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Joined: July 4th, 2007, 10:10 am
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Location: Darkest Kent
Sorry Clayto, but if you post thus, I am liable to respond.

clayto wrote:
I am not going to (yet again) get into the same endless argument with Nick which has gone on since before HVG was established, to no one's benefit as far as I can see. But there are two key points I will comment on as I see them as fundamental errors, or at least the reverse of my perception:

Quote: "The more we have separate groups for separate ethical positions, the less inclusive we are likely to appear."

No, not so. The more inclusive we are seen to be.


So should we have a meat eaters section? The Countryside Alliance would seem like a good place to start.

Quote:
For example, the Humanist Gay and Lesbian Group shows we welcome people of (and supporters of people of) different sexual orientations, and it does not demonstrate the 'Nick nonsense' of suggesting its members claim everyone has to be homosexual to be a Humanist!
This is utterly, utterly wrong! As I've said before, but which you appear to have forgotten, GALHA is not a special interest group to encourage humanists to be gay, but a specialist group who concentrate on countering the religious justification for discrimination against GLBT's. If you do not agree with that, I do not think you can be a humanist. By organising in this way it is the best way to action BHA policy.

Quote:
The four (at present) Party Groups show Humanism is for Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and Green supporters and none of these Groups claim you have to be a supporter of their Party to be a Humanist (and if in the unlikely event a BNP Group were to be proposed and then as is likely rejected, it would show our inclusiveness has limits, for very good reasons.)
The distinction here is that none of these groups campaign within humanism for people to support their particular party of choice, and should be severely reprimanded if ever they began to do so.

Quote:
If the Peace or Pacifist Group were to be recreated no one with any sense would conclude that it meant you have to be a pacifist to be a Humanist. The existing Armed Forces Group does not claim, suggest, imply that all humanists / Humanists have to be supporters of armed conflict nor should any sensible person conclude from its existence that Humanism is militaristic.
There are fundamental distinctions between these groups. The Armed Services Group is designed to provide for the needs of serving personnel in an environment where there is an overarching religious ethos. It does not seek to encourage militarism. The Peace Group, or at least certain members of it, did specifically campaign for a change in BHA policy, thankfully rejected. An altogether different proposition.

Quote:
Special Interest Groups attract different groups in society to the BHA. I know of a number (probably more than a score) of vegetarians attracted to actual BHA membership by HVG and probably many more who have become Humanist supporters. I know of no one who has left the BHA because it has a vegetarian Group. Does anyone?
No, thank goodness, because so far it is too small to do any damage. But it is true that I have avoided my local humanist group and would be very pleased to see it disappear without trace as I think it is a disastrous example of loopy humanism (though in their case veggiedom is not the reason for this.)

I also think that the MENSA group is a distraction, though I of course have no problem whatsoever if anyone wants to be a member of MENSA.

Quote:
I believe the BHA will grow the more it has Special Interest Groups, speaking meaningfully to groups of people with a wide variety of concerns (market segmentation).
Or is that fragmentation...?

Quote:
The only type of Group we should not welcome are those who advocate a way of life or an ideology in direct contradiction to the broad consensus on Humanist principles (such as those advocating racism or the supremacy of one religion). I was a founder member of one of the Party Groups, having worked for that Party both professionally and as a volunteer most of my adult life. I welcome the other Party Groups even though we compete in the political arena (and have made suggestions to them about eventually working together on some issues of common Humanist agreement, such as education).
Largely irrelevant. Anything which unites all the political groups should be directed from the BHA itself.

Quote:
Quote "However, I do care that a very few people ....... continue to state that they are veggie because they are humanist. So long as they do so, I will continue to point out that that is not so for all humanists."

Nobody to my knowledge claims that all humanists / Humanists should be veggies because they are humanists; or that all veggies who are humanists are so because of their humanism.

....except that you personally are promoting the view that you are a veggie because, and I quote,
Quote:
Humanism is the basis of my ethical beliefs and these beliefs are the reason why I am a vegetarian
. For you, one leads to the other and you continue to say so. Whether you actually use the word "should" is not important.

Quote:
Such a view would be contrary to the repeatedly stated 'policy' of HVG since its foundation, although Nick endlessly demonstrates that he does not understand this.


Except that the HVG says this:[my bold]
Quote:
The Humanist Vegetarian Group aims to bring an understanding to both the humanist and vegetarian communities that the underlying principles and logic which are the moral corner stones for each are, in fact, a shared philosophy between the two groups.

I would say that, in fact, they are not a shared philosophy.

Also:
Quote:
Some humanists as well as religious adherents believe that Homo sapiens are such a special case in nature that they have unique rights over animals which they can exploit as they wish. The Humanist Vegetarian Group refutes this.
I know of no humanists who would state their case for not being a veggie in terms of "unique rights". It also suggests that HVG has a special perspective on what it means to be a humanist, a perspective which I (one who considers himself a humanist) reject and ...ahem...seek to refute.

Quote:
In my own case Humanism is the basis of my ethical beliefs and these beliefs are the reason why I am a vegetarian, but they are also why I support the Party I do, why I am an active member of Dignity in Dying, why I support campaigns for various causes and contribute to a number of charities. The fact that all this flows from my own Humanist ethical stance on these things, does not in any way mean that I think others must or should share my positions in order to be a humanist / Humanist. I know humanists who do not support Dignity's aims with regard to assisted suicide / euthanasia and do not expect them to do so just because they are humanists. Likewise I know of religionists, including many Christians, who do support Dignity. The stand they take is based on their ethical beliefs. They come to different conclusions.
I have no problem whatsoever with you supporting whatever you want. That's your personal affair.

Quote:
I have said all this before and like others am 'frustrated' at having to say it all over again.
The frustration is mutual, Chris. :sad:


July 27th, 2009, 6:00 pm
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Nick --- all of this has been gone over time and time again before. Utterly futile. I have said all I intend to say. I share with others the request that you move on to some other interest or obsession.

Chris

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clayto


July 27th, 2009, 6:43 pm
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clayto wrote:
However, among the considerations I have are

(a) principles --- it demonstrates how one is trying to be consistent in not using the products of animals unnecessary killed (anti-veggies often try to attack veggies on grounds of consistency, such as 'well, what about those leather shoes you are wearing' --- I have not bought leather shoes since becoming a vegetarian, 15 plus years); if the numbers of veggies continued to grow significantly their refusal to be part of the leather market could affect production options (as with factory farmed eggs and with fur for example, and the much greater availability of non-leather shoes, belts, etc. now)

Surely the principle at stake is that you do not want to cause harm to an animal, directly or indirectly. Sitting on your friend's leather couch does not cause harm to an animal, so what's the problem?

Quote:
(b) the yuck factor --- if people who find something repulsive do not say so (in many circumstances) they can only expect to be confronted with yucky situations, so for example I might also (hopefully politely and with humour) tell friends / fellow drinkers and diners, etc. that having cigarette smoke blown in my face is unacceptable (things have changed in this respect, as illustrated by the surgeon who smokes his pipe while carrying out operations in 'The Royal')

I don't think I understand what you mean by the "yuck factor". Is there something inherently yucky about the look or feel of leather, or is it the idea of knowing where the material came from? If the former, can I assume that you wouldn't wear belts or shoes that even look or feel like leather, regardless of the actual material? And if the latter, is it not just as yucky to know that your friend owns a leather sofa, regardless of whether you happen to be sitting in it or not?


July 28th, 2009, 2:51 am
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clayto wrote:
What are other members' experiences of a problem I encounter from time to time (and recently), namely being faced with leather furniture in the home of a friend / family / waiting room / café, etc?

As I do not wear or use leather in any circumstance it is inconsistent to sit on leather furniture and anyway the idea of sitting on a dead animal's skin is repulsive. But of course, some people are surprised and sometimes not very understanding in their response. A half-hour standing at the dentist or sitting on their floor is not good preparation for treatment and friends / family can be offended at the rejection of their wonderful new leather suite!
Like you, Chris, I don't wear leather or buy any products with leather in them. I am boycotting the leather industry, because it is inextricably linked to the meat industry. I have occasionally had to sit in leather chairs (mainly in boardrooms), and I don't find it pleasant, but I don't make a fuss about it, because by briefly sitting on a leather chair I am not consuming the product — buying it or using it up — in a way that contributes to the leather industry. If I ever had the opportunity to influence corporate buying decisions about boardroom chairs, I would try to make a case against buying leather, but I would be wary of overplaying the vegan card, because people think I'm weird enough as it is. :) I have one friend who has some leather upholstered furniture — mainly antique, which bothers me less — and I don't sit in any of it, and it's never been an issue. Fortunately, I don't know anyone with a wonderful new leather suite.

I tend to think of leather as a co-product rather than just a by-product of the meat industry. Even if the hide of an animal is only about 10% of the total value of the carcass, that price is still important to the farmer, and is effectively subsidising the cost of the meat. And according to one source. the total value of the trade in leather goods is close to three times the value of the meat trade. I do not criticise vegetarians who buy and wear leather shoes, despite the inconsistency, because I know it can be extremely difficult to find good alternatives, especially for people with "problem feet". And because there are environmental objections to some alternatives to leather. If the demand for alternatives increased, however, I'm sure that the options for suitable and sustainable materials for footwear, and the choice of styles, would also increase. So I wish more vegetarians would make a bit of an effort.

There's no excuse for leather sofas and armchairs, though. They're unnecessary and noisy and uncomfortable in hot weather and often, in my view, rather ugly.

Emma


July 28th, 2009, 8:53 am
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Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
I have occasionally had to sit in leather chairs (mainly in boardrooms), and I don't find it pleasant, but I don't make a fuss about it, because by briefly sitting on a leather chair I am not consuming the product — buying it or using it up — in a way that contributes to the leather industry. If I ever had the opportunity to influence corporate buying decisions about boardroom chairs, I would try to make a case against buying leather, but I would be wary of overplaying the vegan card, because people think I'm weird enough as it is. :)

Thanks, Emma. That's pretty much what I'm saying. Not that you're weird :wink: , but that "overplaying the vegan card" will only reduce your credibility and ultimately hurt your cause.


July 28th, 2009, 12:31 pm
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But the question would be, what is "overplaying the vegan card"? Different people have different ideas of what "overplaying" is. Also, to be pedantic, ethical objections to leather are 'mainstream' for ethical veggies generally, not just vegans (as I have just confirmed in a phone call to the Vegearian Society.) I am not myself a vegan.

To widen the implications of this, there are many who think that Dawkins, Harris, Hitchins, Dennet etc. 'overplay the secular or atheist card' ---- and many who say just the opposite!

Chris

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clayto


July 28th, 2009, 1:33 pm
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The 'yuck factor'. Unlike my objection to causing unnecessary suffering to animals 'yuck' is not a rational but an emotional (or instinctive?) response (there might be better words than this). Surely most people experience this in one form or another?

If we confine ourselves to animal products, especially food, a great many people, who have no objection to meat eating, experience 'yuck' faced with offal, tripe, brains, tongues, eyeballs, testicles, bugs, pig snouts, frogs legs, horse meat, dog, cat and so on. One person's yuck is another person's feast, and although there might be some rational elements in it I suggest most of it is not rational, hence it would be difficult in many cases to suggest 'defensible reasons'. Nevertheless, one element for some would be knowledge of the origins.

Vegetarians differ greatly over 'yuck' food and other products. Many find things which 'simulate' meat in taste, smell, texture, to be yuck. But a great many do not, rather the reverse, as demonstrated by the great commercial success of meat substitutes such as Quorn, Cauldron, Redwood, Yagga, Meatfree, etc. My wife and I are happy with meat substitutes and with leather substitutes (if the latter do not smell) and synthetic fur.

Yet despite the fact that we eat a lot of meat substitutes, both because we like them and rationally support the way they make it easier for people to inflict less suffering on animals, we both experience nausea near the meat counters in supermarkets and hurry away as quickly as we can. This is a combination of different things, seeing parts of bodies displayed and the smell, as well as awareness of the suffering it represents. Some of it rational, some of it not. We also turn off TV cooking programs featuring meat dishes. This is presumably not because of our ethical objection, we view numerous programs about things we object to ethically, so seeing the dismembered corpses of animals offered up as food is I guess emotional / none-rational or 'yuck'.

Lord Avebury has requested his body be used as pet food, What would most people's reaction be to being offered parts of a human body to eat, or to sit on as furniture, in a situation where it is the remains of someone who freely offered their body (say, in an Advance Decision) for eating, after their natural death. 'Yuck'? Though many (me included) would not see an obvious ethical problem with it.

Chris

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clayto


July 28th, 2009, 9:20 pm
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I'm at something of a loss to see quite where you are going with your last post. :shrug: We seem to be a long way from leather furniture..... For what its worth, the food which makes me feel the most ill at the thought of having to eat, the food with the biggest yuck factor, is rhubarb and gooseberry.

And I don't think it's the brutality of the horticulture.

Give me eyeballs any day. Not that I've ever eaten eyeballs, but at least they should see me through the week. :D

Ho hum.


July 28th, 2009, 10:50 pm
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There are animal by products everywhere.
Glue- how on earth could you avoid that?
Indigo Carmine dye-used in some suture materials. how on earth could you know what suture material you were being sewn up with, and even if you did know, would you rather bleed to death?
Cochineal dye - used as a fabric dye and in cosmetics. OK, you could avoid the cosmetics, but I doubt if the checkout at Tesco could tell you the origin of the dyes used in their clothes.

My point being. It's just NOT possible to avoid all animal by products- and to try can risk appearing obsessive.

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July 28th, 2009, 11:13 pm
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To suggest that there is a shared philosophy between vegetarians and humanists misrepresents what humanism is about because you suggest a higher or more pure philosophy. Why is it not equally consistent to be a meat eater and carry on an equally good life which humanists desire. I dont see the difference and dont see how humanism has anything to do with either the vegie or meat eater view, this is a question of personal choice. I have chosen not to eat meat but that doesnt make me more or for that matter less of a humanist.

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John


July 29th, 2009, 6:15 am
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anaconda

Quote: "I have chosen not to eat meat but that doesn't make me more or for that matter less of a humanist." I agree entirely, and have never said otherwise, although there are a couple of people who persist in misrepresenting this.

HVG has never been about suggesting anyone is 'less of a humanist' if they are meat eaters, anymore than someone who does not support euthanasia, or is opposed to abortion or AI or gay partnerships, or believes in military solutions to political problems is less of a humanist (there might be better examples). It is about supporting those humanists who believe that among the many things their humanist ethical stance points to (which for example may be based on utilitarian promotion of wellbeing, treating others including animals with respect, recognising that ethical guidelines develop from evolution and evolve themselves) ---is the case for trying to reduce / minimise animal suffering. As Jeremy Bentham, Dawkins and Singer conclude from their humanist standpoints vegetarianism is (using the words of Singer) 'one of the most effective ways the ordinary person can reduce animal suffering.'

Some humanists / Humanists regard reducing animal suffering to be a significant part of their humanist ethics, some others don't. Some who do, regard vegetarianism as a significant way of reducing animal suffering, some others don't.

Chris

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clayto


July 29th, 2009, 9:45 am
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getreal --- yes indeed, 'there are animal products everwhere'. What you have done is demonstrate the point I make about the difficulties vegetarians face in 'a veggie unfriendly world' and why there is a need for them to 'complain. explain and campaign' --- hence part of the role of this and the many other vegetarian forums and organisations such as VegSoc and VeganSoc.

I have touched on medical aspects of 'animal products everywhere', very briefly, in the current thread on eggs and dairy.

I could also point out that these difficulties might be faced by none-veggies who have medical reasons for avoiding animal products, although for them when small amounts are involved I guess it is not such an issue.

Chris

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clayto


July 29th, 2009, 10:14 am
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Yes,there are animal products everywhere and the man on the Clapham omnibus would not know where to start looking but I bet the vegan associations know it all.


July 29th, 2009, 10:48 am
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clayto wrote:
I don't think many animals want to be killed and eaten, apart from that 'pig' in the Restaurant At The End Of The Universe.'

Wasn't it a cow.....?

Mind you. A year dead for tax reasons! That would work!


July 30th, 2009, 8:57 pm
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