Saturday, October 5, 2013

You know, Dawkins, it isn't like “I aspire to be an astronaut.”

So there’s a new video clip* of Richard Dawkins responding to a question from an audience member about our relations with other animals. (The sound quality is very bad, even if you turn up the volume all the way; straining to hear, though, I was able to make out most of what he was saying.)

In it, he makes plain – or so it would seem – his endorsement of vegetarianism:
“…I’m not a vegetarian. I would like to be a vegetarian. I would like everybody to be a vegetarian….”

“…In many ways I aspire to be a vegetarian….
I support his expression of these views,** of course, though discussing vegetarianism rather than veganism in 2013 puts him well behind the curve. I was also happy to hear the audience responding to these sentiments with loud applause.

There’s a problem here, though. He’s been saying much the same thing for quite some time now. After a while, stating that a course of action is the right one to take, despite which you personally aren’t taking it, stars to wear thin. It detracts from the ethical message if the person delivering it isn’t willing to follow it through in action. Especially in this case. Dawkins hasn’t put forward any justification that I know of for failing to live his professed ethics, and I can’t think of any. He’s a wealthy person in a wealthy society with great access not only to vegetarian but to vegan options. If he were to begin asking about and using these options on his speaking tours, it would go a long way toward changing attitudes.

My message to Dawkins regarding veg*ism: Keep talking the talk, but it’s time to start walking the walk.

* I admit I’m distracted by the hat worn by the guy in the back.

** Not all of them. There are several stupid statements here, some of which might even represent backpedaling. If we stopped eating other animals, there would be many fewer animals, and that makes it a complex moral question? Really? He seems to have read Peter Singer very uncritically, adopted some of the dumber of Singer’s arguments, and then made them even sillier.

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