Barbarians at the Gate

Forest Nymph

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As some of you know I'm in a program for sustainable food systems in order to obtain my Masters degree. My focus is plant based for the environment.

First, the good news. On our first field course I discovered a couple of people in my cohort are vegetarian (though not vegan), and I have the sympathy of a couple of fellow students of indigenous heritage who have their own version of animal rights and see the damage of animal agriculture, particularly cattle ranching, but farming animals for meat at all. They believe in leaving animals alone unless you hunt or fish. Even if I don't agree with that fully, I appreciate their concerns for caged animals and their recognition of the environmental impact of agriculture. Also the main professor who will be grading my first prospectus encouraged me to do a research question on cattle ranching attitudes before and after being exposed to information about water usage by cattle farms.

The bad news is that I met a rancher who said crops would use more water than her cattle and it would have been considered disrespectful on her property to correct her...and a man who raises a small number of pigs to slaughter gave the "bacon tho/mah ancestors" speech on another interview...and bizarrely one of the instructors (fortunately not the one in charge of grades just the field trip) got VERY defensive about my critiques of cattle ranching and water use even after I gave her fact after fact she was just irrationally like "no the land is different here it's perfect for ranching."

I posted this in support because I met the same stupidity in the field that I see online, the same emotional attachment to meat despite facts, the same misinformation, the same arrogant and ignorant "bacon yummy" bull crap, and realized facts and research will never change these peoples minds. Really it's enough to make me want to go into policy to force laws upon them without their cooperation.

A beacon of light, I must admit, was a member of my cohort who encouraged my project after he had the insight that talking about ranching made him irrationally defensive. So there's hope.

What to do, what to do.
 

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What to do, what to do.

You do the best you can, you be the beacon of light, by not being rude or strident and by being as kind to those around you as you are to the animals then you will prevail. It may seem futile and yet you may just affect that one person who then goes on to affect 10 people and one of those may do something that changes everything! Shine your light bright!

There is an article on CNN today that brought me hope. It was political so I won't post it but basically it said that the current "crap" that is going on has done more to motivate voters and women and minorities than all the "kindly" governing that went on before it. The night is darkest just before the dawn (they say) and I am holding onto that hope for all aspects of life.

Emma JC
 
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Forest Nymph

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Yeah...being nice to people is kind of hard when they're acting up themselves. I was extremely polite to the cattle rancher, but the man with the pigs just rudely put me on the spot and started his bacon tho speech simply because I mentioned when we introduced ourselves that I want to do research on plant based for the environment; also the woman who became irrational about the cattle simply wasn't accepting science, she was saying ludicrous things like "it's different here, it's fine to graze cattle here" and "the ranchers know this land better than you do, you've been here for four days, don't generalize." I ended up changing the subject by saying I'd research it. I don't tend to be overly abrasive in those kinds of situations, but on the other hand I don't think being "nice" to certain people is effective, in the broader world...I do see its value though in work/school/personal relationships though.

I have a new challenge, btw. My part time job involves working at a sustainability house on campus where they grow food among other things, usually all of their events are vegetarian and skew about 90 percent plant based. But they're "borrowing" some pigs this year to revamp the soil, no one will hurt the pigs on campus, we just take care of them and let them crap on the lawn to rebuild the soil quality, but with the knowledge that when we give them back they will be slaughtered. I definitely have a conundrum here. I'm already thinking about ways I could free them, and then thinking about the consequences to my co-workers and the university.

Life is hard.
 
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Emma JC

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What if, while the pigs are there, you were able to you use the opportunity to raise awareness of what will happen to them and maybe fund raise to buy and send them to a farm sanctuary? maybe make signs to put near them etc? rather than putting your education in jeopardy? name them? to make it personal.... Miss Piggy NotBacon, Master Bob NotCutlet, Little Piggy NoMarket.... sorry, now I am just getting silly.

Emma JC
 

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I used to date a third-grade teacher. She told me that every year when they read Charlotte's Web, half the class became vegetarians. But it only lasted a couple of weeks. However, like any lesson it requires reinforcement.
 
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Well here's the thing. Im a member of Vegan Club and can let them know what is going on. The problem is the professor who acts in an advisory capacity already told us at orientation today that he was informally enforcing carnist rationale. He told us not to humanize the pigs or treat them as pets and he tried to make it a joke, he said don't dress them in clothes, but it was readily apparent to me if I did what Emma JC suggested, I would have to quit my job there or I would surely be fired. If I quietly kept the job though I could potentially plan a rescue, that would most certainly get me expelled from the university.

I've met these pig farmers. Last spring at the May Day event... The wife was telling us how they treat them so well but because of state or local laws the pigs have to be shipped off to the same horrific slaughter houses that factory farmed animals go to.

I wonder if grad school is for me, I'm already having so many tough experiences and classes don't officially resume until Monday.
 
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Forest Nymph

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I forgot to mention that some of my new co workers had a chicken murdering party today. They invited us to a cook out by the river complete with a lesson in killing your own "food."

Obviously I passed and just ignored it but I think I might have to get a different job. Because this is a rural area with lots of small farms you get those primitivist environmentalists singing to the tune of Lierre Keith.

Lierre Keith if you don't know is an ignorant piece of **** affiliated with Deep Green Resistance who claims insane things like vegetarians can't get Vitamin A, D or K2, and hunting will save the planet. I wish environmental studies didn't exist as a major. Environmental science or nothing, these enviro studies people can live in a cave man fantasy world.


Plus I will have to back off if I start defending the pigs or be terminated anyway. I'd rather be terminated from this job for legal action rather than be expelled from the university for a late night pig snatching.

All of this makes it even more important that I get my Masters degree. I need to stay focused on my project/thesis.
 
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Forest Nymph

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There is a speaker coming to the university this fall who wrote a book called Total Liberation! about animal rights and environmental movements. I'm really excited about reading his book and going to his speech. I also have feedback from members of vegan club who want to help liberate the pigs, so things are looking ok at the moment.
 
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Name the pigs, feed them treats, hang out and play with them, post pictures on school social media pages, help everyone else see them as the unique individuals they are.

Maybe it'll spark an outcry for the pigs to be rescued (legally)....if nothing else they'll get a little compassion and your fellow students might think differently about their next ham sandwich.
 
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The first semester meeting of Vegan Club is on Tuesday, then I'm going to Berkeley on the 27th for the animal liberation convergence. So that's good.

I'm used to my emotions or ethics being more practical/present and my intellect or logic being more abstract, but I've decided the only way I can do what I need to accomplish in grad school is make my strategic thinking more personal and present, by basically being persistent and manipulative. I don't like being that way, I like being frank about my values and feelings, but there's going to have to be some of me sitting through classes I can't stand with a smile on my face, and some writing of papers which basically say things I know the professor wants to hear. I usually despise this kind of pretense and treachery, but I'm not going to help the pigs, let alone get my Master's project going, if I can't keep my eye on the "prize"- as it were.

Something fun that I will be able to do is give a presentation on PETA in one of my classes. We get to talk about the history, mission statement, goals, and race/gender issues surrounding ANY non-profit of our choice, discussing ways they may or may not compromise in questionable ways to achieve end goals. The professor gave an example World Wildlife Fund partnering with fossil fuel companies. PETA is perfect because they offend people, and I'll get a chance to explain what they have done right historically, why they engage in some of the methods that they do, and also get to fairly discuss things they are doing which may not be effective, or what is questionable.
 
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...there's going to have to be some of me sitting through classes I can't stand with a smile on my face...


Have you ever considered that a smile of derision is very difficult to distinguish from a smile of agreement?

...some writing of papers which basically say things I know the professor wants to hear.


Let’s start with the assumption that profs are not interested in people unquestioningly agreeing with them. They are academics. What they are interested in is whether or not a student has a sound understanding of the arguments.

Expressions such as, “It could be argued that…”, or “So and so proposes that…”, “On the other hand…” and “Contrary wise…” can be extremely useful. You don’t have to suck up to anybody.

To thine own self be true. Polonius to Laertes.

Reading between the lines I get the distinct impression that you are really quite enjoying all of this. :)

Roger.
 
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Have you ever considered that a smile of derision is very difficult to distinguish from a smile of agreement?




Let’s start with the assumption that profs are not interested in people unquestioningly agreeing with them. They are academics. What they are interested in is whether or not a student has a sound understanding of the arguments.

Expressions such as, “It could be argued that…”, or “So and so proposes that…”, “On the other hand…” and “Contrary wise…” can be extremely useful. You don’t have to suck up to anybody.

To thine own self be true. Polonius to Laertes.

Reading between the lines I get the distinct impression that you are really quite enjoying all of this. :)

Roger.

No actually I'm not. I considered leaving the grad school program.

I've spent days wanting to run away from these people, thinking academia is a cult.

This is a lot more complicated than I have even explained. I haven't gone into detail lately. There are certain things I don't think the department chair wants disagreement on.

But thanks for the support anyway.
 
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So tonight I got thrown some straw man about Israeli soldiers who murder Palestinians wearing vegan boots, and told that vegans care more about animals than people. I'm among the most noxious, social justice obsessed, call out culture people possible.

I'm not saying they're all like that. It only takes one or three to shout down other people if they change the subject or don't follow the narrative. My friend actually said it's making her so anxious to be in this program she's afraid she might have an epileptic seizure in class and she's not even vegan. She's totally serious and bless her she's speaking to the professors.

I should have never left hard science for social science. The current academic culture in Northern California is self indulgent, absurd and rude. Like thanks, I cared about indigenous people and people of color until you talked to me like I'm Donald Trump or Richard Spencer repeatedly for no good reason. Now I care more about animals than all people you piece of ****.

Another woman who calmly said that we are all doing our best, have different passions or gifts and are good people who can't solve the enormity of the problems of the world was snidely, rudely responded to with "is that your liberal answer?"

I have yet in one month to experience a grad school class which wasn't abusive for at least five minutes.
 
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I emailed the department chair at least about the "calling out" culture some of these people are engaging in, and that I was basically told I didn't care about people since I'm vegan and he did express concern. It won't solve every problem in this program, but I think he can actively DO SOMETHING so at bare minimum vegans are treated with respect and not dismissed automatically as some sort of "oppressor" for offering alternative solutions.

The Oppressor Narrative is very common among Social Justice Warriors, and I was familiar with this from Twitter, but I didn't expect to encounter it in an academic setting. What's nauseating about it is the sort of people suggesting that veganism (or even vegetarianism) existing at all is "oppressive" tend to drink Starbucks or have professional pedicures and waxed eyebrows, and clearly have some disposable income for vanity they enjoy throwing around the capitalist system. This kind of hypocrisy is what makes it so revolting, it's actually worse to me than someone saying "but I like meat" or "but my family eats meat and they're not bad people" you know, something personal - hell, even "lions tho" - because they are USING people of color or people in developing countries as an excuse to not have to live sustainably or make more ethical choices themselves. It reminds me of fake preachers using a church as a front to cipher money or have affairs with women.

So I think my professor can do something about that, at least.

On the other hand, I talked to my friend, who happens to be Mexican, who happens to be president of the vegan club, who happens to be doing her Masters thesis on speciesm, about this, and she actually thinks that minorities and marginalized groups might actually be more likely to have empathy for animals due to their own experiences of being "othered" in society. She also added that she spent her first two months of grad school last year (same university, different department) being afraid she was going to have a panic attack. She was also told by a professor in front of a class that speciesism wasn't "valid" and she had to get a different advisor, she's had a time.
 
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Haha! I am most vindicated! The department chair said today he had a problem with a small group of second years he had never encountered before. There's a long back story, he said it's not okay for them to make assumptions about me or about vegans, and if it continues I can pursue administrative actions. He's not mad at me for complaining and wants me to stay in the program.

It's not like 100% problem solved, but I'm not crazy, my peers aren't over sensitive, these people have been causing problems for over a year, don't show up to class, seek therapy of their own, he's not at liberty to tell me the entire story, but he says it doesn't matter, what's going on shouldn't be happening.

ALSO my roommates piece about the pigs captured an entire page in the student paper. He wrote it as objectively as possible, but here's this whole attention getting page with the interview of the president of the vegan club at the end. It was agreed I would not be mentioned because of my job. Lol.
 
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They made someone in my class cry yesterday during a presentation of her research. I want to be clear about how much this is not about me, or even about vegan or plant based. It's about a small group of people from two different cohorts who think personally attacking people in class or changing the subject constantly is somehow appropriate in a university classroom or will in any way solve the problem of systemic racism.

At least I reached out to my contact who is in her last semester and is doing a more sciencey project and she said it wasn't always like this, it's not totally the department chairs fault, he's being bullied and as an older white man in a position of academic power he's afraid of being called racist. My contact says he's actually kind of a push over and that he didn't consciously cause this, he's just allowed it to get out of hand in the last two semesters. I didn't know what to think since it's my first semester. My contact says it's probably the worst now it's ever been.

So she's reaching out to people in other cohorts, plus the department chair, and I am standing my ground with this. My contact says it is possible to switch programs without leaving grad school but she hopes that this program is worth saving.

She's just like yes we need to address social justice and colonialism but this program is also about the environment, it's gone to an extreme and she says the key players are very immature and are kind of bullying the department chair.

One of them won't even name Israel she calls it the colony of Zionists or something like that. Yesterday the woman they called out was in the middle of a presentation she was already nervous about and they called her privileged for making a joke about her own culture, because she's mixed. This woman cried, then continued with her presentation. At the end of class another obnoxious child congratulated the first SJW for the call out. So basically they bullied the presenter. She openly cried again after class was over.

I was enraged and completely went off on the department chair. His ******* response was "well we had a rupture but we all got through it together ."

Can you imagine if I went into class doing vegan activism in this way? Would it turn anyone vegan? NO.
 
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Somehow it needs to be made known to these people that activism isn't personally attacking people in a work or school setting. I had frankly always thought it was common sense, but some of these people are probably so young they learned manners on Internet forums and social media while I didn't really have it until my teens when my sense of morality had been formed. I have that adult understanding of this is how we act on the Internet but not with people we care about or work with because it's simply not nice or even effective. People act a certain way online to vent, and also because angry activism is more general and less personal online it actually can e effective due to the broad rather than focused personal anger.

It's possible they really don't get that. Possibly. And yet with any other forms of activism this would have been stopped almost immediately. Even feminists and LGBTQ don't act like this. It's only the race obsessed people since we all know being racist is worse than being sexist, homophobic or an axe murderer *sarcasm*

It has the opposite desired effect. One example is that I usually respect people's pronouns. I have a few friends who are trans and one who is non-binary. I never forget their pronouns. Somehow when this one race baiter makes me angry I keep calling them she even though they identify as non-binary. I'm not doing it on purpose. It's weird like I subconsciously lost all respect for them because of their behavior. I don't forget people's pronouns. In fact with individuals I'm not sure of I usually default to they/them. I called this person she/her about ten times yesterday. They seem feminine to me but I usually respect a person's self perception. The aggressive behavior has made me more intolerant not less.

So can you imagine how this comes across to a conservative. No wonder they're paranoid if they're dealing with people like this. I can't even deal with it.
 
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I really imagined this program being something more along the lines of discussing the social barriers to climate change action, effective forms of activism or policy change, research on biased, behavior or how to convince people or organizations to change, as well as referencing indigenous forms of land management. I mean, a program called Environment and Community with thesis options like Sustainable Food Systems, Environmental Education and the like kind of implied that.

I'm angry at the department chair because I and other people are paying for this questionable experience where I honestly am starting to think these individuals should be directed out of the program into sociology, psychology or something like critical race and gender studies.

I'm enraged that as the planet burns down around us these assholes want to argue about Palestine and make a woman cry for saying she can do Latin dances. I think one of them in particular is basically the scum of the Earth. She's obviously either a malignant Narcissist or has Borderline personality disorder with Narcissistic features. The rest of them could be mildly obnoxious followers in the wrong program. The non binary person also seems to seek attention in a self congratulatory and distracting way, but I don't know that they're a narcissist. I have suspected them of being a "trans trender" which probably factors into my angry forgetting of their pronouns yesterday.

This is NOT what I should be thinking about in grad school. It's like high school it's absurd.