A Farm Boy Reflects: Deconstructing the Myth

Jenny Stein and James LaVeck  - Tribe of Heart

MUST view:   Peaceable Kingdom and The Witness

Do the dramatic contradictions expressed in this article ( NEW YORK TIMES by Nicholas D. Kirstof   Jul 2008   7/31/2008) reveal an underlying struggle to overcome the guilt associated with complicity in the harm and killing of others? HumaneMyth.org deconstructs the myth for us here: 

Rational thought and rationalization can appear to be confusingly similar. Likewise, objectivity and emotional disconnection can, at first glance, be mistaken for one another.

This article raises troubling questions about the logical inconsistencies and dissociation in the words and deeds of "humane" meat advocates. On the one hand, the author makes compelling statements about the impressive intelligence, social bonds, and even moral virtue of various animals he encountered during his childhood on the farm. On the other hand, he makes numerous snide comments about how much he now enjoys eating the body parts of these same sorts of animals, stating for example, "To this day, when tucking into a pork chop, I always feel as if it is my intellectual equal."

Do the dramatic contradictions expressed in this article -- not just in tone, but also in message -- reveal an underlying struggle to overcome the guilt associated with complicity in the harm and killing of others? Are they evidence of healthy adjustment, or signs of lasting damage done to a young boy who was required by his family to participate in the killing of individuals he respected, and even admired?

When we claim to know and appreciate nonhuman animals as individuals, and even claim that we believe these animals have rights, and at the same time, promote consumption of the "right kind" of animal products, are we coming from a place of integration and balance or are we operating under the influence of a delusion?

When we recognize the rich interior lives and social connections of other animals, and thereby claim to be deeply disturbed about the methods being employed to use and kill them, yet at the same time, raise no significant challenge against the use and killing itself, are we making sense intellectually, or emotionally?

When we need to see ourselves both as good people and also as the rightful dominators of those in an oppressed group, is it not inevitable that our minds and hearts will become dysfunctionally divided against themselves?

For those directly caught up in exploitation, and even for well-intended justice advocates involved in developing and promoting "compassionate" methods of using and killing animals, rationalization and emotional disconnection begin as simple coping mechanisms, but over time, can become deeply ingrained distortions with far reaching consequences. Can we hope to realize our full potential as human beings, as responsible citizens, as role models, as educators and activists, if our thoughts, words, and deeds are not in harmony with each other?

For an alternative perspective from a former farmer who had similar experiences but came to a different conclusion, see Harold Brown's statement on this web site.

"One cannot violate the promptings of one's nature without having that nature recoil upon itself."

--Jack London


HumaneMyth.org is a community of former farmers, animal rescuers, animal sanctuary founders, educators, and artists working to create a just and nonviolent future.

Currently, both the animal-using industry and some animal advocacy organizations are propagating the idea that it is possible to use and kill animals in a manner that can be fairly described as respectful or compassionate or humane. We believe that this "Humane Myth" misrepresents the realities of animal use, and cultivates a positive image of activities that are neither just nor kind nor sustainable.

The purpose of this web site is to correct the misinformation that is associated with the Humane Myth, and to inspire a form of working for the peaceful transformation of our society that fully respects the inherent dignity and worth of animals and people alike.

This site is not published with the intent of offering final answers or telling anyone how to think, but with the intent of raising questions that will encourage thoughtful debate. And one of the more important purposes of a debate is to air many points of view, so that the deeper truth, which is larger than any one of our individual points of view, can emerge. We encourage as many people as possible to participate in public discussion of the issues explored by this site, and we believe that the more people become informed and involved, the better the outcome will be.

Volume 1, Issue 3, Posted 1:44 PM, 12.22.2013