Shut the door!

The intersection of LDS discipleship and conscious citizenship

Month: November, 2012

On Bacon – Part One of who knows

One of the things that I wanted to do in my dissertation was take the Most Affected Principle and apply it to animals. My adviser wisely told me I needed to narrow the scope of my discussion or I would never finish. In the back of my mind, and in classes I have both taken and taught, human relations to animals are something I have always wanted to explore in a more in depth manner.

And so, I’m going to start discussing that here. And I want your help thinking through some things.

The first question I want to address is whether or not animals have rights or if there is any philosophical basis for human to have limits on their acceptable interaction with animals. I’m entitling this series of posts “On Bacon” because I want to limit the discussion to those animals with which we have definite relationships of interaction. For that purpose, bacon, because bacon is delicious, and asking people to potentially stop eating bacon is a good way to bring home the impact of what we are exploring. So, for now, let’s limit our conversation to animals that we have domesticated, either for food or for companionship.

Do animals have rights?

Rights have two basic foundations in most political thought. First, is that rights are inherent in humans, typically given by some sort of deity or through Natural Law/Reason. The second is that rights are not inherent, but are politically necessary to keep us from treating each other like animals (hahahhaaaaa, i pun, i pun.) Both of these are problematic when it comes to animals. It is difficult to find a non-metaphysical foundation for inherent rights for humans that anyone can agree on, much less humans. Modern discourse when it comes to human rights in the international arena asserts inherent rights based on dignity of persons as holders of ontological value, though you aren’t going to hear Ban Ki-Moon use that language, but the justifications they give for the necessity of respecting those rights are instrumental.

This is where it gets problematic for animal rights. If human rights are only recognized on an instrumental basis, and just see what we as a society consider acceptable treatment for people we don’t care about, then how do we make an instrumental case for animal rights? Is society better when we consider animals as having some sort of rights to a certain level of treatment? I don’t see much evidence for the instrumental argument on a short-term accounting basis for the instrumental argument. Our food (and bacon!) gets cheaper and more plentiful the worse we treat animals. Humans have a right to 99 cent bacon double cheeseburgers, right?

Backing into an agreement on animal treatment

Most people in industrialized society have a certain emotional reaction to animal abuse. I’m not going to link to any videos, but when you see the denizens of the internet band together to identify animal abusers in anonymously posted videos, you know there is something at the core of that joint project tied to some sort of agreement that treating animals poorly is not socially acceptable. Why is it that we seem to abhor abuse of animals if they don’t have a right to some basic standard of treatment?

Obviously, this applies more to pets than to feed animals. It probably is because we have more immediate contact with pets, and that gives us the ability to sympathize with similar animals in negative situations because watching someone else’s cat triggers memories of your own cat. Is this emotional reaction based on a recognition of something in animals that we usually are able to ignore because of lack of familiarity, or is there something unique to the domestication process that grants special privilege to pets?

Pets are very much dependent on their human companions for survival. Does that grant them the right to certain standard of treatment? If so, what about food animals? Cows and chickens are highly domesticated. Industrially raised chickens are pretty much a genetic extreme with no capability to survive outside their carefully controlled environment. If we created them, do we have a responsibility to take care of them?

I’m interested in your input at this point. Please let me know what you think. Your bacon may be on the line.


I have solved ALL the problems

I was going to write a thoughtful post about the history of secessionist movements and the social contract and Locke and stuff, but then I came up with a better idea!

Hunger Games: Secession Style!

Twelve states will be allowed to secede. All people wanting to secede will have their names placed in a lottery for the secessionists in that state. A fashionably dressed celebrity will be tasked with drawing a name for each state.

Lock them all in a giant arena, or at least that Greek-columned thing Obama used for his speech in 2008, and it’s a game of last person standing gets to have their state secede.

This will be repeated on a yearly basis for 12 years, or until people stop wanting to secede, which ever comes first.

Broadcast rights, commercial air time, and official sponsor licensing proceeds will be used to pay off the Federal deficit.

Genius, people!!



A sermon for the day after

Election night is over. Nate Silver is probably a witch, but political scientists know better. Statistical modeling for the win!

However, the day after the election, I feel a need to sermonize a little bit.

I am disappointed by the amount of demonization that I am seeing on my Facebook page. Yes, we all have preferred candidates, and yes, we should be actively engaged in the political sphere, but there is a way that we, as LDS members, are supposed to behave, and I see very little of that actually happening.

Let my provide you with some examples of appropriate political behavior:

Don’t make me get all up in your business and start teaching St. Augustine at you, because you know I’ll do it.

There is a wonderful quote from John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist faith:

I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them:
1, to vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy;
2, to speak no evil of the person they voted against;
and 3, to take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.
– October 6, 1774.

Let us remember that Christ is our true example, and he said in Matthew Chapter Five:

 43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.

44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curseyou, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

I like to refer to this as the “Even Voldemort has friends” scripture. Let us be better than Voldemort. Let us remember who is really in charge. To ascribe to any political person the ability to bring about the end of days is to display a complete lack of faith.