China may ban consumption of cats and dogs

March 11th, 2010 by — A CNN article reports on the Chinese government’s proposed ban on eating cats and dogs. Eating cats and dogs is common practice in Guangzhou, a city in southern China.
Professor Chang Jiwen at the Chinese Academy of the Social Sciences is a top campaigner for the law, and stated that “cats and dogs are loyal friends to humans…a ban on eating them would show China has reached a new level of civilization.”
Or more accurately, the Chinese government has reached a new level of fascism by telling restaurants what they can and cannot cook and telling people what they can and cannot eat – kind of like Los Angeles’s ban on new fast food chains a couple of years ago.
CNN reports that the Chinese Government has “signaled a willingness to take the meat off the market.” (See full story here). However, the government’s actions can more truthfully be described as a willingness to control what consenting adults may cook and eat. And of course, it is a willingness to put certain people out of jobs by forcing the closure of the many restaurants that serve these types of meat.
China forced local restaurants to take dog meat off of menus during the Beijing Olympics, and the implication is that China is concerned about its international image. However, the rest of the world may not be as judgmental as China may believe. Even in a pet-loving nation such as the United States, a good number of commenters on CNN seemed not to be disgusted or offended by the practice of eating dogs and cats.
One commenter noted that “culinary habits are extremely cultural.” Another asked why Chinese people should not continue to eat what they have always been used to eating. Another shared his own experience of eating dog, and also eating horse when he was growing up poor in America in the 70s. One poster also noted that Americans eat animals that people in other cultures keep as pets or hold sacred.
Other commenters pointed out that people should eat whatever is available if they are hungry, and that an outright ban would only cause the industry to go underground.
Then there is the expected self-righteous, likely ethnocentric vegan who clearly hasn’t thought the whole thing out – “As a vegan, I’m appalled at this…I think its wrong to eat all animals, but to eat dogs and cats?” In this country, numerous animals are put to sleep every year in animal shelters because they are unwanted or unadoptable. They are killed because no one wants to deal with their existence or pay money to keep them alive. God forbid in China they eat it after they kill it.
Time and time again, governments are unable to learn the hard and repetitive lessons about bans. In the United States, the disaster of prohibition and the resulting deaths, injuries and violence were no deterrent to the federal government as it launched into the even more devastating War on Drugs. The criminalization of prostitution in almost all states has resulted in needless deaths of women and needless spread of venereal diseases.
In San Diego, the ban on drinking on the beach has only caused people to take to drinking in rafts in the bay, which in turn has created risks of drowning and problems with littering.
The best way to reduce drinking, drugs, prostitution, and consumption of fatty foods and cats is through awareness and discourse, a tactic governments do not know how to use. Governments everywhere only know how to effect unjust change through force, threats and fines. The result is that the targeted offense instead is forced underground, and the consequences flowing from the ban are almost always worse than the original offense itself.

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