Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Little Old School Greentangle

This is my Amazon review of a new book titled Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's so Hard to Think Straight about Animals by Hal Herzog. I titled it Some We're Willing to Let Live if it Doesn't Inconvenience Us.

It was difficult to come up with a star rating for this book. On one hand, I think the subject is both interesting and extremely important. On the other hand, although I give the author credit for thinking about issues and hypocritical behavior which most people never consider, I strongly disagree with most of his opinions, conclusions, and self-justifications. For every case where he writes that hardly anyone thinks something, I'm one of the people who thinks that. And I don't think it's that hard to think straight about animals; I just think saying that it is makes it easier for folks like the author to defend their choices.

The book gets off to a very bad start by using an example in which someone who never actually was a vegetarian is then classified as an ex-vegetarian to suit the author's bias. Everyone should be able to see the flaw in this "reasoning" regardless of what they eat.

A lot of questions involving animals are then looked at briefly and interestingly. In this section, he makes some good points. but follows up with chapters on pets and dogs which I personally found dull. I was more interested in later chapters on the abuse of animals as food and research subjects.

Here's an interesting sentence about how supposedly normal people justify their participation in an activity: "The answer is that they construct a moral framework based on a mix of wishful thinking and logic in which cockfighting becomes completely acceptable." I believe you can substitute meateating for cockfighting and the sentence is just as true because later in the book, the author mentions four arguments against meat which he acknowledges are hard to dispute.

And so, in order to not have to dispute them or act properly based upon his knowledge of them, the author must tell us that it's hard to think straight about animals and that we're all hypocrites (by redefining hypocrisy as humanity). This is fantasy most of his readers will lap up because it suits how they choose to live their lives. But there's nothing admirable about unnecessary cruelty and murder, and nothing noble about embracing your inner yahoo.

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