Thursday, April 5, 2012

Pink Slime and Rationality

As I've been reading about the response and counter-response to pink slime (Erik Marcus has been linking to a lot of the good stuff), it strikes me that the meat industry and its defenders don't get people's objections to the stuff. It doesn't matter how emphatically they tell people it is safe. It doesn't matter how many times they say it is just beef. Those are rational arguments, but the negative reaction to pink slime isn't based primarily on reason. It's not all about what people think but about what they feel. People are grossed out. People are disturbed by the imagery. People are being reminded of messy processes that bring them their meat (processes that are mostly hidden, ignored, or deflected in people's daily consumption of it--in other words, people aren't generally required to rationally face the specific, concrete reality of how meat comes to their tables).

And now defenders of meat want to use reason to assuage people about how they eat meat? How people eat meat has virtually nothing to do with reason: it has to do with tradition, culture, sentimentality, emotion, and desire, but not reason (I'm not even talking about arguments defending eating: I'm talking about how people eat which meat they do: turkey at Thanksgiving, pigs but not dogs, ground beef at all). Now the meat industry wants to turn in outraged perplexity to reasoned arguments? Now they are angered that people are responding to meat in ways that aren't entirely responsive to rational thought?