Warning: Links to stories contain photographs of dead deer killed by hunter.
Here is a story I caught up with this morning. An 11 year old boy in rural Michigan, USA shot and killed a rare albino deer while out hunting with his Dad. And then, because it is 2014, he took photos of himself with the carcass and put them up on the Internet.
Unfortunately, it ‘blew up’ as they say, to the point where the poor kid even got death threats.
But I thought the most pointed and sane comment came from Gary Francione:
“It makes no sense for “animal lovers” to complain about hunting if they are not vegans. There is no morally coherent difference between killing an animal you eat and paying someone else to kill an animal you eat.
So what Gavin Dingman did was tragic. If you agree, then please stop being confused and hypocritical and go vegan. Otherwise, you’re just attacking an 11-year old kid for what you yourself support and do.”
Those threats and the ferocity of the debate about the actions of the boy and his family underscore the power of social and digital media to expose discrete cultural practices to a wider world with a potentially very different set of norms.
I think even a few months ago before I started on my own vegan journey I would have felt differently, but now I get it. There is no difference between me and this family. A deer, even a rare albino one, has no greater or lesser value than a cow or a chicken. I contributed to this cruel and unnecessary cultural practice of consuming animals. I have about 45 years to make up for. This kid has only 11.