Tuesday, 18 August 2009

A Libertarian Quandary


Here is a theoretical libertarian test if ever there was one. And emotive as they come, too.

Calls for law change after family barbeques dog

Animal lovers in New Zealand want to make it illegal for people to eat their pets, after a Tongan family killed and barbequed their pet dog.

The Taufa family killed their pet staffordshire bull terrier Ripper and then invited friends round for a barbeque.

Lupi Taufa says it's common practice in her homeland Tonga.

"Dog, horse, we eat it in Tonga. It's good food for us," she said.

Derek Haddy works for the SPCA, New Zealand's equivalent of the RSPCA.

"I find it quite disturbing that somebody would kill a pet and then eat it. I'm not OK with that, but unfortunately the law allows you to do it," he said.

Dog lovers will be jumping up and down like a demented yorkie about this, one would imagine. But is it any different from keeping chickens and topping one every now and then for a Sunday roast? Or fattening a calf for a couple of years before selling it to an abbatoir?

If not, what is the intelligence threshold for which animals are allowed to be kept for food, and which aren't?




15 comments:

Costigan Quist said...

The pet or food split does seem to owe a lot more to historical accident than anything else. We certainly wouldn't be eating pigs if it was down to intelligence.

marksany said...

As long as the dog was slaughtered humanely, I see no problem: the dog was their property to do with as they wish, provided they treated it humanely and did not use it to commit violence on others. Different cultures value different animals and animal products as food; no libertarian issues there, surely.

Rab C. Nesbitt said...

I take it they like a Hot Dog now and again!

dmc said...

well you never here anything about people eating monkeys who are intelligent,it is just western conditioning.As was already mentioned no qualms about eating pork though pigs are alsovery intelligent.I love dogs but wouldn't eat them,but that's my decision.
No quandary at all,is it harming humanity?

Rab C. Nesbitt said...

Am I the only one who found this story hilarious?

Pavlov's Cat said...

pigs could have the IQ of a Government minister ( which admitedly is not high) and we'd still eat them, it's their own fault for being so damn tasty.

Curmudgeon said...

I don't think it's a dilemma, really, as marksany says, "As long as the dog was slaughtered humanely, I see no problem: the dog was their property to do with as they wish, provided they treated it humanely and did not use it to commit violence on others."

Maybe more of a dilemma is whether you should be allowed to humanely euthanise an unwanted litter of kittens.

Dick Puddlecote said...

The initial views have surprised me, I must admit. Thought I would be rather isolated in not seeing much wrong with the story.

Like Curmudgeon, my thinking mirrors marksany's exactly (oooh, kittens, now that's even more emotive!)

Costigan/DMC: Good point about porcine intelligence, as is Pavlov's observation about their darn tastiness. :-)

Rab: Yes, indeed. The funniest bit for me was the apparent confusion by the Tongan woman as to the fuss.

frosty said...

Im afraid people could be barking up the wrong tree with this one,if they could just paws for thought for a moment they might see that theres no bone of contention here,its up to the owners if they want to eat their dead mutt,we ate our Great Dane a couple of years back lasted for weeks he did,we bbq the best meat then have the rest in a curry, fucking marvelous.Rover used to love chewing on a meaty bone then we chewed on his,ha ha how ironic.

The witch from Essex said...

I'd rather the dog eat the Tongans. There's usually plenty of meat on them.

Frank Davis said...

I can't imagine that the dog was actually a 'pet' for those Tongans in the sense of being a member of the family, like all the pets I've had.

It sounds more like the dog was just another animal that was being fattened up like any other farm animal.

If not, do Tongans eat members of their own families from time to time, inviting neighbours around to, er, chew the fat?

Curmudgeon said...

It is an interesting feature of present-day society that people freely choose to give large sums of money to animal-related charities which are probably not in the first rank of those charities the government would want money given to.

I don't see it as inconsistent with libertarianism to say that the gratuitous killing of animals which are not being used as food, however humane, is not permitted, and unwanted healthy animals should first be offered to relevant charities.

Leg-iron said...

In China, 'dog' is a menu item, not a pet. In France, 'horse' is just another farm animal raised for meat.

It's pot-luck if you're an animal and you hang around humans. We're not even consistent. I keep goldfish which I would never dream of eating, but I go fishing for trout and when I catch one I beat it to death, rip its guts out and cook it without a second thought.

I'm an animal lover though. I express that love gastronomically by absorbing the dear things into my very being.

It gives me a warm glow inside.

Tom Paine said...

I can't see the quandary, to be honest. Their dog, their choice. It wouldn't be mine, but liberty is about accepting other peoples' choices that you wouldn't make personally.

BTS said...

"If not, what is the intelligence threshold for which animals are allowed to be kept for food, and which aren't?"

That's one of the reasons why I'm vegetarian - I simply avoid the whole issue.

But if someone wants to eat dog, why not?

In fact, if anyone wants to try cat at some point, my housemate has a really annoying one which I'd happily donate..?