Erm, Zoe?

This bit is really quite good:

Immediately, this riles. Yes, we all have to take responsibility for our consumer choices. But those choices are a lot more meaningful for some than for others. The difference between a three quid broiler and a £10 organic bird to someone with dependants, living on – let\’s not even be melodramatic and say benefits, let\’s say the median national income of £24k – is very great.

To Jamie Oliver, it is no difference at all, on account of how he is loaded. And why is he loaded? Because a) he makes quite a lot of money entertaining us by gassing boy chicks, and b) he hoovers up that much and more again by advertising for Sainsbury\’s, which has been one of the driving forces behind this cheap food since mass production began.

Or, at least, this is the kind of petty-minded line of argument a person might be driven to, standing accused of cruel consumer choices. It is, frankly, obnoxious to see a rich person demanding impoverishing consumer choices from a poorer person. These chef-polemicists consider themselves outside politics, because they\’re being straightforward – let\’s eat what came out of the ground naturally, what was raised in a happy way. Let\’s just do as nature intended, and by gum it will be tasty, and what could possibly be political about that?

They\’re right, it isn\’t political, in that it has no consistency of ideas, indeed, doesn\’t even comprehend its own implications, but it encapsulates rather well what happens when rhetoric becomes unmoored from structured ideology: you get all the worst bits of the left – the proselytising, the sanctimony – and all the worst bits of the right – the I\’m-all-right-Jack, the "if you worked a bit harder, you too could afford to be me".

Well, quite. Insisting that those poorer than yourself follow your expensive moral choices really is rather galling.

But then this is howlingly bad:

The fact is, ethics that come out of your wallet are not ethics. All these catchwords that supposedly convey sensitivity to the environment, to animals, to the developing world – fair trade, organic, free range, food miles etc – are just new ways to buy your way into heaven, the modern equivalent of the medieval pardon. Anyone with a serious interest in this would be lobbying the legislature; arguing to tighten laws on animal cruelty.

Instead of persuading people to our moral view, we should pass a law making it illegal for people to differ from our moral view! Result!

 

 

15 comments on “Erm, Zoe?

  1. “Instead of persuading people to our moral view, we should pass a law making it illegal for people to differ from our moral view! Result!”

    It worked with slavery.

    (One of the reasons I find it easy to make a moral case for vivisection is that the laws on animal cruelty in this country are so strict—rightly so. Apart from anything else, causing excessive pain to animals often leads to bad science.)

  2. I’m not an export on chicken economics but the argument that a couple of quid extra for a happy chicken is a small price to pay, even if you’re poor, is disingenuous. If factory-farmed chickens were outlawed, there would be one almighty chicken meat shortage. This would catapult the price of the less numerous free-range birds. It’s simple supply and demand. The reason free range chickens aren’t even more expensive is that the cheap chickens hold their price to a reasonable level. In time, as the production of free-range birds increases, then the price would settle back, but we would have a period of very expensive chicken.

    However, I think we’re all missing the point. Animal welfare is just another argument propaganda weapon of the Green Taleban. As soon as factory farmed meat was outlawed, they’d move to outlaw free range on the grounds of cruelty. These people will not be happy until we are all vegan. The factory birds are the “movement’s” toe in the door. Establish an anthropomorphic view of livestock and the banning of meat will become a reality.

  3. “The difference between a three quid broiler and a £10 organic bird…”

    Forget the organic bit, that’s a religion, but the difference between a free range bird and a battery one is splintered bones, agony and insanity.

    For a century and a half, since Darwin, it has been intellectually and morally insupportable to uphold the religious belief, akin to creationism, that humans are qualitatively different to other species.

    The “thin edge of the wedge” idea is like arguing that abolishing slavery opened the door to Louis Farrakhan (which it did, in some ways).

    Industrial livestock rearing is disgusting.

  4. “…the difference between a free range bird and a battery one is splintered bones, agony and insanity.”

    For the bird, or the person dining on it…?

    “Industrial livestock rearing is disgusting.”

    Go veggie then. No-one forces you to partake of the system. Alternatively, source your meat supply from local producers, or demand better quality standards. You can’t, however, insist that everyone else pays a higher price to salve your conscience.

    “Establish an anthropomorphic view of livestock and the banning of meat will become a reality.”

    It certainly seems to be working so far…

  5. Can’t someone create a GM chicken with no brain, only basic spinal cord responses for eating, breathing, etc? We already know that chickens can live post-decapitation. Then they wouldn’t experience any meaningful pain at all.

  6. “Like other health and ethical issues – like smoking or fox hunting or child labour, we need to eventually legislate. “

    Yep, legislation has ensured that there is now no smoking, fox hunting or child abuse in the Nu Britain.

    Oh, wait a minute….

  7. “Can’t someone create a GM chicken with no brain, only basic spinal cord responses for eating, breathing, etc? ”
    It seems entirely possible. Great strides have been made in the breeding of politicians.

  8. “free range chickens taste considerably nicer than cooped ones”

    Indeed. I only buy free range to roast. Admittedly, you never know what you are getting in restaurants and ready meals.

    But I do so a) out of concern for flavour and b) because I can afford to.

    I see no reason to force my choice on those who care naught for flavour and maybe cannot afford free range Waitrose chicken.

  9. “..the oh-so-subtle shift from “child labour” to “child abuse” …”

    Come, come, it’s surely a synonomous term with lefties, isn’t it?

  10. “Great strides have been made in the breeding of politicians.”

    Lol! Though even the scrawniest battery chicken has some use. Would we could say that about politicians….

  11. “For a century and a half, since Darwin, it has been intellectually and morally insupportable to uphold the religious belief, akin to creationism, that humans are qualitatively different to other species.”

    By definition, humans are different from other species. Darwin pointed to all species being connected but not that we were some blurred continuum. Quite the opposite in fact.

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