On Cecil, Vegetarianism/Veganism, and Acceptance

Honestly, I don’t have much to say about Cecil. I mean, I’m a vegetarian, so my opinions here should be pretty obvious–I think it was horrible and cruel, and I think trophy hunting like that is nothing more than, like, rich people trying to show off and make themselves feel superior for taking down a gorgeous wild animal that could kill them. I don’t think it has any real point or merit, and while I don’t agree with the way internet lynch mobs sort of pop up and threaten people who do this, I absolutely think it’s fair for people to take their business elsewhere. I avoid dentists because I hate going, but if he were my dentist, yeah, I would switch, unless I didn’t have much other choice. I don’t like spending money at certain businesses if I know that business is gonna use it toward something I don’t support.

Strangely, I have more to say about these sort of side arguments that have popped up involving Cecil.

I’ve been trying for probably about a year now to spend less time on my Facebook feed because I basically got really sick of people’s shit. This absolutely has to do with the people I’m Facebook friends with–and I have deleted most of the culprits–but the amount of bigotry, hatred, and disrespect I was seeing was sickening. Since then, though, I became a backer of Amanda Palmer’s Patreon, and a Facebook group for her patrons and just generally other interested parties popped up, and I noticed pretty fast that it was one of the most positive and safe spaces on the internet. People use it a lot for advice and ranting, and people are generally really nice and supportive. Even when they disagree, it tends to be in a calm, respectful manner instead of the way Facebook conversations usually devolve into personal attacks. I mean, I great recent example of Facebook bullshit is that when I recently expressed support for Pennsylvania privatizing its liquor industry, I was told to “sober up” and accused of standing to profit it from it because my last name happens to be the same as a large gas station in the state that’s been pretty vocal about its support for privatization.

But things got interesting surrounding the subject of Cecil. I wouldn’t go so far to say i devolved into typical Facebook bullshit, but the tone got a little strange compared to the way the group normally runs.

Someone posted looking for some advice/comfort after she saw that one of her partners had commented on a celebrity’s Facebook status calling her opinions on Cecil (and I think vegetarianism) foolish and idiotic. The woman posting this was hurt because she happened to share those views, and she didn’t appreciate seeing someone she was in a relationship with insulting viewpoints he knew she held, too, and when she confronted him, he only half-heartedly apologized and insisted that it wasn’t the same as insulting her directly.

But I get how she feels. I’ve been in similar yet different situations–and I think we all have–where someone you know insults a viewpoint or a group you belong to, and you take it personally. I’ve been hurt by things people have posted about writers or vegetarians or even women. One of the things that came up in my falling out with the Craigs was the fact that I had taken certain statements on social media as personal attacks against me when they weren’t intended that way, and while I understand that, I don’t think the argument of, “Oh, I wasn’t talking about you,” is acceptable or fair. You don’t get to hurl insults and then arbitrarily declare that someone you know who that insult happens to apply to is somehow exempt. That doesn’t make any sense, and words don’t work like that.

For the most part, people empathized and agreed on that point, but there was one outlier who seemed to miss the point. First, she said they ought to just agree to disagree, which would be fine if the issue was mere different of opinion, but it wasn’t. They weren’t disagreeing over Cecil–the original poster was hurt by comments her partner had made about her viewpoint. One other person was in line with this, too, saying she doesn’t take offense to things that aren’t directed at her personally. And power to people who have that kind of strength, but that’s an attitude I just can’t get behind. But when I pointed out that the issue was being disrespected and not simple disagreement, I was told they both had the right to their opinions and both had the right to be hurt by the other. This points to kind of a separate problem I’ve noticed on the internet where people make big assumptions based on one statement–it was like because I was arguing that the original poster had every right to be hurt, this person though that meant I was also saying that he didn’t have the right to any opposing opinion at all.

And then the issue of meat-eaters being hurt by vegetarians and vegans came up. And don’t get me wrong, I know how nasty vegetarians and vegans can be when it comes to dietary choices. Strangely, even as a vegetarian, I’ve experienced it firsthand where I’ve had vegans (passive-aggressively in Tumblr posts) say that my vegetarianism wasn’t good enough and that if I truly cared about animals, I’d be vegan, but that’s another post for another day. And I have no doubt that some vegetarians and vegans now are being nasty in the context of Cecil. But this wasn’t the topic of discussion, and strangely, there were a few people who jumped in and said, “But meat-eaters are being hurt by people’s words, too!” almost invalidating the original post. This isn’t a contest for which group is being hurled the worst insults, and I don’t see what that contributed to the discussion at hand. And going back to this one commenter I’ve been referring to, she not only brought up being hurt as a meat-eater, but she assumed that the original poster’s partner was going on the defensive after having been personally hurt by a celebrity, but there was no indication in the original post that that’s what happened. In fact, it sounded more like a celebrity was just commenting on how sad the situation was and the woman’s partner decided to insult her, and that’s not okay.

And finally, the commenter said that the original poster’s partner was “obviously” accepting of her vegetarianism if he was in a relationship with her, to which I say…oh, honey, you’ve got a lot to learn about humans, acceptance, relationships, and how they all come together.

First of all, I don’t think it’s obvious at all that this guy was accepting of his partner’s vegetarianism. I mean, he could be, but frankly, if he is, I’d hardly call it “obvious.” It’s not at all obvious to me, because as far as I’m concerned, someone who has truly accepted their partner’s choices isn’t running around insulting them behind that person’s back–and remember, there’s a difference between disagreeing with someone and insulting them. I’m a vegetarian and my boyfriend isn’t. It’s obviously not a lifestyle choice he wants to make for himself, and I accept that. I don’t judge him or put him down for eating meat or try to get him to go vegetarian, although I did say last night that it would be hilarious if he told his mom he decided to just to see what she’d say. My guess is she’d flip out and insist I was having too much influence over him, but that’s an entirely separate issue. Similarly, he doesn’t try to get me to eat meat or insult me, not even behind my back, as far as I’m aware–and if he did, I’d be just as surprised and hurt as the original poster.

And there’s a difference between being truly accepting of something and just keeping your mouth shut in certain company. Just because this guy doesn’t insult his partner to her face doesn’t mean he’s not sitting there thinking she’s an idiot for being a vegetarian.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, being in a relationship with someone does not mean that you have by default accepted everything about them, and I think it’s unhealthy to make that assumption. People can and often are in relationships with people who aren’t accepting of certain qualities, whether they be flaws or differences–vegetarian and meat-eater or anything else, really. People go into relationships all the time aiming to change someone or thinking that they can or thinking that they should, and to think that a relationship equals acceptance is naive and a possible setup for a bad, unhealthy relationship. I also don’t think it’s a good idea to just let comments like this guy’s slide because of an assumption like that. If your partner’s saying things that hurt you–even if they’re not directed at you–that needs to be addressed. And if your partner’s not taking it seriously and hearing you out, that’s a problem.

I was gonna go on about the new attitude that we have bigger things to worry about than a lion, but this is damn long enough. Separate post later it is.

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