The Zoophilia/Bestiality Underground

dog-454146_1280

I have always considered the sexual act as something between consenting people (of whatever gender) who are mature enough. Indeed, you would probably find shocking the idea of adults having sexual desires for children and sometimes acting on them. We consider pedophilia an act of absolute sickness. But it may come as a surprise to think that some animal advocate do not apply the same principles when it comes to other animals.

In the past few months, I have been deeply involved with an investigator in looking into the zoophilia/bestiality issue (to expose people who abuse other animals sexually) and I have been horrified at not only what is being done to other animals but to see where some so-called « animal lovers » actually go in the way they think of other animals. I have seen pictures of dogs being raped and people commenting things like « it’s cute! ». I have seen people (in our movement) being asked about just sexual desire for other animals and not having any problem with it.

Zoophilia is all over the web (if you know where to look) and you can find tons of « secret » groups on Facebook devoted to people who get a sexual kick at watching men (and women) having sex with other animals. My research (with the investigator) has allowed me to witness some rather gruesome and disgusting imagery and in some cases videos that these people proudly display while they get cheered on by others.

What I also found out is that some of them masquerade as animal rescuers in order to get an animal as sexual partner. So if you run a shelter, a sanctuary or simply want to find a home for a rescued animal, you may not even know that your animal is going to get sexually exploited.

From a legal perspective, laws vary by countries and states but there are exemptions like this one (quoted from Wikipedia):

Sexual handling of an animal for the purposes of veterinary practice, or animal husbandry (breeding), is normally exempted where such laws exist. In public discussion for the recently passed Oregon law, however, one animal shelter’s spokesperson wanted the husbandry exemption kept out, as he was concerned that someone might use these « accepted farming practices » as a legal loophole to then have (legal) sexual contact with an animal only for personal enjoyment. One of the legislators responded by asking if they were trying to outlaw an act (of sexual contact), or a state of mind. The veterinary and husbandry exemption was left out of Oregon’s law in the final, enacted version.

We know for a fact that some farm workers in factory farms do sexually abuse animals. It has been reported by undercover investigators over the years and by authors.

But maybe it is necessary to explain a little more what science and psychology have to say. The difference between zoophilia (the term comes from the Greek, which means « animal lover ») and bestiality are, according to Wikipedia:

Zoophilia and the law looks at the laws governing humans performing sex acts on animals. Laws against humans performing sex acts on animals, where they exist, are concerned with the actual act, which it commonly refers to as bestiality, rather than the sexual attraction to animals. For this reason, prohibitions of zoophilic pornography is more varied; they may be unlawful if an actual sex act with an animal is involved, but the status is not clear cut if there is a mere representation, such as a painting or cartoon. In that case, normal obscenity laws will normally apply. All zoophilic imagery is widely regarded as pornography.

Some people seem to think that zoophilia is not and shouldn’t be an offence or be considered as a psychological disorder. However, let’s assume Wikipedia above referred to this in the case of children and most people would be horrified. There is, as is often the case, a double standard between how we treat human versus non-human animals. Therefore accepting just zoophilia is to me speciesist because no human (I hope) would agree that a man with sexual desires for children is a healthy mentally balanced human being.

In both the case of children and other animals, one party is non-consenting. What is shocking is to see famous authors (and philosophers) in our movement in fact defending it, like Peter Singer:

But sex with animals does not always involve cruelty. Who has not been at a social occasion disrupted by the household dog gripping the legs of a visitor and vigorously rubbing its penis against them? The host usually discourages such activities, but in private not everyone objects to being used by her or his dog in this way, and occasionally mutually satisfying activities may develop. Soyka would presumably have thought this within the range of human sexual variety.

Mr. Singer forgets one thing. He would probably never say that about children. And yes the household dog sometimes grips the legs of visitors but there is a huge difference, the dogs can’t control their sexual urges, we can! And we have a moral obligation to do so because not doing so would violate an animal (as it would violate a child). And also, what does he know about a dog’s thinking anyway? We are supposedly moral animals who can choose what is acceptable or not. As vegans, we have an even better responsibility towards those at our mercy. Because a dog or a orangutan (he does quote the example of an orangutan making sexual advances to a woman) may not understand or see the difference between a human or one of his kind (even if we are closely related to apes). And, as I stated above, animals do not have the ability of controlling their sexual urges and are also probably (because of us) deprived of the necessary relief they would get with their own species in most cases. But then, not wanting to control sexual urges towards anyone is also what brings us damning statistics like the ones from the United Nations where we learn that at least one woman in three will get raped in her life. So maybe, humans (particularly men in this case) are not that good at controlling their libido!

In fact, psychology is clear about zoophilia:

[…] paraphilia wherein animals are recurrently favored or solely utilized to reach carnal arousal and satisfaction. The animal, that is generally a household pet or farm animal, is either utilized as the object of sex or is conditioned to lick or rub the human partner, called a zoophile. The most typically utilized animals are sheep and pigs, in rural settings.

As you can see in the definition above, the animals are « conditioned », therefore manipulated. This is not about the free will of the animal himself, it is about the selfish needs of humans.

Peter Singer also seems to suggest that something done through history is therefore acceptable. Then the same could be said about eating the flesh of animals, wars, slavery, and rape.

To accept the behavior of zoophilia (and therefore potential bestiality) in our movement is equivalent to the Church hiding pedophilia in its ranks for many years because it is politically incorrect. Why do we think it is a horrific act towards children but not animals? I have to ponder at the degree of speciesism still in the thinking of some people.

Michael Kiok, the president of the only (fortunately) official worldwide federation of zoophiles believes he is being persecuted by the German government for finally banning bestiality because he can’t have sex with animals anymore. Should I feel sorry for this pervert who abuses other animals for his own self-gratification?

The French author Franz-Olivier Gisbert, in his book « L’Amour est éternel tant qu’il dure » (Love is Eternal as long as it lasts) makes also the apology of bestiality and zoophilia. As someone noted on the commentary section of his book (on Amazon.fr):

This object in paper that I don’t dare calling a book is a firework of junk of all kinds. The author inflicts the poor reader who didn’t ask for much an exhaustive catalog of his sexual obsessions without notice except in Chapter 41 (if you get there!) where the charitable Mr. FOG (Franz-Oliver Gisbert) advises weak minds to go directly to [chapter] 44 to avoid the scenes of bestiality, which he seems to be a refined connoisseur. We reasonably can advise to read such opus whose title is deliberately misleading. Any honesty would add a cover band indicating that it is a text reserved for « warned » adults.

Some people (as I’ve seen in the case of Germany) go as far as having brothels so they can act on their sexual desires for other animals, which means that animals are brought in and definitely are NOT consenting to this. Where is even consent in having a sexual desire for an animal? Does a child have consent over the sexual desire for him by an adult? I leave that to the reader to decide.

From a health perspective, sexuality with other animals is linked to penile cancer. So in effect, someone having sex with a (non-consenting being) is also putting himself at risk. And let’s note also that exposing a child to acts of bestiality is considered child abuse.

What does the scientific community think of it? In a big clinical psychological study done on zoophiles (translated in English) by Marion Nasswetter, we find this:

The tenth version of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, published by the World Health Organization (2008) and in short called ICD-10, categorizes the sexual human-animal contact under F65 –deviating sexual preference. If unusual sexual fantasies or sexual urges are focused on exceptional non-human objects, on children, on suffering or humiliation of the self or other persons, then the condition may present an adverse effect in several areas of the life of the affected. Additionally, it is pointed out that almost exclusively men are found to have these deviations. Besides fetishism, exhibitionism, pedophilia, and others, the sexual human-animal interactions is subcategorized under F65.8 – the other deviations of sexual preference.

There, activities like indecent phone calls, rubbing on people on crowds or public transport (frotteurism), or sexual acts on corpses (necrophilia) are also found. The sexual intercourse with animals is called sodomy in this source.

My personal conclusion:

I consider animals under my care as my children and friends, not potential sexual partners but they are, as psychologists suggested, conditioned, therefore not willing participants. What can two different species, although capable of affection towards another, communicate in terms of what one party wants or not? There is a huge difference between « petting », caring and loving an animal in the case of protecting, sheltering him/her, feeding him/her and making sure he/she is healthy and imposing a sexual « preference » on him/her which he/she can’t agree verbally with. You might as well try to explain to a child why you want to have a sexual relationship with him. In both cases, you have no real consent or dialogue with the other being because that being doesn’t have the capacity (in terms of communication or maturity) to understand it and agree with it. Therefore, you’re dealing with someone who can’t consent at all unless, as mentioned above, manipulated into agreeing.

I find zoophilia and, in its worst form, bestiality, to be a psychological disease which I place on the same level as wanting or having sex with a (obviously non-consenting) child. Zoophilia, just like pedophilia, should be something that vegans should be aware of and outright reject.

And let’s not forget that, as Dr. Will Tuttle said many times, what we do to animals, we end up doing it to humans. It isn’t a coincidence that most cases of bestiality are committed by men just like in the case of rapes towards women.

 

Sources:

– If you want to sign a petition against bestiality in the USA: Forcechange.com

– Peter Singer’s article « Heavy Petting ».

– Article (in French) about Peter Kiok, the head of the World Official Zoophilia Federation.

– List of commentaries (in French) about Franz-Oliver Gisbert’s book

– Cases of zoophilia/bestiality: The Crime of Bestiality/Zoophilia: Sexual Assault of an Animal.

– Article from the Lectric Law Library on the criminality aspect.

Zoophilia and the law on Wikipedia.

– Article from Live Science: Sex With Animals Linked to Penile Cancer

Psychology Dictionary: What is ZOOPHILIA? definition of ZOOPHILIA (Psychology Dictionary)

– Marion Nasswetter’s study on people who are zoophiles: A clinical psychology online study into zoophilia

– Think Progress article: What We Can Learn From The Largest International Study On Rape That’s Been Conducted So Far

– UN women article: Fast facts: statistics on violence against women and girls

– Video from PETA on the sexual abuse of farm animals in factory farms.

– Huffington Post video about the Sexual Abuse Of Cows In Factory Farms Is ‘Not Uncommon’

– My essay of the Link Between Violence to Animals and Humans which explores more general violence.

– And of course, the best reference on the link between the abuse of women and animals for … anything is Carol J. Adams.

Photo: Man and dog, http://www.Pixabay.com (Free photo stock site)

© Copyright April 2015 – Vegan Empowerment/Veronique Perrot – All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or publication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

INTELLIGENCE OF THE HEART

love-538432_1280

It always strikes me as odd that, otherwise educated people, can be so ignorant (or indifferent) about the plight of animals or human beings in misery. It is as if being educated makes you intolerant and ignorant instead of intelligent. But it is also true of non-educated people. It then brings the question of what is real intelligence.

First of all, intelligence has nothing to do with education or lack thereof. That is intellectual baggage. Real intelligence is from the heart, the kind that opens to others without prejudice, hate and bigotry. You can be the most educated person in the world but be the worst bigot, hateful person there is. You can also be a vegan and call other vegans « names » (as it happened to me recently because of one misunderstanding).

Intelligence is not about having an encyclopedic mind full of data (often useless, like what year such and such war started?) but is about opening up to new ideas, theories, and ask questions and more importantly not accepting blindly what is being taught to us.

Non-intelligent people think they know everything and often disguise it behind either diplomas, ego or false humility. The masses, often ignorant and blissfully (or not) manipulated by the media display non-intelligence and ignorance based on cultural dogma for which education, the medias and corporations have a great deal to do with.

As Thomas Jefferson once said: « He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors. » And he also said: « Educate and inform the whole mass of the people… They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. » And he wasn’t referring to education through corporate media obviously. But Jefferson himself, of course, was a product of his time, as would his slaves had testified and he never claimed to be perfect or right in everything.

Life is a constant re-examination of our knowledge. It is not acquired by accumulating information mindlessly (as if watching reality shows and Fox News equaled intelligent information). Our intelligence develops when we open our hearts enough to embrace everyone, even the worst of the worst and do everything we can to help them, not to do evil things of course, but to improve and heal from their sickness.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: « To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. »

As society is trying to constantly mold us into robotic zombies, it is good to remember a few things:

We are not born with hate, bigotry, the desire for animal flesh or their secretions, sexism, racism and speciesism and even violent tendencies. That is injected into us over and over and over again by the propaganda machines that we and our parents and our grand-parents, and so on, have heard for thousands of years. Therefore we are far from wise, not because we don’t have wisdom in ourselves, but because it is deeply suppressed and repressed by ourselves and others.

The depth of humanity’s non-intelligence as well as intelligence is highly visible nowadays. Just spend a day on Facebook and you will see it all: from loving, caring people rescuing animals and helping the poor to deeply sick people who have secret Facebook groups on bestiality and display it in living colors (I am currently involved in trying to shut down one of these). We see people moving you with words of kindness as well as hateful people (vegans included ironically and sadly) bashing others because they don’t fall into their criteria of what THEY consider acceptable (or vegan enough). Who made them intellectually superior? God? The Blair Witch? Who?

Intelligence of the heart is about questioning not just the world but, most importantly, ourselves…. every single day. If someone has a negative reaction towards you, don’t ask what’s wrong with him/her. Ask what’s wrong with yourself. Because when you really are deeply centered and kind and have a strong message, it is hard to argue against it. Of course, they will try but you already planted seeds in them. And, for the record, I’m not saying here that I am always successful. In other words, I constantly work on myself to be better to the best of my abilities (and I consider myself still highly selfish). There are very few people in the world I truly consider intelligent (in their heart). Intelligent people are not those who put themselves on a pedestal as if they were superior to others, they are the opposite. They are usually the most humble (case in point, the most intelligent man I know in our time: Dr. Will Tuttle).

Juddi Krishnamurti once said: « There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning. »

Intelligence is also not about punishing but helping. The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world (with only about 5% of the world’s population). Does it help stop violence? Of course not. If it did, America would be the safest country in the world. Opposite to this, there is the example of Norway. Norway’s longest penal sentence is 21 years (even for rapists or murderers). They have one of the highest standard of living in the world. Their prisons look like summer camps (obviously isolated so they don’t escape). What do they do? Instead of treating even violent criminals like dirt and humiliate them, they help them getting safely re-inserted into society as productive contributors. Norway has one of the lowest rate of recidivism in the world. By the way, it also has the lowest crime rate in the world. Coincidence? I think not.

But this is not a new idea. Native American nations like the Iroquois Confederacy understood that. In fact, the US Constitution was greatly inspired by the Iroquois Confederacy (little conveniently ignored fact not taught in US schools). Women, in fact, made the most important decisions. In the meantime, white Europeans (while thinking the Iroquois had good ideas) denied white women, African Americans and other people of non-white descent and white men who didn’t own property the right to vote.

Iroquois had their murderers too. How did they deal with them? Did they lock them up? No. They considered someone who committed a crime to be sick and they helped him/her accordingly. If the person could not be healed/cured, that person would be banished from the tribe. In the 21st century, we still lock people up in solitary confinement and we wonder why they commit crimes again? We lock up mentally disabled people, teenagers, non-violent offenders, a majority of them African Americans. And then, when they get out, we tell them, sorry, you’re not a citizen anymore (even though you spent 40 years in prison and paid your sentence) therefore you can’t vote and participate in society anymore (let alone find a job). And then there is capital punishment (banished in France since the 1970’s but still considered « useful » in some parts of the US). That is not intelligence, that is a mentality which has its base in the dark ages.

It is also interesting and not surprising to note that, contrary to common white myth, most native tribes of North America (with a couple of exceptions like the Inuits and the Apaches) were eating a mostly plant-based diet before the Europeans showed up on their shores. In order to demonize others and take what they have, you have to depict them as blood thirsty monsters. In fact, as documented by Choctaw Native American author Rita Law, the bulk of the diet of most Indians were plants. Dr. Law talks about her own native culture in this way:

« More than one tribe has creation legends which describe people as vegetarian, living in a kind of Garden of Eden. A Cherokee legend describes humans, plants, and animals as having lived in the beginning in « equality and mutual helpfulness ». The needs of all were met without killing one another. When man became aggressive and ate some of the animals, the animals invented diseases to keep human population in check. The plants remained friendly, however, and offered themselves not only as food to man, but also as medicine, to combat the new diseases. « 

Ironically, that is exactly what is happening in our time. We fulfilled the creation myth of the Cherokee people (and of course we can find a similar creation myth in all religious and spiritual societies of the world, the Bible most notably).

This is also well documented by Dr. Will Tuttle in his article What Did American Indians Eat, Actually? As Will explains beautifully:

« What I continue to discover is how far from reality are many of the “official stories” that we tell ourselves and teach our children. They are stories that serve a specific purpose, which is to justify the existing order, and they are passed on effortlessly and subconsciously, because they make us all comfortable in believing, in this case, that our current practice of enslaving and slaughtering huge numbers of animals for food (75 million daily in the U.S. alone) is somehow a normal and natural expression of who we are as human beings. It is no accident that we term native cultures “hunter-gatherers.”

But intelligence, in the case of animal abusers, is also understanding why they have become that way. I researched and wrote extensively about this in my article Link Between Violence to Animals and Humans: A Deeper Look. But to summarize what I say in that article for the purpose of this one, we live in a society that teaches us to disconnect from our inner compassion from birth. It starts by convincing us to eat animal foods and their secretions while we « pet » cats and dogs. So we create this schizophrenic mentality of loving some species of animals on one side and hate others at the same time by consuming their bodies. We then start this cycle of mental instability that follows us into adulthood. In other words, we live in a sick society and none of us are immune, whether you call yourself vegan or not. As Khrisnamurti once said: « It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. »

People who abuse children have often been abused themselves as children. People who abuse other animals often have also been abused as children and dealt with their sense of powerlessness by abusing someone even more defenseless than themselves: other animals. If this is not taken at the root, this is carried into adulthood.

So let’s learn to really listen intelligently to others. « So when you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively, then you are listening not only to the words, but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed, to the whole of it, not part of it. » ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

As Vegans we carry huge burdens: we know what is being done to other animals, the environment and the health of human beings. But what we generally ignore is what has been done to ourselves. Until we remove these roots (of intolerance, bigotry, sexism, hate, ego and so on) from our own sub-conscious, it will be very hard to really move the world in the right direction. We have an extraordinary opportunity to save all beings and the eco-system on this planet. So I am asking you? What do you do about saving yourselves from your own shortcomings and become the example you want others to follow?

Photo courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com (Free stock pictures)

Sources:

Thom Hartmann on the Iroquois: « The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child » (extract from his book)

See also this video of Thom Hartmann on the Iroquois: Iroquois Confederacy

Will Tuttle: What did American Indians Really Eat?

Rita Law, Ph.D. : Native Americans and Vegetarianism

Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko (about the Health Care system) is online. Unfortunately, the segment about Norway was deemed too « radical » for American audiences compared even to the segment about France and therefore does not appear in the theatrical release but is included on the DVD of the movie in the special features. The version linked here is subtitled in Spanish.

Obligatory reading: The World Peace Diet by Dr. Will Tuttle, which beautifully and clearly explains the roots of our culture.

© Vegan Empowerment/Véronique Perrot – December 2014 – All Rights Reserved – No printing without permission but sharing is encouraged.

Farewell To Steak: Film Review

IMG_3613

The fascinating 2013 documentary called « L’adieu à la viande » (Farewell to Meat) about the consumption of meat in Europe (from Franco/German channel Arte) not only approaches the issue of eating flesh from an environmental aspect but also from the idea of the masculine psychology behind it. Just like American men, European men are conditioned to think that meat makes them strong and more masculine. It is the same old patriarchal thinking that is behind capitalism (from the Latin capita = head) and animal agriculture as well documented by Dr. Will Tuttle in The World Peace Diet.

Read more on The Flaming Vegan

FIGHTING FOR OTHERS KNOWS NO COUNTRIES

Yesterday, I joined my first ever anti-bullfighting protest in the South of France (Rodhilan, near Nimes and Montpellier) and I had my first taste of what it is to get « lacrymogene » gas (aka tear gas) in the face (several times). I haven’t met such a group of dedicated people so determined to break the barriers held by the police and take the risk of arrests, gassing, being searched, etc… ever. I was searched myself twice and tear gassed at least 4 times. It was truly inspiring. Getting tear gassed is a very unpleasant experience and anyone who has had that kind of experience knows that this is something you would rather avoid. However, anyone who is truly dedicated at making clear the barbarism and perversity of some people can’t avoid taking risks sooner or later.

Some of my (new) friends in fact, had got into an arena the day before in another city and got bit up and yelled obscenities at by « aficionados » (bullfighting fans) because they dared trying to interrupt their sadistic torture of sentient beings to death. My heart goes out not only to the poor animals who were tortured to death (and absolutely for nothing at all as the law in France forbids the consumption of bull meat if killed for bullfighting) but also to the activists who risked literally their lives. Some ended up at the Emergency Room.

I have not been in that situation myself but I am not afraid of taking risks for the right reasons. It is a small price to pay to try to open up the eyes of the blinds, brainwashed crowds. I am principally a vegan educator and found out that for a lot of activists in France, it is rather difficult to maintain a Vegan lifestyle. I don’t judge them. I understand their position. I have managed personally because of my long term experience in the United States where everything is easier. Had I never left France, I might not even be Vegan at all now, I’m almost certain of it. There is still a deep programming related to food in France because of our deep culture in and around the world for our « cuisine ». In America, people tend to eat whatever they feel like. In France, they eat around very specific, deeply engrained and old traditions around food and that are a lot harder to change. But I also met people who are dedicated vegans and are doing the best they can (as Colleen Patrick-Goudreau would say).

I can’t wait for The World Peace Diet to come out in the libraries in French soon (and it’s coming!) because my aim is going to be promoting Veganism to the best of my abilities. This is a country that is what America was in the 90’s when it comes to Veganism but I see no reason why this can’t change and I see real hope for change from having talked with various activists.

After the demo was over, I spend the evening with a few people in a place which is very much like a sanctuary with horses, goats, etc and it was wonderful to see and share my experience in the United States with them. They have a huge thirst for more education and activism here and they even grow their own organic fruits. One was cooking vegan sausages! which, yes, you can definitely find here if you know where.

There are dedicated activists here but not all of them have yet connected all the dots or are still deeply indoctrinated into nutritional myths around food (even more so than Americans). Vegan education is therefore deeply important here.

To all my new friends and old friends alike (in the US), have faith in the ability of people everywhere to change and grow. I do.

Here is the link to the album of pictures of yesterday’s Anti-Bullfighting fight. https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152520843218138&type=1&l=e59458e664

IMG_1557

A VEGAN'S VIEW OF STAR TREK

The first passion I ever had in my life was Star Trek. That show with the silly costumes and the weird aliens contained so much intelligence that people were able to go beyond the 60’s hairstyles and the flashy uniforms to get to the message. It helped me when my parents were fighting, gave me an escape from being an isolated teen, you name it. Star Trek taught me about ethics, tolerance, etc… Many fans can relate. Star Trek fans, in fact, were my first « family ». They took me in and accepted me, therefore reducing my own social alienation and I met my first Vegetarian and Vegan friends. That was the early 90s.

Thirty years later, I am a passionate and relentless Vegan. It is my lifestyle, my raison d’etre. I consider Veganism the path humans have to take to evolve spiritually, physically, mentally. It is the only sustainable way we will be continuing on this planet. So how does Star Trek fit into this?

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, i felt compelled to revisit my old favorites and see how my perception has changed (or not and realize, geez i am older!). It is fair to say that a Vegan’s vision of the world is not as clouded by the persistent lies of the food industry, pharmaceutical industry, corporate bought politicians and their cohorts and the general conditioning in all of society as most non-Vegans’ is. Even liberals, with their progressive ideas about the environment, health care, women’s rights, etc.., fail, for the most part, to see the connection between what is on their plates and the movements they fight for.

I felt compelled to revisit Star Trek after many years and was stunned to discover that the very first season of ST:TNG contains this line from First Officer William Riker (played by Jonathan Frakes): « We no longer enslave animals for food purposes« . How did I ever miss this line? Last time I saw that episode (« Lonely Among Us » Season 1), I was still a well conditioned meat eater and had no clue about animal cruelty, the environment or the cost of junk food. The original title of this blog was in fact « Why we don’t connect the dots when we have the facts » which I may still write. But I felt more inclined to go over the mythology of Star Trek and how his creator Gene Roddenberry influenced his two creations (Original Trek and Next Gen). What I realized is how much of his philosophy got washed down by his successors. I am not attacking Rick Berman who co-produced the Next Generation and co-created Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise, but something along the way got lost or put to the side.

Gene Roddenberry created Mr. Spock and allowed actor Leonard Nimoy to help him develop the personality and culture of his creation. The Vulcans went on to evolve into this elegant, sober and logical civilization which is still the most beloved one by the fans. However, on Star Trek: Enterprise, a clear effort was made to tarnish their ethics which really bothered a lot of fans including myself and served no purpose (but that is a long story). According to the original show, Vulcans are Vegans (or at least Vegetarians, it is never stated clearly in the original show although T’Pol (Enterprise) is known as a Vegetarian) and they are also not driven by their emotions. It is interesting to note that the eating of meat is associated with aggression and violence. Therefore it makes perfect sense that Vulcans, who are peace lovers and diplomats, would be Vegans or Vegetarians. Gene Roddenberry was a Buddhist AND a Vegetarian and that is definitely reflected in how the Vulcans were created. They follow a code of logic which seeks to embrace all life forms but they look at everything with detachment and peace. This is not dissimilar to Buddhism’s ideals of peace and commitment to include animals as well. It falls then that Gene was a visionary. Fans called Gene Roddenberry « The Great Bird of The Galaxy » (Bird is fitting).

He embraced women’s rights as well. In the very first pilot of Star Trek, « The Cage », (with Jeffrey Hunter, pilot rejected by the network as being too « cerebral »), women were wearing pants, not mini-skirts. Captain Pike’s (Jeffrey Hunter) first officer was a woman (Majel Barrett). The original pilot was more visionary than its second pilot with Kirk. The mini-skirts and silly hairstyles showed up on Pilot #2 (with Shatner) but Gene managed to keep a woman on the bridge (and an African one!) however restricted he was by 60’s conventions and the television network. He had liberal ideas and included also a (then Communist) Russian on his bridge in season two (Chekov played by Walter Koenig). This was also the first TV show to be clearly multiracial and inclusive, although still sexist. The only two times animals are mentioned as (potential) food in the show are when a supernatural teenager transforms fake turkeys into real ones (according to the cook) to piss off Captain Kirk and the Tribbles (remember the cute furry breading nightmare?) invade Kirk’s chicken sandwich which had just been created by the replicator machine (and therefore no animal was ever killed for his meal). On the show, the food looks more like small pieces of starches or plastic than anything else. It doesn’t look very appetizing but it is clearly cruelty free!

The enduring effect of the original show is linked to its progressive, visionaries and inclusive ideas which in fact didn’t make the show a success on its first run as it was probably too ahead of its time (still is in some ways if you ignore the look of the show and its pre-women’s lib inherent sexism). It is like being given a secret message, fall asleep with it, only to wake up a few years later and realize what it meant.

Let’s fast forward a century later. On Star Trek:The Next Generation, Gene got to create more of his vision. Women finally become active participants, not just second to the men, more species are represented. We still see mini-skirts on crew members but some men also wear them (that, I thought, was a cool reversal slap). However, exit the Vulcans who become secondary characters or cameos and enter a more serene and enlightened human race.. or is it? Yes, we know and it is established from the start that 24th century humans don’t enslave animals for food anymore. But have they resolved their superiority complex over the animal kingdom? the answer is no. Gene Roddenberry became sick in the early 90s (around the 2nd or 3rd season of the show – he died in 1991) and this is apparent that, even though he retained his status as creator and executive producer, he was too sick already to keep it going with season one’s ideology and co-producer Rick Berman was clearly more in charge as heir apparent. As soon as the show enters season two, we see Riker cook eggs (alien eggs but still eggs) which are not computer generated (he says so) but from real animals. Surely, I thought, these were computer created eggs not real, but no, alas, they were real. Worse, in yet another episode, the Enterprise rescues colonists who returned to a « simpler » time and are raising farm animals (reminiscent of the so-called humane farmers of today). The poor frightened pigs (attached to cords), chickens and geeze (who are in cages) arrive on board the ship (questions of animal cruelty on the set were apparently not the producers’ problem) and once again we see that humans have not learned to live without animal exploitation. I am not suggesting, by the way, that Rick Berman allowed these changes to happen as there are so many people involved on these shows but he was one of the main producers and obviously not concerned about ethical animal issues.

What happened to not exploiting animals for food? Oh, sorry, it was only confinement which would mean they got rid of the CAFOs but not of the idea of exploiting animals to a certain degree (humane or not). In another episode of season two, we see Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) riding a horse (reminiscent of his horse ride with Captain Kirk in Generations) and both he and Counselor Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis) refer to the (holographic) horse as just a thing (not once do they address the animal as a sentient being, even if he is holographic) pretty much during the entire conversation. Picard admits he needs companionship and that the horse he is about to ride is it. Troi even says: « I never thought of you as an animal person ». Is the 24th century still not clear on whether animals are more than just pets or food? If the show didn’t have so many great stories, I don’t think I could pass on that and keep watching as I did in my disconnected days. The beauty of Star Trek: The next Generation is the character’s drive to evolve, grow and learn. And they do rather well (by 21st century standard) but could have done so much more. Did the ship’s doctor forget to mention to Riker how bad Eggs are for his cholesterol? How about the white bread sandwiches that Picard feeds to Wesley Crusher (Will Weaton)? Haven’t they learned about diet? (ok, it’s a TV show, I keep forgetting, 24th century with a 20th century mindset, bla bla bla).

In this technology advanced 24th century society, i guess they found a pill to cure a cholesterol that is too high which, just like now, doesn‘t entice people to improve their diets. But it must be better though. If, as they say on the show, humans are no longer starving, meat consumption HAD to be reduced and Confined Animal Factories eliminated. There is no way around it. But it is never mentioned, so I am just speculating based on the facts that we know today. Case in point is that I have never seen a fat human or alien (unless it was a villain, which brings up the idea of stereotypes in a bad way) . One tendency of Star Trek is to be secular (and I’m not against it). Not one God is revered except the God of science. As Dr. Will Tuttle pointed out in the World Peace Diet, science and religion are the two bickering brothers who at their core are also behind animal exploitation. Fortunately, the writers of the show often put into questions the dehumanizing of a tech obsessed society. They do however put emphasis on the respect of sentient life forms and forget the life forms from our own planet. Speciesims in our own backyard: planet Earth, but tolerance for others: aliens. By the way, I am not attacking ST:TNG particularly, I just happen to watch the show again at the moment, so these scenes are fresh on my mind. I actually think that Deep Space Nine goes more in the bad direction with their Ferengi capitalism, Klingon violence and, even worse, the fact that the Federation gets corrupted! But it’s a long story.

Sometimes, though, a great line slips in and reminds us that Gene Roddenberry’s ghost still wanders over the show. On Star Trek: Enterprise’s pilot, T’Pol (finally a female Vulcan and played remarquably well by Jolene Blalock) says to Captain Archer (Scott Bakula): « Humans claim to be an enlightened species, yet they still consume the flesh of animals ». I went « hurray! » until she got verbally slapped on her Vegan face by the stupid human response from Trip Tucker (Connor Trineer): » Never judge a species by what it eats ». (facepalms). It is like the creators of the show wanted to make sure to acknowledge that Vulcans are Vegetarians but that it didn’t matter in the end. However, in a later episode, a new effort is clearly made in that direction. The Enterprise encounters a ship of renegate Vulcans who embrace emotions and eat meat in front of a clearly upset T’Pol. The writers of that episode, however, have understood the Vulcan ethic and by the end of the episode it is revealed that these emotional Vulcans (however liked they are by the humans on Enterprise) are also emotionally violent. Captain Archer is forced to admit that T’Pol and other logical Vulcans « have a point » and confess to her that he never understood her before, but that he now finally does. We clearly see that strong emotions can lead to violence and that aggressive people love animal flesh. There is a glimpse of understanding that is a precursor to what was done by Gene Roddenberry in the 60’s. Too bad they didn’t pursue it. I guess this crew is less evolved as the show is supposed to be in the 22nd century and therefore before Kirk and Spock. But come on! We could hope to have evolved then unless, like a lot of the show history reveals, we have a third World War and a post apocalyptic Earth.

Sometimes, I wonder if violence is the only thing that the human race actually understands. The latest massacre (Aurora) is a reminder that cultivating hate, drugging kids, promoting violence with weapons (constitutional or not – America needs to evolve beyond that), force feeding kids animal carcasses and therefore teaching them that life is cheap (children are not born with the desire to kill and eat other animals or they would kill house cats and dogs, they are born Vegan but taught to become addicted to flesh and dairy) with the help of a violent media and competition will get us nowhere as a civilization. However, cultivating in them compassion, care, respect, inclusion (including and foremost the inclusion of other sentient beings), life education (which includes diet, proper sexual education as opposed to the idiotic abstinence education and life skills) and cooperation to turn them into intelligent adults is what makes Gene Roddenberry’s vision just a dream and not a possible reality for our future. Then I am reminded that there is a potential in all of us to grow and learn to be better people just like Picard and Co. That is the legacy of Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek: the potential for growth and learning. Now I wonder if a Vegan will one day come up with a great science-fiction show with a real Vegan perspective. Imagine what it could be: Vibrant Earth, no more animal exploitation and animals living theirs lives as nature intended, humans not dying of preventable diseases or preventable starvation, cities filled with trees, plants, gardens, farmers’ markets as the norm, pollution free cars and other methods of transportation, people walking, taking the time to live, looking healthy and content, REAL art everywhere, no advertising… Oh, I’m sorry, that is called Utopia.

If that world is to be created, we, as Vegans, need to be the example for others. We can‘t preach to others, we can only educate them. A study recently revealed that when an opinion reaches a 10% approval in the population, a shift happens which makes it a lot more acceptable to the entire population. We have 7.5 million Vegans in the US alone. It is about 2% of the population I believe. Let’s keep growing this number until that shift happens. If that number can double in only 3 years, there is no reason it can‘t quadruple, etc… By the way, we don’t need replicators to replace animal flesh, we have Torfurkey! To a Vegan future!

© Copyright July 2012 – All rights reserved. Printing rights by request only.