Alan H wrote: Nick wrote:
I really don't mind if people want to avoid leather. That's their choice. But to hold out against using leather as a moral position while still drinking milk is inconsistent. As you say:
Milk is an exception, which requires animals to be killed regularly
but it is untrue to say that any cattle are killed purely to keep your trousers up or to provide a soft repose for your backside. Leather is always only a by-product.
I really don't know which way round it is: is leather a by-product of meat production or meat a by-product of leather production? Do you have evidence one way or the other?
PETA refer to leather production as a by-product of meat production. "Perspectives on Leather" refer to it as a waste product of the food chain. These are just the first 2 results I found by googling 'leather production'. Also, though I am aware of dairy breeds of cattle, eg Fresians, Jerseys etc, and beef breeds, eg Aberdeen Angus, I am not aware of any 'leather' breeds, nor have I ever seen cattle so described at any agricultural show I have ever been to. Do you have any evidence the other way?
Taking this point separately:
Bear in mind that I am not talking about extreme situations; in everyday life, I try to live without animals being killed where it is reasonably practicable to do so. I am not saying that I would never want any animals killed under any circumstances.
I have no problem with this. That is your choice. Its a perfectly reasonable position to hold.
I'm not convinced by your inconsistency argument: don't we all have a line that we are not prepared to cross. I have no compunction in killing an annoying fly or hundreds of midges or bacteria. You may have no compunction in killing (or having killed) bacteria, midges, flies or cows. But I assume you stop at generally not killing or having killed other human animals? What about cats and dogs? Where are they on your line? [....] I draw the line in a different position on the continuum, but no more and no less inconsistent that yours.
I have never said that anyone should draw the line on the continuum of animal species in any particular place. I am perfectly aware that different people draw the line in different places. The orientals may like to eat dog. I would not eat dog. I acknowledge that that is an arbitrary judgment, and you and I are free to draw the line at any point we choose.
My challenge of inconsistency (which may be better described by another word) depends on the fact that cattle are bred, raised and slaughtered to produce milk and dairy products. Given that, I think it is inconsistent not to use a by-product of that process. I do not see the rationale for not using leather, for ethical reasons, in such circumstances.
Alan wrote:And who is the arbiter of what 'mainstream' is anyway? I — and many others — see it as a valid ethical issue and therefore open to discussion with those who want to discuss it.
What is mainstream is not an arbitrary decision, but a matter of statistics. Mainstream does not of course mean 'right', either. Mainstream opinion may favour the death penalty; mainstream sexuality is not gay. There are times to be mainstream, there are times when that is impossible.
And what are the statistics for vegetarianism or veganism within those who call themselves humanist? I certainly suspect that it is higher than in the rest of society, but even if we were a small majority, what of it?
I think I'd agree with that. Any departure from the mainstream is likely to throw up other challenges to it. I'd say that the same applies to gays. If you are unable to 'fit in' with the mainstream in such an important matter, then the threshold for challenging other stances is likely to be much lower too. As I've said before, I have no problem with anyone, humanist or not, being veggie or vegan. I would not serve them meat if they were my guest, nor would I expect to be served meat if I were theirs.
Does that mean we should not be allowed to discuss it? What of hard pacifists? Probably a minority, but certainly something worth discussing without people getting on their high horses demanding they renounce their position as inconsistent or asking them to keep quiet lest we discourage new members.
Of course discussion should be allowed. In an open society, freedom of expression, debate and discussion is essential. However, I would object to pacifism being labelled the predominant humanist stance. I would object, and have objected to the BHA Peace Group, which, thank goodness, seems to have died a death. I do not, however, have any issue with someone decaring for themselves that they would not fight whatever the circumstances, and yes, that would be grounds for much debate. Nor does that make me a war-monger.
If we were a predominantly Indian forum, would we be having this discussion, since about one-third
of the population is vegetarian?
Possibly, if they were being inconsistent too.
But as a campaigning humanist (even if not a particularly effective one), I want to concentrate on the major thrust of humanism, that there is probably no god, and that we should seek to find answers by reason. IMO, there is a very large proportion of the population who are there or thereabouts. I want them to feel at home and comfortable supporting humanism. I want to make it as easy as possible.
Isn't that what the CofE has done in the past: take some kind of 'all things to all men' position?
One of the central tenets (if I can call it that) of humanism is that we are a wide, diverse population with differing views on many subjects.
Yes indeed, that is precisely what the Cof E has done in the past. Presented itself in an acceptable form. Eg Cranmer's Prayer Book talks about "Let it be to us His Body and Blood". It does not seek to distinguish between Transubstantiation, Consubstantiation or mere representation. Each divergent belief is accommodated. That is how the CofE attained its foothold and later dominance. A large proportion of UK citizens would describe themselves as CofE if asked on a form, even if they do not actually believe in god. What I want to see is for the default description to change. Doctrinal purity is not the way to achieve that in any mass movement, religious, political or philosophical. For me anyway, the 'broad church' is essential to my personal view of what is means to be a humanist.
What I do not want to see is the central tenets of humanism continually being de-railed by questions like "Humanists are veggies, aren't they?" "Do they wear funny underpants, or is that Mormons..." Simplistic I know, but you get the picture.
No I don't. Who is suggesting that "[all] Humanists are veggies"? Not me.
The more we have separate groups for separate ethical positions, the less inclusive we are likely to appear. So far, this has not been the case. The religious hordes are still calling us shrill, aggressive, fundamentalist, maniacal, etc. I just don't want it to occur.
But I suspect that there is a higher proportion of humanists who are veggies and vegan than in the general population, because they see it as an ethical position that their reason has led them to. If you're not convinced by the arguments in favour of vegetarianism, then fine. I have no problem with that. Perhaps I don't understand why everyone isn't a vegetarian, but that does not mean I'd want to jump on anyone who espoused their views on meat eating.
I think I'd agree with all that.
The Green Party suffers from this to a large extent. Bearded, sandal wearing, long-haired, with no style or colour, earnest geeks with ghastly hand-knitted pullovers do not attract the numbers or support required to change things. They also have some weird ideas, like not having a leader (they've now changed it).
To stereotype Greens like that is worthy only of the Daily Mail or the Telegraph.
Ahem! The Greens themselves are concerned about this issue! At their conferences, they try hard to portray themselves as 'normal' by encouraging their front-benchers to smarten up. It is no accident that Jonathan Porritt has been knighted, whereas Swampy has not...
I am all for open discussion. Anyone can choose any topic as far as I'm concerned. I would prefer it not to be segregated into a separate vegetarian group, but included under ethics and morality, say. And, in the spirit of open discussion, I've responded.
Your preference is noted. We have separate areas of this forum for the discussion of all sorts of things including religion, science and ethics. I know this is a favourite bugbear of yours, but continually harping on about one section given over to discussion of vegetarianism is not helping the cause of humanism as a respectful, tolerant worldview that is prepared to embrace different views. I doubt you will persuade us to merge this section with the ethics section (although I'm glad you agree it is an ethical topic).
The first point is that it is not my forum, so I can't make the rules. That's the way it is, and I take my hat off to you and Maria for having achieved what you have achieved (which is more than I have.) I am also much more exercised by BHA policy than that of this forum. However, I do care that a very few people (not yourself) continue to state that they are veggie because they are humanist. So long as they do so, I will continue to point out that that is not so for all humanists.
Alan H wrote:Who do you think is a fruitcake?
It's not a question of whether I
think veggies are fruitcakes, but whether humanism carries that impression, no matter how unfairly.
But you clearly do consider people like me to be fruitcakes...
No I don't!! Absolutely not!!
...and you just will not let it rest. Your views are clear to everyone who reads this forum. Now let the rest of us get on with discussing this amongst ourselves without it being derailed.
Hmmm. I find that disappointing. Not least your evident frustration. There's some mutuality there....