AR-News: Tallahassee Democrat: Animal rights: Why aren't more white
men on board?
KarenDawn at DawnWatch.com
Mon Jul 14 13:14:51 EDT 2003
(The Tallahassee Democrat takes letters at: tdedit at taldem.com)
The Tallahassee Democrat
July 14, 2003 Monday
A; Pg. 7
Animal rights: Why aren't more white men on board?
By Joe Haptas; KNIGHT RIDDER TRIBUNE
At the risk of being labeled a politically correct thug, I've got to get
something off my chest. As someone who has spent my entire adult life
advocating for the ethic of compassion toward animals, I've got to admit
there is something very wrong in the world of my fellow white males.
Having talked to thousands of people over the years and debated the subject
of animal rights on talk radio dozens of times, I've observed no group of
humans more combative and hostile across the board toward the concept of
showing mercy toward animals than white men.
Now I have to admit this hunch I've held all these years has been anecdotal
and not something I could prove - until People for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals commissioned a poll by the Zogby group. That poll confirmed, yes,
indeed, white men as a group are far more estranged from the concept of
respect toward animals than any other racial or gender group combination.
It's time for white males to start leading the charge for the humane
treatment of animals instead of being the first ones to throw up the most
inane and irrelevant arguments against the case.
Now don't get me wrong, there certainly are many white men like myself who
care for and respect animals as fellow beings. Simply put, though, the
numbers don't lie and for some reason white men as a segment of the
population think it a foreign concept to stand up against cruel practices in
which animals suffer greatly, for example, on cramped industrial factory
farms, in puppy mills, on fur farms and in slaughterhouses.
Now before anyone thinks I'm going to jump into some white male bashing
session blaming my fellow fellows for every problem under the sun, think
White men get blamed for too much in this world. And it's absurd. This issue
is not one of them though because I believe it can be all too easily
observed in our culture. There are patterns that instill and reinforce
cartoonish concepts of manhood, which for some reason often include animal
suffering that is openly mocked and celebrated. Witness the embarrassingly
shallow but massive selling magazines, whose readers are largely white men,
in which nearly every issue contains an article that rejoices in the killing
and consumption of exotic or big game animals.
This endless frat boy shtick is a far cry from the 1641 Body of Liberties
established by those first North American white males called Puritans who
thought compassion toward animals such an important issue that they made a
law that declared, "No man shall exercise any Tirranny or Crueltie toward
any bruite Creature."
White male dominated talk radio has also become more and more cliched in its
attacks on those who defend animals by either overtly or subtly implying men
who stand up for animals are wimpy or feminized because for some bizarre
reason compassion and ethical behavior toward animals translates to weakness
of character. How can we not see that it's actually more difficult for a man
in America to stand up for animals and risk ridicule than it is to be just
another coward who goes along with the crowd laughing at barbaric practices
like anal electrocution of fur bearing animals?
Meanwhile, as I listen to yet another dopey fat guy tells me that he's also
a member of PETA, People for Eating Tasty Animals - ha, ha - 10 billion
animals' lives will be ended in slaughterhouses in an America that treats
living and feeling beings as nothing but machines and production units. All
too often my fellow white males think this is a joke rather than one of the
pre-eminent social issues of our era. How pathetic have things become when
we, as supposedly superior beings, find massive institutional suffering of
animals something to laugh at?
A long dead white guy once said, "Not to hurt our humble brethren (the
animals) is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have
a higher mission to be of service to them whenever they require it." I think
it would be a better world if, when it comes to animals, we white males took
our advice from St. Francis of Assisi rather than from the Rush Limbaughs of
Joe Haptas writes for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, 501 Front
St., Norfolk, Va. 23510, www.PETA.org
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