The Sam Harris Show Could Get Very Interesting

As I mentioned before, Sam Harris (who insists he is not a Buddhist) has added the vegetarian, perhaps vegan, lifestyle to his meditating, alternative consciousness promotions.  If he sticks with it, and even goes full vegan, then I predict we will one day be getting the “rational, scientific” case for veganism in an upcoming Sam Harris book (or something very similar).  If I am correct, this is going to be very, very interesting, as there are significant portions of the vegan community that are cultish in their behavior.  Consider the following accounts from ex-vegans:

You also received angry comments, emails and death threats from vegans who were not so inspired. The most common death threat that vegans lodge against uppity ex-vegans is to say they should be killed in the same manner that farm animals are killed. Since the ex-vegan now eats meat that comes from animals killed in this manner, some vegans believe this would be a just punishment. Was there a common theme like that in the death threats you received?

It wasn’t just death threats. My personal accounts and those of my family were repeatedly hacked, fake twitter and blog accounts were created posing as me and background checks were done on me and my web designer and his family. Someone even tried to contact my doctor to have my medical records released! Other people insisted that I was a fictional creation of the meat industry, fabricated to make veganism look bad, while others asserted I was the alter-ego of Lierre Keith or Denise Minger. The paranoia and total break from reality that I witnessed among the people making these accusations was astounding.

The most frequent theme of the many death threats I received was that my family members and my companion animals should be killed in front of me in the way that factory farmed animals are killed. There were also threats of sexual violence made against me, which is a common silencing tactic used against women. It was also disturbing to see that not one prominent vegan blogger (many of whom I had considered friends) came out to stand against this and call for a reasonable, respectful dialogue. In fact, many of them continued to publicly perpetuate the lies and falsehoods spread by the violence-threatening hatemongers. I think that says something. I was also privately contacted by two very well known and much loved members of the vegan and animal rights community who admitted to me they were not vegan ‘behind the scenes’ due to health reasons. Unfortunately, neither of them stepped forward to make their admissions public after I made my announcement, which was quite disappointing.

Here is another one:

To be a vegan, you have to pledge absolute adherence to this one rule: No consuming or using animal products. The reasoning seems sensible: To reduce harm. But in practice, veganism becomes more about purity-policing and less about harm reduction:
“You can’t eat refined sugar because it might have been processed through bone char. You can’t eat coconut products anymore because those might have been picked by monkeys. You can’t eat honey because it requires bee labor — and while you’re at it, no almond milk either, because almond production exploits more bees than honey production! You can’t eat at restaurants because they cook your tofu in the same pan as the meat! You can’t wear leather shoes, even if you owned them for twenty years and got them at a thrift shop!!! If you feed meat to your cat, you’re a hypocrite!!! Unless you do direct action, you don’t really care about animals!!! I DON’T CARE IF THAT EGG CAME FROM YOUR NEIGHBOR’S BACKYARD CHICKEN! SPIT IT OUT NOW!”

There is no room for nuance, no acknowledgment of context or exceptions. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. Vegans who deviate from this absolutism, even on occasion, get their Vegan Card revoked – just look what happened to Ellen Degeneres and Alicia Silverstone. Lierre Keith, who had been vegan for twenty years, eventually started eating meat again. For this, some vegans decided to slam a cayenne-laced pie in her face.

If veganism was really about reducing harm, why do these vegans direct their rage at people who have arguably saved thousands of farm animals, rather than lifelong meat-eaters? I’ll give you a hint: the way ex-vegans are treated closely resembles the way any ex-cult member is treated. We are punished for leaving the cult, whether with guilt-induction tactics, social excommunication, harassment, or straight-up assault. Our reasons for leaving are null. Our explanations fall on deaf ears. When it comes to cults, you’re either with them, or against them.

Now……just imagine Sam Harris wading into this debate.

Delicious.

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16 Responses to The Sam Harris Show Could Get Very Interesting

  1. apollyon911 says:

    Atheists eventually worship something. It’s innate. Watching them go through the mental gymnastics to justify their worship (and deny it) is amusing.

  2. Larry Olson says:

    But obviously, the author of this blog (and the minions who adore it) has never heard of Christian Vegans who don’t eat meat, who are even a more ridiculous cult that believes Original Sin caused us to eat meat, hence anyone who eats meat is just committing sins. You may want to actually research the cult you are a member of before criticizing the vegan cult, because Christianity has a very strange fruitarian cult who only eat fruits and vegetables because they LITERALLY believe that when adam or eve ate from the “wrong tree”,. i.e. the tree of knowledge…. we started sinning and eating meat. i.e. anyone who eats meat is a sinner, according to true christianity if you actually understand your bible. But of course since the bible is inconsistent you’ll find other passages later that are in favor of meat eating (“eat your venison”) because the bible is a hodge podge of stories from different authors, never once inspired by God, but inspired by those who wish to have the population submit to authority. Jesus certainly would have watched the Movie called “Earthlings” which is a great movie, even though many of us still eat meat because we don’t want to fart all day long from beans.

  3. TFBW says:

    The trouble with responding to Larry is that you first have to try to make sense of what he said.

  4. Kevin says:

    That the authors of the Bible wrote with the intention of getting populations to submit to authority is literally one of the stupidest arguments I have ever heard. Unsurprisingly, you hear it a lot from the anti-theistic camp.

  5. Dhay says:

    The extremes of veganism — I’m a near-vegetarian, myself — are easy to lampoon; here’s Dilbert:

    http://dilbert.com/search_results?terms=Vegan

  6. Allallt says:

    @Larry
    As ridiculous as I often find this blog, I don’t think it is a meaningful criticism to say ‘some religious people are this crazy too’. If you read this post more carefully, it is the similarity between veganism at large and religion the author is trying to make. So, if anything, you are supporting the author’s claim.

    @Michael
    My criticism, as always, is to ask for the definition of religion you are using. I’d rather you didn’t vaguely rant with some buzzword you then expect me to construct a definition out of. I’d very much rather you offered the definition you are using to validate the comparison.

    On a different topic, is it possible to change the way the comments work so that one can be notified when someone replies? I understand if there’s a reason you don’t do that, but if not, I would appreciate the change.

  7. Michael says:

    But obviously, the author of this blog (and the minions who adore it) has never heard of Christian Vegans who don’t eat meat, who are even a more ridiculous cult that believes Original Sin caused us to eat meat, hence anyone who eats meat is just committing sins.

    You have a talent for bringing up irrelevant fluff.

    I’m simply noting that Sam Harris, who already preaches about spirituality and promotes meditation and psychedelic drugs, has decided to take one more step down that road and embrace veganism. From there, I am making a prediction that assumes he will stick to his new diet. Sometime in the future, Harris will write a book that in some way promotes or supports veganism. Now, if this occurs, things will get very interesting. Why? Read the quotes from ex-vegans. It means Harris will either align himself with some very, shall we say, interesting people or Harris will put himself in the position of one day being on the receiving end of their wrath. I wrote this blog entry mostly so I can refer back to it a few years from now. 😉

  8. Michael says:

    My criticism, as always, is to ask for the definition of religion you are using. I’d rather you didn’t vaguely rant with some buzzword you then expect me to construct a definition out of. I’d very much rather you offered the definition you are using to validate the comparison.

    It would help if you could provide a definition of “rant” since I can’t figure out which one of my five sentences was the “rant.”

    As for religious, I am short on time, but I’ll offer up a bare bones definition – devotion to something that causes one to think their actions and choices have higher significance, meaning, or purpose.

    So let’s say we have a vegan who is a vegan because they think eating meat is wrong. But not just personally wrong, but wrong for all, as evidenced by their promotion of veganism and attempt to convert others to this lifestyle. What’s more, they also view themselves as being a good person because of their devotion to veganism. I view this as religious behavior. Since you don’t, what word would you use to describe this behavior?

    On a different topic, is it possible to change the way the comments work so that one can be notified when someone replies? I understand if there’s a reason you don’t do that, but if not, I would appreciate the change.

    I didn’t see any way to do this. This is a free blog, so perhaps such a feature is not included. If you know what setting to change, just let me know.

  9. TFBW says:

    Allallt said:

    My criticism, as always, is to ask for the definition of religion you are using.

    Can you please quote the context in which you think the term has been used ambiguously, because I can’t find any mention of it in this post — even in the parts which are quotations from other sources, which is the bulk of it. I’m wondering whether you meant to post this comment somewhere else entirely.

  10. Allallt says:

    @Michael
    RE: Making comment threads.
    I don’t know. My blog had it as a default setting and I wouldn’t know where to direct you to to change it yourself, sorry.

    RE: The definition of religion
    I find this an odd position as all people confident in the validity of their position–entirely independent of whether they have good reasons for it–could be said to be religious. Murder is wrong? Religious. People shouldn’t jump from tall buildings? Religious. Germ theory of disease?… You get the idea.
    I do like that I actually got an answer this time, though. Last time I asked I got a long and content-free answer.

  11. Michael says:

    I find this an odd position as all people confident in the validity of their position–entirely independent of whether they have good reasons for it–could be said to be religious. Murder is wrong? Religious. People shouldn’t jump from tall buildings? Religious. Germ theory of disease?… You get the idea.

    I didn’t define religious as “being confident in the validity of your position regardless of whether you have evidence.”

    I do like that I actually got an answer this time, though. Last time I asked I got a long and content-free answer.

    Not sure what you are talking about. It would help if you had a link to my “long and content-free answer.”

  12. Allallt says:

    Regardless of whether you said, is the logical inference of your definition of ‘religious’–“devotion to something that causes one to think their actions and choices have higher significance, meaning, or purpose”–not akin to claiming everything everyone is confident of is religious?

  13. Allallt says:

    And, in the previous post, when I asked for a definition of religion, you answered with:
    “if one refrains from eating meat for moral reasons, I would point out this is common practice in many religions. What’s more, if the vegetarian considers himself a good person because of his diet and tries to convert others to these morally-based dietary restrictions (even demonizing those who don’t share the same diet), then we have religiosity. This becomes obvious when we look at portions of the vegan community, whose behavior is clearly cult-like.”

    This, with regard to the question about what religion is, is a content free rant containing buzzwords, but not a definition (or even the bones of one).

  14. TFBW says:

    Allallt said:

    … is the logical inference of your definition of ‘religious’–“devotion to something that causes one to think their actions and choices have higher significance, meaning, or purpose”–not akin to claiming everything everyone is confident of is religious?

    Not at all. For example, I am very confident that if I pick up my pen and let it go, then it will fall downwards with a somewhat predictable trajectory. This belief, in and of itself, does not cause me to think that my actions and choices have higher significance, meaning, or purpose, so it is not a religious belief.

  15. Kevin says:

    The difference I believe is that the type of vegan Michael refers to behaves as if there is in fact a Higher Morality to which all our behavior is compared to, and in their case eating meat is Objectively Wrong. This would not be the case for someone who is a vegan because they do not want to be responsible for killing an animal for food. That’s their decision. Those who crusade trying to convince others to believe and behave as they do aren’t acting on personal preference, they believe they are Right and everyone else is Wrong.

    It isn’t a matter of confidence. It’s a matter of believing in transcendent Truth to which we must adhere.

  16. Michael says:

    Regardless of whether you said, is the logical inference of your definition of ‘religious’–“devotion to something that causes one to think their actions and choices have higher significance, meaning, or purpose”–not akin to claiming everything everyone is confident of is religious?

    No. Devotion to something that causes one to think their actions and choices have higher significance, meaning, or purpose is not equivalent to someone being confident.

    And, in the previous post, when I asked for a definition of religion, you answered with:

    “if one refrains from eating meat for moral reasons, I would point out this is common practice in many religions. What’s more, if the vegetarian considers himself a good person because of his diet and tries to convert others to these morally-based dietary restrictions (even demonizing those who don’t share the same diet), then we have religiosity. This becomes obvious when we look at portions of the vegan community, whose behavior is clearly cult-like.”

    You left out the part where I said, “I’m pressed for time, so I’ll just respond to point (6), since that captures the “news” angle of this blog entry.”
    So let’s look at point (6). You wrote:

    (6) I’m struggling with your conception of what a religion is. Nowhere is this more clear to me than when you describe advocating vegetarianism as being a religious move. I don’t see the spiritual or deistic element to this. Not all philosophy is religion. Not all confident people are dogmatic. Not all dogma is religion. There are good environmental, health and ethical reasons to be vegetarian or vegan and pointing that out (especially from the stance of a ‘philosopher’ who wrote a book an ethics) is not “religious”. (Even if it is dogmatic, which is another discussion.)

    You did not ask for a definition of religion, now did you?

    This, with regard to the question about what religion is, is a content free rant containing buzzwords, but not a definition (or even the bones of one).

    You assert my response is “content-free.” But it was not. I first noted that being a vegetarian in of itself is not sufficient cause for being religious. Then I proceeded to outline the features/traits that led me to make that description. Apparently, labeling my observations as “content-free” was your convenient way to evade the point.

    In fact, in this thread, I asked you the question: “So let’s say we have a vegan who is a vegan because they think eating meat is wrong. But not just personally wrong, but wrong for all, as evidenced by their promotion of veganism and attempt to convert others to this lifestyle. What’s more, they also view themselves as being a good person because of their devotion to veganism. I view this as religious behavior. Since you don’t, what word would you use to describe this behavior?”

    You never answered my question.

    Finally, this is now the second time you have characterized my brief, calm observations as a “rant.” In fact, above I noted: “It would help if you could provide a definition of “rant” since I can’t figure out which one of my five sentences was the “rant.”

    I can see that you refuse to provide such a definition, which is odd coming from someone who insists people define words for him.

    In summary, you 1)dismiss my definition of religion by trying to recast and spin it as “confidence”; 2) you dismiss my description of the traits that led to my label as “content-free,” thus excusing yourself from having to deal with it; 3) you mischaracterize my brief, calm observations as “rants” and d) while I defined religion for you, you refuse to define what you mean by “rant.”

    In other words, it all looks like a typical Gnu smokescreen designed to obscure my spotlight on the religiosity of his fellow Gnus.

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