Thursday, 28 July 2011

Morrissey: The fast-food industry and the massacre in Norway

Morrissey is reported to have said:

"We all live in a murderous world, as the events in Norway have shown with 97 dead". 

"Though that is nothing compared to what happens in McDonald's and Kentucky Fried S*** every day."

Unfortunately, the reaction to these comments indicates that many people are either wilfully misinterpreting what he has said or are unable to identify and understand the point he is making. He was not referring to what happens in McDonald's outlets (they don't deserve to be called restaurants). He was not suggesting that the act of frying chips or burgers is worse than committing mass murder. He was not suggesting that the act of a child tucking into a 'Happy Meal' was worse than mass murder. Nor was he even suggesting that the detrimental effects of such junk food on the health of populations is worse than mass murder. Rather, he was referring to the breeding and murder of animals on an industrial scale to supply the meat required for the products sold in fast food restaurants. 

Despite the unsophisticated wording of Morrissey's remarks, he raises an important question: Why should the murder of almost one-hundred human beings be a global story that causes sadness and outrage in those who were never even aware of the existence of the victims, yet the unrelenting murder of animals on an industrial scale quietly continues behind closed doors without ever entering into the thoughts of most people? The latter is quite clearly worse in a range of aspects. The scale is in the realms of billions of victims, not tens. The duration is best measured in years, decades, or perhaps ultimately centuries, and not minutes or hours. The victims are bred into a system that values efficiency over welfare which they must endure until their life is brutally terminated; they are not merely unlucky enough to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

These considerations seem to be unimportant for those criticising Morrissey. The most significant difference for those people is that in one case the victims were human and in the other case they are non-human. For them, human life is inherently of more worth than non-human life. Therefore, the murder of one-hundred human beings causes them to be upset or angry, while the killing of animals on an unfathomably greater scale is met with mere indifference. This, and the speciesism underlying it, are reprehensible. Ironically, particularism and supremacism in another form, racism, motivated Breivik to murder Labour activists who he considered to be responsible for multiculturalism in Europe.

Morrissey considers the killing of human beings and animals to be wrong. I suspect that if he had his way, neither would happen. That is commendable. On the contrary, those mocking him appear to be indifferent to killing so long as the victims are non-human or happen to be in the domain of animals who've been unfortunate enough to be singled out by human beings for exploitation. 

1 comment:

  1. When has Hitchens EVER walked away the loser? Link please.