Thursday, March 18, 2010



I came across this interesting little item from the Fathead-Movie blog while mindlessly browsing the internet the other evening. From my memory, faulty as it may be, the tactic of throwing a pie at a politician originated in Canada in the early 70s. Wikipedia, however, seems to give priority to an American incident in 1970. That may be true, but it is certain that the wide use of the tactic in Canada led to its popularization. At the time it was innovative and worked in terms of presenting the issues of the pie-thrower in a manner that might actually attract sympathetic attention. All good things have to come to an end, however, and after overuse the tactic became hackneyed. For the duration of the 80s and most of the 90s it went into hibernation.

With the dawn of the new millennium it seemed to reawaken. The long sleep, however, changed the nature of the tactic for the worse. Getting up grumpy I guess. Nowadays the tactic may be used to deflate the pompous, but its use against politicians is increasingly rare. Better security I guess. It has also increasingly become a weapon of choice for various leftists to use against others on the left with whom they happen to disagree. The most recent incident here in Canada was when the "ultras" pied the leader of the BC Civil Liberties Union for daring to have a contrary opinion to the idea that set piece riots are a good idea. The following relates yet another incident from the USA, this time against an author from the anarchist publishing house PM Press who dared to express the opinion that veganism isn't all it's cracked up to be. This incident was far more serious as the pie was laced with cayenne pepper ie "bear spray". I'll have more to say on this at the end of this post. For now here's the story.
Vegan Nut-Jobs Attack Lierre Keith
Posted by Tom Naughton
in The Food Evangelists
As you’ve probably heard by now, Lierre Keith, author of the fabulous book The Vegetarian Myth, was attacked by three vegan nut-jobs on Saturday while giving a speech. They threw a pie laced with cayenne pepper in her face. If that doesn’t sound like much of an attack, keep in mind that it’s nearly the equivalent of being attacked with pepper spray. And frankly, I’d be outraged even if the pie was made of whipped cream. (No wait … that would be a dairy product; the vegans would never stoop to such cruelty just to assault a human being.)

Fortunately, Keith is recovering. Jimmy Moore wrote to inquire about her condition, and she replied:

My eyes are still puffy and blurry, but the pain is definitely better. I think the worst part was hearing people cheer my assailants while I was being assaulted. I don’t want to live in a world where people cheer while someone has cayenne rubbed into their eyes.

Yes, people were cheering — while three men in masks attacked a 45-year-old woman who already has a damaged spine. My, what courage.

I’d like to say I’m surprised, but I’m not. The animal-rights wackos have a long and proud history of attacking soft targets. As my comedian friend Tim Slagle once pointed out, they’ll happily throw blood on women wearing fur — but strangely, they never feel inspired to attempt a similar protest on men wearing leather.

Nearly as disturbing as the attack was the ability of some vegans to justify it in their fatty-acid-depleted brains. Here are few quotes from a “news” site, with my comments:

Some will undoubtedly argue that the pieing was an attack on free speech, but Keith has been afforded more speech than most people on the planet will ever be, courtesy of PM Press.

Well, gosh yes, once someone has been afforded more than his or her share of free speech, it’s perfectly okay to use violence to correct the imbalance. I’m sure that’s what James Earl Ray had in mind, too. Although if you really think about it — and I’d suggest consuming an egg or two before tackling this one — you and Lierre Keith have been afforded exactly the same amount of free speech. The only difference is that more people have elected to listen to her.

In fact, she is profiting from the soap box she has been given to pretend she is a radical environmentalist who just happens to jet around the country to and from her home in rural Massachusetts.

Making a profit and flying on a jet? Truly unforgivable. Since Al Gore has set himself up to make millions in the carbon-credit business while flying all over creation in a private jet and living in a mansion that uses 20 times the national average for electricity, can we expect you to toss a pepper-pie in his face anytime soon? Or will you remain true to form and attack Tipper instead?

In a world where vegans and vegetarians are a definite minority, face constant bombardment with pro-meat messages our American cattle culture, and frequently have to deal with direct attacks from government, law enforcement, and multinational corporations that profit from the sale of factory-farmed meat and dairy, Ramsey Kanaan of PM Press, himself a long-time vegan, strangely chose to pile on with yet another attack on vegans, this time being especially traumatic in that it comes from the inside of the supposed radical environmental movement.

Those direct attacks from the government on the oppressed vegan minority are an outrage, all right. Just last week, storm troopers dragged a dozen vegans out of our local Whole Foods and shot them in the street. It’s a shame you don’t live in a country where you’re free to just ignore those traumatizing pro-meat messages and continue living as a vegan.

Through the Bound Together collective, of which Ramsey Kanaan is a member, Lierre Keith has been asked to speak in the Bay Area repeatedly. The mean-spirited book and these speaking engagements are largely one-way conversations with Keith dominating the dialogue.

Wait … you mean she’s been asked to speak repeatedly?! Wow, that usually only happens to people who have something interesting to say and can therefore draw a crowd. But I see your point about the one-way conversations. It’s got to stop. In fact, nearly every time I attend a speech, the speaker just stands up there speaking and speaking and speaking, without ever asking me what I believe. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought to myself, “Damn! If only I had a pepper-laced pie, I could bring some balance into this dialog.”

But today, anonymous masked peoples stood up and refused to allow PM Press and Bound Together to yet again try to cram Lierre Keith down our throats. They stood up for many who have suffered silently, without a voice, since the publication of her book.

I hear you, bro. I remember the glory days when people were allowed to choose which speeches they’d attend. Now, of course, the meat industry kidnaps vegans at gunpoint and crams Lierre Keith’s speeches down their throats. Those were some true freedom fighters who attacked her. More bravery like this, and perhaps someday vegans will be allowed to publish their own books, give their own speeches in public, or — dare I say it? — express their opinions on their very own blogs, instead of being forced to suffer in silence.

The article was bad enough. Here are a few bits of wisdom from vegans commenting on the article:
Lierre Keith was appropriately treated when she was physically stopped from continuing to advocate for and incite the murder of innocent non-human beings.

Can’t argue with that. Next time I see some vegan farmer tilling the soil and killing thousands of non-humans in the process, I’m going to mace him in the face. (No wait, I keep forgetting about vegan logic: it’s okay to kill creatures in the quest for food as long as you aren’t killing on purpose.)

She was pied, get over it. Big deal, even IF it was a spicy pie. Somebody call the waaaambulance for this loser. This action was both hilarious & totally appropriate.

Yeah, a little spice in the eyes is hilarious. Nothing to fuss about. Any chance we could meet in person so I can share a few laughs with you? I do this bit with Tabasco sauce that’s just side-splitting.

Lierre obviously comes from a privileged perspective if the very first thing she said was “someone call the cops” as only the privileged automatically think of police as their friends and defenders. Lower classes and darker skinned people do not immediately look to police for help. They’ll take the help if it’s there, but they don’t assume police generally exist to serve them.

That’s why I enjoy watching “Cops” on TV: it just cracks me up seeing all those people who come from a privileged perspective calling the police on each other. Last week I saw a repeat of the episode where the guy in the smoking jacket answers the door and says, “Yes, officer, my wife Muffy is such a pill, I’m afraid she let loose with the pepper-spray in the middle of a heated discussion about the relevance of Kantian ethics in modern society. Could you be a dear and slap some cuffs on her? And I won’t object if you make them uncomfortably tight.”

But if you’re suggesting Lierre Keith should deal with being physically attacked in a manner more befitting the “lower classes and darker skinned people,” I’m pretty sure we can round up plenty of volunteers to administer the appropriate justice.

Has anyone considered that it wasn’t Vegans who pied who but an agent provocateur trying to create division?

Damn, you caught us. See, that’s the thing about us meat-eaters: we take ourselves and our identities as meat-eaters so seriously, we sit around and try to think of ways to split up the vegan movement.

Message to Keith and others who promote oppression, repression and murder of the innocent, and destruction of the planet, however misinformedly well-intentioned - “No more free ride!”

By all means, please start physically assaulting anyone who believes eating meat is beneficial. I’d suggest you start with Fred Hahn. That will give you a chance to field-test your theory that avoiding meat actually makes people stronger. (Although I predict the theory will turn out to be misinformedly wrong.)

As a vegan I’m both mad at and ashamed of the people who did this. They are bullies.

You sound eerily sane. How long have you been a vegan? (To be fair, more than a few vegans were disgusted by the attack. Good for them.)

Some commenters suggested the attackers were suffering from the “vegan rage” Keith describes in her book. That was my first thought as well. But since then, I’ve decided we may be confusing a correlation with a cause. Yes, they could be prone to rage because a vegan diet has depleted their brains. But I think it’s just as likely they’re militant vegans because they fit the personality type described so brilliantly by Eric Hoffer in his book The True Believer. I plan to write a post on that topic later in the week. It seems more appropriate for my other blog, so it’ll probably end up there. I’ll let you know.

The author of the blog above goes on in another post about how the behavior of the pie throwers fits them in very well with the type of person described by Eric Hoffer. I thought about reposting that item here as well, but if I did this post would be overly long. I urge the reader to go to the Fathead-Movie site to read the follow-up.

A few observations on what the author says subsequently. One is that he opines that most of the "nut-jobs" end up on the radical left these days. I disagree with that, and I think one of the people who commented on his second article expressed it very well when he said that (paraphrase) "most of the examples of which the author would be personally familiar with are 'on the left' but that there is a world of craziness in other political positions that the author is simply unaware of". How true ! Most of the political examples of sheer insanity that I am familiar with as well come from decades of observation of "the left". Because, however, I quite deliberately set out all those many years ago to not live my life in the self imposed prison of a political subculture I am aware of that vast sea of insanity, even if I cannot cite chapter and verse about it to the extent that I can about the left in general and anarchism in particular.

Another observation is that 'The True Believer' (a book I also highly recommend) was one of the books that I read when I was making the transition from the fashionable leftism of the late 60s/early 70s to become an anarchist. To say the least it put into proper words many of the things that I had seen about "the left" and which had disgusted me. Today that left exists only as a zombie-like shadow of itself. If there is a "left" beyond social democracy today it either identifies as anarchist or borrows so freely from the libertarian socialist grab bag that it is matter of great polemical effort to distinguish it. This has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages I have argued previously on this blog almost to the point of exhaustion, but I hate to tell you that I'll probably keep repeating them for years anyways. The disadvantages are many. Get just big enough to make a "scene" seem comfortable, for instance, and the human tendency to xenophobia inevitably results in a lot of the ignorant behavior far too often seen amongst anarchists who glory in their "superiority". Illusions of superiority are far easier to maintain if you have a mutual admiration society close at hand.

There are many other disadvantages, but I'd like to mention one that is most relevant to the case at hand. While anarchism has historically attracted large numbers of idealistic people who see it (rightly in my opinion) as the surest way to actually work towards a freer and more equal world it has also always attracted its own fair share of the insane and the vicious. All of whom find an easy ideological cloak for their impulses. Back when I first became an anarchist the idea that the ideology would be the plaything of "militant vegans" would have been laughed at as an absurd paranoid fantasy. On the other hand the idea that there would be "grief councillors" (a more successful development than the growth of anarchism) would have been thought absurd as well. Frankly I still think that it is absurd- and disgusting as well.

Back in that time anarchism was a tiny current amongst "the left". Today it is actually the major one, once more excluding social democracy. The problem is that almost every bad attitude that once found its natural home amongst the would-be commissars of the Marxist groupuscles is now part of anarchism. The way that the vegans in the article above attack the woman who is supposedly a traitor and the way that defenders of the "right" to play act at riot in Vancouver attack (physically) once allies of theirs in that town and (rhetorically) other anarchists who don't see the need to lie and pretend to agree with stupid actions looks for all the world to me like the way the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) used to behave. It seems you can act like a good Stalinist while flying a black flag. The arguments about such actions will no doubt rage futilely until the events are mercifully forgotten. While most people outside of the cults involved will hardly bother to examine the ins and outs of the arguments involved the actions themselves will send a very clear signal. A world in which such people would get their way and wield power would be a far worse one than that which we have today. Personally I think this is a sad statement, and I would hope that the gradual growth of a rational anarchism would end up in consigning such aberations to the category of "weird things in the past".


Larry Gambone said...

Utterly shameful that these fanatics would attack the author of a book criticizing veganism. Got our own vegan taliban it seems...

mollymew said...

"In the name of tofu, the compassionate, the merciful".

Werner said...

Talking about borrowing from anarchism the most obvious example is the Green party. A more pointless group of people is hard to imagine. There seems to be a progression here starting in the seventies ... mindless support for "third world" or marxist tyrannies then after Vietnam the nuttier brands of feminism ... tnen back to the psychology "industry", grieve counsellors, the child police and so on. Now all the shit is wound up together with environmental "awareness" of the most statist variety. Oh death where is thy sting?

Oshipeya said...

David Eby of the BC Civil Liberties Association was pied because he denounced the black bloc to the corporate media and because he had agreed to represent those arrested that day. So he was denouncing his own legal clients before they had gone to trial. He was not pied because of his opinion. That's why none of the other people who expressed opinions contrary to the black bloc were pied. Get your facts straight. And believe it or not, it's very possible to completely oppose the pie attack on Lierre Keith while supporting the one on David Eby.