Let them Eat What?

OK, so I disagree with Rhys Southan about some important things, but he's a good interviewer and he has a wickedly funny blog.  His interview with me covered all sorts of interesting topics.

As to my being a symbol of the resistance.  You can find out what he's talking about (colorfully) starting here and then in all these posts.

So, who is Rhys Southan?  After I agreed to do the interview, I googled him. (My son tells me that's doing things in the wrong order.)  He cowrote and codirected "Who is Jim Holt?" a musical play that I read about a while back after googling philosophy writer Jim Holt (no relation). Next for him was a play called "Stuck in Delaware," about a woman with warrants for her arrest in every single state except Delaware. 

He's an ex-vegan (after nine years of being a vegan) and a former cook at Angelica's Kitchen, the famous vegan restaurant in New York. He's also a former intern with Reason magazine and with John Stossel (ohhhhh....now I get it). For the moment, he lives in Dallas. Next for him: finishing a screenplay, moving to Los Angeles, and then (obviously) it's on to Iceland.  

Here's how the interview began:
How long have you been vegetarian?
I’ve been a vegetarian for 17 years. I became a vegetarian not long after seeing The Animals Film. I’d been thinking about these things for years, but the disturbing images in that movie made me “ready” to make a change. The truth is, though, that I didn’t actually make the change until I met my husband some months later. He was already a vegetarian, but more for health reasons. I talked him into the idea that the moral reasons were more important.  link


s. wallerstein said...

Great interview. One of the best introductions to animal rights that I've read. The stuff about the vegan doctor telling a patient with a rare blood disease not to eat chicken soap annoyed me immensely, given that my son died from a rare blood disease, perhaps the same one as the patient you refer to has. People with certain blood diseases have such severe levels of anemia that they need all the meat that they can eat, besides periodic blood transfusions, etc, besides the fact that they lose their appetite, their vitality and need to eat whatever gives them strength.

Faust said...

Great interview.

Jean Kazez said...

Thank you both for reading it. It's long!

Amos, Her disease is idiopathic neutropenia. Is that the same thing your son had?

I've been thinking for a while about writing something about her situation and her chat with that MD. It upset me for many reasons. Why was he so sure what was good for her, given her specific condition? Why didn't he at least show some respect for her own doctor's medical opinion? Why was he so unempathic about the chicken soup? I was pretty appalled.

s. wallerstein said...

It is appalling. My son had aplastic anemia. In any case, no doctor who hasn't the results from all blood tests and any other laboratory procedures can say what a patient should or should not eat. It probably should be a hematologist.

Melissa said...

Great interview! I might not agree with everything you believe, but I am happy to be thinking more about what I eat.

You personally might be interested in perennial dairy. It's a new concept, but it shows promise.

Taylor said...

Years ago I showed The Animals Film in a couple of classes. Each time there were students who found it too distressing and walked out in the middle. I didn't show the film in subsequent years in part because I felt uneasy about confronting students so brutally. (Should I say instead "with brute reality"?) More recently I met someone who told me he had taken the class; the film made such an impression that he has not eaten meat since.

Another year (no film) I had a student tell me that he agreed completely with Tom Regan's animal-rights argument; it was logically watertight. But he said that, nonetheless, he had absolutely no intention of giving up meat. I think this is a fairly common kind of reaction. I've come to the conclusion that while cold, hard reason is overwhelmingly on the side of animal liberation (in one or another of its forms), reason alone is not enough to persuade people to change their behaviour. For that you need emotion. If your heart is in the right spot, then maybe reading Singer or Regan (or Kazez) will make the light bulb go on and you'll say, "Yes, that's how I do feel, and now that I understand why those feelings are justified, I'm going to do something about it."

So perhaps I SHOULD show The Animals Film and THEN have the class discuss the philosophical arguments. Or would that be stacking the deck? I always try to be as impartial as possible in presenting different sides of a moral issue -- but human beings are not impartial creatures.

The other Melissa said...

What a great interview!

Jean Kazez said...

Thank you, both Melissas.

Taylor, It's amazing and a bit depressing how powerful images are. You cover all sorts of complex philosophical ideas, and then it turns out that the images and videos are what make all the difference. Probably the most effective pages in "Animal Liberation" are the pictures in the middle! I cover "animal rights theories first" (and get a fairly "ho hum" reaction), then specific issues (meat, etc) with lots of images and videos. For a meat video, I use Meet Your Meat (12 minutes) because The Animals Film is just too much. Plus, other stuff--like a HSUS video about downer cattle. Also some videos from the meat industry for balance. There's a hilarious video called "The Good Life" about how wonderful veal farming is. A friend in graduate school once told me he showed The Animals Film on the first day of a class and it made students think HE was nuts. I think you need visuals because it's so hard to believe these things really go on. The videos and pictures are irrefutable evidence.

s. wallerstein said...

Images are more powerful, but isn't one of the purposes of any philosophy class, be in on animal rights or any topic, to teach people how to reason or how to construct and evaluate arguments? By convincing people with images, you're going to put yourself out of business. (I'm playing the devil's advocate).

Jean Kazez said...

In an ethics class you have to know what you're talking about (palpably) before you talk about it. Images and videos are helpful in that respect, that's all. You can actually see my visuals for yourself here--