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What the hell is wrong with us?

  1. Mar 6, 2008 #1
    <Edit by Moonbear: WARNING: The following post graphically describes abuse to animals; if you are sensitive to such content, you may not want to read further. It is being left in the post as it is too relevant to the discussion topic to remove.>

    I took some time to write this post because I really am not sure how to approach this.

    First of all, a caveat, because I see what I'm stepping into:
    I don't want to be accused of racism. My criticisms herein are directed strictly at specific cultures, not races. I've been accused of racism before in my life for criticizing cultures, so let's get one thing straight: when you agree to identify yourself with a culture, you are making a conscious decision to act a certain way; you tacitly approve of specific actions and views— and so, your decision should be open to scrutiny.
    Playing the race card is cheap and counterproductive.

    Ok, the reason I am posting this is as a result of a video someone posted a link to yesterday (the post has since been erased). I will NOT post a link to the video.

    The video was taken from an anti-fur documentary, and, as is the nature of such videos, depicted the horrors of the practice it denounced: without going into too much detail:
    The video was of a fur-merchant in China. It starts with this man taking a raccoon and hitting it repeatedly with a bat, he then hangs it by its paws and skins it, forcefully pulling its fur from its body. Then he throws the raccoon away, and moves on to a fox. He cuts the tendons of the fox's paws and skins it as well, and finishes by standing on the fox's head and slamming it repeatedly with his foot.

    Both the fox and the raccoon are alive throughout the entirety of this, until the very end of the video. At no point are either killed (yes, they are left kicking and yelping). I want to stress the fact that I'm being as least descriptive as I possibly can in order to give the gist of what was happening, and that I will not go into detail on the barbarities that were committed to these animals.

    I'm not an easily impressionable person, but when this video was over, I was beyond physically ill. I realized I had been pretty much paralyzed and in a state of shock, I had tunnel vision, erratic breathing... for the rest of the day I felt numb, and a few hour later I'll admit I cried... something I don't remember doing since I was a kid.

    I've seen gore, violence, blood, etc. etc. before. Both in video and in person. What shocked me was not the gore factor... I don't cry every time I watch a nature special on the Discovery Channel :biggrin:.— What shocked me was the sadism.

    I don't remember ever having been filled with a feeling of such pure sadness as after seeing that video. Sadness for those and other such poor creatures and knowing that there is absolutely nothing I can do to stop it at that moment — I can't reach into the screen and stop it or at least kill it —, and also sadness for the implications of this video on human nature.

    It was this realization that was the source of the sadness, not the video itself.

    OK. So, first of all (and here is where it's gonna get uncomfortable). Why is it that EVERY TIME I see such videos of sadism towards animals (this is not just slaughtering or mistreating; it is taking pleasure in inflicting as much pain as possible upon a weaker being, just for... what, the sake of watching it squirm?), why is it that they always come from oriental sources?— I have seen many such videos: restaurants where they serve live fried fish and other sea animals (these are popular family restaurants where the "fun" consists of frying the lower body of a fish and serving it while the poor thing is still breathing), dogs bred for meat being tortured before they are slaughtered, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

    What is it about oriental culture?
    I know what you'll say: animals suffer in western slaughter houses too. Yes. True (I've even made a thread about that too), but the difference here is that slaughterers don't actively seek to inflict as much pain as possible on the animals (in fact, there is a movement towards the opposite); nobody is skinning cows and leaving them to squirm on the ground for hours for the fun of it (and if they do, as in the case of the kids who put a cat in a microwave here in Canada a few weeks ago, they are considered mentally unstable).
    I hope there is someone here who can answer me this from personal experience.

    Second: is this just part of human nature? Is this just something we all have in us, and it just happens that their culture hasn't repressed it as well as we have. This is what saddens me the most, that I fear it is. I fear the we all, deep inside, know the real answer to the old question "are people basically bad, or basically good."

    I've always made the effort to be a good person: be kind to others, help those in need, etc. — the key word being effort. Why does it have to be an effort? Shouldn't this come naturally? Shouldn't doing the wrong thing feel like the effort?

    What I meant: doing the right thing, in most cases, consists of rejecting the urge to do the wrong thing. But what is an urge, if not an expression of one's true self?
    Are we so rotten?

    It took us hundreds of thousands of years on this earth for a small percentage of us (as politically incorrect as it is: yes, the CIVILIZED world) to come up with a proper set of ethics and moral laws; is that how long it will take us to learn how to actually exercise them? Will we ever?

    I'm sorry for my rambling; I don't expect most (or any) of you to read it. It's just that seeing that video has filled me with these strong emotions and I don't know what else to do with them.

    Why is it that it was seeing an animal being treated this way, and not the images of human-to-human cruelty with which we are bombarded on a daily basis, that brought out these feelings? Why is it that I feel so strongly for animal cruelty?— I think that you measure a man's worth by how he treats those who are weaker than him, not those of equal or greater strength. This type of thing just make me wonder: is this what we're worth?
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 8, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 6, 2008 #2


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    Why do you think the video is representative of oriental culture? It sounds like you're making a hasty generalization. (Of course, that's probably exactly what the filmmakers wanted you to do)
  4. Mar 6, 2008 #3
    Just because time and time again, this sort of footage comes from oriental sources. The only exception I can think of is bull and dog fighting, the barbarity of which doesn't even approach what you find on these videos.

    That's why I ask for comments from people who have seen this in person or at least have lived in those areas, if possible.

    I also acknowledge that, though this is manifested in those cultures, it's obviously a problem in all of us (there is nothing essentially different about a chinese person and an american, other than the culture factor). That's why I called this thread "what the hell is wrong with us" and not "with them."
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2008
  5. Mar 6, 2008 #4


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    Firstly, my comment was mostly directed at your assertion that there are "implications ... on human nature".

    Secondly, even if 100% of animal abusers were oriental -- that does not imply animal abuse is common in oriental culture.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2008
  6. Mar 6, 2008 #5
    Of worth to whom, the man or society or both ? I think you measure a man's worth to both himself and society by how he treats himself. If a man treats himself in a proper manner, then he will treat all other people in the same manner that he would want himself to be treated, whether they are weaker or stronger--that is, the proper man will not live for the benefit of the other, nor expect the other to live for his benefit. The answer to your OP question, what is wrong with us, is that way too few humans have adopted a philosophy of proper ethnical selfishness.
  7. Mar 6, 2008 #6

    yes it would.

    we've become so ism-phobic in this world that we have gone beyond the ability to openly and rationally deal with our problems. Look at the amount of controversy surrounding Bill Cosby*, for what? pointing out the obvious?
    He's not being racist; he's being honest. But I guess reality is taboo now a days.

    Anyway, this isn't what I wanted this conversation to be about, and is why I started the way I started.

    So again: I'm not saying oriental people are inherently evil animal torturers. I'm not saying all Germans are Nazis. And I'm not saying all people with curly hair like spicy foods. Now let's move on.

    *(yes, I watched Oprah today. There's nothing else on at that time of the day and without the TV on at work I'd shoot myself)
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2008
  8. Mar 6, 2008 #7


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    If you want a rational discussion -- then start acting rationally! As you have observed, you have had an overwhelming emotional response to these propaganda pieces which appears to have caused you to leap to many conclusions. If you don't want this experience to cause lasting damage, then you need to turn your brain back on and start analyzing this information critically before it gets absorbed into your subconscious.

    e.g. Just what information have you really been provided? How reliable is the source? Is it unbiased? How could you get more information on the subject? What conclusions can logically be inferred from this information?

    No, it wouldn't. "Every X is Y" does not let you conclude "Many Y are X". The Dormouse from Alice in Wonderland gives a wonderful example of a similar fallacy:

  9. Mar 6, 2008 #8
    I've been thinking about this a bit myself, but not as much as you and haven't come to any conclusions yet.

    I've seen a video of a Chinese shopkeeper catching some thieves in the act. He proceeds to beat the crap out of them with a cinder block. I mean, they are lying on the ground, and he pulls their hand out, so as to smash it with the cinder block. I was just shocked.

    Then you have things such as the Rape of Nanking. If you don't know what that is, go to Wikipedia, or search "Men Behind the Sun" on Youtube.

    I know a guy who was a military kid, traveled around the world with his pops, etc. In Korea they would beat puppies to death with sticks, because they believe the adrenaline they release makes the meat more tender.

    Like you, I am not trying to be high and mighty about anything. I'd kill to eat, and eat meat all the time. But it's in spiteof animals being treated badly, not because of it. If there were a better way, I'd go for it.

    But it just seems like whereas Western civilization has moved past sadism and torture, Oriental culture hasn't really caught up yet. I can't speak for African or other cultures, though, so I can't tell if Westerners are the exception, the general rule, or if it's pretty even. I just know that either you value life, or your life has no value, either. Sadly, human rights are still behind in a lot of Oriental cultures, so that's kind of expected.
  10. Mar 6, 2008 #9
    You said it yourself, we came up with a set of ethics. The sad reality is that nothing in Nature is inherently ethical. Whether man is good or bad is up to man because, after all, he is the one who distinguishes good from wrong - there's no answering the question. When someone inflicts torture on animals as you described, from the objective perspective, he is not doing either good or wrong, simply because those things aren't inherent properties of nature. The simple fact that this video is hinting at a difference of visions of how life should be treated in the West and in Orient evidences that those visions are man-made.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2008
  11. Mar 6, 2008 #10


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    Werg, I get what you're saying here. And I somewhat agree, but at what point does a human extend empathy to animals? If a person had no empathy for animals, is it possible that they would have less empathy for their fellow humans?

    Is empathy for fellow humans an inherent property of nature? Is love?

    Me, I can't watch the kind of videos that moe mentions. They send me straight into an emotional meltdown.
  12. Mar 6, 2008 #11
    To an extent. When you see animals killing, they do it in the most efficient way possible. They don't go out of their way to inflict pain on their prey. When you skin an animal, it would be easier to kill it first, so it doesn't squirm. If you are skinning it alive, then you are an a-hole. No question about it.
  13. Mar 6, 2008 #12
    Note how plenty of serial killers start off by torturing animals.
  14. Mar 6, 2008 #13


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    That's not the logic being used. What you said before was:
    What you say in those two quotes are not equivalent. Being "a characteristic of oriental culture" does not imply that "many Y are X". What it means is that there is a component of eastern culture/philosophy that makes people -- even if it is only a few people -- behave like X. It is logically the same as a genetic predisposition to a disease. Having the genetic predisposition doesn't mean you will get the disease, it just means you are more likely to (with the Dormouse example, you jumped from "many" to "every", again changing the issue).

    This is the same issue we face with Middle-Eastern terrorism and it has a secondary effect: even people who don't actively participate in it tacitly condone it via their silence. Moe pointed out that in the US there is a strong cultural pressure against such acts (animal cruelty).

    It may be helpful to explain the mechanism for how this would work:

    Lets say for the sake of argument that 1% of people in China and 1% of people in the US would like to perform animal cruelty. In China, the general consensus of the other 99% doesn't (apparently) actively discourage the act. In the US, you get utter outrage. That probably faked video clip of a Marine throwing a dog off a cliff made front-page headlines yesterday. It is considered that taboo that every individual incident that the public find out about is subject to extreme outrage, which is also reflected in the law. The result is that even if we share the same 1% of people who want to abuse animals, the serious cultural and legal pressure against it stops most of them from doing it.

    So even if we presume that the human predilection for animal cruelty is inborn and not socially created (ie, is equal across cultural lines), the social pressure against it will still have the effect of reducing animal cruelty in countries where that social pressure exists.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2008
  15. Mar 6, 2008 #14
    EDIT: oops, my browser didn't load the posts after my quote. Sorry for repeating what's already been said.

    Alice in wonderland; my favorite book :biggrin:.

    1) I understand you concern, and I admit to having had a strong emotional reaction, which is why I waited a day to make a post, and also why I've read carefully what I've written to make sure that I'm being rational.

    2) I'm not talking about that specific video in particular. Like I said before, I've seen many of these, there is obviously always anterior motives to these videos, but these are not against oriental culture, they are usually against fur-trade, animal cruelty (like those WWF infomercials). The one I speak of about the fish being eaten alive was actual from a show about weird food customs, and was not critical of the practice (it seemed to be endorsed by the restaurant), it was I who found it appalling, while the video glorified the practice.

    Also, beyond the intention of the videos: these practices take place in public locations. If such a thing were to happen here in public, the outrage would be instant. I want to understand why there is such an indifference towards it over there.

    3) The problem here is that while you think my emotions are impairing my judgement, I believe yours are impairing yours, so it's bound to be a bumpy conversation :smile:.

    To go along with your example, this the way I'm seeing it: the majority of people who suffer from dementia are above age X. This does not mean that all people older than X are demented, but it does strongly suggest that a quality or aspect of being above that age promotes or increases the probability of dementia.
    All I'm saying is that there is an aspect of oriental culture that seems to raise the incidence of this sort of thing.

    I also don't understand why you think my comment about human nature was critical of oriental culture, when it was intended as the opposite. I believe that this is not something that is artificial of oriental culture, but that it is something that is natural in all human beings, and that some cultures have managed to suppress it to some extent more than others.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2008
  16. Mar 7, 2008 #15
    I don't think it's particular to Chinese culture at all, when you hear about some of the animal abuses that go on, right on my doorstep, then you realise some people are just mentally backward, and yes immoral. That said though I have seen a worrying trend in internet violence towards animals from China. Seems to be some sort of fetish thing where you crush animals to death. I checked out Snopes on it thinking it was a myth or staged, but it apparently seems genuine.


    This site contains some very disturbing images, which can be clicked on to open them. Do not view if you are easily offended.

    However this is not particular to certain cultures, by any means. Even in this country I've heard of people tying firecrackers to cats, or inserting them into them, and thereby killing them, while people whoop and cheer and laugh. There are cases where animals are beaten to death with bricks, or Dogs left in the most unimaginable squalor, and horses chained in areas where there is little or no grazing and starving to death. So there are the morally repugnant everywhere.

    I've also watched terrorist cut the head of a human being, without a shred of remorse. Some people are just psychopathic, it's not as unusual as you might think; a scientific study for example showed that there are more people with psychopathic tendencies in business in management positions than in all other areas of the population, they may be functional, but the scant regard for people or animals and lack of empathy some exhibit is neither rare nor particularly surprising.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2008
  17. Mar 7, 2008 #16


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    But you're still making a lot of presumptions, apparently based on your emotional reaction.

    For example, you've apparently assumed that these actions are motivated by sadism, and are pervasive in Oriental culture and human nature.

    (I was trying to point out that you have absolutely no grounds for concluding it's pervasive; Loops has pointed out that there isn't necessarily any sadism involved)

    Another one is that you've already decided that the civilized world in general does not practice ethics and morals -- and your primary evidence is apparently these videos. (And, as someone already objected, you've already decided what the "right" ethics and morals are)

    My posts have certainly been motivated by my dislike for seeing people suckered by propaganda and otherwise specious reasoning -- but I don't think I've said anything substantially wrong, nor provided inadequate reasoning.

    (e.g. at the moment I don't really care whether or not we decide that the civilized world is immoral and unethical; my care that such accusations have been made hastily)
  18. Mar 7, 2008 #17
    No offense to you, moe, but I really wish this thread had some sort of warning on it. The descriptions of animal torture in the videos moe wrote about in the opening post has now really and truly upset me. I'm very connected to words generating images in my mind, and now I'm beyond upset. I realise that wasn't moe's intent, but damn. Some sort of warning that reading the opening post could bother some people would have been appreciated.
  19. Mar 8, 2008 #18
    Really sorry Georgina! I should've thought of putting a warning, I tried to edit my post to include a warning but it's no longer editable. I don't know if a mod can add a warning.

    1) If it's not sadism, then what is it? I won't describe the videos in any more detail, but what goes on certainly would not affect the quality of the fur, nor would it make the process of retrieving the fur easier (in fact, it makes it much harder for obvious reasons).

    If you can think of any other reason why they would do this, please say so.

    2) my primary evidence is not these videos. These videos are just the straw that broke the camel's back, if you will. They just shocked me into realizing, or admitting, things I've been pondering on for some time now.

    Very well then: it is my humble opinion that:
    1) freedom of speech
    2) freedom of individuality
    3) equality
    4) respect of people of all colors, creeds, sexes, and sexual preference
    5) the ethical treatment of people and animals
    6) responsible use of natural resources and one's environment

    is the "right" set of ethics. But I guess you're right, this view is certainly not popular, seeing as 99% of the world doesn't seem to follow.

    Anyway, how many thousands of years has it taken us as a species to come up with this admirable (or at least fair) set of ethics?
    pathetic. even rodents score higher than us on that scale.

    Those ethics are all nice and good... but how well do we practice what we preach.

    3) I think you should consider that your presumptions about my post are not clouding your own judgement.

    First of all, emotions are not all bad. We all have them. Constantly. Right? I can't turn those off... nor should I. They are there for a reason; they are a function of the brain like any other, and do serve a purpose if you don't let them get the best of you.

    You keep saying propaganda... propaganda against what? oriental people? ... if anything, all these types of videos and documentaries (I'm sure you've seen them on TV, thought the stuff on the youtube ones wouldn't be allowed on TV) are propaganda against animal cruelty. Is that wrong? SHOULDN'T we be shocked by this? shouldn't there be "propaganda" against animal cruelty?

    Are you saying that the fact that an un-proportionate number of these incidences come from oriental sources is somehow a deliberate attempt do demonize orientals? these are high claims to make about these organizations. If this is what you're saying (I don't know if you are), what is your evidence?

    And as far as my civilized world comment. OK. Name one province, state, city, town, or street in the U.S, Canada, England, France, etc. etc. where you can publicly do what these people are doing, where people wouldn't be completely outraged by this (and probably stop you).
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2008
  20. Mar 8, 2008 #19
    Ehem. Yes it sucks. But (once again to pull the China card), have you seen a day at the executions in China? I mean yes they die (relatively) fast, but still.
  21. Mar 8, 2008 #20
    See, but I'm not saying that this is something that has arisen in China. I'm saying that this actually the "default" state of the human being, and that some of us (as in cultures) have (rather unsuccessfully) managed to suppress it. My evidence? Look at 99% of the people and their actions during 99% of recorded history... appalling!

    I'm saying this sadism is our nature, that we are basically bad.

    I'm not as pessimistic as I sound; because I do think the world is becoming progressively (though crawlingly slowly) a better place, and that we are learning from our mistakes and learning to reject our natural impulse for sadism. But this progress is not going to go any faster unless we become honest with ourselves about ourselves.

    Let's come to terms with how rotten we are first, only then can we really fix this.

    I know I sound like a complete cynic. Sorry, I'm just being honest. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe the majority of human societies are wonderful and ethical and I'm way off :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2008
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