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Archive for Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dalai Lama makes case for animal rights

June 14, 2007

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The Dalai Lama, right, meets the Irwin family, from left, Terri, Bob and Bindi, with a koala, at Australia Zoo in Beerwah. The Dalai Lama spoke on animal rights at the zoo built by "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin.

The Dalai Lama, right, meets the Irwin family, from left, Terri, Bob and Bindi, with a koala, at Australia Zoo in Beerwah. The Dalai Lama spoke on animal rights at the zoo built by "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin.

— With creatures great and small around him, the Dalai Lama called Wednesday for a halt to lab experiments on animals and made the case for eating only fruits and vegetables - all at the zoo of the late "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin.

The spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhists delicately handled a Burmese python and petted a koala as he was feted like a rock star at Australia Zoo, speaking to a sold-out crowd of 5,000 at its open-air "Crocoseum."

"Hunting, beef, sheep farms, piggeries, millions, billions, die," the Dalai Lama said. "We can be so cruel to animals."

Although he sometimes sparked laughter with his remarks, the Dalai Lama's 30-minute address also had a more serious note: He criticized companies and organizations that he said "remain indifferent" to the rights of animals by experimenting on them.

Irwin, host of the TV wildlife show "Crocodile Hunter," died last September when the barb from a stingray pierced his chest while he was diving on the Great Barrier Reef.

The Dalai Lama thanked Irwin's family for their support of wildlife.

"Taking care of animals is essential to developing more happiness in human beings," he said. "I appreciate Steve Irwin and his wife, Terri, all their dedication."

The hourlong zoo tour was a change for the Dalai Lama, whose trip to Australia has prompted lawmakers to express concern about meetings with the man China considers an exiled troublemaker.

After weeks of hedging, Prime Minister John Howard agreed to see the Dalai Lama on Friday. Howard is anxious not to offend Beijing because Australia's economy is closely tied to China's booming demand for natural resources. China, which rules Tibet, has used diplomatic pressure to discourage governments from meeting with the Dalai Lama, and Beijing immediately criticized Howard's decision to see him.

The Dalai Lama, his long red robe flapping in the wind, received a standing ovation as he took the stage at the Crocoseum on a sunny but crisp winter morning.

Some of the crowd waved Buddhist prayer flags, and about a dozen Australian native birds, including black cockatoos and rainbow lorikeets, unexpectedly flew into the stadium just as he began speaking.

The Dalai Lama described the benefits of being a vegetarian, saying he became meat, dairy and egg-free in 1965, although he acknowledges he now eats meat occasionally. He said he used to buy animals to save them from the slaughterhouses when he was a young man in Tibet.

Asked to speak about the importance of family, the Dalai Lama urged parents to show as much compassion as possible to their children, and suggested that children be taught "warmheartedness" as part of the school curriculum.

The 71-year-old admitted he's not sure how he'd cope as a parent.

"I'm a monk, so I have no children ... but I may lose my temper," he said with a laugh.

The Dalai Lama's visit ended when Terri Irwin and her children, Bindi and Bob, came on stage, with Bindi carrying a koala.

"He is rather lazy ... just like myself," the Dalai Lama joked of the koala before presenting the Irwin family with Buddhist white scarves, or katas, which are used to signal the positive start of new relationships.

Comments

gr 6 years, 10 months ago

"However, I do not think that humane killing is cruel." That's good to hear.

"I believe we are biologically designed to eat certain animals, especially fish" We are? How would one know? Perhaps we could compare certain features with "known" herbivores and carnivores - intestine length?

"biologically designed".
"designed" by God, or Evolution (if evolution "designs" things)? If God, did God intend His creatures to eat each other? If Evolution, what is cruelty. Consider cats among many others. Are we "biologically designed" to be cruel?

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sourpuss 6 years, 10 months ago

What we're doing to livestock now... killing them IS the kind part.

Meat should be more expensive because we should run fewer cattle on more land, which would make the resulting meat more expensive to produce. It isn't about someone getting rich, it is about treating the animals properly.

I do disagree that eating meat is unnecessary. I believe we are biologically designed to eat certain animals, especially fish (which we can eat raw). I think it is wrong to just go around and not think about the consequences of your decisions, and I think it is wrong to be cruel. However, I do not think that humane killing is cruel.

I actually avoid animal products because of the cholesterol, but that is selfishly purely for my own health.

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gr 6 years, 10 months ago

"I don't kill mosquitoes, I just shoo them away. They are just doing their thing, and I don't have to kill them for that."

You prevent them from eating?!!!! Or do you just delay and threaten them from "doing their thing". Would that be "for which our only justifications are pleasure and convenience"?

"I think it is important to be kind to all living things." So what do you eat?

"I do not think it is morally wrong to eat meat, I think it is morally wrong to be cruel to another creature for your own convenience." Can you eat meat without being cruel? Actually, that is what the main objection many are trying to say here - that cruelty is not equal to killing.

"Meat should be a lot more expensive than it is," Sin tax?

"we should realize that a living thing died so that we could gain sustenance." But James just said that eating meat is completely unnecessary. Do you disagree with him? Do you subscribe to the mumbo jumbo of each person has his own morality, there is a different morality for each? Adding on, then each has their own idea of "unnecessary" - 'I NEED more furs'.

"And worse, it is all for a few dollars - the worst possible reason."

Lowell! "Meat should be a lot more expensive" - "all for a few dollars".

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blue73harley 6 years, 10 months ago

Actually for a few dollars you can get three double cheese burgers at Mickey Ds.

And I gleefully smash mosquitos.

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sourpuss 6 years, 10 months ago

I don't kill mosquitoes, I just shoo them away. They are just doing their thing, and I don't have to kill them for that.

I like animals. I even like most animals better than I like most people. However, I think it is important to be kind to all living things.

I really wish the way animals were treated in this country were better. I do not think it is morally wrong to eat meat, I think it is morally wrong to be cruel to another creature for your own convenience. Meat should be a lot more expensive than it is, and we should all eat less of it, and when we eat it, we should realize that a living thing died so that we could gain sustenance. It is being mindful of what you are doing. What we do to livestock is terrible and it makes me very sad. And worse, it is all for a few dollars - the worst possible reason. Sigh.

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James_Crump 6 years, 10 months ago

I find it odd that someone should imply that I am "grumpy" for merely suggesting that it is wrong to cause unnecessary suffering and death; also for saying that animals are vulnerable beings, and that it is wrong to exploit that vulnerability. I agree with RYates that this type of response is -- deep down -- a form of self-defence and denial: if you are a consumer of animal products, then you try to deflect the moral implications of what you do by denying that the treatment of animals is -- per se -- a moral issue. After all, if it's okay to joke about exploiting animals, then how can it be wrong?

I agree with RYates's point about human rights: that it would be entirely inappropriate to respond to human rights claims by making jokes about human rights violations. Why, then, do people think that it is acceptable to make jokes about animal rights violations?

Of course, animals do not currently have legal rights; but we think that they do have moral rights. So the question is: given that one of the norms of (moral) reasoning is consistency, and given that humans have rights, do we have any morally sound reason to deny basic rights to animals? Is it inconsistent -- prejudicial -- to recognise human rights but deny animal rights?

We think that it is inconsistent and prejudicial to deny animal rights. We think that animals have the negative right not to be treated in a certain way, as property. Thus the one (animal) right we are talking about is the right not to be the property of another -- the right not to be a *thing. If animals have this right, then joking about animal rights abuses is analogous to joking about human rights abuses.

Moreover, even if you deny rights in the human context (like utilitarians do), it doesn't follow that animal exploitation is acceptable. Everyone agrees that it is wrong to cause unnecessary suffering. If we give content to the belief that we shouldn't cause animals unnecessary suffering, then we must -- at the very least -- abolish all those animal uses for which our only justifications are pleasure and convenience. Now meat eating is completely unnecessary; we can live perfectly healthily on plant-based diets. It follows from this that any suffering inflicted on animals incidental to our use of them for food is unacceptable, because it violates the conservative moral principle -- with which everyone agrees -- that we shouldn't cause animals unnecessary suffering.

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RYates 6 years, 10 months ago

I agree with what James has said about the joking. I guess it amounts to a form of self-defence and denial - but I really wonder if such people would respond to someone making a human rights point by saying they have just had sex with a minor, "yum!"

RY

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Confrontation 6 years, 10 months ago

James_Grump: I suppose this means that I shouldn't save you a plate? A1 steaksauce is yummy!

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gr 6 years, 10 months ago

"What does that even mean, gr?"

scenebooster, first line of article: "halt to lab experiments". Wasn't that what you were referring to?

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James_Crump 6 years, 10 months ago

People who eat meat cause completely unnecessary suffering and death. To suppose that the burden is on animal rights advocates to show why people shouldn't cause completely unnecessary suffering and death is an extremely odd position to take. Unnecessary suffering and death are by definition unacceptable. It is plainly irrational to argue that unnecessary suffering and death are (morally) justifiable. The animal rights position is the default position, until someone can give a rationally compelling justification -- a justification that coheres with our other basic moral beliefs -- for why it is acceptable to cause unnecessary suffering and death.

Moreover, it is extremely depressing too see people joking about eating steak and other meat products. Sadly, animals' vulnerability makes them particularly helpless against our exploitation of them. Yet people here laugh and mock this vulnerability, even gloating over their absolute dominance over animals by mentioning steaks and other meat products. If true justice consists in behaving exactly as though there were equality when one is the stronger in an unequal relationship, the comments posted here are a sad indictment of humanity's treatment of other animals.

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erod0723 6 years, 10 months ago

"I could care less about his religion. All religious zealots think that theu should push their agenda down the throats of everyone else." How is the Dalai Lama a religious zealot? Any quotes I have seen attributed to any Lama have only been to the tune of bettering mankind. The Dalai Lama promotes goodwill towards all men,and he is a zealot? I'd say that you should reevaluate your own extremist religious views.

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Confrontation 6 years, 10 months ago

I have steak marinating in the fridge for tonight. Yum! Too bad I had to murder the potato that's going to be whipped tonight. Can someone please explain how I can humanely heat the yeast in this evening's bread roll?

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Eric Neuteboom 6 years, 10 months ago

Reminds me of one of my favorite bumper stickers of all time:

"If God doesn't want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat?"

I proudly displayed that one next to my absolute favorite:

"Doing my part to piss-off the Religious Right!"

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Reality_Check 6 years, 10 months ago

Nowhere in the article does it say the Dali "insists" or "requires" you to do anything. And, he doesn't talk about eating meat, but not being cruel to the animals you eat. And, in our Corporate Machine food culture, we are in fact, quite cruel to them. Like keeping chickens in 1 cubic foot cages their whole lives. Like keeping calves in the dark and in small pens. Like feed lots for cattle and hogs. That's ALL cruel. And sickening.

We care more about an unborn fetus than animals. How sad.

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scenebooster 6 years, 10 months ago

""So, here the Dali Lama "urges" people not to be cruel to animals"

"Yeah, do you suggest being cruel to people instead?"

What does that even mean, gr? The Dali Lama doesn't even suggest that people stop eating meat, only that they aren't as cruel to them.

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Oracle_of_Rhode 6 years, 10 months ago

Make sure to enjoy all the feces in that meat! There's lots!

http://www.jacksonprogressive.com/issues/foodtech/feces091101.html http://www.newstarget.com/000664.html http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/waste.html

One quote: "Statistics over the past 4 years indicate that up to 35% of America's hamburger meat may be contaminated by feces, with up to 1.5%-3.5% likely containing the deadly e-coli 0157. In 1993 the Foundation on Economic Trends sued the USDA over the e-coli and meat contamination issue--forcing the government to begin placing warning labels on all 2 billion packages of fresh meat sold in the USA each year. Statistics on salmonella and feces contamination of poultry and eggs are even worse, with the Clinton Administration announcing in July 1996 that the government's long-term goals were to reduce feces residues on poultry to just under 50%!"

Yummy!

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blue73harley 6 years, 10 months ago

I'm surprized that PETA was not there to protest the dude's visit since this was at an evil jail for animals.

We are more "enlightened" in Douglas County, Kansas. We have no zoo and have banned circuses. Yeah for us ;-)

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SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 10 months ago

From Agnostik: "After the Buddha was enlightened"

Enlightened? Sounds like a religious comment from a decidedly irreligious poster.

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Bubbles 6 years, 10 months ago

What kind of parents name their kid Dolly?

Imagine all the ribbing this guy got in school. No wonder he comes up with loony ideas like not eating meat.

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blue73harley 6 years, 10 months ago

Lunch is leftover steak sandwich...yummm!

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ranger73 6 years, 10 months ago

Gee I have never been told that I am morally wrong because of the steak I had the other night. Oh well-lock me up then, and make sure I get the chipped beef on Thursdays.

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gr 6 years, 10 months ago

"So, here the Dali Lama "urges" people not to be cruel to animals" Yeah, do you suggest being cruel to people instead?

"Slaughtering animals/meat-eating is a moral issue in the same way that cheating, killing, capital punishment, and polluting the environment are all moral issues."

Animals are NOT people. Do you think they are or how could you justify making that statement? What if you slaughtered animals in order to protect a rare plant in the rain forest? Are plants people, too?

What do you do when a mosquito starts biting you? What does the Dali do?

Personally, I smear their innards across my body. Do you think that's cruel (to the mosquito, that is) or do you think that's humane? I would consider being cruel as picking its legs and wings off one at a time and then seeing how long it would survive without them.

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scenebooster 6 years, 10 months ago

"No he doesn't! He has the right to think or believe anything he wants, but he has absolutely no right to insist that I follow any of his ideas! "

Please provide a quote where the Dali Lama "insists" that you do anything....

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madmike 6 years, 10 months ago

No he doesn't! He has the right to think or believe anything he wants, but he has absolutely no right to insist that I follow any of his ideas! If you, or he, doesn't want to eat meat, then that is your right, but your right ends when you try to influence me in your beliefs.

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wordster 6 years, 10 months ago

MadMike wrote: "Tell the Dalai Lama that he can eat anything he wants, but don't tell me what the hell to do!"

Slaughtering animals/meat-eating is a moral issue in the same way that cheating, killing, capital punishment, and polluting the environment are all moral issues. It is not simply a food choice, where you prefer salt and I prefer no salt.

Moral issues are usually issues that affect or harm others. If you think morality is just a matter of taste and that others cannot tell you "what the hell to do", then you may as well say that putting thieves in jail, ostracizing liars from your circle of friends, or fining polluters is telling others what to do. Of course that's nonsense.

Most people accept that some things are morally wrong and they judge others that way and they think it is perfectly proper for society (and individuals) to try and impose moral behavior on others. Morality is not left "to each his own" like a choice between chocolate and vanilla ice-cream.

Meat-eating is a moral issue and the Dalai-lama is correct in telling you "what the hell to do".

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scenebooster 6 years, 10 months ago

"I could care less about his religion. All religious zealots think that theu should push their agenda down the throats of everyone else."

So, here the Dali Lama "urges" people not to be cruel to animals...how on earth is that "pushing" an agenda down anyones throat?

A little different that getting involved in the legal workings of our country (abortion, gay marriage), no?

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Oracle_of_Rhode 6 years, 10 months ago

You cannot seperate yourself from the bad karma involved in the death of what you eat.

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Sasquatch34 6 years, 10 months ago

madmike-

Yeah, because when I think Dalai Lama, I think of a nonstop propaganda campaign of religious zealotry....give me a break.

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Agnostick 6 years, 10 months ago

Hey, I'll admit it... I'm a "Burger Buddhist," if anything. As well as a "Chicken Buddhist"... "Pork Chop Buddhist"... Last night I was a "Finish-my-daughter's-fish-sticks Buddhist!" :p

After the Buddha was enlightened, he spent another 50-60 years walking the Earth and sharing his teachings. They begged for their food, and ate pretty much anything that people placed in their begging bowls. They were thankful and gracious for everything, and refused or turned down nothing.

According to some accounts... when the Buddha finally died... he died from food poisoning. Some accounts say that it was a bad piece of boar meat that did him in.

The dietary restrictions/freedoms among the many Buddhist schools and sects are wide and varied.

While I think a certain amount of animal flesh is a healthy, and for some folks a necessary part of the diet, I think we can have all these things while reducing cruelty to animals. Dr. Temple Grandin is a leading expert in this field. I encourage you to read Wikipedia's entry about this remarkable woman:

I think Dr. Grandin is a perfect example of "having your cake, and eating it, too."

Agnostick agnostick@excite.com http://www.uscentrist.org

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madmike 6 years, 10 months ago

I could care less about his religion. All religious zealots think that theu should push their agenda down the throats of everyone else.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 10 months ago

I'd like to to take Mr. Lama out for a burger to discuss this.

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scenebooster 6 years, 10 months ago

"Tell the Dalai Lama that he can eat anything he wants, but don't tell me what the hell to do!"

Um, wouldn't that message be just as applicable to Leo Barbee and the rest of the Christians who feel the need to call segments of our population "sinful"?

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madmike 6 years, 10 months ago

Tell the Dalai Lama that he can eat anything he wants, but don't tell me what the hell to do! I think i am going to have a nice, thick, tender rare T-Bone steak tonight!

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