Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Ooh you Americans are so butch!

From the Christian Science Monitor:

CHICAGO – News readers in the Windy City this fall might be forgiven for thinking they've stumbled into California by mistake.

Last week the city council approved a far-reaching smoking ban; now, they're following in California's footsteps again as they consider outlawing another un-PC indulgence: foie gras.

If the bill passes, the world's hog butcher will become the first city to restrict sale of the delicacy (California's ban won't take place until 2012). It passed out of committee and could be brought to a council vote as soon as Wednesday.

The issue hasn't exactly taken Chicago by storm; most residents don't even know what the buttery tidbit is, much less care that it's threatened. But the debate surrounding foie gras (pronounced fwah-grah - French for "fatty liver") has picked up nationwide, and Chicago has become a battleground that pits restauranteurs against each other, and has gourmands facing off against animal-rights activists.

"Our laws are a reflection of our society's values, and our culture does not condone the torture of small innocent animals," says Joe Moore, the Chicago alderman who proposed the ban, though he acknowledges he hasn't visited a foie gras farm and isn't sure if he's ever eaten the food. "It's not a matter of personal choice."

A growing chorus of animal-rights groups has worked to make eating foie gras the ethical equivalent of clubbing baby seals, and the target of a small flurry of laws.

Massachusetts is considering a similar ban, and bills made progress in Oregon and New York this year before losing steam. The Illinois Senate has unanimously passed a bill outlawing production in the state (which has never had a foie gras farm), and a proposal will soon be introduced in Hawaii.

Can this really be the land of ‘guns, guts and God’ I see before me, kowtowing to a bunch of tree-hugging, veggie carrot-munchers?

Truly, the Discombobulation approacheth!


Blogger Duck said...

It pleaseth me to know that another has heeded the prophesy of the Discombobulation. Yet verily the signs of the late times can be deceiving. It would appear to the undiscerning foreign eye that American machismo and bravado would forbid such maudlin affection for the tiny, helpless baby sow. But American manhood holds a special place for the little guy, the underdog, the scrappy little ones for whom we should bestow the proverbial "sporting chance".

Our most macho of presidents, Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt gained notoriety for his refusal to shoot a mother bear with cubs on a hunting expedition. This story of "Teddy's bears" inspired the creation of that fabled child's toy, the Teddy Bear.

Though not an animal rights activist by any means, I have to applaud this ban. For me anti-cruelty trumps good food. I won't eat veal for that reason, though I've tried it and like it.

August 22, 2006 5:33 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

I've never been one to make rational justifications for meat-eating. We don't have to eat it, after all. It's just that I like meat, and I find I simply lack the requisite sympathy for farm animals to give it up. Brutal, but there it is.

(Full disclosure, as Skipper would say: Mrs Brit is a carrot-munching veggie, and though I love meat so much that if I pass a field of cows I struggle to stop myself running in and licking them, I could no more eat fois gras or veal in front of her than I could tear the hind legs off a puppy dog.)

August 22, 2006 5:45 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Chicago tends strongly to liberalism and political correctness. It is a source of great friction between Chicago and "down state". You'd like the downstaters more, they're the kind of people who, when showing you the cows in the field, say "yep, we're eating her next week". The only time I voted for a Democratic Party candidate was in a gubernatorial election in Illinois, where the D was from down state and the R from the Chicago metroplex, which naturally made the D much more conservative than the R despite the party labels (which are affectations, politics being very local in these parts).

August 22, 2006 7:26 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

Mmm...puppy dog! The case against foie gras is actually fairly persuasive, but general philosophical arguments with vegetarians are as maddening and futile as defending the Church against Harry. Miss Manners should add it to religion and politics as subjects to be avoided in polite company.

August 22, 2006 8:28 AM  
Blogger Bret said...

I just got back from a week at a guest ranch. It was kinda strange to be eating steak with cattle mooing loudly in the back ground. While I was eating the steak, I kept hearing in their moos, "That was Fred you're eating - poor Fred...", but somehow, it didn't spoil my enjoyment of the meat.

But what the heck is foie gras, anyway? I guess I've heard of it, but I doubt that I've ever eaten it (it's possible I've had it in Europe without knowing it), and I've eaten a far wider range of foods than the average American. This is a case where hardly anybody in America cares about such a ban (except French tourists, for which there is not an overwhelming fondness) and the animal rights activists to whom we're willing to throw a bone (so to speak) every once in a while.

August 22, 2006 9:01 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

The putative suffering of geese is pretty far down on my list of things to worry about.

August 22, 2006 9:23 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

I had enough sympathy for farm animals to give up eating mammals, although I still eat fish and fowl.
However, I agree that in a rich society anti-cruelty trumps cheap or good food, so I eat free-range fowl and eggs, when available.

I have no problems with poor people or societies eating factory-farm animal products. I also don't have a problem with eating people, in desperate situations, although I prefer that the donor die of natural causes, rather than at the hands of a hungry person.

August 22, 2006 11:41 PM  
Blogger martpol said...

Re. Harry's "The putative suffering of geese is pretty far down on my list of things to worry about."

Agreed, but for the reason that chest-beating about foie gras is deceptive and/or hypocritical when compared to the millions of animals that suffer at the hands of "acceptable" intensive farming each year.

See on the same issue at Woolgatherer.

August 23, 2006 2:02 AM  

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