The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Tasty, Tasty Murder

There is a video that has been going around the interwebs recently that has seriously annoyed me. Or rather, I should say that reactions to this video have been making my fists itch.

It shows what appears to be a combined abattoir and meat packaging plant, staffed entirely by Asians, processing chickens for sale. The staff wear white coats, face masks and gloves, all the surfaces are antiseptic stainless steel and all the equipment, from the conveyor hooks to the filleting knives, looks shiny, sharp and clean. This is all very much as it should be. Problem is, though, that all this highly professional paraphernalia makes the whole process look slightly horrific, which, from a certain point of view, it probably is.

Many people have chosen to use this video to inveigh against factory farming. Firstly, the enterprise shown is not a factory farm or anything like it. You can tell by the fact that no farming of any kind is going on. It’s a slaughterhouse. Secondly, it doesn’t make a lick of difference whether your chickens are force-grown in tiny cages or hand-reared in individual fields on virgin milk – unless you are going to kill them yourself, they will end up in a place like this.

Another stupid comment that crops up frequently refers to a promise to cut meat from the diet in favour of fish. Presumably this will only hold good until another video, showing a fish filleting plant, is released online.

The stupidest thing by far, however, about reactions to this video, is the outraged surprise that seems to be universally expressed by those moved to comment. In reaction to this surprise I have several key questions to ask the world at large.

1. What in the diddley ding dong fuck did you think mass meat production would look like?

2. When you pick up a neatly shrink-wrapped pair of chicken breasts on a styrofoam tray, how in fuck’s name does it not occur to you that there might be a somewhat grisly process involved in getting them from the chicken to your supermarket?

3. Just how fucking stupid do you need to be to spend decade after decade buying meat in industrial quantities without ever suspecting that industrial scale butchery might be going on somewhere in the world? And why oh why does it take a Youtube video to awaken this suspicion in what you are pleased to call your mind?

You know what I think will make the world a better place? Forget factory farming, conflict coffee and all that other crap. The one most important thing that allows large-scale naughtiness to go on in the world is a general and almost complete lack of mindfulness. If we exist in the world in a mindful manner, doing the five seconds of thinking required to understand how the world around us works, we might just be able to make choices that will help to create the kind of world we want to live in.

Failing that, we can just go on being momentarily scandalised by glimpses of the blindingly fucking obvious.

The enemy of my enemy can’t write media releases

The world has many religions, and despite all of them being completely true, they somehow seem to find a lot to disagree about. Whether it’s the primacy of the Pope, the divinity of Baby Jebus (or the virginity of his mother), who gets to interpret the bible, whose revelation was last, or whether a thin, tasteless wafer is actually human meat – starting a fight with another religion is as easy as yelling “TRANSUBSTANTIATION”. Which, once you learn how to say it, is actually pretty easy.

Thankfully, however, there are a few things they can all agree on. Masturbation, for example, appears to be universally considered a bad thing. Although I suspect this may just mean they’re not doing it right (and by “it” I mean themselves). And nipples. Nipples seem to be naughty, as long as they’re attached to a woman (and they usually are). But the one thing that really intrigues me is that, even though they can’t agree on who god actually is, somehow they all know that he hates queers, and wants them to be miserable.

Which of course is why an imam, two pastors, a rabbi, a bishop, a monsignor and some kind of Mormom get together to write a media release condemning the ACT’s Marriage Equality Bill. And boy, is it good. And when I say it’s good, I mean it’s a specious, lazy, disingenuous, self-serving, dishonest pile of crap.

Specious because it appeals to the fact that 70% of people identify as religious, while ignoring the fact that an equal number support marriage equality.

Lazy because it talks of marriage equality’s long term risks, without mentioning any of them.

Disingenuous because it says they recognise the “inherent dignity of all human beings”, even while they seek to deny some people the very thing that makes them human.

Self-serving because it admits that their view of marriage is a “faith tradition”, which by definition means the rest of us are free to ignore it.

And dishonest because all it asks is for the bill “to be subject to community consultation”, implying they will cease their objections if the community approves.

All of which goes to show, whenever a diverse group of people get together to compose a religious document, the result is illogical, contradictory, inconsistent and, I have to say, a little boring.

I can’t imagine where they get that from.

Walking the Walk

I think I’m quite an intelligent person. This is a belief I share with most of the world. That is to say, I’d be willing to bet that a majority of individuals on this planet believe at some level that they are quite intelligent.

 

If we consider intelligence to be a relative value, however, at least fifty percent of these people must be wrong. I don’t believe I’m a part of that erroneous fifty percent. One clue is that I can correctly use the word ‘erroneous’. There are, however, other indicators. I can usually cobble together a coherent argument for or against practically anything at a moment’s notice. I spend very little time scratching my head and staring with my mouth wide open. I learn quickly. I get good results in intelligence tests. All these things lead me to think that the idea of me being at least mildly intelligent is not an unreasonable one.

 

One thing that emphatically does not help me to prove my intelligence is the fact that I am an atheist. The fact that I do not believe in the existence of a deity does not automatically grant me an IQ bonus. I am aware that there are studies out there that indicate that, on average, atheists are smarter, but I’m about as willing to believe studies I read on the internet as I am a party political.

 

So why is it, then, that so many atheist commentators I read and hear about have such a patronising attitude toward the religious? Why do I so often see internet atheists who cannot spell assuring the world at large that all these poor religious people will one day ‘see the lite’? It is disheartening to hear atheists talk about having unique access to the one and only truth, their duty to proselytise that truth and their forbearance in the face of religious persecution. And not just because statements like this could be cut and pasted onto a religious website without causing comment. The thing that disheartens me about statements like these is that they are arrogant, misguided and flat out wrong.

 

Being an atheist does not preclude anyone from being an idiot. Or a patronising asshole, for that matter. Just as being religious does not preclude individuals from being sane or clever.

 

We think that atheists have taken an intelligent approach to religion and religious belief? Fine. I agree.

 

Now let’s ensure we act like it.