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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Whatever you do may (well) be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it (well)."

Whatever you do may (well) be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it (well).
 - Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, September 13, 2009

09/13/2009 Harvard Crimson: 09/12/2009 "Is Eating Animals Ethical?" debate

Why not just email me at Maynard.Clark@GMail.com?

The Harvard Crimson's blog article on yesterday's "Is Eating Animals Ethical?" debate
http://www.flybyblog.com/2009/09/12/peta-debate-on-tolstoy-and-bonzai-trees/#more-4137


PETA Debate: On Tolstoy and Bonzai Trees


460px-BruceFriedrich1
There's a lot of irony here. Bullhorns. Resemblances. Soak it in.
Most Harvard students eat meat. And most Americans probably think of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as an extremist group.
You wouldn’t have known it at the debate the Harvard College Vegetarian Society organized this afternoon between Wesley N. Hopkin ’11, a social studies concentrator and member of the Harvard Speech and Parliamentary Debate Society, and Bruce G. Friedrich, vice president of policy and government affairs for PETA.
The most heated dispute concerned our own Harvard University Dining Services. Hopkin praised HUDS: “They are moving in the right direction,” he said. “We can, generally speaking, eat meat or eat meat products with a relatively clear conscience even now.”
Friedrich responded sharply. He noted that HUDS buys eggs from cage-free farms, but said that is the only bright spot. “Eating meat in HUDS when they are doing nothing for farmed animals, and eating meat in the real world, in any restaurant around here,” he said, “for people here who said you do eat meat: that is unethical.” Get the skivvy on Hopkin’s response and more after the jump.
Throughout most of the debate, though a slim majority of the packed Science Center audience admitted to eating meat, Hopkin conceded Friedrich’s arguments about the immorality of being a carnivore in today’s world. PETA seemed downright reasonable.
Hopkin and questioners from the audience rarely presented compelling reasons to dispute the main thrust of Friedrich’s well-supported argument. The PETA leader argued that facts overwhelmingly show that eating meat is bad for the environment, for the world’s poorest, and for the conscious experiences of animals. Instead of disputing Friedrich’s figures, Hopkin and others raised abstract intellectual questions heard in Social Studies 10 and “Justice”: How can we compare animal pain with human pain? And can animals be a part of the social contract?
Friedrich’s argument, by contrast, was direct and sure of its moral clarity. Throughout the event, he peppered his arguments with colorful quotations from celebs and intellectuals alike:
From Paul McCartney: “It’s staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty.”
From Leo Tolstoy: “Vegetarianism is the root of humanitarianism.”
And from Cameron Diaz, on eating bacon: “It’s like eating my niece.”
Hopkin, the subtle debater, conceded that today’s factory farming practices are “unconscionable, and should not be permitted.” Instead, he wondered whether better farming techniques could ever create a world in which eating meat was ethical. He advocated an approach to animal rights that focused on the social contract instead of utilitarianism, and on leveraging consumer power to work for better farming practices instead of abstaining from eating meat.
During the question and answer session, Harvard’s lofty minds posed provocative questions:
Is it ethically permissible to eat the meat leftovers of your friend sitting across the table at dinner?
How anthropocentric is the social contract, after all?
Cuteness aside, can we kill kangaroos in the barren outback of Australia?
And: is it morally responsible to own a pet—or should you buy a bonzai tree?
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

4 Comments

  1. Jerry Friedman wrote:
    The social contract is anthropocentric. There is no justice in hurting those who are not indoctrinated into it.
    And leave the kangaroos alone.
    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Permalink
  2. Jenny wrote:
    I was there! Bruce really knocked it out the park. Makes me want to reconsider my food choices.
    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Permalink
  3. Glad to see people are coming around. Go vegans!
    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 4:30 pm | Permalink
  4. I loved the event. Bruce showed a great deal of composure. Perhaps age (and experience) gave Bruce Friedrich the upper hand, but I like to think it was the justice and logic of his position:
    “No, it is NOT ethical to eat animals!”
    Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

Primary Prevention NOW !! [That's evidence-based health education for cost-savings]

http://maynardclark.spaces.live.com

The signature I sign in health care petitions is the signature that  includes the clarification that I would support universal inclusion that is truly caring for health, not merely managing disease, and that I believed we could afford to guarantee THAT kind of healthcare as a fundamental right IF we include primary prevention that is behaviorally-oriented and evidence-based.

Ensuring healthy vegetarian (read vegan) meal options (along with suitable health education that sees the benefits of plant-based diets) for students, we cannot deliver the experiential knowledge of what health-supporting eating actually is (and providing a health-aware future for those young citizens going forward).