Month: April 2005

Factory Farms and Other Cruelty

The May 23, 2005 issue of The American Conservative has an extensive cover story by Matthew Scully about cruelty to animals. It’s a compelling philosophical analysis of how we should look at animals from a conservative perspective. We’d provide excerpts, but the software version of TAC annoyingly doesn’t allow users to cut-and-paste. We will, however, highlight a few of his points:

The hunting industry, which traditionally values a relationship with the land and even the animals it kills, is getting big and out of hand, offering “hunters” sure-fire kills and other abuses. One guy has even begun to offer hunting via the Internet: he attaches a rifle to a camera and the camera to the Internet. Users can pay to shoot at baited animals, using a remote control. If the user hits the animal, personnel at the ranch finish off the kill.

Factory farms are as bad as ever. “Billions of birds, cows, pigs, and other creatures are locked away, enduring miseries they do not deserve, for our convenience and pleasure.”

Conservatives can fight these abuses without becoming animal rights activists by concentrating on “human obligation” rather than “animal rights” (he is skeptical about the validity of the distinction between “obligation” and “rights,” but we can’t explore it in this post). Scully also mentions that the “usual distinctions that conservatives draw between moderation and excess, freedom and license, moral goods and material goods, rightful power and the abuse of power, will all do just fine” to address this cruelty.

He also says it all comes down to evil. “Animals cruelly dealt with are not just things, not just an irrelevant detail in some self-centered moral … Read the rest

Get This Guy Some Beer

Gasoline sniffer Brian Taylor, 36, was sentenced to three months in jail in March for violating a UK ”anti-social behavior order” by loitering around the pumps at a gas station in Middlesbrough, England. . . Taylor often dangerously reeks of gasoline fumes and is sometimes aggressive in his pursuit of a fix, including jostling gas-pumping customers. Once, he was filmed on a security camera doing an uninhibited dance after taking a huff. He apparently prefers unleaded but will settle for diesel.

Link. … Read the rest

Communism and Capitalism

Interesting mini-essay at Lew Rockwell this weekend. Link. Excerpt:

“What no one expected,” said a colleague the other day, “was the way capitalism and communism get along in the modern world.”

People thought the two ideas were mutually exclusive. As recently as the Reagan administration, people with brains thought there would have to be a showdown… that the two ideologies could not live together; the world wasn’t big enough for them both. But look what has happened. Today’s the most dynamic economy on the planet – one with what appears to be the most freewheeling capitalism – is in a communist country, China.

And in America, which is supposed to be a “capitalist” nation, practically everything is regulated, collectivized and subsidized – especially in the economic sphere. Even when people eat too much and become fat, they blame McDonald’s… or the government… or society for their own obesity. Everything requires permission from some group… and when things go wrong, it’s always the fault of some group. Individual responsibility is disappearing.

Hilaire Belloc looked ahead and described the modern world back in 1912:

“The future of industrial society… is a future in which subsistence and security shall be guaranteed for the Proletariat, but shall be guaranteed… by the establishment of that Proletariat in a status really, though not nominally, servile.”

People lose their independence. But so what? According to Belloc, they are “inclined to the acceptance of [their servile status] by the positive benefits it confers.”

We’re reminded of Joseph Pearce’s words about Solzhenitsyn’s opinion of these economic systems: “If Bolshevism was a bully, capitalism was a cad.” Both systems obsess themselves with the material … Read the rest

A Wise Judge

A woman stole money from union coffers to meet expenses. At the time, she purchased twelve tickets to Green Bay Packers games for the upcoming season (for those unacquainted with Packer-mania, tickets are very difficult to get and pricey). The judge asked her if she still had the tickets. She said she didn’t think it was relevant but said she still had them. The judge disagreed about the relevancy: she needed to steal from the union to meet expenses, and those tickets were part of the expenses. The judge said she could donate the tickets to charity or spend 90 days in jail.

They’ve been given to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Link.

Good for a judge who’s willing to “think outside the box.” … Read the rest

It’s Not a Question of Tolerance

David Parker, 42, confronted officials at Joseph Estabrook School in Lexington, Mass., Wednesday after his [six-year-old] son brought home a copy of “Who’s in a Family,” a storybook that includes characters who are homosexual parents, the Boston Herald reported.

According to the report, Parker refused to leave a meeting after Lexington Superintendent Bill Hurley rejected his request that he be notified when his son is exposed to any discussion about same-sex households as part of classroom instruction.

Link.

The homo-lesbian issue isn’t about tolerance. It’s about right and wrong. If homosexual behavior is held to be right, then people who resist it will be condemned. If homosexual behavior is held to be wrong, people who want to spread and normalize it will be condemned. … Read the rest

The Strange Pasture of Dr. Moreau

On a farm about six miles outside this gambling town, Jason Chamberlain looks over a flock of about 50 smelly sheep, many of them possessing partially human livers, hearts, brains and other organs.

The University of Nevada-Reno researcher talks matter-of-factly about his plans to euthanize one of the pregnant sheep in a nearby lab. He can’t wait to examine the effects of the human cells he had injected into the fetus’ brain about two months ago.

“It’s mice on a large scale,” Chamberlain says with a shrug.

As strange as his work may sound, it falls firmly within the new ethics guidelines the influential National Academies issued this past week for stem cell research.

Link.… Read the rest

What Are the Vegas Odds on this Marriage?

The Georgia woman just got cold feet. Link.

Fourteen bridesmaids and fourteen groomsmen and 600 guests. Maybe the bride got so caught up in the planning that she forgot about the marriage itself.

One thing is for sure: She likes to think about herself. How’s that Toby Keith song go? “I wanna talk about me.” This woman has some mental problems or has an intense sense of self-regard. Probably both, and they’re probably related. … Read the rest

The Weekend Eudemon

Well, we lied. We weren’t agents for the Vatican yesterday. We were at a seminar in Kalamazoo.

A spawn-of-Satan boring seminar. One presenter was almost a caricature of poor speaking. She spent the first five minutes reminiscing about her early years and making inside jokes with fellow-panelists, and then the rest of her presentation was “off” somehow. She was cocky, but horrible in her comportment, and her line of thought was really hard to follow. Possibly the worst lecture we’ve heard, and we’ve heard hundreds. We went from a state of irritation to shock to pity. The other speakers were better, but not much.

One nice thing: it was a videotaped lecture, so we didn’t risk offending the presenters with naps—which we did three times, having imbibed too many beers the night before at the Elks Club.

We were also able to read sixty pages of Joseph Pearce’s Unafraid of Virginia Woolf: The Friends and Enemies of Roy Campbell. We often have troubles reading during these videotaped seminars, but for some reason biographies block out the blaring audio and we can stay focused. If you experience similar troubles reading while the TV is playing, you may want to try it.

Anyway, the book is good so far. Not surprising. We’re Pearce fans: Wisdom and Innocence: A Life of G.K. Chesterton, Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc, Literary Converts, Solzhenitsyn: A Soul in Exile. We’ve read them and they’re all excellent.

We met Pearce once. He and Eric spoke at the 2003 Chesterton Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. They wouldn’t have hooked up, except Eric’s children and wife inadvertently corralled him … Read the rest