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1  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: If your country's leader ever fckd a pig, would it affect your vote? on: September 21, 2015, 04:53:29 pm
Yes, I prefer leaders aren't also animal rapists.  Why couldn't Cameron have a normal, meaningless scandal like attending Rev. Wright's church?  This is next level, man.
2  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Is killing animals for food moral? on: September 19, 2015, 09:52:52 pm
Still, I'm a bit concerned that environmental concern could be re-purposed to subordinate the needs of the developing worlds to the post-material concerns of the developed world.

An understandable concern, but you have to admit that this is likely to happen with or without major environmental law changes - the very nature of business rests on the practice of making money, wherever possible, as much as possible.  It certainly isn't the fault of environmental or animal advocates, and they are more likely to have a problem with the system than the regular person in the first place.

I don't think that animal rights is necessarily a strictly environmental issue, however.  There are a number of different approaches to the subject, and as there exist a number of ways where animals are presently exploited, a diversity in opinions as to how these concerns could be rectified through the political process, or whether that is even worth doing at all.  A few key objectives, I would outline here, and I'd be curious as to what you think of them.

- Prohibiting testing of cosmetics, hygiene products, household and industrial cleaners, etc., on animals.  The number of animals bred and killed for this purpose rises each year.  As the results from animal experimentation inevitably involve poor living standards with cruel and unusual conditions, they provide unreliable and often unusable data.  The physiological differences in other great apes and humans alone is such that testing on primates is unable to provide a clear indicator of the effect of the same chemicals on humans.  These differences only increase as other animals, such as rodents, rabbits, and cats are used.  Unfortunately, one component to this issue is a Chinese legal requirement that products sold there must be tested on animals; for multinationals to enter the market they must engage in the practice.  By prohibiting the testing practices, it would help a growing global movement to put an end to the animal testing industry and put pressure on China to end its vivisection requirement.
- Prohibiting the use of animals in entertainment; i.e. rodeos, traveling circus, poorly maintained zoos using outdated animal management techniques, etc.  Obviously, a lot of work would be required to overhaul the status of many presently operating venues.  Generally, zoos tend to be more palatable if they emulate sanctuaries, and this would require substantial government investment in order to reduce or remove the need for the locations to turn a profit.  More immediate action we could take would be prohibiting further zoos from opening, any further capture of animals from the wild to be held in zoos, etc.  We would also need to ban the private "owning" of animals like tigers, bears, etc. in order to effectively combat any sort of underground trade.  Finally, this would include a ban of animals in sports - ending the breeding of horses and greyhounds for racing.
- Ending agricultural subsidies for industries relying on animals.  This would have to be done gradually to be feasible, but in general the idea would be not to regulate people's dietary habits directly so much as to end the price fixing that promotes consumption of animal based foods.  This could have the potential added benefit of reducing food waste, which along with beef and dairy production is another significant contributor of methane.  There are, of course, other efforts to regulate the way that animals on farms are treated, but I would prefer a more direct approach by subverting the advantages provided to the large businesses that grow most of the meat eaten in the US.
- Prohibiting the sale of animals in pet stores.  Animal shelters are underfunded, understaffed, and barely able to manage an enormous population of unwanted companion animals.  Until this problem is under control, nobody should be breeding animals for a profit.

All of this could be achieved without necessarily conferring any legal status of 'rights' upon animals - although that is also something I would support, particularly for creatures like apes, elephants, cetaceans and others held in captivity.  Where the line is drawn is, of course, arbitrary and probably not worth discussing at this point.  My hope, though, is to demonstrate that we may have some or even all of these goals in common even if it means that the price of your chicken sandwich would substantially increase.
3  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Is killing animals for food moral? on: September 19, 2015, 07:17:39 pm
Animal rights disturbs me because it appears to devalue humans. Human rights violations around the world are legion. In my view, focusing on animals, who clearly exist on a different plane than humans, is deeply wrong because it seems to deemphasize the focus on racism, religious intolerance and the like.

I don't think you will find much sympathy for bigotry among animal rightists, not without exception, of course - I'm sure there are some isolated folks who subscribe to any combination of odd views - but generally, the push for animal rights comes from a deep-rooted concern for human welfare and/or revulsion to capitalism.  While it is true that creeds which treat humans as animals devalue humans, it does not necessarily follow that treating animals as we would treat humans (not that this is what has been proposed) would have the same effect.  This is an important distinction to make.  I somehow doubt that any of the lawyers fighting for the right of chimpanzees to be freed from captivity are racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.  Consider our actual perspective: here is a systematically oppressed group, suffering from the prejudices well ingrained into societal function and public belief.  It is especially difficult for them because unlike human groups facing oppression, they are not able to communicate with us.  This does not mean they are not suffering, nor does it mean their well-being should or may be ignored.  There is no devaluing of the human here, only an appreciation that other creatures have interests and that those interests are worth advocating.  Personally, opposing the exploitation of humans and of animals goes hand in hand.
4  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Is killing animals for food moral? on: September 18, 2015, 09:24:57 pm
I seriously doubt that dolphins sit around smoking joints and asking whether herding fish into little balls so that they can pick them off is moral.  It is precisely because they have not invented the bothersome concept of morality that they do not.

And it's a good thing we don't emulate the social structure of dolphins, either.

Immoral, as far as I'm aware, is certainly an antonym for moral as much as moral would be an antonym of immoral.  I understand that in the context of a wild environment, killing an animal for food could be construed as an amoral act.  But we don't operate within that structure.  The question isn't whether it's moral for animals to kill other animals for food.
5  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of "sanctuary cities"? on: September 18, 2015, 06:10:54 pm
An obviously humane response to a "horrible and dangerous" set of policies.
6  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Should golf be banned? on: September 18, 2015, 06:08:52 pm
>comparing golf to the arts
7  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Should golf be banned? on: September 17, 2015, 11:42:05 pm
The real "trolling" is that of the golf courses, which are massive wastes of land and water.  Convert them into something useful: forests, botanical gardens, public housing, something, anything.  One aspect of Obama's presidency I find least tasteful is his constant indulgence in this elitist pastime.
8  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: When will Germany and Australia legalize gay marriage? on: September 17, 2015, 11:01:32 pm
Turnbull won't change the Coalition policy, which means that if they win, there would be a $160 million plebiscite - a wasteful, divisive campaign intended to delay marriage equality and stall the process as long as possible.  Under the present government, this means the soonest it could be achieved is some time in 2017.

They certainly didn't need a plebiscite to ban same-sex marriage.  I wonder why they need one now.
9  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Is killing animals for food moral? on: September 17, 2015, 10:18:52 pm
Animals are not rights-bearing creatures because the artifice of moral laws do not apply to animals. The biological world is governed by a sort of "natural law" dictated by evolutionary pressures, physical constraints etc. Under these conditions, predators depend on other prey for their existence. Because it cannot be claimed that an eagle is immoral because it killed a salmon, it cannot be claimed that a person is immoral because he/she slaughtered a cow: both acts are in accordance with the laws of nature.

If the artifice of moral laws doesn't apply to humans, who does it apply to?

Or, in other words, given that we don't operate within the context of the laws of nature (for a myriad of excellent reasons), i.e., in today's society, we do not depend on this for our existence, we are no longer operating within the conditions where you deem it acceptable.  If it is their lack of morality that deems animals incapable of having rights, what would that have to do with ordinary people?  It's circular reasoning.

I was reading earlier about a case in Oregon where a judge found that animals could be victims of cruelty on an individual level - that is to say, a man who was abusing and neglecting farm animals could be tried for each animal enduring these circumstances, as opposed to the singular act.  I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on that.
10  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Which country has the strictest immigration law? on: September 16, 2015, 06:34:50 pm
North Korea.
11  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Tony Abbott on: September 16, 2015, 05:30:11 pm
I'm glad that the final nail in his coffin is his laughter at Dutton's sick joke about climate change.  The fact that ABC are now touting that he "stopped the boats" as not merely a slogan but an actual accomplishment of his is making me cringe.  He was caught paying off people smugglers giving them a fiscal incentive to continue trading.  He was constantly getting into diplomatic trouble over boat turnbacks and for all of the fire in his belly about Labor's detention policies, he sure seemed not to do anything whatsoever about it except make them worse.  He may have stopped some of the media from reporting on the boats, but he never did actually stop them.  Abbott's legacy is a non-binding $160 million plebiscite when marriage equality should be a boost to the economy (not to mention a momentous occasion for the civil rights of Australians), but he somehow made a way to make it fiscally wasteful and burden the rest of the country with his petty delaying tactics.  Thanks for nothing, you misoneist bigot.
12  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Is killing animals for food moral? on: September 16, 2015, 04:41:10 pm
But back to pollution, yes meat production as we do it right now pollute, but here's the thing I can eat as much meat as I want for one year, and I have polluted less than one vegan taking a trip with a airplane.

Even if that's true, it doesn't mean you should feel free to eat as much meat as you want.  It means people (regardless of their diet) should be using airplanes less.

Also while meat production do pollute when we feed cattle and pigs with cereal, maize and soya, if we lowered our meat consumption (which I support) and focused on feeding domesticated animals in traditional ways, it's leave a much smaller ecological foot print than a vegan diet. Domesticated animals purpose have always been to consume the part of the domesticated plants we can't eat ourselves (the stalk as example).

That's demonstrably false.  If we still kept a lower number of domesticated animals, we'd have to grow a substantially higher number of grains in order to feed them than if we didn't keep them at all.  There is no way around it: cutting out the middlemen will result in a drastic decrease in the need for resources.  I don't think anything has stopped us from composting the stalk before.
13  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Is killing animals for food moral? on: September 16, 2015, 04:30:14 pm
I remember another show, that suggested only monkeys/apes are aware they are seeing themselves in a mirror of species other than humans (not sure they tried it on the smart bird species).

The 'mirror test' has been successfully conducted on a number of animals - here's a list from Wiki, although that metric is not without its problems.

Many of the posts ignore the biological definition of animal, so I want to pin that down.

I'm working here with the biological definition of animal.  It's not necessary to focus on some non-vertebrates because questions about their sentience are unresolved, nor would it make one hypocritical to see a problem with the treatment of animals with complex nervous systems.  Either way, you've made your point about the broadness of the original question, so let's dig a little deeper.  What sort of moral questions could be raised about the treatment of animals?  Is it immoral to kill certain types of species for food, not on the basis of endangerment but merely because of who they are (i.e. let's suggest elephants or chimpanzees weren't endangered)?
14  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Is killing animals for food moral? on: September 16, 2015, 12:25:47 am
If feeling also requires a nervous system there are some very rudimentary marine creatures that qualify.

There is certainly some evidence to suggest that crustaceans feel pain, but again, this is something of a diversion when the question is whether other animals, certainly those bearing more similarities with us, are also capable of suffering - of which a consensus has clearly developed that animals are, indeed, sentient.  Nobody has to consume shellfish in order to live healthily, so whether you would classify these creatures with the vertebrates and other animals clearly designated as sentient is not an especially relevant question either way.

Others have raised moral questions about animal treatment, but I don't think they are the same as killing for food. In principle I can always reduce the food question to one of hunting or fishing in the wild to sustain a person.

Does this mean that you would accept that there are some practices that result in a condition for the animals that is 'immoral'?  I wouldn't say that factory farming is really comparable to hunting or fishing "in the wild", would you?  I understand the appeal to the natural that is made here, but it is not applicable when hardly anyone in the US will be getting the majority of their meat from wild sources.  In the wild, humans don't have access to unlimited amounts of meat that they can eat to their hearts' content.  Looking past this, it seems strange to base one's sense of morality from the natural order.  There are plenty of activities that you may have engaged in without a second thought had you been born in a different time - but certainly we don't point to slavery or subjugation of women in the same virtuous light applied to eating animals.  It's as "natural" as anything else - including the plant-based diets of indigenous communities.
15  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Is killing animals for food moral? on: September 15, 2015, 01:52:20 am
Suffering is a part of the world, certainly, but the topic at hand is the intentional suffering that we cause other animals, not general suffering that is not within our scope of responsibility.

Most pigs farmed in the United States are not provided with veterinary care.  Assuming a pig is not provided with adequate care and shelter, is it then not okay to eat it?  If not, why not?  If so, at what point would you consider the standards of the pig not adequate enough to purchase it?

As to what to do if plants are shown to suffer, as I noted before, the number of plants harvested to feed livestock far outweighs the number of plants that would be needed to sustain humans without livestock.
16  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: Do you prefer reading about politics in your own country or internationally? on: September 14, 2015, 11:38:45 pm
I switch between US and Australian politics.  Next year should be a good year, I love nonstop election fest!

I generally follow US more than Australian politics day to day, but yesterday was nonstop enjoying the impending farewell of doom for Tony Abbott. Grin

I also follow some other countries sparsely generally only when there are elections.
17  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Is killing animals for food moral? on: September 14, 2015, 10:58:43 pm
I thought the OP was asking about killing for food, not for pleasure.

Given that meat is not necessary for people to live healthy lives, the distinction is not meaningful.

We have a great deal of knowledge about which animals possess a central nervous system that includes a brain. If sentience is the traditional definition of the ability to feel, then plants should be included on the list along with the simplest animals like sponges, just at a very low level compared to organisms with a nervous system.

There is no indication that plants have any level of consciousness.  After all, being responsive to stimuli is not necessarily an indicator of sentience.  Without a central nervous system, plants are incapable of experiencing pain or joy.

If, however, we did wish to take into consideration the number of plants harvested in order to feed the global population, then it would make sense to move away from animal agriculture.  Most of the world's grains are grown to feed livestock, not humans.
18  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Is killing animals for food moral? on: September 14, 2015, 07:35:08 pm
To me, I just find this to be fascinating. You are horrified by the business and clearly view stopping it as a moral imperative, but have managed to excuse in your mind the idea that this business could go on for years more, perhaps generations more, so long as it's slowing down to eventually going out of business entirely. Every side of this issue that is being even remotely reasonable has blood on their hands. And in the meantime, the damage done to the environment is extreme. Hmm.

I don't quite understand what this skepticism is intended to achieve.  I am, obviously, a realist.  If, at any point, you got the impression that I would be happy to see the industry continue indefinitely so long as its output gradually decreases, then I am afraid I have not communicated clearly enough.  I am simply attempting to work within the context of our present habits and regulatory framework.  It's not ideal, no, but then again, as you have said, neither is confining millions of animals for an endless slaughter without any change in sight.  Your position seems to be, and correct me if I'm wrong, that any attempt to reduce animal agriculture must be rapid or it's not worth trying.  Then, if it is rapid, there arises a great moral question about what do with the remaining animals, as though they were any different from all of the ones that came before them.  It seems like a convoluted way of suggesting that factory farming is a 'necessary evil.'

I'm skeptical that I wouldn't end up spending noticeably more in the long run in cutting animals out of my meals entirely, but by all means.

In my personal experience, coming from a diet heavy in animal derived products (2 to 3 times per day), it is better to transition for a few months to ease the burden on your body.  I don't know anything about your current diet but my most generic advice would be to begin by reducing the number of times you consume meat per week.  After I decided to go vegetarian, I first ate meat once a week - and then every two weeks - and then finally never again as the cravings disappeared.  Then I cut out dairy and eggs.  Perhaps "cold turkey" works for other people but I don't think I am one of them.  Now, it's all too easy to go into the kitchen and prepare something delicious and healthy.  Look into lentils, beans, and other filling foods, or try substituting minced walnuts for beef in a bolognese.  If you use herbs and spices correctly you can often mimic some of the flavors you will associate with meat, making the vegetables taste more satisfying.  But my best advice would be that if you were absolutely interested in doing it, you should just keep trying until you find vegetarian foods that you enjoy and work to continue to reduce your meat consumption.

Not to mention the pleasure/mental satisfaction you get from eating something you enjoy.

There are plenty of people catching on to the fact that foie gras is unnecessarily cruel in proportion to the benefit of one's palate.  This is not a valid reason to torture sentient beings who are clearly distressed by what is happening to them.
19  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Is killing animals for food moral? on: September 14, 2015, 06:46:12 pm
And as far as need, an actual healthy diet shouldn't require supplements.  In the case of B12 specifically you can't get it from a natural food in a vegan diet.  It requires a supplement.   Supplements shouldn't replace a healthy diet.

Did you know that food animals in the US are fed B12 vitamins?  It's a bit of an extreme length to go to get them.

B12 is created by bacteria, which is why it is found in high concentrations in animal derived foods.  Due to modern hygiene, it is no longer feasible to obtain B12 bacteria (you might be able to get a bit by eating unwashed vegetables, which I don't advise).  Thus, the choice is whether to obtain B12 through a supplement or from the bacteria from eggs, dairy or meat.  Some foods, such as soy milk, are fortified with B12 vitamins.  B12 deficiency is more common among the population than veganism, suggesting that even if you have a diet high in animal content your absorption may still be poor.

I guess so, I'm just saying that I don't exactly feel like "Slowly reduce the population of all these animals by like 95%, while they live in roughly similar conditions, taking up space and resources for no purpose, so we humans can feel better about ourselves" is the height of moral superiority.

Clearly, you've thought this through enough to determine that a conclusive "end" to widespread meat consumption would be carried in this manner, and rejected it as morally preferable to the status quo.  Consider a different hypothetical scenario - where a combination of withdrawal of lack of government subsidies, deteriorating climate conditions, and increased risk of disease due to foodborne illness contribute to an increase in the price of meat*.  Poultry farmers barely break even as it is; if they lost tax credits, or valuable land, or consumer demand, or any combination of these (not to mention forced to pay their workers a living wage), many of them would go out of business.  They wouldn't then necessarily just gas their animals in some sick genocidal event - they would be inclined to sell them for meat, as the price of meat may increase as a result of any of these factors.  Then they would end their participation in the poultry business, lacking an economic imperative to remain.  The fact that most of these chickens still lead objectively horrible lives and potentially die painful deaths is only given solace by the one fact that we would no longer be breeding them for this purpose.  Obviously, there would still be chickens - there just wouldn't be billions of them, consistently being overfed to the point that they cannot move, and then slaughtered.

But that's all a bit of a digression I guess. I still don't see the simple act of harvesting an animal for food to be either moral or immoral. We are part of the animal kingdom and we eat those below us on the food chain like any of the other animals would. How that's done can be questioned (factory farming/unnecessary cruelty), and I suppose to what extent can also be questioned (to the point of extinction), but I am not personally disturbed by the very idea of it.

It's illegal in the US to feed meat to pigs.  We generally prefer to eat herbivores, so clearly there are some pretty successful creatures that aren't participating in the 'food chain'.  It's not even necessarily true that all people have "always" had to eat meat.  There have always been vegetarians throughout different times and cultures, and I'm surprised that your go-to defense here would be that the natural origin of consumption of meat makes it morally justifiable.  To look at it another way, we're the only species to eat cooked meat.  Should we stop doing that so that we can be like 'any of the other animals' at the top of the food chain?

For me, making a meal from a pound of turkey for a day or two is a lot more sustainable than vegan substitutes. I invite you to my local grocery store if you disagree. If you agree, then, well, you're making moral compromises already.

If you are interested, I could give you some recipe suggestions.  I don't know what's available at your supermarket, or what specific things cost, but I don't buy any vegan "substitute" stuff in my groceries.  Just fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes.

*To expand on that just a bit, a decreased demand in meat would eventually lead to a price increase as farmers would decrease their yields in accordance with continued decline in sales, and as their output slows, the cost of staying in business rises, which would then be passed on to the consumers.
20  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Is killing animals for food moral? on: September 14, 2015, 05:00:04 pm
I see no problem with free range farming surviving, especially as entire species of domesticated animals would die out, if we stopped farming.

If you are concerned with the extinction of species, the continued deforestation of the Amazon, among other places, to meet the growing demand for livestock, is having an extremely detrimental impact on biodiversity.

Entire species of domesticated animals won't "die out" - they would simply be no longer bred for the purposes of human consumption.  There will always be farm sanctuaries.
21  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Australia General Discussion 2.0 on: September 14, 2015, 08:42:01 am
Turnbull seems like less of an Australian GW Bush than Abbott. Is this perception correct?

Yes, Turnbull is certainly more charismatic and gives across a much more competent seeming style.  Whether there will be any change in the policies, I wouldn't hold out for much.
22  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Is killing animals for food moral? on: September 14, 2015, 08:28:09 am
Why is it necessary to do the things I described - killing vermin/pests, dangerous animals but not to just go a little farther and eat (certain) animals?  Why are insects, rats, and poisonous snakes less deserving of life than a cow or a chicken?   They are all animals.

You could consider it from the perspective that you are protecting your territory and health by doing so.  You aren't protecting anything by eating Baconators from Wendy's.

Obviously, it makes sense to allow us to kill animals in certain circumstances.  What I'm very convinced of is that eating meat is not one of these circumstances.  It's well established by this point that humans do not need any amount of animal flesh to survive.

The modern forms of chickens, cattle, sheep, and other domesticated livestock only exist because we created them for production agriculture.    That is their purpose on this earth. 

Even if we are to accept this premise, they still feel pain, and suffer when separated from calves, and lead frivolous and largely joyless lives.  Their "purpose" may be to serve us, but the lives of rescued farm animals suggest something very different.  They are no different than dogs and cats.
23  General Politics / Political Debate / Re: Is killing animals for food moral? on: September 14, 2015, 08:13:45 am
Is it much more moral to nearly commit genocide than what we're doing now?

If the US alone kills 42 million cows per year (USDA 2000 estimate), every year, over and over, isn't that sort of the same thing - but worse?

Anyway, it's more realistic that animal farms would close individually as demand drops, meaning that they would adjust their breeding accordingly, so there wouldn't be an outrageous surplus of animals alive at any single moment.  Don't forget that these animals hardly have a choice in the terms of their reproduction.  Indeed, for many of them, it the main function they serve.  The reason there are so many of these animals is because we put them there.

What is the real moral question here?

Whether it is appropriate to kill a sentient being for your own personal pleasure.

Why should the animal kingdom be treated separately from the plant kingdom?


Does the use of "animal" include worms and shellfish?

Yes.  Now, I am not certain that worms and shellfish are necessarily sentient - but given what we know about most other animals, I prefer to remain on the side of caution.  I don't have a purpose for killing worms and shellfish, so I see no reason to do so.
24  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Australia General Discussion 2.0 on: September 14, 2015, 08:02:45 am
25  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Australia General Discussion 2015- discussion on: September 14, 2015, 07:11:16 am
So, which of these clowns doesn't make it out of the cabinet reshuffle alive?

The humiliating parade of Hockey, Andrews, Abetz - all good bets.  Peter Dutton - I'm crossing my fingers!!
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