Lib Rag Guardian Defends China’s Dog-Eating Festival
Obama quietly nods in approval.
Whenever western meat-eaters get up in arms over barbarous foreigners eating cute animals, it’s easy to throw around accusations of gross hypocrisy. Easy, because such accusations are often true. But responses to the dog meat festival in Yulin, China, which draws to a close today, merit more careful consideration. The double standards at play here are numerous, complicated, and not always obvious.
One so-called hypocrisy is nothing of the sort. If you find yourself disgusted by the thought of dogs being killed, cooked and eaten, but you eat other animals, that does not make you a hypocrite. If you’ve grown up seeing dogs as companion animals and haven’t even seen the reality of livestock slaughter, of course you’re going to find the idea somewhat distressing. You only become a hypocrite if you take your personal revulsion as a reason to morally oppose the eating of dogs. If you accept that your gut reaction – quite literally, in this case – is no more morally significant than the disgust you might feel when thinking about eating insects, you are no hypocrite for feeling it.
If you are one of the more than 3.8 million people who signed an online petition against the festival, however, you might be standing on shakier ground. Obviously if your only objection is that the animals being eaten are dogs rather than pigs, who are equally as intelligent, your indignation is fairly hollow. But I imagine most objectors believe there is more to it than just their preference for friendly, furry beasts with names.
For instance, some may be moved to sign because the petition claims the dogs are “beaten to death, skinned alive and eaten”. The festival organisers dispute this. I have no idea if the claim stands up, but given that we know that the web is awash with misinformation, I would think it irresponsible to simply believe it without question. After all, if you want to skin an animal it makes much more sense to kill it first, purely for practical reasons. Is there not a whiff of orientalism here: a too-quick readiness to believe that the Chinese behave barbarously?