Apparently, being a vegan means that I am open to attack and unsolicited feedback from others. I recently got involved in a conversation that started out promisingly enough but went into a tailspin quickly. I thought the discussion would be about veganism, why I chose it and what it’s all about, but it turned out that the person talking to me just wanted an opportunity to tell me what he really thought of me.
I had posted a picture on my Facebook page of a factory farm piglet who was clearly suffering. The reason I posted it was that I had seen a lot of things on other people’s profiles “celebrating” bacon–one such tasteless item was a picture of an adorable little piglet leaning his head out a car window, much as a dog will. The caption read “Wheeeeee! Going to the bacon store! (Little did he know he was not coming back!)”. I was disgusted by this, and saddened that the people who posted it and laughed about it could not, or more likely would not, see the inherent cruelty. So I posted my picture–not on anyone else’s page, just my own. I hoped the people who were “celebrating” bacon would get the point.
The first person to comment on my picture was someone I had previously thought of as a friend. However, this guy craves attention and will often instigate controversy on other people’s Facebook pages with his inane comments, so I should simply have ignored him or deleted his comment. He posted “mmmm….diseased face” under the picture of the suffering piglet, who had open sores on his face. It made me sick, but I simply responded with “not funny”. Then he posted “not open for discussion?”, to which I responded “I am always open for discussion, but the picture and your comment are not funny.” It went on for a bit, but ultimately I told him that if he wanted a discussion, he could message me privately, which he did. I explained about veganism and why I am vegan. He didn’t really acknowledge any of that, but he asked me if I believe that there are absolute morals, to which I responded that there are some, yes. Exploitation of any kind, including rape, child molestation and animal exploitation, are things that are never acceptable, any time, any place, end of story. He said that it was too bad that I could not see the world in shades of grey, that everything was so black and white for me. He said that morality comes from religion (and should therefore be shunned), that no one has the right to “tell” him what to do, and that we must go only by whether something “works” or “does not work.” This made no fucking sense to me whatsoever, and I began to wonder if he had been smoking New Atheist crack. I immediately saw a flaw in his argument, which is for whom does something have to work or not work to be acceptable? I gave him the example of a person who is raped. Obviously, the act of rape “works” for some people–namely, the rapists. That explains why they do it. However, it clearly “does not work” for the person being raped. Therefore, whose rights take precedence? If rape works for the person doing it, then by this guy’s argument, the rapist should rape, as there is nothing inherently immoral about rape and clearly it is working for one person. He went on to explain–and I use that term very loosely–that rape does work for its victims. He said that just as he chose when he’d be born and what things he’d experience in life, as well as the time and manner of his own death, people who are raped choose to be raped and it works for them. WTF?! He never really went into detail about how this is even a feasible thing to say, despite the fact that I asked him again to please explain how the hell rape ever works for anyone. Basically, he began to realize he was not holding up his end of our “discussion” very effectively and my logic was getting the upper hand, as his position is indefensible and illogical, and he abruptly decided to end the “discussion” and launch a personal attack. He graced me with his unsolicited “feedback” about how I am a joyless vegan who regards my husband with contempt because he eats meat. He informed me that my relationship with my husband might improve if I’d stop feeling contempt for my husband for his meat eating. He informed me that I am a negative and cynical person and a poor representative for veganism. He got all this from spending a grand total of maybe a few hours with me over about 5 years, never actually directly interacting with me or speaking with me about veganism….and a lot of what he gleaned about me came from….wait for it….the expression on my face when sharing a meal with meat-eaters. Never mind that he never asked me what was on my mind at that moment—no, he just assumed that because I’m vegan, I must be joyless and hate everyone around me because they eat meat. Keep in mind, he’s barely ever even spoken to me! He had quite a rant about all my negative qualities–I’m tempted to post it here, because you have to read it to believe it.
This came as a blow to me–it actually hurt. This guy has been a friend of my husband’s since they were in high school together, and I thought he was a friend of mine, too. It always stings to find out that someone you previously thought a friend turns about to be an asshole. I mean, he could have at least been kind about his “feedback”. Okay, if he perceives me as joyless, talk to me about it. Inquire. You know, actually fucking SPEAK to me. But no, he just makes assumptions based on stories he makes up in his head.
So that is my story. A summary, really, that may not effectively convey the situation and may not seem so bad to some. Maybe it wasn’t, but I didn’t deserve to be treated like that, and no matter how long I’m vegan, I will never get used to others just making shit up about me and believing it.