Politics and Scrambled Abortions: A Vegan Call to Pro-Lifers

October 12, 2012

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After watching the Vice-Presidental debates last night, I insist that the pro-life demographic—those who would vote to impose their beliefs on the entire nation—go vegan on principle so that their eating habits fully align with their morals and values.

Otherwise, for example, when Paul Ryan states that "life begins at conception" in order to justify his Right to Life stance, it triggers my imagining of him consuming a daily breakfast of remnant bodies—scrambled fetuses and strips of pigs' loins, if you will—who not only had no right to life, but who were systematically brought onto Earth for the sole purpose of their end (that's 10 billion "aborted" lives—conscious ones, no less, per year in the U.S. alone).

Now, as the majority of the vegan population is made up of liberals, and as the majority of liberals are pro-choice, we vegans are often called hypocrites for this contradiction in our own politics and eating habits. We are often accused of "loving animals and hating humans."

Here's what I say, speaking for myself, of course: I am both pro-life and pro-choice. Due to both diligence and neuroses, I've never had to consider abortion, thank God/Jesus/Buddha/Moses/luck, etc. I personally find abortion gruesome, but feel that a woman's choice is inarguably a right that requires protection. When pro-lifers protested at my uber-liberal UC Santa Cruz campus—dead fetus photos and all, I was secretly glad. I think all young men and women should know the reality of the procedure as much they should know what happens at factory farms. Sex-ed classes should emphasize that abortion is not to be used as regular birth control. And, I feel, most every day, that meat should be banned for the very real and mass destruction it causes. But hypothetically, I would not vote to shove this belief down someone else's throat. My work is rather to educate people so that they themselves might stop shoving things down their own throats.

People should inform public policy, not the other way around. That is democracy, that is politics, and that is why I am vegan—for the lifestyle's power on the public realm, with or without legislation. And that's the great thing about how Roe v. Wade stands now: all sides may continue to exercise their beliefs. As for the question of abortion in last night's debate, and Paul Ryan's response—“I don't see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or from their faith"— I must say that I think his answer disqualifies him as a VP and potential Presidential candidate. We citizens should exercise our political passions publicly, but a politician, ideally, is hired to stand in an entirely different position. I'll refer to the words of David Mamet, who wrote the following in an old essay titled "A Speech for Michael Dukakis" (it is the imaginary speech he wished Presidential candidate Dukakis would have given during his first TV debate with George Bush in 1988):

A lot of mystery and ceremony has become associated with the job of President...But the job was designed, and the job should be, to preside, to preside over legitimately opposed factions in such a way as to represent the interests of the people as a whole...I believe that the job of Chief Executive should be performed, and is performed best, by a man who is not a zealot; who refers his decisions to the rule of Law, always in the knowledge that he was elected not to enact his own whims, his own "passions," but to represent his constituents; and to put the rule of law, and the will of the People as expressed in Law, above his own will.

Whatever your political leanings, I hope you will go to the ballots next month and voice your position. No matter what anyone says, your vote still counts—at least as long as the other side is still voting, too.

How to Vote Efficiently

September 10, 2012

Man, America! We are a jaded bunch! The feeling in the air is thick, especially after the 2012 party conventions.

Polls show that the motivated voters who turned out in record numbers in 2008 aren't even sure they're voting this time, let alone who they'd vote for. The tremendous buzz of 2008's "Hope" and "Change" has dwindled—first down to a hope for change and then just a change in hope altogether. Bring up Obama and Romney and you're bound hear responses like the (actual) quotes we've collected in the last few days: "What's the difference?" "Puppet on the left or puppet on the right?" "Douche bag or shit sandwich?" "Both parties are controlled by the New World Order, so it doesn't really matter who gets in."

To me, this tepid glass of almond milk still looks half full. The negative public responses confirm that people have been doing their homework. The atmosphere of resistance proves the democratization of information in our era. Streaming live at the tip of everyone's fingers is access to unreported news, underground information, alternative health remedies, and exposés on our most powerful industries and decision-makers. The John Robbins-Michael Moore-Enron-9/11-InfoWars-Monsanto-bailout era has caused truth-seekers to dig deep and share widely.

With the mass-use of technology, we all know something about marketing now. In an age where it's obvious when politicians are bought and sold and only giving us a sanitized, polished, PR-spun version of the truth—or straight up lying through their teeth—it's crucial to wield our political power in the most effective ways possible. I believe the voting booth is still powerful—at the very least in sending the message that the masses of us are still alive and kicking. Even if they shred our ballots, they'll still know we showed up to be contended with.

But better than the voting booth, I believe that going vegan is the most effective and powerful tool of our time.

Regardless of our elected officials, there are 7 billion people on Earth making choices every second. We can choose to pressure, starve out, or bolster local and global economies through our habits, practices, and dollars. Veganism is inherently tied to issues of animals, health, chronic disease and healthcare, water supplies, GMOs and biotech, global food distribution and world hunger, the environment, land, sea, and air degradation, climate change, natural disasters, energy and war, immigration, labor, and workers' rights, womens' rights and feminism, racism and classism, outsourcing...the list goes on. No meal, no purchase is neutral. By making vegan choices, we can reach every major industry and every corner of the earth.

So. DO vote at the booth in the 2012 Elections. DO occupy politics. But even more importantly, occupy your mouth. Go vegan.

Judge Calls L.A. Zookeepers "Delusional"—Then Balks. Ugh.

August 2, 2012


Image: www.losfelizledger.com

In his concluding remarks in his evaluation of the L.A. Zoo's "Elephants of Asia" exhibit, Judge John L. Segal wrote: “The evidence at trial shows that the three elephants at the Los Angeles Zoo are emotionally and socially deprived." After consulting experts, he acknowledged that the elephants are "stressed, frustrated, unanimated, and unhappy, and that the zoo is not meeting [their] needs." He called the zoo employees "delusional," acknowledged their history of abuse, caught them telling lies, and questioned whether they will even follow his court orders to discontinue the use of bull hooks. Full articles on the ruling here and here.

BUT. After his scathing review, Segal stopped short of shutting down the exhibit, as called for in the suit, because the situation was "not cruel beyond the ‘ordinary’ circumstance of captivity," he said. WTF? Infuriating doesn't come close to properly describing this failure.

What would have to happen—that has not already happened—in order to be considered "abnormally" cruel? (Versus "normally" cruel, of course.) Is this lashing fake? Is it just a slap on the wrist to placate the public so business can continue as usual? Would it shock you? Judge Segal has been under fire for alleged corruption and deprivation of rights in his courtroom before. By the way, this abusive, useless exhibit, funded by L.A. city council, cost tax-payers $42 million. Meanwhile, the L.A. Unified School District has a $400 million budget deficit for the 2012-13 year, which caused massive recent layoffs and will result in classrooms with roughly 44 students per teacher next year. The elephant money alone could have provided salaries for over 900 teachers who would have been educating about 30 kids per class, 5 classes per day. I know funding is complicated and I'm no economics wizard, but this seems one of a million ways the money could have been better invested.

This is not the end of the story.

Plaintiff Aaron Leider, who initiated the lawsuit on behalf of taxpayers (thank you!), and attorney David Casselman, who has worked pro bono on this case for five years (bless his soul!), both hope that Segal's orders for the exercising of the elephants, the roto-tilling of the soil, and the discontinuation of bull hooks—however superficial it may turn out to be—will cause the public to heed the zoo's lies and failures and in turn put pressure on city council to ultimately shut down the exhibit.

SO HERE'S WHAT TO DO:

•If you live in L.A., In Defense of Animals makes it easy. Use this form.

•If you're outside of L.A., you can use IDA's text in the form above and email it to our mayor and every city council member, addresses below:
[email protected] or (213) 978-0600 or (213) 978-0721
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]
And if you're really feeling ballsy, here's Judge John L. Segal's phone number.

 

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