that i've not seen your blog before, we share a few interests, I've added you to the links/blog roll. I'm also more than a little flattered that you've read my blog.
Keep well