South Africa

Letter to the Editor: Morally blind to cruelty against animals

By Daily Maverick 14 July 2016

Your columnist, Marianne Thamm (“Fanon meets Biko meets JM Coetzee as UCT academic row over food highlights racial fault lines”, 13 July 2016), frames the events at the UCT Faculty of Humanities Board meeting on 10 September 2015 as a “food fight”. By DAVID BENATAR and ELISA GALGUT, Philosophy Department, University of Cape Town.

Marianne Thamm wonders how “academic staff at an institution in the throes of one of the most tumultuous student movements since the 1970s … find themselves so thoroughly preoccupied and distracted by matters of nutrition”.

Although she adds to “matters of nutrition”, the words “(or murder, depending on how you look at it)”, it is clear that the parenthetical addition is a fob-off, for her incredulity would be unintelligible if one took seriously the immense suffering and slaughter inflicted on billions of animals annually.

In the event that one did take (animal) suffering and death seriously, one would not be surmising that when “it gets too hot … some run into the kitchen to find refuge”.

Instead, one would wonder how a Faculty of Humanities that claims to care about issues of ethics and justice could be so morally blind that it voted overwhelmingly to perpetuate cruelty, even as it professes to be progressive.

The chilling effects of the race-baiting by some members of the faculty cannot be an excuse for not taking the interests of animals seriously.

Moreover, as Ms Thamm should know, the initial call to the University to reduce its complicity with the maltreatment of animals preceded any of the 2015 student protests and was thus not a response to those protests.

Nor does the heartless treatment of animals have anything to do with race. Those who insist on viewing it through such prisms are distracting themselves and others from an important ethical issue. DM


In other news...

July 18 marks Nelson Mandela day. All over the country, South African citizens devote 67 minutes to charitable causes in memory of Madiba. It's a great initiative and one of those few occasions in South Africa where we come together as a nation in pursuit of a common cause. An annual 67 minutes isn't going to cut it though.

In the words of Madiba: "A critical, independent and investigative free press is the lifeblood of any democracy."

Every day Daily Maverick investigates and exposes the deep rot of state capture and corruption but we need your help. Without our readers' support we simply won't survive. We created Maverick Insider as a membership platform where our readers can become part of our community while ensuring that we can keep doing the investigations that we do and, crucially, that our articles remain free to everyone that reads them. Sign up to Maverick Insider this Mandela Month and make that meaningful contribution last longer than 67 minutes.For whatever amount you choose, you can support Daily Maverick and it only takes a minute.

Support Daily MaverickPayment options

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or if you are already an Insider.


Zuma hasn’t laid a case related to suicide bomber plot – and reveals new assassination threat

By Ferial Haffajee

Because the Catholic Church classified them as a type of fish, beavers are allowed to be eaten on Good Friday and through Lent.