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American Gods Chapter One: Shadow Meets Wednesday 
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Post cows
Suzanne E. Smith wrote:

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Do you think we will eventually evolve to the point where we consider it morally wrong to kill cows and chickens and other animals for food? That there will be laws that punish those who don't conform? I think it is a possibility, but not ever in my lifetime.


This is a very interesting question, but I would have to say no. Vegans and vegetarians rely heavily on stores and restaurants that provide vegetarian fare. These establishments give our society the luxury of choosing what foods we like to eat; most of the world’s societies do not have this luxury. Vegetarians are growing in number, but the vast majority of people rely on meat to survive. To ask if it would be morally wrong to eat animals, in effect, would be asking is it morally wrong to eat. There are many families in my area, who live in very rural locations, who depend on venison for example.

For me, I would never support legislation based on issues of morality. A standard needs to be established, and this is difficult when speaking of issues concerning morals. For example, murder is a crime, a victim is involved, and damages can be seen. Is murder morally wrong? This can not be measured. The courts can only acknowledge what can be seen and proved and then punish accordingly, it is not the courts responsibility to decide what is, or what is not morally wrong.



Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:17 am
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Post American Gods
Thank you for your answer, and I realize that our entire economy would collapse if everyone stopped eating meat (cattle ranches, chicken farms, most restaurants, food stores).

However, your question as to whether murder is morally wrong, I think most people would say yes except in self defense. It is one of the Ten Commandments. In the book, Primates and Philosophers, the author gives examples of what most people would do in certain trolley situations, where a trolley on a track will kill five people unless someone intervenes by pushing a person onto the track to stop the train or by switching the track with a lever (will still kill one person). They are very unsettling situations, and even though most people said they would not push one person in front of a train to save five people, MRI's of the brain show this to be the rational choice. (I personally could never do it).

So I guess you are right when you infer that morality means different things to different people.



Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:52 pm
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Post morality
Hello Suzanne:

Oh please don't get me wrong. I do believe that murder is morally wrong, I used it as an example as far as legislature. You are so right, morality does mean different things to different people. Hense, it can not be measured and examined, therefore it can not be used soley as a base to create law.

With this said, crimes commited with the motivation of hate, and abuse commited against animals are examples of your statement of evolving morally, and the courts are now recognizing these crimes and handing down punishments. Also, laws concerning discrimination have dramatically changed over the years. But again, punishments are given for the act itself, not the morality of the act. Michael Vick is a good example, some people thought he got off easy, others believed he should not have been punished at all. The courts measuring stick will never be long enough to encompass everyone's sense of morality.

I am sorry for the missunderstanding.



Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:35 am
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However, as you imply, if 'nature' demands blood sacrifice, then it is not a very appealing moral teacher. It opens the question whether and how Christianity is a more evolved moral system than the beliefs it conquered. Wednesday claims at one point that our indifference to road safety is evidence of our continued instinctive blood lust, and he could say the same thing about the accumulation of weapons of mass destruction.


I found this to be an interesting perspective on natures requirement for blood sacrifice. The way I see the situation is not so much as nature REQUIRES a blood sacrifice, but that we are all not so important in the big scheme of things and therefore are not sacred as people. Things die, the chain of life requires that things die and feed other things. As the discussion evolved into veganism and not eating animals, it occurs to me that this is simply a mindset that we can have in a day and age where we no longer hunt our own food or scrap for survival. I am 100% sure that all the vegans in the world would instantly become ominvores again if faced with a lifestyle in which they had to scrounge food to survive and truly understood the sacrifice that the animal was making for their own survival. The fact that someone can feel that it is inhumane for people to work at a slaughterhouse just shows how disconnected we are to our food and the carnage that is inherent in our ability to eat mcdonalds or any other meal really. This nicely fits in with the themes in American Gods, our disconnection as people from nature, which nutures us! how can we not realize the natural order of things and shun the food chain or disregard the bosom of the earth that feeds us? Not to get off track too much, one of my favorite poems by Wordsworth really hits home with me and this book, this discussion and the world at large. I will share it here just for a moment of introspection.

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.



Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:43 am
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I just finished the first chapter of the book, which mainly seems to be setting the stage for what's to come. Some strange stuff is happening, and from everyone's comments it sounds like things will get a lot weirder. Gaiman's writing style is appealing and I'm curious to see where things are headed.



Sat Jul 18, 2009 1:56 am
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