Friday, May 30, 2008
Via WOPSR comes news of a battle won against the left. Fois gras is now legal again in Chicago! The era of the "duckeasy" is over, at least for now. The ban that inspired this updated version of Carl Sandburg's "Chicago" from yours truly has been lifted:
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the repeal had been made in "a secretive, rushed bow to special interests that benefit from the cruel treatment of animals".Qwertz notes that he only learned of this through foreign media. At least part of the reason can be found in the very last sentence of the BBC report, when a restaurateur who was fined under the ban told a reporter that, "There are real important issues in this city. This is certainly not one of them."
But Didier Durand, one of the Chicago chefs who formed a movement to end the ban, called the decision "fabulous".
"All of us are so excited," he told reporters outside his restaurant while holding his duck Nicolai - named after French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Mr Durand acknowledged that his restaurant had been a "duckeasy", getting round the ban by serving foie gras for free.
"Duckeasy" is a play on Chicago's "speakeasies", illegal bars that operated when the sale of alcohol was banned during the American prohibition. [bold added]
Consider this statement for a moment. Here is a man whose very livelihood was under attack from people who would use the government to give orders to you and me rather than protect our freedom -- and indeed, his ability to earn a living had been partially compromised by such an attack. And yet, he dismisses this "issue" as unimportant!
On the face of it, he is chiding the animal "rights" activists for being silly busybodies, for sacrificing time from their irreplaceable lives for a foolish cause. In so far as the lives of ducks and geese are not of equal or superior value to human life Doug Sohn is absolutely right, but on a more abstract -- and dangerously practical -- level, he is dead wrong.
There is a very faint whiff, too, in Mr. Sohn's words of an old saying that could stand a revival: "Mind your own business." This is also on the right track, but misses something about the nature of his opponents.
Animal "rights" activists are meddlesome, and they look like clowns because most people implicitly realize that animals are not human beings, and do not have rights. But that understanding is only implicit, and -- after decades of manufactured "rights" (e.g., to medical care, or a "livable wage") that really violate man's actual rights -- most people do not really understand the nature of the rights possessed by individual human beings -- by rational animals.
This is a shame, because as the rational animal, man must exercise his mind to survive. Barring accidents of nature, the only thing preventing him from doing so is other men, specifically men who would initiate physical force -- be it by threat, constraint, fraud, theft, or murder -- in order to prevent him from enjoying the fruits of his hard-won knowledge and careful thinking.
Whether a man wants to build a clubhouse for his children or a bridge -- travel for a vacation or build a railroad from coast to coast -- pour a bowl of cereal for himself in the morning or prepare fois gras for paying customers -- that man must be free from the forcible interference of others to do so.
Man's most fundamental right is to his own life, but since his life depends on the use of reason, the various manifestations of his ability to act upon his best judgement to further his own life (so long as they do not harm the lives of others) are derivative rights. It follows that a man must have the liberty to go about as he pleases and make his own calls about what to do. What man produces to further his own life is likewise his property -- by right. And in all cases, a man must be free to communicate with others to increase his knowledge or correct errors. Freedom of speech is also a right.
(By contrast, there is no "right" to free medical care since providing it against a physician's wishes would involve violating the physician's rights. And the concept of "rights" is inapplicable to animals, which do not reason and will not respect the rights of men.)
While we all have the right of self-defense, the benefits of trade we can realize in a society would be impossible were we not to delegate this right (except in dire emergencies) to the government, whose sole proper purpose is the protection of individual rights, and whose distinction as a social entity is its ability to wield retaliatory force.
This is because honest disputes, even between citizens who would respect one another's rights, can and do arise, and because the less time we spend looking over our shoulders in fear (or having to fight off enemies), we have that much more time to go about our own business, our pursuit of happiness. A proper government subordinates our right to the retaliatory use of force to objective standards.
And this -- the nature of individual rights and the proper role of government -- is what is actually at stake here. Thanks in part to generations of abysmal failure by a socialist education system to transmit our nation's cultural heritage, and thanks in part to that heritage being under active attack by generations of intellectuals since Immanuel Kant, the American man on the street -- like Mr. Sohn -- can see the utter absurdity of animals having "rights", but is intellectually blinded to the real agenda and effectively disarmed against it.
Many people like Mr. Sohn will not see this won battle for fois gras as a part of a larger battle -- being lost so far -- for individual rights. Many will be blindsided by the next advance gained by the anti-individual rights activists, be it a new fois gras ban or some new intrusion on the rights of a group of people as yet complaisant or unaware. Many will fail, like Mr. Sohn, to see that all these battles are part of the same war.
This will go on and on until more people become able again to understand how to think in terms of principles, to see the essential similarities between apparently disparate events. A ban on foie gras in the name of animal "rights" and a ban on fast-food chicken restaurants in the name of good health are both by nature attacks on the individual rights of human beings -- as are many other things the government is now doing and has been doing for a long time.
No, Mr. Sohn. This -- your freedom to live your own life as you see fit -- is a big issue. It is the biggest issue you and I face today. It is way bigger than a bunch of clownish activists in Chicago, and it is way bigger than Chicago.
When you get an off-taste during a meal, you don't spit it out and then eat the rest. You stop to figure out whether you're about to poison or sicken yourself. This fois gras ban has left a bad taste in your mouth for a reason. You might want to send the whole plate of government meddling back. You need and deserve better than that.