How are you better than them?

Edward

Let me ask you some questions to help us come to a conclusion.

Were the Nazis bad because:

  1. They tortured/killed human beings en mass?
  2. They tortured/killed beings that were able to suffer?

Meaning, if they had tortured/killed brain dead humans (who were not able to feel pain/fear) would it have been just as bad or would it have been forgotten by today?

And if they had tortured/killed millions of monkeys who were able to feel the same amount of pain as the Jews, would it still be remembered today?

If humans are animals, and if human intelligence is unrelated to the ability to feel pain, which is shared equally amongst most animals, then why is it so shocking to torture a human but not an animal?

How is it that our intelligence grants us the right not to suffer? Isn’t that like saying that our sight grants us the right not to be shouted at? Are these qualities connected in any way? Can a person with high IQ suffer more than one with a low IQ? In fact, can’t children, who are unable to rationalise their pain, seemingly feel more pain than adults?

Why has the holocaust stuck in our minds for so long because of a few million tortured Jews but the hundreds of billions of animals who were since equally tortured for food are not remembered?

And would the holocaust have been any less shocking if the Nazis didn’t kill Jews because of hatred, but simply because they enjoyed the taste of Jewish meat and killed them to feed their families? Equally, would it have been just as shocking to you if the Nazis had tortured and killed millions of cows because they hated cows? If not, why not?

Is it the reason for unneeded torture (hatred, taste, convenience) that makes it horrific or is it simply the torture itself?

So why is it that we grant rights to some but not others?

Was it relevant to the Nazis that Jews were humans? How about the slave masters and the blacks, did they care about their species or was race only deciding factor to them?

You, I assume, care about all humans regardless of anything, so long as they are human. But why do you stop there? Why do you not care about all animals regardless of species?

One is black, the other white, one has fur the other not, one can write poems the other cannot. But are those attributes relevant to the right not to suffer? If so, should a severely retarded human be stripped of their rights?

And under what logic should the right not to suffer be based on color, gender, race, height, religion, sexuality or species? Would it not make more sense if the right not to suffer was based on the mere ability to suffer?

I would appreciate it if you could share your logic on the subject and explain why you believe you are better than the Nazis/slave masters and deserve not to be compared to them.

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24 Responses to “How are you better than them?”

  • Shane Says:

    It was the Nazi dehumanization of the Jewish and the homosexuals and the Roma that lead to the Holocaust, and here you are comparing the largest direct attempt at genocide in human history to the food industry. Certainly, the treatment of livestock in the food industry is cruel, and it is a problem that needs to be fixed, but that does not warrant the comparison. The difference between the two is the intent behind it; the Nazis wanting to “purify” the gene pool and the corporations wanting to turn the biggest possible profit. The only situations in which the treatment were similar, is when there is an individual working with the animals that abuses his power over them, and even then it is not to the same scale.

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    Edward Reply:

    So you are saying that if the Nazis had killed 8 million Jews for food, and had treated them like we treat our animals, it would have been forgotten by now? Would it have been ok then?

    Also, animals are not just tortured by sick individuals abusing their power (although it is said to happen a LOT) the process the animals go through are horrific enough without any evil intentions. The workers in slaughterhouses are low paid and not skilled and have to kill thousands of animals a day, they are not concerned about the animal’s wellbeing, whether it’s conscious whilst bled or not. Every slaughterhouse has to have a backup killer who finishes off the animals in the production line that were not properly killed to begin with.
    This is not to mention the conditions they live in, and that they are transported in.

    You seem to have an interest on the subject, so I recommend you read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safram Foer – he investigated the industry deeply for like 2 or 3 years and wrote a book on what he found.

    Anyway, the reason why the holocaust was so horrific, most of all, is that 8 million sentient beings suffered and were killed for no justifiable reason. And the same is true to the meat we eat.

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    Shane Reply:

    Even if cannabalism was as socially normal as eating meat, the difference between the two is the reason for the cruelty. The Nazis were cruel for the sake of being cruel, cruelty was their objective. The living conditions and slaughter methods of the animals (albiet similar to some Holocaust conditions) are the way they are for the sake of effieciency and minimizing expenditures. I agree with you to the point that they share some similar practices, but the intentions behind them are too different, in my opinion, to justify a comparison. The problem with the food industry is Greed than Hate.

    I do support a total overhaul of the meat industry, from farm to fridge, but I disagree with the many pro-veg or pro-PETA groups that demonize or attack the consumer.

    And, sure I’ll read it, since most of my info is based off of Food Inc. or Fast Food Nation.

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    Edward Reply:

    Very few people are sadists, and the Nazis certainly were not. In their mind they were doing good for the world. They were ridding the world of evil, of bad genes, of ignorance, etc. They didn’t do it all just for the kicks. So that’s very mistaken.

    I would not demonize consumers, simply because consumers are simply socialized. They are the way they are not because they are inherently cruel, but because they live in a society that accepts those practices and don’t give thought to it. The same was true to many Nazis “born into it”. Muslims who believe women are inferior, and an entire society who believed blacks didn’t deserve rights in the same way that we today believe animals deserve no rights. Nobody is taking joy in being cruel – they don’t see it as cruelty, they see it as the norm and it kind of ends there.

    If most consumers saw what actually happens, if they watched a video of the animal being born, growing up, and being killed, and everything they go through in their lives in order for that piece of meat to reach their plates, they would not want to be a part of it.

    There’s a book that talks a lot about socialization called “why we eat pigs, wear cows and love dogs”. She came up with the term “carnism” which is interesting (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnism)

    Anyway, please do read Eating Animals – there is so much information there and it is so beautifully written! The author is a novelist so he brings that style into his writing and his findings.

    Also, if you’re into documentaries I highly recommend http://www.watchearthlings.com – narrated by Joaquin Phoenix.

    my email is veganise@me.com and I’m @veggietweets on twitter. I’d love to hear your thoughts. :-)

    Best,
    Edward

  • Jonathan Wolgin Says:

    Fascinating comparison. I was arguing with my brother about veganism. He doesn’t have a well-defined philosophy, but he admitted to being a Social Darwinist and I subsequently compared him to Hitler. I realized that I should probably avoid such ad hominims in the future. Anyway, he asked a good question: what should the punishment be for people who don’t care much about animal suffering, and just eat meat because they like the taste? The Nazi war criminals got death or life imprisonment. Other friends, unpersuaded by my moralistic arguments, also ask, “so how would you punish me for eating meat”? I said a fine. Do you have any other answers?

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    Edward Sanchez Reply:

    Thank you.

    I am not sure that they should be punished in any way. This is a social crime, not a small group.

    People act this way because everybody else does and they simply don’t stop to think about it. The same might have been true to many of the members of the Nazi party. They were going with the flow.

    I think it would be best if everyone simply learned to be kind to everyone else.

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  • Elizabeth Buckwalter Says:

    I think ignorance is the greater crime. People during the Nazi era didn’t believe that other people could be capable of such treatment. Some *chose* to ignore it, because they didn’t know what they could do about it.

    We meat eaters are not all about the big processed meat farms and other disgusting practices that the present day meat industry uses. Many of us feel that we can’t join with vegans against this abhorrence, because we feel lumped in with the ignorant and the others who just don’t care.

    People don’t like drastic changes. If *all* of us who find the current standards and treatment of animals disgusting, weather or not we eat them, banded together and attacked the industry, we would get much closer to our goals. Using non-attacking language, we could offer alternatives. I understand if vegans wouldn’t want to support even organic, free range, sustainable animal farms, but if you could at least not *attack* those alternatives, we would get much farther in destroying the big meat factories.

    After those first few steps, we could then move to debating weather or not eating them in the first place is a crime or not.

    In Oregon, we have many non industrial farms, so we have it easy here. Even the major grocery stores sell locally produced meat. It’s the east coat that is the major difficulty.

    Thanks,
    Elizabeth
    A conscientious meat eater.

    [Reply]

    Edward Reply:

    Have you been to the farms and seen the entire process from birth to death?

    I have a feeling you will be unpleasantly surprised and won’t call yourself “conscientious” anymore.

    I don’t attack improving current conditions of farming, but that would be like trying to improve conditions to the Nazi concentration camps.

    Ultimately we want no suffering at all, especially when there’s no need for it.

    Before we continue communicating, I would like you to tell me you’ve been to these farms and slaughterhouses and seen in all for yourself.

    Otherwise you, like many of the Nazis themselves who didn’t know about the conditions of the concentration camps, could be being fooled by false advertising to make you feel better about your crime.

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    Kayne Karnbach Reply:

    Elizabeth,

    I understand where you are coming from. I can see how the ultimate goal is stopping the suffering altogether, but I agree with you that those that are vegans/vegetarians need to be open to meat eaters who recognize the need for change but might not be able to give up meat entirely.

    Attacking those that eat meat is not the solution. Offering alternatives and opportunities is the solution.

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  • Kayne Karnbach Says:

    Thank you Ed for this blog. I have recently become a vegetarian and the road to that decision has been long, starting with Micheal Vick. I love meat, or should I say used to. Before the Vick case came to light I would have never even considered giving up meat. I grew up on burgers and steak, and even as I write this I still desire the taste of burgers. I was so shocked by what Vick did, and for months I kept thinking about it saying how I could never believe someone would do that to an animal. Using and torturing(sp?) an animal for no reason. I began to think about how much I love my dog and how different I am. But I am not, because I eat animals. While I am not torturing(sp?) a dog for sport, I am aiding in the torture and killing of an animals simply so I can eat them. It is the same thing. I firmly believe that. Once you understand that, the only choice is to stop eating meat and stop contributing to the system. Just like this article says, how are we better than a chicken, cow or other animal? Why is it that dogs, cats and other animals are spared but not a cow?

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  • Peter Gibbons Says:

    The Nazis banned experimentation on animals and used humans instead.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_welfare_in_Nazi_Germany

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  • Regulus Says:

    I maintain that plants share our ability to experience suffering due in part to their responses to adverse environmental conditions, just as animals similarly express suffering through their reactions. If a plant is malnourished, it may wither and turn brown. If it is injured, it may secrete juice as if bleeding, and eventually heal itself. If physically neglected, it may die. What logic can posit that since we humans can vocalise our pain and plants cannot, plants are incapable of suffering?

    Have you ever herded helpless Jews into the gas chamber and listened coldly behind metal doors to the piteous cries, first growing louder, then weaker, and finally dying out like a candle deprived of oxygen?

    Have you ever steamed a brussel sprout?

    I would appreciate it if you could share your logic on the subject and explain why you believe you are better than the Nazis/slave masters and deserve not to be compared to them.

    [Reply]

    Edward Reply:

    Regulus,
    I don’t follow your logic for suggesting plants feel pain.
    Pain is processed in the brain and serves as a way to tell animals to avoid that experience and run away from it.
    Without a brain pain cannot exist. And without the ability to run away and avoid the pain, pain would be nothing more than masochism.
    For example, animals such as starfish and oysters cannot feel pain as they cannot run away from it.

    The suffering felt by the Jews was horrific – but no less horrific than the suffering felt by millions of non-humans. Which is why I pose the question.

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    Anthony Reply:

    This is such a tired attempt at an argument. We can say that plants don’t feel pain because there is absolutely no mechanism for which they could experience it.

    But even if they could, that makes veganism a moral imperative. It takes far, far more plants to feed a cow to feed you than to just feed you with those plants.

    I’m not really sure where people think they can go with the plant pain argument. It gets you nowhere new.

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  • DeathtoPETA Says:

    I’m just going to point out that this is EXTREMELY offensive to the families of those who perished in the Holocaust and other similar events. If you must support this position, I beg of you, please don’t use this comparison. The very idea of comparing Jews to animals is both insensitive and borderline Anti-Semitic.

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  • Anthony Says:

    While I agree that this analogy is not a great one to use, it’s because of the high risk of turning people off.

    While it may be insensitive and just a bad idea to make comparisons to the current state of things to Nazi Germany, it’s completely absurd to suggest that comparing Jews to animals is insensitive or remotely anti-Semitic.

    You do know what humans are right?

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