Friday, September 12, 2014

A letter unpublished...

My last three letters to our local paper (Norman Transcript) have gone unpublished in their print edition. I've presumably exhausted their willingness to allow anyone to speak up for our fellow Earthlings. Prior to this they had been publishing about every 2nd letter I sent. I was really upset by the photo that prompted the letter and wanted to present a different take on what appeared, at first blush, to be a seriously cute and wonderful scene. They did stick it onto their website edition where few look and even fewer can find anything. It is one of the more confusing conglomerations I've ever seen.

You might want to read the comment below the electronic edition wherein I'm characterized as having "gone off the deep end" but maybe it was Disney that did it to me. Such is the mentality of many in central Oklahoma.

Well, at least I can publish it here.

Dear Editor,

This past Saturday, Sept. 6, the front page of the Transcript featured a color photo of a fuzzy yellow baby duck being petted by an apparently awestruck and delighted young human child. Dominant cultural narratives (made-up stories we tell ourselves to justify our behaviors and perceptions) are rarely examined, indeed much of their power derives from their invisibility. This photo was captioned “Petting Zoo” and presents us with an image of two babies, one a duck and one a human, both who are beautiful in their youth and innocence. We are also presented with some untold life stories.

The baby duck is a prisoner, held in captivity by humans and her (or his) future is likely very bleak. Soon the duck baby will grow and not be a baby. What will happen to her, what does her future hold? One source indicates ducks are killed for food at around 7 weeks of age (ducks can live 10 to 15 years). Petting zoos feature babies of various species; they obtain their attractions by buying or breeding babies. Those youngsters don’t remain babies for long and most zoo operators then either kill the older residents for food or sell them to be killed elsewhere.

So, the photo most likely shows a soon to be dead victim of human willfulness (it isn’t necessary to eat animals for human survival or health) and a small human female who will probably, statistically speaking, grow up to be someone who eats animals. We can now look at this image of two innocent and charming babies and realize that we are seeing a future killer (probably a killer by proxy) looking, with delight and awe, at her future victim. The photograph takes on a whole different tone when we consider what the probable fates are of the two beautiful babies. The photograph loses some innocence and attractiveness once we consider some context.

Someone once wisely said that compassion alone stands apart from the continuous traffic between good and evil proceeding within us. Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul. Where there is compassion, even the poisonous impulses remain relatively harmless. Readers might want to remember this next time they’re presented with de-contextualized photographs of currently innocent babies who are future victims and victimizers. We don’t have to harm others or to make our children into those who do harm.


If I'm off the deep end by living vegan...then hooray for the deep end.

10 comments:

D.E.M. said...

Hooray for the deep end!!!!
You are such a beautiful writer. Are you sure you weren't an English Prof :)

Have Gone Vegan said...

Great letter, and if being vegan is having gone off the deep end, I'd much prefer that to staying at the shallow end. ;))

Characterizing the baby as a potential future killer, while accurate, is likely what made the person commenting react the way he did, but as you said, dominant cultural narratives...

It never really struck me before, but it's amazing how much the media uses animals too. All those cute pictures, and even the coverage of pigs or cows escaping from a truck en route to a slaughter house, are presented as entertainment for humans rather than exploration of animal exploitation. We seem to both love and loathe other beings, and the media just reinforces that.

Bea Elliott said...

I love the way you were able to weave the unseen future fate of both subjects... One the consumer who will follow the script of subjugating others and the victim who is forever trapped in the clutches of "usefulness". In the instance of the photo s/he was also useful in promoting the myth of care and kindness. You VE have looked behind the screen and bunched up someone's briefs in doing so!

I thought the Disney comment was a sad attempt to discredit what you wrote. You spoke of justice and were called out for being sentimental... People are so out of touch with their empathetic selves. Why would anyone permit their hearts and minds to be so shallow? And then to flaunt it? (sigh)...

I hope you don't mind (and you know me!) I had to leave a reply as well.

As far as your letter goes it was right on the mark! The deep and dark end is keeping such matters obscured and silenced. Thank you for shining bright lights!

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting DEM. Hey...the shallow part is for those who can't swim, right? And no I wasn't...that's a very kind compliment though...thank you.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting HGV. We're in agreement about that deep end.

The media is one of the primary purveyors of our perversions (shades of Spiro Agnew)...they are one of the main vehicles by which the dominant narratives are spread and reinforced. Photos presented out of context and sanitized from the preceding and subsequent horror associated with a baby Earthling is just one manner in which we're taught that "they're here for us to use".

It's repulsive and sad.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Bea. You're very welcome and your kind words are appreciated. I'm copying the reply you left below...it was too good not to replicate. :-)

"If Disney is responsible for portraying animals as "little humans" in fur and feathers, then it's the whole of our species that views other animals as "useful widgets" and mindless "things" that is the cause of untold suffering. We've swallowed it from the crib that we have full privilege to exploit the helpless. When someone has the sense and courage to point out the grievous errors in that kind of thinking, we shouldn't get so touchy that our ethics are called question. If intentional and avoidable harm is done to others - Disney or not - It's called bullying. Being a bully or brute is not ethical. The description of this photograph totally illustrates a child being groomed to become one. Just a regular consumer with chickens on her plate, goose down in her comforter and leather on her feet. I'd like to ask her in another decade... When was it that she lost compassion? Or rather - When was it stolen away?"

Have Gone Vegan said...

Excellent comment Bea! And thanks for sharing it here veganelder. :)

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting HGV. You're welcome.

Bea Elliott said...

Hi HGV and VE - With so much that I have to say, maybe I should have a blog! (insert rolly-eyes) :D

veganelder said...

Thanks for commenting Bea: I agree! :-)