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The New Morality Makes Animals of Us All

Carving superiority out of the cult of nature.

by
Susan L.M. Goldberg

Bio

February 26, 2014 - 11:30 am
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deadbirds

First exhibited at the prestigious Paris Salon in 1765, Jean-Baptiste Greuze’s ”A Girl With a Dead Canary” was designed to evoke much the same emotion as PETA member Sarah Segal’s proposed memorial to chickens who were killed in a truck accident last month in Georgia. It seems like a tacky comparison that may even be read as an insult to a well-done and even pretty (if bizarre) work of 18th century art, but the bottom line is that both pieces were created for the same purpose: To tug at viewers’ heartstrings while affirming the moral superiority of a particular cultural class.

According to British historian Simon Schama, ill-fated French King Louis XVI introduced the “cult of nature” to the throne, “replacing couches and courtisans with [the] tenderness and simplicity” of Marie Antoinette’s toy farm and the well-crafted embrace of wildlife in art. “Tears were especially prized as evidence of feeling,” Schama explains, noting that, “people wept when they saw” Greuze’s painting. “Feelings …the shallow kind were embraced by the fashionable elite.” It was the attempt of a king and class to portray themselves as perfect, superior human beings.

So it goes with the Roadkill Memorial, albeit in a much more blatantly political format. A tombstone designed to dwarf roadside memorials to mere human victims of vehicular death, the proposed memorial is intended to remind all drivers to approach all of their animal relations with reverence:

Cascada said the tombstone’s visibility would make drivers’ more wary of people and chickens alike, thereby helping to avoid unnecessary accidents and preserve the lives of chickens in transport. …But Cascada acknowledged the reality of the chickens’ final destination, making the “Go Vegan” phrase a key takeaway.

“The more people who go vegan, the fewer chickens are in this situation to begin with,” she said.

Simply stating that “meat is murder” isn’t enough anymore. For PETA, the time for mere sloganeering is over. Humans are animals, don’t you get it? You’re all slabs of meat now, and some are much more important than others.

Top Rated Comments   
Hey I like chickens. I like them fried and baked, I like them in soup and in pot pies. I even like them cold. Even when you eat something you've never tasted before like alligator for example people usually say something like "it tastes like chicken". Even our great military men like Colonel Sanders loved chicken.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
That memorial is proof that satire is now impossible.

The only thing I could think that would make it better is if someone managed to add "and they couldn't cross the road".
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Has PETA stopped killing dogs and cats at their shelter?
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (42)
All Comments   (42)
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Yes, we are all slabs of meat.....
We are no different than any other animal

And as such, it is therefore PERFECTLY MORAL eat meat....

Spider, fly....mouse, hawk....antelope, tiger....human, and whatever our superior intellect and organizational skills can provide....

There is no moral distinction...food is food, so unless youre ready to prostletize the notion that not just ME, but wolves, bears, and fish who eat other fish are ALL going to hell for our "sins", you have no leg to stand on.

So, unless PETA admits thier ultimate goal is to up-end the entire food-chain from plankton forward, to re-arrange the cozmos right down to electrons and below, they need to STFU about the morality of meat, and just say

"yeah, we're insane"
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Beautifully written article, Susan. I'm trying to understand the mindset of these PETA people. What makes a person prefer animals over people? In the end, they don't serve humans nor animals well.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I did a double this morning..chicken fried steak for breakfast. JimB
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Nice, I like my A.A.B. first thing in the mornin'...

All Animal Breakfast...Cheese Omlette, bacon, and a big glass of milk.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Some animal flesh, breaded and fried, complete with stolen animal products like butter, milk, eggs and cheese, make for a perfect breakfast. Add bacon for the win!

I always have a special place reserved for animals - right next to the potatoes.
6 weeks ago
6 weeks ago Link To Comment
Survival is an instinct. A house is on fire. The dog runs out the door. The firefighter runs in the door. There is your experiment Charlie. Reproduction is an instinct. Why is it necessary to spay and neuter pets? Because unlike humans they can deny the instinct. Not saying that people would not have as much sex as possible, only that if she says "not tonight" and I do not listen and force myself on her it is considered rape. By this definition, the hembra on my corner is gang raped. I think Prager would say, Charley you must have a graduate degree.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have yet to meet a human as honest as any animal I've ever known.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have yet to meet a human as delicious as any animal I've tasted...
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
Excellent article. My German experience of "nature" comes to mind. (I get nervous as soon as Germans start exhuberating about "Natur".) One can find in German Romanticism first a idolizing of nature as divine, though late Romanticism found a dark deadly side. This aspect was taken up again in early 20th Century in movies and hit the hightpoint in Hitler & Co, for whom the essence of nature is "kill to survive" and affirmed as life's calling. Since WW II nature has become an ecological idol, you know, perserving "chickens" although wildly aborting humans. In the last years "nature" as a kind goddess has competitions with "evolution", and evolution as the new "god" ain't always nice. I hope that the semi-worship of nature does not coalesce with the rough and tumble evolution. Germans, also ecologists per se, and nature cause me worry. That American feminism seems to be treating the female body as a slap of meat bespeaks trouble. Thank you for the incisive analysis.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
When I was young, I asked my Dad what happened when we died and he said, 'when you die, you die like a chicken, Boom....... that's the end of it, nothing, all over'. That always bothered me, as if that was the case; there was no point to anything, never was a point to anything and never will be a point to anything.......
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Without God, there is no meaning in life. That message was told most powerfully in the book of Ecclesiastes.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is a point. The one thing you can be absolutely certain, there is a point.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
The statement is definitional, like the existence of G_d. Purpose and meaning is attached to life and transcends it by reaching beyond one's mere self. If purpose and meaning extinguishes with self, transcendence becomes trivial, irrelevant and false. Living on in the memory of others is just another lie to tell yourself: http://issuepedia.org/Definitional_argument
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I prefer to think of it as axiomatic.

If you are here there is a point. If you consider the alternative -- that you are merely the pointless consequence of random events -- and find yourself unable to laugh loudly and scornfully at such a concept you've given up on reason and embraced the lie of nihilism.

7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well taken, and that is indeed where we are - on the edge of nihilism....

Still, myself and myriad others cannot take existence as primary proof of purpose and being, and reason is something that we do, at times, while the rest of our minds are away somewhere being something else...'>....
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was spurred by a rooster on my grandfather's farm when I was a little girl.

I'm not likely to be mourning chickens.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Did you have dumplings the next day?

I love chicken 'n dumplings.
5 weeks ago
5 weeks ago Link To Comment
Many years after Cardinal Wojtyla became Pope he made a pilgrimage to Assisi, the birthplace of Saint Francis. In the Message of Reconciliation he delivered there, Pope John Paul II spoke of the Saint’s love for animal, as well as human, beings. He likened that inclusive love to an anticipation of the Peaceable Kingdom, envisioned by the Prophet Isaiah, a world in which all God’s creatures will live in peace with each other.

In this witness, Pope John Paul II was being true to the Gospel message in which Jesus also gave witness: “I tell you, whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me.” (Matthew 25:45 TEV)
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thats why we're 'supposed to" offer thanks for these which we recieve as nourishment...sometimes folks call that "Saying Grace".

Because, in that Anticipated Kingdom, it is ALSO said we will neither thirst or grow weary...but here and now, we MUST drink and we MUST Sleep...there is no way to avoid that, so it cannot be "immoral" that we also EAT..

And as a matter of practical survival, eating ANIMALS makes the most sense.......

I cannot eat dirt and sunlight, but the grass can...I cannot eat grass, but a cow can....and a random cow (or pig or deer) will feed a whole GROUP of people for several days....reliance on crops (that dont migrate themselves to better fields if the weather is poor) leads to famine.

Nothing immoral about eating animals
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hey I like chickens. I like them fried and baked, I like them in soup and in pot pies. I even like them cold. Even when you eat something you've never tasted before like alligator for example people usually say something like "it tastes like chicken". Even our great military men like Colonel Sanders loved chicken.
7 weeks ago
7 weeks ago Link To Comment
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