Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Mirth is Murder.

I had to get up stupidly early, walked Jerk in the rain, had an argument about a bill, then got on a four hour train journey to go to a gig in a huge room with hardly any people in it and yet somehow yesterday was excellent. Oh, it was miserable for a very long time but then in the late afternoon I checked my Facebook and saw I had a message from Sharon Smith. Sharon Smith is brilliant and is worthy of constant praise and admiration. Sharon Smith has recently decided to become vegetarian.

I don’t think I’ll ever get a bigger thrill than reading that someone has turned vegetarian after hearing my anti-carnivore rant on Precious Little. It is my crowning achievement and can’t possibly be bettered. Sharon Smith is brilliant.

The rant started the day after I had gigged with a comedian in Reading a couple of months ago. I like him a lot but he did something on stage that really fucking pissed me off. He made a vegetarian “joke”.

Now, I will freely admit that I have absolutely no sense of humour at all when it comes to vegetarianism but that is mainly because practically all comedians have no sense of humour about it. How many tedious fucking times have you heard a comedian say that there are probably more vegetarians in the room but they’re too weak to put their hand up? Yes, very good. LOL my balls off. You’re absolutely right. The fictional lack of protein in our diet certainly has made us weaker than you despite your colonic cancer due to you packing your arse with beef, you murdering cunt. If vegetarians are weak it is solely down to the boredom provided to us by comedians. Comedians are cunts and Sharon Smith is brilliant.

Not that this particular comedian would ever come off with something as hack as that. But it was still incredible. I’m well aware that it was just a joke but hearing the passion in his voice and the cheer and applause of the audience just made me sick. His routine is based on things like Quorn products that claim to be chicken or beef flavoured. The end line is that “Someone had to kill and eat an animal to make sure it tasted like that, you self-aggrandising cunts!” I think you can see an audience of meat-eating fuckheads beating their chests and howling at that. But let’s actually think about it. Firstly, “flavoured”? Surely it’s “style” meaning the texture of the product and I don’t think anyone had to kill and eat anything to get the texture right for Quorn. After all, you carnivores rule the fucking planet and people who actually have a soul and can empathise with other living beings have no choice but to constantly see what it is that you’ve murdered for lunch. A billion chefs on TV. None of them vegetarian.

But here’s the bit that really got to me: “self-aggrandising cunts”. I really do have a severe problem with that for two very good reasons. Firstly, is there anything more self-aggrandising that eating dead animal flesh? How fucking important do you actually think you fucking are? “Hmmm…I’m a bit peckish. An animal must die!” If vegetarians are in anyway smug about not herding animals together, terrifying them and eventually slaughtering them then I think that’s fucking fair enough. Even in 2010 vegetarians are treated like they’re weird. STOP AND THINK ABOUT IT. You eat blood and veins and flesh. How the fuck are WE weird?

The second reason is perhaps more stupid. I have seen this comedian perform a hundred times and he often admits to his belief in God. You see? That’s my real mock-beef right there. Vegetarianism is my belief and I just find it insane to hear the phrase “self-aggrandising” being used against vegetarianism by someone whose belief is that he is a child of the one true creator. Blimey, that’s really pretty self-aggrandising stuff. Hey, at least my belief system is based on solid evidence and clear fact and not just on a dream a daft prick had a couple of thousand years ago. In a way, I hope there is a God. That whole “Thou Shalt Not Kill” commandment is going to look pretty massive come judgement day.

Yes, it was a joke and I shouldn’t take it this seriously. I am an idiot. But one for a good cause I hope you’ll see. And there really is a good reason why Quorn and other companies use phrases like “beef/chicken style” and that’s because becoming a vegetarian is a big deal. We’re brought up to not think about what we’re eating and when you realise that you’re eating Death In White Wine Sauce you want something that will wean you off meat kindly. It’s hard starting off in vegetarianism and most people are fucking thick. Me included. On my first day of being a vegetarian I put gravy on my chips and didn’t realise for a couple of days that gravy is meat tears of the dead. But I stuck with my vegetarianism because I believed in something important: I was trying to fuck a girl who was vegetarian.

Hopefully, Sharon will have something similarly important to keep her focused. And she will hear it all in the weeks and months ahead. “What you don’t eat meat? Not at all? Do you eat fish? Do you wear leather? If there was no other food would you kill an animal?” Fucking tedious. I’m not vegan (though I probably should be and admire any vegans greatly), I own two leather items (my belt that I bought when I was 18, three years before I became vegetarian, and a pair of leather shoes that my Dad was going to throw away) and if there was no other food around then I can only imagine that there are no other people either so would I kill an animal? Maybe. But as there are no other people either I’ll almost certainly fuck it first. Luckily, we have other food so the question is ridiculous but not as ridiculous as the reasons that meat-eaters give for being anti-vegetarian. My favourite one came from my own brother-in-law: “Are you trying to tell me that if cows could kill humans they wouldn’t do it?” That’s right. He eats meat as a form of defence.

Anyway, my point is that Sharon Smith is brilliant.


Daniel said...

The rant on Precious Little converted me too! That's two down...

Ben said...

I would put a witty comment, but it's the one thing I have no sense of humour about. All my life I've had meat eaters thinking they are superior, or at least, trying to pull me down so they feel superior.

Initially you build up an arsenal of arguments to the same relentless idiotic points that the morons fire at you.

The first question is nearly always "Why are you a vegetarian?"

After having a range of different, often too respectful, answers I have now defaulted to "Because I absolutely hate everyone who eats meat"

End of that line of questioning.

Anonymous said...

self-aggrandising cunts!

Michael Legge said...

That's pretty much my thought on it too, Ben. Well done!

Daniel, you are brilliant!

Bob said...

I love the concept of meat-eating as self defence.

Your rant didn't convert me but only because I am lazy and weak. I have utmost respect for veggies and vegans but have yet to find the inner strength to not eat meat. I do get a bit guilty sometimes. I have a special amount of contempt for the rabid meat eaters who wank on about how they are allowed to eat meat because they would be happy to kill it themselves if they had to, the logic makes my head break a bit.

Anonymous said...

The stupid comments from meat eaters are so predictable and yet they all think they are being really challenging and original. But, that said, I have never heard the cows would kill you if they could defense before!
I am vegan and have found the comments at least triple since I made the transition from vegetarianism about 2 years ago but it's worth putting up with their supidity to know no-one dies on my behalf anymore.
I would recommend veganism to all veggies its much easier than you think and the dairy and egg industries kill plenty of animals so it makes sense.

Spaced1999 said...

Why shouldn't I eat the flesh of another creature just so I can feel superior to something in this crappy world?

It's alright for you, Legge, if you want to feel superior to someone you can just go and record another podcast with James Hingley.

I don't have a Hingley! In fact, I have a horrible feeling I'm someone else's Hingley.

Fuck it, I'm off to punch a pig in the face.

Paul M. Fox said...

Aggrandisement is an interesting term for the rationally deficient comic to have made: sure, a leftover (and in his case perhaps Abrahamically derived) sense of selflessness-as-virtue/pride-as-shame might imply that to self-aggrandise is to add a sense of greatness where there is none, but the phrase could just as easily be interpreted as 'self improvement' -- a concept which might still leave one open to being called a cunt, but for entirely different reasons.

Yes, it's tedious to take comedy seriously. It makes for a numb feeling, the sort you might get after studying a once-magical novel on a word-by-word level, learning the method of a magic trick or watching the footage from the camera you installed in the bowl of your best friend's girlfriend's toilet. And jokes about unconscionable things can definitely be funny as long as they're not predicated on the idea that the thing in question righteous, reasonable or acceptable. Rape jokes have been funny since the 1960s for a good reason: rapists don't tell them. Even if @Spaced1999 actually intended to bring on a rain of porcine pain, no one would see the humour in it. They (off-colour jokes, not pigs) are puerile absurdities, signifying a fracture in the mosaic of common sense.

Here's where I lose any support I may have had in this rant: I'm an atheist, anarcho-capitalist vegan. I will fight for these rationally proven beliefs until I die (at which point I'd like to be butchered and the meat distributed equally to the poor.) What that means is that in order to work out what I the morality of any action, I begin with my epistemology, construct a chain of custody of rational proofs to said action, and reconcile the moral ideal with the constraints of reality. Everyone understands the omnivore versus ethical eating debate, so I won't both to report my findings, except to say that there is a significant state subsidy of the meat and dairy industries that makes the free market largelt redundant.

Sharon Smith, Mr. Legge and @Daniel have apparently applied rationality in their own ways as well (though I'll happily debate any of you on the inconsistency of stopping at vegetarianism); the comic who made the joke than spawned the blog post has not.

Now it may be that, being a theist, he believes his patron god or gods are specist, and have elected the human race above all others, in which case he is within his morality to eat whatever he likes. If that were the case, I would put vegetarianism to him as a mitzvah -- an non-required good deed that would invite the grace of his god. If he has a response which invalidated that course of action, I would be very afraid of him, because his omnipotent imaginary friend has no interest in logic or personal gain.

Much more likely his hostility springs from his grating realisation that he is persisting in a state of moral inconsistency. For some people, it can be like a tiny pinhole rupture in the airtight hull of an aeroplane: they can hear the little whistle and feel whispered the rush of the air on their necks. It makes them angry, but they don't quite know why. It's fairly easy to diagnose that sort of intellectual jealousy in a person, in my experience. Just ask them why they hate Arnold Schwarzenegger. If it's because he's a fascistic, bible-bashing rapist, then they're probably not the jealous type; if, on the other hand, it's because he's a self-made millionaire body builder who was born poor and is now the governor of California, then you can start pitying their pathetic lives.

On the other hand, this dude who made the joke might just be a cuntword. Either way, don't let it go unchallenged.

Anonymous said...

as the previous commenter said over-analysing comedy IS tedious...But:
the problem with vegetarian jokes is that they rest on the false premise that killing animals for fun (meat-eating after all is not necessary but quite pleasurable) is ok and therefore anyone who objects to or even refuses to support the meat industry is deluded or an arrogant moralist.
They skip the morality and go straight onto the piss take.
this means that the braying seal-like audience are actively discouraged from thinking.
so when people say hey- maybe killing for fun is a bit i dunno... wrong. They sound like lunatics.
that's why I don't share my vegan cup-cakes with people who make jokes about vegetarianism and instead i plot to shit in their favourite shoes.
kisses xxxx

Anonymous said...

ok so maybe posting messages twice makes me look like MORE of a lunatic but i ment it both times x

Sodhats said...

As well as those two problems, I hate when comedians get a round of applause just through ending a rant with a climactic full stop. They've not deserved a round of applause, they've just gotten one because it would be awkward if they didn't get one. Imagine if he shouted "self-aggrandising cunts", and it was met with silence and he just had to start his next piece of material.

Janet Street Porter got one on Would I Lie to You just because she got up out of her seat and walked over to David Mitchell to dramatically and confrontationally make what was actually a rubbish point.

Bloody cheap device.