Yesterday, I wrote a critique of Emily Weingarten's shaming of out-of-the-closet and vocal vegans at the AnnArbor.com website ("We're vegans, not freaks"). This morning, I left a comment in response to her article:
Weingarten responded, basically repeating the same points with which I'd taken issue in my comment, while at the same time denying that it had been her intention to make those points:
Thanks, everyone, for your comments thus far. To address Mylene's comment, I'd never suggest vegans to be embarrassed of their lifestyle choices or be "in the closet," as you say in your blog. My intended message here is that no one wants to hear vegans project their views on others or pass judgments about non-vegans, just as vegans don't want meat eaters or vegetarians criticizing their choices. Certainly, it's important for vegans to be as consistent as possible in their lifestyle choices, from food to clothing and personal care products. As vegans, we need to understand that we are a minority and getting respect is all about giving it.So, figuring that she'd either misunderstood or misread either what I'd stated in my comment or in my blog post about her opinion piece, I gave in and offered up clarification of what it was about her opinion piece I found disconcerting:
Thanks for responding, Emily.A few hours later, I received an email from Stephanie Murray, AnnArbor.com's Community Director, informing me that my second comment had been removed:
I certainly didn't mean to suggest that you were implying that vegans should be "embarrassed" of their lifestyle choices; I did, however, mean to express that you you seemed to be shaming and judging vegans who choose to communicate honestly and openly with non-vegans about their lifestyle choices and the reasons for them. You make it clear even now in your response that vegans should keep their reasons for being vegan (and thus, their opinions about the ethics of consuming or otherwise exploiting nonhuman animals) to themselves when you write that your "intended message here is that no one wants to hear vegans project their views on others or pass judgments about non-vegans".
Basically, you're saying that no one wants to hear why anyone who is vegan chooses to be vegan, particularly if that explanation involves telling non-vegans why it's immoral to treat other sentient animals as things. Between that and telling vegans in your article that if they're offered food that contains animals body parts or secretions that they should buck up and eat it, you make it fairly clear that vegans should not let on in any way whatsoever either *that* they are or *why* they are vegan around non-vegans--unless they're asked by someone who somehow manages to guess that they're vegan in the first place. Because that would just be disrespectful?
What if your article had been another ethical scenario? Take child abuse, for instance. If you were against child abuse and yourself refrained from abusing children, would you lecture other people who are against child abuse and who refrain from abusing children, telling them that they should keep their opinions to themselves since they shouldn't project their "anti-child abuse philosophies" at others around them who do choose to keep abusing children? Of course not. Would you suggest to someone who is against child abuse and who refrains from abusing children that if he or she was offered a child to slap around a little that he or she should do it, lest he or she hurt the feelings of the person who offered up the child?
As vegans, we are indeed a minority. This is why we need to be open and honest about the ethics of using other sentient animals as things. We shouldn't be shaming each other into silence about it. Furthermore, to normalize it and bring an understanding and acceptance of it into the mainstream, every opportunity that can be taken in good faith and with patience to educate others about animal exploitation should be taken. It's not a "personal" choice. For many, veganism is a response to a deeply entrenched speciesism in society that needs to be altered as soon as possible. This speciesism is is no different from racism, sexism or heterosexism and we should be as open and honest about our rejection of it as we are about our rejection of other forms of discrimination or exploitation that involve sentient animals.
And on the website, in the comments thread was a message from Paula Gardner (listed as AnnArbor.com staff) stating: "A comment was removed due to a personal attack."Good afternoon,
I’ve removed the following comment from AnnArbor.com for the comparison between Emily Weingarten’s article and child abuse. This is not a fair comparison takes the conversation off-topic. You are welcome to remove that reference and repost.
Community Director, AnnArbor.com
So on one hand, looking for answers and clarification by unravelling the multiple layers of a writer's confused and contradictory statements was apparently unfair and took the conversation "off-topic". On the other hand, attempting to defend vegans against Weingarten's attempt to shame them into silence with her opinion piece somehow ended up labeled a "personal attack". And why? Because it was deemed absolutely audacious and unacceptable to draw a comparison between the exploitation or abuse of human children and that of nonhuman animals.
This, my friends, is speciesism.
(Edited at 5:00 pm AST to add: An anti-vegan commentator posted in response to Weingarten's piece mentioning that his or her comment may have been construed as a "personal attack", so it seems that it's possible that I've only been deemed guilty of "going off-topic" by trying to get a straight answer out of Weingarten. Since being on-topic is deemed off-topic, however, I've decided to refrain from commenting further on Weingarten's piece, lest I waste my time and merely end up having yet another comment removed. Thanks for reading!)