Californians Voted: For animals – more kindness; for humans – ??

It warmed my heart to see that emotion trumped economics and Californians overwhelmingly (a 63.2% majority as of the time of this writing) voted last Tuesday to be just a little more kind to animals.  Yes, it will probably increase the cost of eating in this state, but our egg-laying hens, breeding pigs and calves raised for veal are destined for a more humane existence.   We have liberated them to a degree, loosening the constraints on them and enlarging their cages.

But, as if kindness and humanity were finite resources, we sought to balance that kindness by becoming just a little bit more cruel to humans.  Instead of liberating humans, we have tightened the constraints on gay and lesbian couples who wish to make a lifelong commitment to each other and call it “marriage.”  Those gay and lesbian couples are now destined for a slightly less humane existence.  Their cages are a little smaller.  Thank goodness that vote was not so overwhelming (only a 52.5% majority as of the time of this writing) and there is still hope of change in the future. 

Almost a million voters in California voted to deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marry, while at the same time voting to allow breeding pigs, egg-laying hens and veal calves larger cages.  (See, for up-to-date vote counts)  The irony is certainly not lost on me.

The irony of how these issues are presented to school children is also not lost on me. 

Vegetarians have not, to my knowledge, campaigned with scare tactics about the horrors of our school children being taught that breeding pigs exist or that calves are raised for veal.  Certainly, some vegetarians might wish that our children not be taught that eating meat is okay. regardless of how the animals have been treated.  And, vegans may even want the idea of hens laying eggs for food banned from schools.  But they have not attempted to turn their personal values into a mandate for the schools.

Nor, to my knowledge, have the meat eaters.  Meat eaters have not been protesting that the schools are permitted to teach our children about vegetarian and vegan practices.  One might think that exposure to the idea that eating animals is wrong would threaten their way of life.  Being both the majority and more “traditional,” should they not be able to protect their way of life by mandating what schools can teach our children? 

I think both vegetarians and meat eaters understand that the mere exposure to an idea at school is not going to trump the lifestyle and values taught at home.  Or, maybe, most people are simply willing to allow their children to make up their own minds about their eating preferences. 

Preferences are, ultimately, personal.  And, freedom is, ultimately, about making those choices based on a fully-informed awareness of the options.  An uninformed choice is not a free choice.   

And one person’s informed choice should never diminish another’s.   



1 Comment

  1. ensoleillement said,

    November 6, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Congratulations on the elections. I think that your country will benefit from the choice people made.

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