Monday, March 08, 2010

There's Cranky and Then There's Hateful

Back in mid-February, I wrote about a piece about Cal State Fullerton's Daily Titan student paper in which one of the paper's writers, April Ehrlich, went on a tirade against a vegan friend who had purportedly offended her by not eating animal products when invited along on a camping trip. Her piece read like an indignant entry in a sixth grader's diary (no offense to sixth graders--I've no doubt that many of you could hop-skip circles around her where maturity is concerned) and seemed more of a fabrication mustered up to provide Ehrlich with an excuse to take a swipe at vegans. Why? Who knows why anyone chooses to use public forums to attack any group of people hatefully, really. Just last week, Ehrlich pretty much confirmed my hunch that she had just been out to spew a couple of vitriolic passages to perpetuate stereotypes about vegans, when she wrote yet another awkwardly-written and hostile piece for the paper ("Assassinating apples").

She starts off writing about a "small population of responses"--people who had apparently confirmed with her that they, too, "had experienced pomposity regarding a 'showing off' of prominent cruelty-free diets". Then Ehrlich goes on to try to attempt to portray this "pomposity" by slipping in that she supposedly forgot to mention that she too had apparently recently decided to "embrace" veganism. Laced with the sort of sarcasm that's smelly for want of cleverness, Ehrlich describes how "loose vegetarianism" had been her starting point and that she'd occasionally eat meat "for the sake of loved ones and cultural experiences" until things supposedly changed:

I have decided to stop eating fish and other animal-murdering substances such as gelatin and broth. In addition to this, I have nixed all forms of dairy from my diet, such as cheese, yogurt and ice cream.

Why? Well, let’s just say a light has shone upon me. I now understand why anybody would call an egg-frying, milk-chugging vegetarian an insufferable monster that was raised off a family of twits. Veganism, after all, stretches all the way back to the 1940s. At this point, how can anybody NOT understand and bow down to vegan culture?

Ehrlich continues, mentioning Americans' being "so good at understanding and embracing diversity", but of how her newfound veganism convincing her to reject this American trait or custom to instead tell all of her "omnivore friends, family and casual acquaintances that they are wrong". How wrong, according to her vegan-caricatured self?

I don’t care if you were raised off chicken fingers, or if your species had developed canine teeth after billions of years of natural selection – your culture and your beliefs are completely wrong, and better yet, monstrous.
I mean, where does one even begin with something like this? Has she been skimming through the anti-animal rights Weston A. Price Foundation's website?

But then she slips out of caricature long enough to flip things around to display a fairly mangled understanding of basic plant reproductive biology by going on about how vegans are somehow responsible (because non-vegans obviously don't consume any plant-based foods?) for damaging plants' leaves when fruit is picked and somehow interfering with photosynthesis, and damaging stems and thus depriving insects and birds of nutrients from flowers these stems would ordinarily "hold up" for them. Because of this, Ehrlich asserts that she's in fact become a "fruitarian" to set herself apart from "those barbaric vegans wolfing down standard store-bought fruit". The whole thing, of course, devolves into that old familiar and dearly unoriginal taunt found in the comments sections of articles dealing with animal rights in tabloid papers the world over: "Well, it looks like the least hypocritical way to avoid the exploitation of animals and natural sources is to just stop eating altogether."

I'm not sure if Ehrlich thinks that she is being humorous. Other than appealing to a small pocket of prejudiced readers who might delight in her jeers and find value in her clich├ęs and stereotypes, I'm not certain who would benefit from her writing. Surely it isn't anyone whose reading interests reflect any sort of basic intelligence or open-mindedness. Surely it isn't the students at her school who take the interests of nonhuman animals seriously and who live their lives accordingly (and who seem to be her intended targets). The sad thing about all of this is that were Ehrlich writing about a group of people whose lifestyle choices are grounded in anything other than straightforward ethics, her piece could easily be deemed hate literature by some. Instead, we're left to hold it at arm's length as just another hostile and badly-written piece of filler in a college paper in Ehrlich's diversity-embracing America.


Allison, The Busy (Happy!) Vegan said...

This is just another example of a person denouncing something that they don't understand, out of a defensive reaction to what they PERCEIVE as judgment. Is veganism a social judgment? Definitely. Is it a judgment of each individual who uses meat? Not necessarily. The fact that Ms. Ehrlich chooses to view it as such tells us quite a bit about her.

Vanilla Rose said...

Wow, the woman has issues! I hope that none of the readers are fooled into thinking she was a vegetarian! She admitted to eating chicken whilst claiming to be a vegetarian!!!! I sometimes wish I had studied psychology so I could find out what people like that have going on in their heads.

M said...

I suspect that she's just someone trying to hop on the pro-meat / anti-vegan bandwagon on which so many foodies, for instance, have hopped in recent years. Fortunately, she's neither clever enough, nor a good enough writer for her article to be anything but shrugged off by most.

JⒺssica said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.