Friday, 3 July 2009

PETA: Your Daddy Kills Animals.

PETA: "As we all know, human beings often don't think before they act. We don't condemn President Obama for acting on instinct. When the media began contacting us in droves for a statement, we obliged, simply by saying that the president isn't the Buddha and shouldn't be expected to do everything right..."

Hey PETA; you and I know that it's certainly a multi-faith culture we live in these days: my Muslim friends go to the Mosque; my Buddhist friends do their meditation days; my Catholic friends go to Mass and tell their beads; my Quaker mates all sit quietly in their room together - and all of this is fine by me.

So I've got no problem with Buddhists; hell, I even used to think I was one. It was a while back, sure, but if anyone asked me what religion I was then, I used to say: Well, I suppose I'm a kind of Buddhist, really.

In those days, when I thought I was a Buddhist, I too, in imitation of the Buddha, followed a vegetarian diet - I was even a Vegan for about six months, living mainly on black coffee, beer, chips and peanut butter, as I recall. But, as I say, that was a while back, and my views have changed a little since then.

These days (and beside me saying it's the case, God knows there's little enough evidence of it - but that's another matter) what faith I do have tends to centre around the comparatively unattractive figure of that strange, occasionally rather grumpy-seeming, non-vegetarian man who ended up being nailed to a tree by his fellow religious professionals - way over in occupied Palestine - a couple of thousand years ago. These days - and with all the respect that's due to the devotees of other faiths - I'm not, actually, a Buddhist.

Now I know religious leaders don't tend to be in the habit of canvassing votes as regards their rule; they don't see that as being in their job description, I suppose - and maybe they're right about that. They do the religious leader thing - issue encyclicals, dictates, bulls, fatwas and the like - and their followers, well, they follow those rules. In a country that tolerates religious freedom people don't have to follow the rules of the religions they don't personally subscribe to.

Call me a bourgeois old liberal if you will, but personally I'm in favour of that set-up.

Now in theocracies, as far as I understand these things, the matter is rather different. In a theocracy, the leaders of the State and the religious leaders tend to wear the same hat - because, of course, they're wearing the same head (and that's admirably Green as regards sustainable hat production, of course). In a theocracy, there's just the law; it's a religious law, and you have to obey it, since it's the law of the land as well and there's no separate appeal court there that'd be willing to lend an ear about it not suiting you all that well.

Now, as far as I'm aware, I don't live in a theocracy. Gordon Brown has his own personal beliefs but if people think his policies favour the tenets of his own particular faith, to the radical detriment of others, then he'll get a kicking at the ballot box from those other faith practitioners - and he'll deserve it. England is not a theocracy.

If people of a country genuinely want a theocracy, then OK, they want a theocracy - good for them.

In countries where there isn't a theocratic government - in multi-faith countries, say, like the UK, Europe and the States - there, leaders and devotees of religious groups do need to be tolerant towards the different faith-based and secular cultures that surround them. There, within the boundaries of the secular law that they all agree to, they don't get to say what other people should or shouldn't do.

Aggressive, proselytizing missionary conversion tactics on the part of one faith-community as regards their fellow citizens who happen to belong to other faiths - or to those who profess no faith at all - that sort of thing really has no place in a modern, tolerant, multi-faith state.

A central part of Buddhist belief is concerned with showing 'compassion to all living things'; so that means most Buddhists have some form of vegetarianism as a part of the practise of their particular religious faith.

And that's fine; that's absolutely fine by me. Multi-faith tolerance? It's a good thing; you want to be a vegetarian because the Buddha was a vegetarian too? Well then, great, superb; good for you.

But, please, if you want to be good citizens of this admittedly rather complicated thing that's called a 'democracy' - then have the decency to let other people practise their faith, or their non-faith, unmolested. You want to be Buddhists? Fine, great - but I'm not a Buddhist. So this publication of yours, 'Your Daddy Kills Animals', this is actually a highly aggressive example of a very crude form of religious indoctrination. It's exactly a proselytizing, missionary tract that's aimed at bullying children into adopting the beliefs and practises of your particular faith.

This, I'd say, is precisely not the way that members of faith communities should behave towards others who do not subscribe to their particular beliefs.

We do not live in a theocracy. We get to choose what we believe in - and so should our children.

So cut it out.


  1. I stumbled upon your blog via the Airgun Forum and have spent a little time dipping into it and enjoying what you have written. To be truthful, I am slightly envious of your ability to order your thoughts into such a cohesive string and then to commit them to this medium - it's also quite a brave thing to do in its own way,  but that's another subject.
    This particular response to PETA's unpleasant-looking 'comic' is, I feel, well reasoned and well written.  People today seem to believe that they must have an opinion on everything and that they have the right to inflict that view on others. Whatever happened to offering 'no opinion' or just minding one's own business? Many people, myself included, resent having the beliefs/opinions (religious or otherwise) of others brought to our doorsteps by zealots whose self-appointed mission appears to to be to cram it down our throats. It doesn't seem to have occurred to them that, if their particular beliefs were so all-fired wonderful, we'd all subscribe to it already. All the information is available through a computer screen these days; why can't we be allowed to find things out for ourselves and make up our own minds?

    I suspect that explaining to PETA why they should stop trying to brainwash kids will be criticised, but so should Peta for using such appallingly crude imagery. Keep up the good work.


  2. Dang it HH!

    I wish I had your ability to start at point A and end up at Q via Y,G,J and F, and make it all come together.

    Another great post the likes of which are seldom seen. Look for the permanent link!


  3. I don't want to be a nay-sayer here, because I really do love your post-- If we're taking a look at literature that "bullies" children into adopting a religious way of life, The Bible doesn't fall too far from the same tree as the PeTA Comic Book.  The book tells children at a  young age that if the rules of the book aren't followed, then an eternity of torture and hell-fire will ensue.  If that isn't bullying, I don't know what is.

  4. The Suburban Bushwacker4 July 2009 at 00:11

    Great thinking and great writing HH

    Paul's point is well made too. 

    I've taught Bushwacker Jnr to refer to 'him' as 'the big bully in the sky' his inoculation seems to be working

  5. No Paul, people tell little children and adults that the book says you'll fry in hell for eternity. The book doesn't say that, although sadly, the effect is the same.

  6. Angrywhiteman: Check out Deuteronomy 6:24...the book really does say that...

  7. I think that if you go to the phone book with a determined enough wish to find that it demonstrates the truth of a view you wish to be true, then there's a good chance you'll find the confirmation you seek.

    That being said, a great deal of the New Testament - I'd say, anyway - concerns exactly the utter failure of 'the religious life' and the mistake that's made in taking the 'rules' as the only guide to the 'good life' or to 'salvation'. In that sense the NT is precisely an anti-religious tract. It might be funny to hear people decrying the rule-bound and hell-fire-fixated message of the NT if it wasn't so terribly, appalingly sad. 


  8. I would actually disagree with the NT being anti-religious, being that much of the NT was actually written as letters to early churches with instructions on how to "live a more holy life."  Many of these letters were written by Paul, who expected God's eternal judgement to happen within his lifetime. 

    But this is all besides the point, really.  One can't pick and choose content from their literature as they please.  If the first half of a PeTA comic book has "anti-hunting" themes and the second half has "growing organic food" as a theme, the first half still exists, and it will not be ignored by the reader.  At the end of the comic book, hunting is still bad. Likewise, The Bible is taken in the same way.  Even though emphasis changes to perhaps a "less wrathful God" in the NT, the OT still exists and can't necessarily be discounted simply because one feels like it. 

  9. It's perhaps worth noting that "your daddy kills animals" is a two-page flyer and not a lengthy dissertation on the good life.

    I certainly don't 'discount' the Old Testament, though I suppose I think that a christian might take the two collections of texts - OT & NT - as functioning as two map reference points that collectively indicate a direction, an orientation, say.

    I might find writing that uses the image of the 'wrath of God' distasteful and elect instead to orient myself with stories that use terminology that I like more or ones more in keeping with how I'd like to present myself to others. I may choose, say, the 'the survival of the fittest' or 'the competition in the free market' as the phrases which gild my personal compass. I may choose 'Karma', 'Dependent Origination', 'evolution', 'enlightened self-interest' - I may use anything. But if the 'ethical' is a direction, an orientation of act, then my acts, the direction in which I move and what I actually do, may matter more than how I feel about the colour of the paint on the sign I'm following.

    I don't find the terminology of the stories in the Old Testament difficult to swallow, personally - and that's not to say that I favour the stoning to death of gay people, or people who suffer from skin diseases, either. I'm OK with Pork & shellfish too.

    I suppose we are free to take the NT as a 'religious' tract and use it to construct an orientation of perfect philistinism if we so choose. We won't lack for company if we do. I'd still maintain - and I can't force this view on anyone, but that won't stop me from holding it - that the NT is a profoundly anti-religious collection of writings. I use 'religious' in this sense to mean the understanding that literal observance of cult and written law by itself will bring salvation. The law (and this is Aquinas, I think) is necessary, but it is not sufficient. 

  10. As I said Paul, people use such a narrow interpretation of the   english word fear......Look it up in a Strongs concordance.

    Now we could strain at gnats till we're old and gray, but it will serve no purpose, as my view is the glass is half full. I believe the bible as a whole is a positive work, meant to dispell fear, not instill it.

    People, say the darndest things.

  11. I can definitely see your point within the four Gospels of the NT--the stories of Jesus and his teachings tend to shed a different light than that given by the front half of the book.  I personally find the rest of the NT to be a rather odd collection of writings during a time when the early Christian Church was trying to not only organize, but stay alive in the midst of other religious agendas.  This whole encounter certainly entertains the beauty of religion.  One can interpret text completely different than another and use that interpretation as their moral compass or whatever have you. 

    Although the question still stands(if interpretation is figured on an individual basis), has PeTA really done anything wrong?  If The Bible can be open for interpretation to fit one's moral needs, can't the flyer be the same?  While one might see the PeTA flyer as a means of turning the hunter/fisherman into a meniacal monster, perhaps I would interpret it as something more flattering to a hunter's disposition.  For example, the man in the picture is wearing a suit, suggesting financial stability in an unstable world.  In order for one to be stable, one must be a hard and dedicated worker.  He has obviously caught fish, meaning he is rather dedicated and has a certain amount of patience which is needed for catching fish (patience is a virtue, as I'm always told).  And not only that, I see a man who is looking for a healthy lifestyle consuming fish.  With all literature up for an individuals understanding and analysis, can we really tell PeTA to stop?  (Trust I absolutely hate to help PeTA in any argument, but I hate hypocrisy more and would rather play the Devil's Advocate in any situation)

    I've certainly enjoyed the exchange we've had here--I'll be sure to follow your blog

  12. The previous guest post is mine--I hate anonymous posts and forgot to fill out the proper paperwork for mine