April 29th 2005 BUCC’s Animal Rights BBQ
Most Bucknell students have no doubt seen the BUCC’s flyers regarding their “Animal Rights Barbeque” scheduled for today. (For those not in the know, the BUCC is the Bucknell University Conservative’s Club.) If you somehow missed the flyers—which are plastered everywhere, sometimes even right next to or on top of one another—then you might know of the planned barbecue from the rather obvious email that the BUCC’s events planner sent via the campus-wide listserv. An image from that very email accompanies this post.
This barbecue raises a whole host of issues and complaints from the Bucknell campus community. The first question that comes to mind is: why? The simplest answer is that the barbecue is in response to last week’s vegetarian meal in the cafeteria, which was proposed by the Environmental Club in honor of Earth Week (which I hope everyone celebrated in some way). However, this does not completely satisfy the question, for the question then becomes: why does the BUCC feel the need to not only hold a barbecue (which, in and of itself, is not a bad thing), but also rub it in the face of Bucknell’s vegetarians?
Clearly, the BUCC’s Animal Rights BBQ is an assault on the vegetarian population of the campus—the name of the barbecue itself is evidence of this fact. So why the assault? As an omnivore myself, I can say that there is no push to make Bucknell a vegetarian campus. Besides the fact that such a thing would never happen, I have found very few “militant vegetarians” on campus. While I am sure we all know such overzealous plant-eaters—the kind that chastise you if you so dare look at beef or bacon—the point of last week’s vegetarian meal was not to insult meat-eaters (such as myself). No, it was to raise awareness of the issue of vegetarianism. Let’s be honest: being a vegetarian, while more mainstream than it used to be, can sometimes constitute being labeled as “weird” by some people. It is definitely not exactly normal (i.e. in the mainstream) to abstain from eating meat. This is not an insult to vegetarians; I am simply stating what I perceive to be a fact. Therefore, being in the minority, vegetarians are often assaulted for their beliefs; hence why they held a dinner to raise awareness of the culture.
Meat-eating, on the other hand, is the norm. It need not be celebrated because it is an accepted part of American culture. Celebrating meat-eating would be like holding a parade for heterosexuals.
Of course, it is important to note that the BUCC is not simply celebrating the eating of meat (which, as I have noted, is something I enjoy doing on a daily basis); they are attacking the very beliefs that vegetarians stand for. In fact, they are going on the offensive to attack those beliefs. Note that the vegetarian meal was a very quiet affair, and not designed to attack those who eat meat; the Animal Rights Barbeque is clearly intended to mock vegetarians. Not only that, but it’s being done in a very immature, infantile way. I refer to Exhibit A, the image at the top of this post.
Compound this with the fact that the BUCC’s publication, The Counterweight, is largely composed of equally immature articles that mock the opposition, rather than actually attempting to open up any sort of dialogue, and you see why many consider the BUCC not so much as a political group, but rather as a group that simply mocks its opponents, and never actually encourages discussion on any sort of sociopolitical issue. This is why the BUCC is viewed as, at best, a ridiculous group, and at worst, a malicious one, which deserves little serious attention from the campus as a whole. Furthermore, like the current presidential administration, the group is so far to the right that even political moderates such as me appear to be radical left liberals.
In general, the group’s credibility could benefit greatly if they tackled serious issues and didn’t simply react to every “liberal left” event on campus; or if they chose to do so, at least do it in an intelligent, respectful manner. It’s hard to have respect for a group that clearly lacks respect for anyone else. That last sentence is important; it’s not simply a matter of the BUCC disrespecting the opinions of vegetarians, but, given the manner of their Animal Rights BBQ, they are clearly attacking and disrespecting the person behind those opinions as well, which in my mind is totally unacceptable and uncalled for.