“Don’t eat our national mascot!”
A couple of weeks ago there was a petition to the Swiss “Bundesrat” (the governing body of Switzerland), signed by some 11’000 people around the world, demanding that Chinese people mustn’t eat the meat of Saint Bernards any more. Why? Because it’s the national mascot of Switzerland. According to petitioners, Chinese who are craving the meat of these dogs are “abominations of humanity” and shouldn’t be allowed to live out their “dark desires” for such “evil pleasures”.
When searching the web for a picture of a Saint Bernard for this article, I found an older news report about the same topic, maybe the very one that triggered this petition. You can read it at the European Vegetarian Union’s homepage.
Democracy: the magic is in the numbers
That vegetarians lobby against consumption of any meat is understandable. The trouble begins with this petition – the amount of collected signatures versus the measures it demands. 11’000 persons signed a petition that wants to force over 1’000’000’000 – a billion – people to do the bidding of these 11’000. That’s a ratio of roughly one vs one hundred thousand. No true democracy can even think about such demands in earnest – once it does, it’s no democracy any more. Only a totalitarian dictatorship would consider to force the will of so few upon so many.
“What, this is your holy animal? How funny.”
But the worst in all this is the reasoning behind the whole petition: Chinese people shouldn’t be allowed to eat Saint Bernards because this dog is the national mascot of Switzerland and deserves respect for this.
Time for a U-turn. For the Hindu religion, the cow is a holy symbol. This time we’re not talking about emotions or national pride – we’re talking about a religion and what’s holy for nearly a billion people. Ethically seen, that should weigh a lot more.
Imagine a minuscule percentage of these people – say, 0.1% of them – would sign a petition that people in the Western World shouldn’t eat beef any more. We’re speaking about a theoretical petition signed by a million people, not just 11’000.
What would happen if such a petition would indeed come to life? What would you say if some “ragtag brownskins from the third world” would try to forbid you to eat beef ever again? Would you want to miss out on your roast beef, beefsteak, entrecote or hamburger even once, save for ever?
Righteous or self-righteous?
If a handful of first worlders want something and the billions of third worlders have to bow to their whims, it’s not a free world any more.
Before signing such a petition, people should think twice – whether they truly want to go down the same path as the Crusaders, the Conquistadors and the Nazis before. Do they really think there is no other way to defend the rights of animals but to defy the rights of human beings in the process?