Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 16th 2015 Contents B12
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, July 16, 2015
Calling all kids
5-12 years The Ministry
of Health Presents:
Theme: "Do's and Dont's of
All entries must be submitted on or before
July 31st to the Ministry of Health Corporate
Communications Unit, Park Plaza Building,
St. Vincent Street, Port of Spain.
Visit health.gov.tt or see press for details.
A message from the Ministry of Health.
Submit a poster showing what you should
and shouldn't do before consuming food.
1st Prize is a weekend trip to Tobago
2nd Prize is a weekend stay at
the Valencia Eco Park Resort
3rd Prize is a day pass to MovieTowne.
Last week, a video of Chinese
men skinning a dog, purportedly
in Trinidad, went viral prompt-
ing a lot of comment about the
practice of dog eating by Chinese
people. Many questioned what
they called the hypocrisy of this
criticism, saying that people in
T&T proudly boast about eating
wild meat, so why the big fuss
In some parts of China, dogs
are eaten as a delicacy and there
is even an annual dog meat fes-
tival held to celebrate the sum-
mer solstice. Before this year s
Festival in Yulin, China, there
was worldwide condemnation
of this practice by animal lovers
and animal rights activists.
Writing in the UK Guardian,
author JULIAN BAGGINI spoke
about what he sees as the
hypocrisy of the condemnation
of eating dog meat.
Whenever western meat-eaters
get up in arms over barbarous
foreigners eating cute animals,
it s easy to throw around accu-
sations of gross hypocrisy. Easy,
because such accusations are
often true. But responses to the
dog meat festival in Yulin, China,
which draws to a close today,
merit more careful consideration.
The double standards at play here
are numerous, complicated and
not always obvious.
One so-called hypocrisy is
nothing of the sort. If you find
yourself disgusted by the thought
of dogs being killed, cooked and
eaten, but you eat other animals,
that does not make you a hyp-
ocrite. If you ve grown up seeing
dogs as companion animals and
haven t even seen the reality of
livestock slaughter, of course
you re going to find the idea
somewhat distressing. You only
become a hypocrite if you take
your personal revulsion as a rea-
son to morally oppose the eating
of dogs. If you accept that your
gut reaction---quite literally, in
this case---is no more morally sig-
nificant than the disgust you
might feel when thinking about
eating insects, you are no hyp-
ocrite for feeling it.
If you are one of the more than
3.8 million people who signed an
online petition against the festi-
val, however, you might be stand-
ing on shakier ground. Obviously
if your only objection is that the
animals being eaten are dogs
rather than pigs, who are equally
as intelligent, your indignation is
fairly hollow. But I imagine most
objectors believe there is more to
it than just their preference for
friendly, furry beasts with names.
For instance, some may be
moved to sign because the peti-
tion claims the dogs are "beaten
to death, skinned alive and eaten."
The festival organisers dispute
this. I have no idea if the claim
stands up, but given that we know
that the Web is awash with mis-
information, I would think it irre-
sponsible to simply believe it with-
out question. After all, if you want
to skin an animal it makes much
more sense to kill it first, purely
for practical reasons. Is there not
a whiff of orientalism here: a too-
quick readiness to believe that the
Chinese behave barbarously?
Others might have been moti-
vated by the pictures of dogs
crammed together in cages. This
is indeed cruel, but this is how
animals are abused in many parts
of the world. If you don t like
how the Chinese treat their dogs,
then protest against their pork
and chicken farming, too.
Remember also that in west-
ernised industrial farming, ani-
mals are often kept in similar
conditions all their lives, not just
on market day. So do sign the
petition, just as long as you also
campaign against intensive farm-
ing and studiously ignore any
meat that comes from it.
That point also applies to veg-
etarians. Vegans are the only
group who can oppose the festival
without any fear of hypocrisy.
Vegetarians who do not avoid
dairy products or eggs from
intensively reared animals cannot
complain when they see dogs in
cages. Saying "at least dairy cows
and egg-laying hens aren t killed"
is no escape clause. It is an odd
kind of concern for animal welfare
that accepts animals suffering
day after day but objects to swift
slaughter. The moral choice
between killing a well-reared ani-
mal and keeping a tortured one
alive only until it has fulfilled its
use is clear.
Some might be appalled by the
petition s claim that the trade
relies on "the abduction of strays
and pets." But "abduction" is a
loaded word when it comes to
strays. After all, usually it is con-
sidered more ethical to eat wild
animals than farmed meat, not
less. The stealing of pets is, of
course wrong, but not primarily
on animal welfare grounds.
Moral outrage is always easier
when the target appears to be far
from home. What should appal
us about Yulin is not which par-
ticular animal is being killed, but
that too many animals in the west
are treated nearly or just as cru-
elly. Our problem is not that we
ought to be less disgusted at
what s happening in China, but
that we ought to be more dis-
gusted by what s going on in
many farms here. Signing a peti-
tion about what s happening in
China is easy---and unlikely to
have much effect. Refusing to
buy from producers here that
treat animals just as badly takes
more work. But at least it might
have an effect.
• Julian Baggini is the author of
Freedom Regained: The Possibility
of Free Will.
Is it okay to eat dogs?
Photos like these with dogs in cages in China angered animal rights activists all over the world.
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