Consider this the third in a trilogy of today’s posts about animals. This week, Roger Cohen of the New York Times did an op-ed post about the practice of eating dogs in China. They eat cats too, but he confined his comments to dogs.
I once saw a TV documentary which showed a restaurant in Asia that specialized in cats; it wasn’t China–maybe Laos, Cambodia, or Vietnam. In any case, the restaurant had a cage out front full of cats where you could select your own personal cat to eat. Once you made your choice, they would dip the cat into boiling water (while still alive) in order to more easily remove the skin and fur. Barbaric? What, I ask, is the difference between that and lobster tanks? Answer: No difference, except for the animal involved.
Cohen’s oped was very surprising…usually he does strictly political stuff and seems to be the Times’ expert on Iran and Europe.
But he tells a story of going to a dog restaurant in China with his interpreter, who assured him that dog was very good. He had a sort of dog soup, and bypassed the other items on the menu which included dishes containing dog paws, tail, brain, intestines, or penis. Are you gagging yet? Yes. Me too. But, as Cohen points out, that’s illogical.
Why is it okay to eat a pig/cow/goat/lobster, but not a dog/cat? Why is it okay to kill and/or eat some animals, but not others? Good question. Thought of in that way, it’s a little hard to define “barbaric”.
That of course brings me to another NPR snippet. An interview with Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who claims to have a special ability to identify with and understand animals, which would make sense given the non-verbal nature of their communications (hers and theirs). Her big claim to fame is redesigning stockyards so as to calm cows before they go to slaughter.
In interviews, and I’ve heard another one before now, she’s treated as if she’s an amazing person, which, in a sense she is. But I find her creepy and repellent. She admits she feels no emotion. She invented for herself a “hugging machine”. She can’t bear to be touched, but noticed that the cattle on her aunt’s farm while she was growing up seemed to be calmer while restrained in pens awaiting vaccination. So with her aunt’s permission, she placed herself in those restraints and felt calmer. Then she invented a smaller one for herself. It’s the pressure of the restraints, minus the human component of an actual “hug”, that calms her and makes her feel safer. She noted that she doesn’t get to use her device any more as much as she would like, because she travels so much.
But when your claim to fame is calming cows before slaughter, and other people treat you as if you are an amazing rather than an aberrant human being, then may I suggest you go into the dog/cat/lobster calming business as well. Also, use your creative skills to come up with a battery-powered substitute for your hugging machine that will fit into your suitcase and won’t scare Homeland Security.