Getting His Goat

Religious freedom in Texas

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Jose Merced wants to cut a few throats, but the city of Euless, Texas, won't let him. Merced, a Santeria priest, is challenging a local ordinance that prohibits the slaughter of goats, an essential part of the sacrifices required by his Afro-Caribbean religion.

In April, after U.S. District Judge John McBryde upheld the slaughter ban, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed an appeal on Merced's behalf, contending that the ordinance violates his constitutional right to the free exercise of religion. Its argument relies heavily on Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, a 1993 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a city ban on animal sacrifice. That law was ostensibly a public health measure, but the court decided it violated the First Amendment because it singled out religious slaughter and was passed in response to the establishment of a Santeria church.

The Euless ordinance allows the butchering of deer and the slaughter of "domesticated fowl considered as general tablefare" but not the killing of goats, even though Santerians eat them as part of their ritual. Because of this selectiveness, Merced's attorneys argue, the ordinance should not be deemed a "neutral law of general applicability," which the Supreme Court has said passes First Amendment muster even if it bans an activity central to someone's religion. "The issue of Santeria and animal sacrifice has already been decided by the United States Supreme Court," says Becket Fund attorney Lori Windham. "I'm pretty sure the Constitution of the United States still applies."

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  1. This shouldn’t even be a Freedom of Religion case. A deer is OK but not a goat? WTF? I don’t sacrifice animals to the great JuJu in the sky, but I have been known to eat a little BBQ goat. What does Euless, Texas have against smoking a shoulder?

  2. I, personally, do not practice Santeria.

  3. Need I weigh in on this?

    The domestication of fowl was originally for religious purposes.

  4. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

  5. I would weigh in on the likely outcome, but I haven’t a crystal ball.

  6. The guy wants to kill his own meals…that he wants to mutter some words significant to him over the carcass is quite beside the point.

    Man kill animals to eat their flesh and wear their skins. So long as he is not torturing them to death, I can’t care so much.

  7. I’d donate to their campaign fund, but I had a million dollars and I…lost it all.

  8. Religions are not exempt from generally applicable laws. If this guy wants to do something that his neighbors aren’t allowed to do, his religion does not give him a special privilege to do so.

    The flip side is, if this guy wants to do something that his neighbors are allowed to do, he can’t be stopped just because it has religious significance to him.

  9. RC, the freedom of religion act disagrees with you.

    the larger question is, should this act be illegal?

  10. the freedom of religion act disagrees with you.

    Wasn’t the RFRA of ’93 struck down? Boerne v. Flores, IIRC.

  11. Why should the act be illegal? If it creates a health hazard, give citations to individuals who aren’t up to code or whatever. I never understood why the treatment of animals was part of the law.

  12. If I could locate my Brazilian girlfriend and the lover she has on the side, I would shoot him and slap her.

  13. If this guy wants to do something that his neighbors aren’t allowed to do, his religion does not give him a special privilege to do so.

    I agree. And whose word are we supposed to take that slaughtering goats is an “essential” part of this person’s religion, anyway?

  14. What annoys me about this is not the religious freedom angle, it’s dumbass self absorbed local politicians passing bullshit laws for NO FUCKING GOOD REASON.

    Not that the morons in DC are any better. Eat a cow – OK. Eat a horse – OMG, we need legislation on this ASAP. Somebody wants to butcher Flicka! Call a press conference so I can impress the rubes with my love of horses!

  15. Don’t adherents of Christianity already do this? Prayer before the meal, give blessings all round, etc.

  16. Whoops! I should have read more carefully. Sorry for the stupid comment above.

  17. For the record, I find Santeria to be as credible as Christianity, Islam and Buddhism. Why pick on them?

  18. J sub D,

    I totally agree. I pick fights with people at work by classifying all religions as cults.

  19. To commemorate this post I will sacrifice a squirrel. I participate in Reasonteria and them’s the rules!

  20. “Religions are not exempt from generally applicable laws. If this guy wants to do something that his neighbors aren’t allowed to do, his religion does not give him a special privilege to do so.

    The flip side is, if this guy wants to do something that his neighbors are allowed to do, he can’t be stopped just because it has religious significance to him.”

    This sort of makes freedom of religion meaningless. If I passed a law banning the display of crucifixes, but it bans it for everybody and not just for Christians, I’d say I’m violating religious freedom. I think that if a generally applicable law doesn’t achieve a legitimate purpose and does block someone’s religious practice, it’s unconstitutional.

  21. I never understood why the treatment of animals was part of the law.

    A few reasons off the top of my head. First, while animal and human experiences are not entirely analogous, we can be fairly certain due to similarities of nervous system and brain structure that animals sense pain and can experience suffering. Since they are a unprivileged constituent of society with no ability to sue or act on their own behalves, (much like children) some pro forma legal protection for them is not ridiculous.

    The storage and treatment of animals can affect humans directly. Several diseases are zoonotic, and so a poorly kept animal can endanger human lives. Also, a mistreated or abused animal is likely to revert to violent behaviors in future interactions, thus making it more likely that a human being will be the victim of a violent incident. So, there is a strong consequentialist rationalization for regulations prohibiting the poor feeding and storage or torture and abuse of animals kept in human captivity.

  22. RC, is there any rational reason a deer can be butchered and not a goat? This is particularly goofy, as my family has been known to butcher and cook a goat at family gatherings. Just because they’re yummy. Unless one can argue that the slaughter of goats is a significantly more burdensome process to the town, it seems difficult to reason why goats should be banned from the practice.

  23. Good God people, don’t you know that the goat is the Mark of Satan?

  24. If you want to exercise your religious freedom, goat to it. Don’t ewe agree?

  25. RC, is there any rational reason a deer can be butchered and not a goat?

    Not that I can think of, no.

    If I passed a law banning the display of crucifixes, but it bans it for everybody and not just for Christians, I’d say I’m violating religious freedom.

    I would, too, because your law banning the display of crucifixes is content-based. You don’t get to use “general applicability” just because you outlaw a particular religious practice for everyone, rather than explicitly outlawing just for the self-professed followers of a certain faith.

  26. This man should be able to kill goats for his god.

    Incidentally – my religion asks me to sacrifice monkeys and eat the bodies of our dead. (We also must beat our children with the tail of a dog every Saturday and on our kids sixteenth birthday remove their thumbs).

    I know all you guys will back me up when the time comes. So thanks in advance.

  27. I don’t think that government should interfere with my brayer, Mad Max. Really, a gruff’s enough.

  28. Elemenope,

    animals “are a unprivileged constituent of society”….

    do you differentiate between domesticated and wild animals?

    how about those with significantly different nervous systems and brain structures, like silkworms… are they part of society, too?

  29. Johnny Nowhere,

    Do you differentiate between religion and bullshit?

  30. Andrew,

    yes

  31. do you differentiate between domesticated and wild animals?

    Where such distinctions are useful is in judging particular uses humans may have for the animal in question. Animals socialized over time and bred for their affinity for humans (cats, dogs, farm animals) have, I think, a greater claim on our fealty for their general well-being, that being defined broadly as an active avoidance of their suffering.

    Wild animals when placed in contexts normally reserved for domesticated animals, such as drug and cosmetic testing or for food, can make a similar claim.

    how about those with significantly different nervous systems and brain structures, like silkworms… are they part of society, too?

    Wild animals not manipulated for the direct benefits of humans only have the bare claim against suffering as it pertains to their ability to experience it. Silkworms, in all likelihood, have neither the memory capacity nor consciousness necessary for experiencing suffering as humans generally define it. Dogs and cats certainly do. Most animals, I imagine, wold fall on some space on that continuum.

  32. OK, here’s a question for the hardcore libertarians on this site (BTW I like most of the general tenets of libertarianism but wouldn’t call myself one).

    Does the average libertarian really believe that people that hold beliefs about the supernatural deserve to have their beliefs protected under law? That seems to me to go against the general idea of libertarianism where everyone should be treated equally under the law with no one having special privileges to be above certain laws. Even with the Rastafarians, they shouldn’t be able to smoke dope if the rest of us can’t (mind you the law should be struck down for everyone). Someone please enlighten me upon how a ‘true’ libertarian would view religious handouts/privileges.

  33. Johnny Nowhere,

    How?

  34. Does the average libertarian really believe…

    What on earth is an average libertarian?

    Do you differentiate between religion and bullshit?

    I don’t lose any sheep over it.

  35. Santeria is even more restricted in Russia, because the word for “goat” is similar to the word for “father”.

  36. Andrew,

    On an individual level, I try to judge the honesty of the person’s faith. I’m not always right.

    As to your other question, haven’t you ever heard the old canard about asking 9 libertarians for opinions, and getting 10 answers?

    More seriously, I think that so long as the religious beliefs don’t infringe upon others’ rights, folks should be able to practice as they choose.

  37. Does the average libertarian really believe that people that hold beliefs about the supernatural deserve to have their beliefs protected under law?

    As a certified hardcore radical Rothbardian, the answer to that question is that all individuals should be free to believe or not believe whatever they want, and that it is that freedom, rather than the belief, that should be protected and cannot justly be violated by others.

    That seems to me to go against the general idea of libertarianism where everyone should be treated equally under the law with no one having special privileges to be above certain laws.

    That’s because you were under the mistaken understanding that it’s the belief rather than the freedom that is being protected.

    Even with the Rastafarians, they shouldn’t be able to smoke dope if the rest of us can’t (mind you the law should be struck down for everyone). Someone please enlighten me upon how a ‘true’ libertarian would view religious handouts/privileges.

    “True libertarian” is a big ol’ can of worms I won’t open here, but the answer is that the only problem here is the marijuana ban. Whatever inconsistencies the state develops in applying it is secondary, because enforcing the law is always unjust regardless of whether or not it’s being enforced with due reverence to equal protection.

  38. Andrew —

    You’re conflating a few issues there, notwithstanding Ard’s excellent point that there is no such thing as “an average Libertarian”.

    Probably first and foremost being that in Libertopia, most everything would be allowed anyway, so religion probably would need no “special” favors, nor would the government be in much position to provide any.

    As to whether religious beliefs themselves are due any sort of official respect, that all depends upon the branch of libertarianism in question. I imagine, for example, that Randians would sneer contemptuously at the notion of honoring religious belief. However, it would merely be an attitude, and it would probably cash out the same in practical respects as other libertarians would: no interference, no subsidy.

  39. That seems to me to go against the general idea of libertarianism where everyone should be treated equally under the law with no one having special privileges to be above certain laws.

    Sorry, but we never even get to that question, because a true libertarian would say that if the guy owns the goat and wants to kill it on his own property, nobody gets to say shit about it.

    That would make it unnecessary to hand out a “special religious privilege” where this guy can kill a goat because it’s his religion, where someone else who just wants to eat a goat can’t.

    This particular religious liberty issue is only arising because of the abuse of general liberty being undertaken to limit the locations where one can kill a goat.

    LMNOP raises some interesting questions about animal cruelty, which always provokes interesting debate here, but this isn’t really an animal cruelty issue. They’re not trying to protect goats here [I imagine it’s still completely legal to EAT goat within this municipality]; they’re just trying to limit the places where a goat can be killed.

  40. As to the point about different strains of libertarianism on this question, it is true that the Lew Rockwell/Ron Paul angry social conservative wing of the movement tends to view separation of church and state with disdain, seeing it as a means for the state to suppress what would be religion’s proper role in the free and tolerant yet culturally conservative society they desire.

  41. “Sorry, but we never even get to that question, because a true libertarian would say that if the guy owns the goat and wants to kill it on his own property, nobody gets to say shit about it.”

    Ah, true. Murray Rothbard frowns down upon me for not pointing that out first.

  42. Rich Ard:

    Oh you free thinker you!

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/average

    Hopefully you can find an adjective in there to your liking.

  43. I don’t think it’s simply a matter of killing the goat that is the problem. It’s the manner of killing the goat that’s the issue – bleeding it to death – which is at issue. No matter what religion/cult/stupidity you belong to you aren’t allowed to torture a sentient being. I don’t care what religion you belong to – you ain’t above the law.

  44. Johnny Nowhere,

    Yes, I’ve heard the saying – it applies to most people – I don’t think libertarians are such complex creatures that it’s impossible to characterize them though.

    As to your point about belief, sure people can believe anything they want – but surely they can’t DO anything they want because their religion says they can. If I can’t torture a goat then neither should this guy. What if the belief was to have sex with the goat instead of torturing (actually, see my first sarcastic post to see my point). What actions people should and shouldn’t be allowed to perform should NOT depend on religion but on what’s good/bad for society.

  45. What actions people should and shouldn’t be allowed to perform should NOT depend on religion but on what’s good/bad for society.

    As judged by whom? Appointed moral arbiters frankly suck at picking out genuine threats to the public order. From their example you’d need to believe that two guys screwing in their bedrooms or smoking some pot are a general threat to the health of humanity or some such thing.

    Society itself is no better at judging these things, even ex post facto. Vaccine scares and masturbation ninnies are a dime-a-dozen. The “collective order” are in general a panicky and overly suggestible crowd.

  46. Andy Craig:

    all individuals should be free to believe or not believe whatever they want, and that it is that freedom, rather than the belief, that should be protected and cannot justly be violated by others.

    This issue has nothing to do with ‘belief’ and everything to do with ‘actions’. I have no contentions with what you say. You have the ‘freedom’ to believe any stupid thing you want – maybe you believe are superior to every other race – but if you act on that belief it is a different story.


    “True libertarian” is a big ol’ can of worms I won’t open here, but the answer is that the only problem here is the marijuana ban.

    Exactly. Religion has nothing to do with this issue. Either this guy (as well as all of us) have the right to torture animals or not. Full Stop.

  47. What actions people should and shouldn’t be allowed to perform should NOT depend on religion but on what’s good/bad for society.

    Oh dear. I was just beginning to enjoy this thread. Quick – this guy needs his goat gotten!

  48. I don’t think it’s simply a matter of killing the goat that is the problem. It’s the manner of killing the goat that’s the issue – bleeding it to death – which is at issue. No matter what religion/cult/stupidity you belong to you aren’t allowed to torture a sentient being. I don’t care what religion you belong to – you ain’t above the law.

    Andrew: check Wikipedia under Kashrut for the rules of kosher slaughter. What is considered humane is to slit the throat in one swift motion, severing the jugular.

    Full disclosure: I am not Jewish, but I sit next to a Jew at work.

  49. Elemenope:

    Certainly everything wouldn’t be allowed. That’s anarchy not libertarianism.
    And when I say average libertarian I mean ‘what would the majority consensus be’. Is that any better? Probably not.

  50. It’s the manner of killing the goat that’s the issue – bleeding it to death – which is at issue. No matter what religion/cult/stupidity you belong to you aren’t allowed to torture a sentient being.

    It’s nonsensical to say that cutting a goat’s throat to kill it is “torture” when that’s how all feed animals were killed for consumption for millennia. Using a stun gun to knock cows unconscious is an extremely recent development in slaughterhouse methodology. Even now up to 30% of the chickens that are processed in this country are decapitated while awake. If the guy chops the head off his goat during the ceremony, would that make it OK?

    Also, we allow deer hunting, and unless you get a head shot deers die by…[wait for it]…bleeding to death. Is it torture to hunt and shoot a deer?

    If it’s going to be illegal to have a goat bleed to death it should be illegal to have deer bleed to death too.

  51. Andrew-

    I see your point. Most of the protections of the Bill of Rights could fall under the libertarian concept of a more all-encompassing natural liberty. But unfortunately that concept’s not codified into constitutional law, and the Bill of Rights is. So we have to take what we can get.

  52. Fluffy,

    As I’ve probably already stated, this is not about killing a goat, it’s about torturing a goat (and because he has an irrational belief people seem to think that then it’s OK). People can and do kill goats all the time for food – but there is a proper, legally sanctioned way to do it.

  53. If it’s going to be illegal to have a goat bleed to death it should be illegal to have deer bleed to death too.

    No, no, no. If it’s going to be legal to have a deer bleed to death it should be legal to have a goat bleed to death too.

  54. Exactly. Religion has nothing to do with this issue. Either this guy (as well as all of us) have the right to torture animals or not. Full Stop.

    And this is why I have to resist the animal rights people when they pop up in these threads and whine about how it’s not fair to treat animals as property. Because if you deviate for even a second from the stance that animals are property and the owners can do whatever they want to them, people show up and start pretending they believe that kosher slaughter methods are “cruel”, when pretending that belief makes it easier to stop someone from practicing a non-mainstream religion.

    If you’re going to FORCE me to, then fine, I’ll say it: animals are property, and have no rights at all, and if allowing people to torture them is the price I have to pay to stop people from just making shit up to abuse the members of minority religions, I’m happy to do that. Ted Bundys of the world, knock yourselves out.

  55. “Libertarian majority consensus” is a contradiction in terms.

  56. As an animal lover and pet owner myself, I have to agree. Animals are property, and must be treated as such in a free society.

  57. Andrew,

    I’m with Rothbard and Fluffy on this one: if you want to screw your goat on the altar of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, have at her. She is your property. So long as you keep this activity to yourself, or within your gang of (consenting adult) believers, I think the effects on the rest of us will be minimal.

  58. Elemenope:
    As judged by whom?

    That’s a strange question. This is still a democracy I think, isn’t it? Are you saying judgements can’t be made in a complex society? I think we all know how to weigh evidence and debate an issue. I don’t think we need to take this debate to relativistic, sophomoric musings.

  59. No, the proper limits of government power are not open to democratic debate.

  60. Rich Ard:
    I don’t understand your problem? Social policy and law SHOULD be dictated by religion? How would we have made it from the dark ages if we continued to allow religion free reign in society? Can you please elaborate your point for me?

    And what’s with all the bad puns? 🙂

  61. That’s a strange question. This is still a democracy I think, isn’t it? Are you saying judgements can’t be made in a complex society?

    Actually, I would have no problem arguing that the entire concept of something being good or bad for society is a metaphysical absurdity.

    The purpose of our social institutions should be to manage interactions between you and me, or to manage those things we own in common. Nothing that happens between me and my goat falls into those categories.

  62. Naw, they’re only 2/3s baaaad, P U!

  63. No, the proper limits of government power are not open to democratic debate.

    That’s a pretty sweeping statement to make. Do you not approve of amendments to a state’s constitution?

  64. “What actions people should and shouldn’t be allowed to perform should NOT depend on religion but on what’s good/bad for society.”

    Andrew,
    Torturing bunnies in a toxicology lab is justified as good for society because it prevents human suffering. These studies are condoned and in part financed by the US government.

    By your logic, then, do we not all have the right to torture animals?

  65. Can you please elaborate your point for me?

    I was anticipating a flurry of posts positing that laws should be enacted to protect the rights of the individual, rather than a nebulous ‘social good’.

    And what’s with all the bad puns?

    And what’s the problem…I thought this all started because we were talking about what sort of pun we could have with goats.

    It’s been a long day at the office, I guess. 🙂

  66. By your logic, then, do we not all have the right to torture animals?

    I won’t say that this pun’s unintended, but that’s a pretty tortured analogy.

  67. Animals are property, and must be treated as such in a free society.

    Yes, and no. This is a little too black and white for me.

    Yes, they are property for most purposes, but no, that doesn’t mean I have to oppose a law prohibiting you from blowtorching the leg off your dog if you feel like it, even though I would oppose a law prohibiting you from blowtorching the wheel off your car if you feel like it.

  68. That’s a pretty sweeping statement to make. Do you not approve of amendments to a state’s constitution?

    This moves the debate into an even more philosophical direction, because basically the answer to this question depends on whether you believe that the Good is something that we identify, or something that we will into existence.

    If we identify the Good and do not will it, this strongly implies that there is a form of government which is Good, and all governments can be judged by how close they come to that Good government.

    If we will the Good into being, then all governments are good as long as the majority is satisfied that the government represents its will, whatever that might be.

    Our constitutional system has a natural tension to it, because it tries to express both of these notions of the Good at once. It does so because certain fundamentals were put in place at the outset that are theoretically open to change, but procedurally very difficult to change.

    Surely you would agree that you can imagine theoretical Constitutional changes that would be outside of the realm of acceptable or “good” government?

  69. Andrew wrote:

    Does the average libertarian really believe that people that hold beliefs about the supernatural deserve to have their beliefs protected under law?

    Beliefs, yes. Actions affecting other entities, no. You should be able to believe anything you like; say anything you like; do anything to yourself or (a) consenting, informed individual(s) you (and they, if there is a “they”) like.

    The presumption that we have the ‘right’ to do anything we choose, regardless of its nature, directly or by proxy, to other entities that don’t apparently operate in a similar cognitive space, or who do not, or can not, consent is a conclusion I cannot reach.

    The question asked several times here, paraphrased as “if I can kill a deer, why can’t i kill a goat?” is, to be kind, unenlightened and backwards. The correct question is, why, if it is not ok to kill a small human with disabilities that does not (and cannot) share our cognitive space, is it considered ‘ok’ to kill a being that does not share that space in the normal course of events?

    It is ultimately convenient to use other beings. It is easier to rape a woman and take the resulting child than it is to marry her and support her for many years. It is easier to steal than it is to earn. It is easier to kill animals than it is to pursue a non-flesh diet consisting of nutrients that come as close as possible to fulfilling our needs. It is easier to ‘have fun’ hunting than it is to say ‘I have the power to kill, but I opt not to use it.’

    As far as I am concerned, any animal that does not directly threaten me or mine – regardless of where they land in the animal kingdom – is in no danger from me. It is the natural extension of the libertarian position of my right to swing my fist ends at the chin of another; I simply recognize that a horse, goat, cat, or bird is just as much ‘another’ as any of you are.

    Should an animal threaten to interfere, or actually interfere with my person or family or dependents without my consent – be it a germ colony, a mosquito, or George W ‘cognitively impaired’ Bush himself – I gain the absolute right to swat the animal. Whether I actually do or not is a matter of my personal choice, based on any number of other complicating metrics.

    I’m no pacifist. I hold multiple dan rankings in the martial arts, and I am an expert with a decent range of weapons, almost all of which I own quality instances of. It is fair to say that I enjoy a good dose of violent conflict; still, the uncrossable lines seem brilliantly clear to me. I often wonder – not in a favorable manner – just how other people manage to avoid the conclusions I’ve come to. The words that seem to sum it up to me are ‘lazy’ and ‘selfish.’ YMMV, of course.

    Just as an aside, some of you may find the following link interesting:

    http://invitromeat.org/

  70. Why stop at germs? If you take it that far, it makes no sense to exclude the living, breathing plants.

    So stay off the grass and starve to death.

  71. Surely you would agree that you can imagine theoretical Constitutional changes that would be outside of the realm of acceptable or “good” government?

    Certainly! My attitude is that Good is a pretty malleable social construct (and that the Quality comes off before the name goes on).

  72. I’m usually a big, fierce animal protector, but I do eat meat, and I do think some animals are meant for consumption. A goat falls into that category. I don’t like goat, but some do.

    However, I don’t like religious freedom being used as a protector on so many crazy things. In this case, it’s not needed anyway. He can prepare and eat his goat if he needs to with or without religious freedom as a defense.

    But before you know it, people are going to start using religious freedom to protect some things that are just out there and wrong. Who’s to say that I shouldn’t be able to kill any dog I see as part of my religion? Or any animal I choose even if it’s someone’s pet? Or vigilante killings as part of my religion?

    These religious freaks are going to want to bring on as many special treatment acts and laws for their projects and desires as a 100% democrat Congress would do for its pet projects given half the chance.

  73. Singling out goats while allowing deer does raise 1st ammendment questions.

  74. Chloee spake:

    I do think some animals are meant for consumption

    …”meant for consumption” by what designating force or entity? God? The kosher authorities? KFC? Their own free will? (If the latter, I don’t think “eat me” means what you think it means…)

  75. Andy skipped the small matter of reading comprehension, rashly venturing:

    Why stop at germs? If you take it that far, it makes no sense to exclude the living, breathing plants.

    Oh, I don’t stop at plants, Andy; if they get in my face, I’ll consider taking them out, too. 🙂

    Next time, actually read until you understand what is being said. You’d be amazed how much less of your own shoe you’ll taste.

    For your reference, an incomplete list of things I wouldn’t eat can be found in the paragraph above the one you responded to. Perhaps on second reading, you’ll note the absence of germs.

    Also, in order to give you a reference point for construction of that list under the assumption that you may actually have a point to make, my general rule is if it has an organized nervous system with any kind of detectable brain or brain-like cluster, it’s an animal I wouldn’t eat or interfere with unless provoked.

    Such an attitude is kind of hard on plants and very simple organisms, but there you have it.

  76. It is the natural extension of the libertarian position of my right to swing my fist ends at the chin of another; I simply recognize that a horse, goat, cat, or bird is just as much ‘another’ as any of you are.

    The reason this is untenable is because if the moral norms we apply to human interactions with other humans also apply to animals, then it is “evil” for a lion to eat an antelope.

    And that is frankly absurd.

    No system of morality that has even the most remote connection to anything resembling a “natural” law would find life itself to be immoral. And if it is immoral for one species to eat another, then all life is immoral. The distinction between plants and animals is ultimately “cognitive” also, after all.

    Human morality is the set of ethical rules that cover interactions between humans. A human cannot morally outrage a rock. Or a germ. Or a plant. Or a goat. Or a tiger. And the reverse is true. Nothing a rock, germ, plant, goat or tiger does or could possibly do to a human is immoral.

  77. Also, in order to give you a reference point for construction of that list under the assumption that you may actually have a point to make, my general rule is if it has an organized nervous system with any kind of detectable brain or brain-like cluster, it’s an animal I wouldn’t eat or interfere with unless provoked.

    Then you’ve constructed a system where the cognitive capacity of the entities around you determines what you’re going to eat.

    I don’t think that’s what meat-eating humans are doing, but those seem to be the terms you prefer so I’m willing to use them to show the contradictions of your position.

  78. Bug off, Ben, you’re interrupting my evening meal of a preachy jackass that pissed me off today.

  79. All of those Tongans in Euless and they find this guy?

  80. Fluffy held forth:

    The reason this is untenable is because if the moral norms we apply to human interactions with other humans also apply to animals, then it is “evil” for a lion to eat an antelope.

    Not at all. Our behavioral norms are not a uniform blanket that apply only when reciprocal. I can’t imagine why you would think they were, but that’s what makes your presumption wrong right at the base.

    For instance, one consequence of your argument is that because some humans murder other humans, there’s no problem with any human murdering any other human. See? You don’t even need to leave your own species for your argument to founder.

    Sophisticated moral behaviors are for sophisticates; when one party is sophisticated, and another is not, that does not create a right for the sophisticated party to act in an unsophisticated manner towards the unsophisticated party. That’s just a demonstration of weakness.

  81. Fluffy subsequently produced the following doses of fabric softener:

    Then you’ve constructed a system where the cognitive capacity of the entities around you determines what you’re going to eat.

    Precisely.

    I don’t think that’s what meat-eating humans are doing…

    No, that’s what I’m doing. I thought we were clear on that.

    …but those seem to be the terms you prefer so I’m willing to use them to show the contradictions of your position.

    Hmm. Fine then, you let me know when you come up with a contradiction, and I’ll consider it.

    Having already disposed of your curious moral relativism where you want the considerably lesser sophistication of animal limits and behaviors to dictate your own, I’m ready and waiting for further comment from you.

  82. Quoth Chloee:

    Bug off, Ben, you’re interrupting my evening meal of a preachy jackass that pissed me off today.

    You’re the one who threw out that absurd “meant for consumption” line; it’s your job to explain it, not mine. You make a ludicrous, indefensible statement like that on a public forum, you can expect someone to point it out. And by the way, that jackass probably has tularemia. 🙂

  83. Lori Wyndham sez: “I’m pretty sure the Constitution of the United States still applies.”

    Shows how little she knows.

  84. Two of my friends died while looking up Santaria on Wiki.

  85. the writtings of christian religion clearly states that all animals are for food, not excluding pets. texas has another ban on butchering pot-belly pigs, is this breed more valuable than other breeds, because some have them as pets? is it right to put are pets above people? should people go hungry, while we incinerate pets and put them in the landfills daily. we all need only to care more for each other, and not worry so much about animals. we are a society that punishes men for not feeding pets right, while are nieghbors go hungry, where is the logic in that? spend money on health care for pets, while are nieghbors die from lack of medical attention?

  86. bob,

    the writings of the christian religion say a lot of things – but it doesn’t say that ‘all’ animals are food – some are prohibited from being consumed (although I don’t see what that has to do with anything).
    Nobody puts pets above people – maybe above rocks and other inanimate objects.
    Nobody is going hungry in this country because of bans on eating or killing certain animals. Are you saying we should be feeding the euthanized animals to the poor? I think it’s possible to care more for people and animals – it’s not mutually exclusive.
    Are you saying in a free society I can’t spend money on my pet as long as there are people that don’t have enough money.

    Finally question, do you read anything you write and compare it to reality in any way?

  87. Johnny Nowhere

    Torturing bunnies in a toxicology lab is justified as good for society because it prevents human suffering. These studies are condoned and in part financed by the US government.

    By your logic, then, do we not all have the right to torture animals?

    That’s actually a very good point. I’m not against testing drugs on animals first for our safety (I’m not a PETA member or anything similar). It is the ‘unnecessary’ suffering of animals due to some psychopathic whim that I am simply against – and which the law is against as well. Some people in here talk that if animals get a minimal amount of rights (which they don’t seem to think they already have) then animals will be ruling over us or something as in some sort of terrible Animal Farm scenario.

    The tendency of some of the people here to suggest a libertarian view entails the right to torture animals is going to surely ensure the death of any sort of libertarian society they may want to encourage.

  88. Fluffy,
    animals are property, and have no rights at all, and if allowing people to torture them is the price I have to pay to stop people from just making shit up to abuse the members of minority religions, I’m happy to do that. Ted Bundys of the world, knock yourselves out.

    Yes, animals are property – but they do have rights by the law as we speak – so you are utterly wrong here. I don’t want people to not torture animals so I can harass religious people. That is absurd, and you are really stretching it here. Didn’t people just ‘make up’ human rights, or were they written in the sky somewhere? Oh, and your Ted Bundy comment was revealing.
    Surely you can bring forward one cogent argument in the defense of torturing animals.

  89. Johnny Nowhere,

    if you want to screw your goat on the altar of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, have at her. She is your property. So long as you keep this activity to yourself, or within your gang of (consenting adult) believers, I think the effects on the rest of us will be minimal.

    You think so, eh? If it doesn’t effect you then fuck it. What’s the problem that I have to ‘keep it to myself’? If it’s not ‘wrong’ then everyone should celebrate my cultural diversity.

    Your house is also your property. Do you think building codes are an abomination as well. I should be able to construct my house any way I want? (Why do I need a foundation – and ‘proper’ electrical wiring? Inspect this Muthaf*cker. That’s what I wanted to say to my building inspectors)

  90. What’s black and white and red all over?

    My neighbors cat ripped in half.

  91. Andrew The writings of the christian religion say a lot of things – but it doesn’t say that ‘all’ animals are food – Read a little further.
    Nobody puts pets above people – maybe above rocks and other inanimate objects. If a government punishes its people for not feeding dogs enough or not giving them proper medical attention, while people do without, then pets are above people.
    Nobody is going hungry in this country because of bans on eating or killing certain animals. Are you saying we should be feeding the euthanized animals to the poor? If you look only at this country, stop buying from other countries. Feeding the poor is exactly what im saying.
    Should I look at reality through who’s eyes?

  92. Your own eyes, just clean your glasses.

    Would you be punished more for not feeding your child or not feeding your dog? Non-humans and humans are not equal – the way I see it and the way the law sees it. Your comparing mistreating an animal in your responsibility to socialized medicine. I’m all for socialized medicine, as I assume most of you are not, but these things don’t compare. Take another hit buddy.

    You don’t have to give your dog medical attention at all in this country – it’s actually legal for you to ‘put them down’ if you want – and I’m not even arguing against that.

    Sorry, but from what your wrote that was all I could make sense of.

  93. Andrew
    Sorry if my words offend or appear to be hitting.
    I know my reality does not match many others, and thats fine. we do agree on socalized medicine, and I hope it is enough to be friends.

  94. bob,

    Cheers, just looking for a good fight is all. I’m un-offendable.

  95. thats cool, me to, un-offendable, world needs more of that

  96. There does not appear to be an exception for slaughtering deer, contrary to the Reason article, unless this is a recent change not reflected on the municode website, which seems unlikely.

    Here’s where Euless has its city codes (may not be absolutely up to date):
    http://www.municode.com/resources/gateway.asp?pid=10705&sid=43%20

    Here are two ordinances covering slaughtering animals:
    http://library4.municode.com/default/DocView/10705/1/32/33
    http://library4.municode.com/default/DocView/10705/1/32/35

    Searching for ‘deer’ only finds the first ordinance, which prohibits owning deer within city limits.

    The court opinions do not seem to be online except maybe through Pacer, which I don’t subscribe to:
    Merced v. Kasson et al.
    http://dockets.justia.com/docket/court-txndce/case_no-4:2006cv00891/case_id-163407/

    The original complaint used to be on courthousenews.com, but it either moved or is gone. But the way-back machine has a copy:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20070226205247/www.courthousenews.com/PDF+Archive/santeria.pdf

    If the city allowed slaughtering deer but not goats, Merced might have a pretty good case; but it looks like the city only allows slaughtering fowl within city limits for health and safety reasons, which I think is sufficient to hold up in court.

  97. was recently watching some online news clip – and some family at a city residence in or near Los Angeles, had a disaster where the law enforcement authorities came into their home -ransacked it, wound up shooting one or two of her sons.
    Well, they showed her in the backyard, in city limits – you could look down the city block and see the homes and cars – FEEDING HER CHICKENS in the fenced in backyard. Yes they were heavily hispanic…
    The story went into how she’d cook up the chicken soup and whatever ethnic meals they named…
    There she was, with her little chicken farm – right there in spic city…right in the backyard- they showed her tossing the corn down – you know then flashed to her and hubby sitting on the love couch or swing on the porch smiling…
    Oh, well…. yeah chickens ok – goats ok to in my book. Who gives a damn what religion has to do with it.
    If libs can have their gerbil farms … what the hey

  98. One more thing. A programmer friend moved to California – career upgrade, and moved to a room rental in a multimillion dollar mansion in the Santa Rancho Margarita valley area southeast of Tustin. Had a rather winding “valley” road not so wide for access – somewhat dangerous he related.
    Anyway, during the fires a few years ago he saw the black helicopters on the hill up the street for one of the attacked mountain bikers – killed or “eaten” by the mountain lions moving from the state fires – and in fact had one under his rental residence when he came home one night.
    He related merrily how they called the place the breakfast nook – since across the street someone raised chickens, then up the road pigs, around the bend corn or wheat whatever…
    These were wealthy homes – well to do owners – but apparently a few had a “farmers thumb”.
    The “breakfast nook” – laughing he didn’t have to go anywhere to have bacon, eggs, toast, and sausage.
    Of course, anywhere you have encroaching big city life – the democratic controlled regions where “the left behind” needing welfare pop up like flies….you can expect any and all freedoms of the like to be summarily extinghuished – since of course “civilized” people would NEVER do such a thing.
    Yes, it’s more than a bit crazy and tainted, the reputation that precedes “food creation” in our modern libtard psychosocial pop culture mindset – of the “city lifers”.

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